Yesterday I set up a prayer activity in our prayer chapel. I asked people to think of One Good Thing, thank God for the blessing, write it on a (pre-cut) flower and hang it on the tree. Just a day later the tree is covered in wonderful blessings. My favourite today is Mommy and Daddy love each other. What a blessing, however old we are! And a blessing, like so many of them, which we might take for granted unless its taken away from us. I thought perhaps that you, our website visitors might like to join us by using the ‘comments’ link and adding your own ‘One Good Thing’. You are welcome to add one each day and use it as an opportunity to count your blessings, even on days when there seems so much difficulty you can look for something simple to be thankful for. I have repeated some which have been posted on our tree, they are all anonymous and on public view: Im alive, thankyou! I got together with my misus and we’re still together after 7 years I got an
‘This is Church: How it all began’ During the next three months we will be exploring how the early church began and dealt with the issues it faced. The spread and growth of the church is recorded in the Book of Acts. This is really the second volume of Luke’s Gospel as he is its author. Our aim is to learn from the early church and discover how their story can help us in our story here at St Martin’s. Having spent the first part of this year looking at what Christians believe through our whole church Alpha we now look at how these beliefs impact on real people building the church. This we believe will help us to deepen our faith and grow the church community at St Martin’s. Later this year we will be launching a new vision and strategy document and we want it to be a modern expression of the church as it was then and can be today. Dates to note: May 12th-18th Christian Aid Week May 19th: Pentecost Sunday June 16th: Civic Service at 6pm Image: Vicki
Sabbatical travels have allowed me to listen to different preachers in different places. Being in the pew and not being the one delivering the sermon has been a very refreshing and challenging experience. But as I have listened the one question that has been most prominent in my mind is ‘and the point is?’ On a number of occasions I have been given quite a lot of information about biblical characters, useful stories (and some not so helpful), and a few rather cheesy cliches that really should never have been said. On only two occasions did I feel personally challenged, engaged and uncomfortable. Now I don’t think sermons are simply about making me uncomfortable or anyone else for that matter but I do think they should make me think! Sharing lots of vaguely interesting information is vaguely interesting but that’s all it is. Surely there needs to be more of a challenge in it as well? Whilst working as a vicar in Bristol I had the privilege of being on the local radio station a
Week Beginning: Sunday 17th March 2013 Question 10: What about the church? Bible Readings: Ephesians 2:19-22, Matthew 16:17-19 Discussion Questions: 1. What comes to mind when you think about “church”? 2. Has any of the biblical images challenged your perception of the church? (being “living stones” – 1 Peter 2:4-5, “Bride of Christ” – Revelation 21:2 or “the body of Christ – 1 Corinthians 12:12-31) If so how? 3. What part do you play in the church? Is God calling you to play a different part? Further resources for those exploring… Books: Gerard Kelly – Church Actually: Discovering the balance of God’s plan. Websites: www.alpha.org.
I love preaching. When I say that what I mean is that I love doing the preaching thing. Now some of that is because I like to perform (it’s the actor in me or the desire to be a stand up comic or just being the focus of attention) but hopefully not too much. Some of it is because I want to communicate the amazing story of Jesus Christ and how the gospel can transform everything. And some of it is because I believe in the scriptures. We have such a treasure for all of life in the bible that someone needs to open this treasure up and share it with everyone. I love trying to do that. I also love hearing others do it. In the dim and distant past when I was first let loose on a parish as the vicar I sat in a meeting with fellow clergy and we discussed preaching. (We usually talked about funerals but for some wonderful reason which I no longer remember we talked about preaching.) One senior colleague stated that as far as he was concerned preaching was dead. It was pointless because people c
In July 1988 a man called Barry Rogerson, then Bishop of Bristol put his hands on my head and ordained me into the clergy of the Church of England. I was ordained with the name Stephen which was fine except I’m Stewart and maybe that’s why it has taken me 25 years to have a sabbatical. (Stephen Jones has had all the other ones I might have taken with apologies to any real Rev Stephen Jones’ who have had sabbaticals.) But what exactly is a sabbatical? Is it just a middle class word for a long holiday and if so why not just say a long holiday? Or is it extended study leave with holiday as well? For me it has been a much needed escape from the tyranny of email, telephone, meetings, people and sermon writing and a chance to simply find me again. Not all of what I do is a tyranny but after 25 years of trying and often failing to preach the gospel, lead a number of churches, work for the past two Archbishops ( new one not included. I know nothing about him except what I read) and countless o
Week Beginning: Sunday 10th March 2013. Question 9: Does God heal today? Bible readings: James 5:13-16, Luke 2:33-35. Discussion Questions: 1. Healing and miracles never stand alone. They are signs of what? 2. What do you understand by the ‘now and not yet’ kingdom of God? 3. How would you answer someone who claimed that Jesus’ command to his disciples that they should heal the sick no longer applies to us today ? 4. What woud you say to someone who thought that healing had not taken place because the person concerned did not have enough faith? 5. Do you pray for healing? If so why? If not why? Further resources for those exploring… Books by: John Wimber, Peter Lawrence, Francis MacNutt, Bill Johnson, Randy Clark, David Watson and Hyde Baker. (This is not a complete list) Websites: www.alpha.org.
Week Beginning: Sunday 3rd March 2013. Question 8: How does God guide us? Bible readings: James 1:19-25, Matthew 7:7-12. Discussion Questions: 1. Can you think of a time when you felt God might be speaking to you? 2. What do you believe God might be guiding you towards? 3. How do you think God’s guidance changes who you are and how you view the world? 4. What are the key themes you can identify from this morning’s session: “How does God guide us?” Further resources for those exploring… Websites: www.alpha.org.
It was like a spring day when we had our HOTS session at St Martin’s. We even enjoyed the sun warming our faces at times. The Market place was busy and there were lots of people from all faith, culture, social and economic backgrounds. I guess it was just like this when Jesus sent his disciples to go out and make disciples of all nations. We do not need to go out very far at St Martin’s to do that. It seems that ‘all nations and faiths’ have come to our doorsteps, and this seemed especially true on that Saturday. Having all nations and faiths around us is good but it can create a sense of confusion. Before we went outside to pray, Digby, one of our team members, told us of this incident: “I happened to be walking through a field of sheep when they all gathered together and came to within a few yards of me. They must have thought I was the farmer. I then started talking to them, but as soon as they heard my voice they all ran away. It reminded me about the words of Jesus in John
WHOLE CHURCH LENT COURSE For the period of Lent, we will be following the study “Glimpses of God” by York Courses. Sessions will be held on Wednesday evenings, from 19:00 to 20:30 hours in the Deritend Training Room at Church. The course booklet is available from the Church Shop or at the course, cost £3.40. We live in turbulent times. In this course, Canon David Winter draws on the Bible as he shows where we can find strength and encouragement as we live through the 21st century. Under the title Glimpses of God, this course brings a message of hope. Session 1 (20th February 2013) The God who hears our cry Session 2 (27th February 2013) The Shepherd who guides and guards his people Session 3 (6th March 2013) The Son who is the Way, the Truth and the Life Session 4 (13th March 2013) The God who shares our pain Session 5 (20th March 2013) The God who calms our fears The course booklet, written by Canon David Winter, includes questions aimed at provoking wide-ranging discussion. Each g
Week Beginning: Sunday 24th February 2013. Question 7: Why and how should I tell others? Bible readings: Acts 1:1-8, Luke 10:1-23. Discussion Questions: 1. When was the last time you heard something that was ‘good news’? Did you tell anyone about it? How? Why? 2. The word ‘Gospel’ means ‘Good News’…in what ways is the Christian message good news to you? How might knowing about Jesus be good news to others? 3. Are there times when you have shared the Good News of Jesus with others? When? How did you do it? What happened? 4. Read these 3 statements: 1. Just sharing the Gospel through saying words can be hollow. 2. Just sharing the Gospel through who you are being is passive. 3. Just sharing the Gospel through what you are doing is ambiguous. Do you agree? Which ways of sharing the Good News of Jesus do you find easy/uncomfortable? Which ways do you find difficult/uncomfortable? Are there things that you could do differently? 5. Don’t forget, this isn’t something that we do on our o
Week Beginning: Sunday 17th February 2013. Question 6: What does the Holy Spirit do? Bible readings: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 14:25-27. Discussion Questions: 1. Does every Christian have the Holy Spirit? (see John 3:5; Romans 8:9-10) 2. Do you think it’s selfish to pray to have ‘more of the Holy Spirit’? 3. Is the work of the Holy Spirit for our own ‘private’ enjoyment or does it have some other purpose? (see 1 Corinthians 12) 4. Will the Holy Spirit lead us astray? (see John 14:25-27) Activity: Either on your own or in a group, Sit down and invite the Holy Spirit to do His work in you by praying “Come Holy Spirit”. Then spend the next few minutes in silience, perhaps with your hands open in a gesture of recieving. Finally finish by saying this prayer: Thank you Father that you have sent the Holy Spirit to be a seal of our inheritance until the day we meet Jesus Christ face-to-face. Holy Spirit I give you permission to continue your refining
Dear all, Yesterday it was Ash Wednesday when the Church marks the beginning of Lent. In the Ash Wednesday liturgy we say, ‘dust you are; to dust you will return.’ The writer of Genesis 3 where this text comes from could not have been more scientifically correct. To be human is to be dust. So on Ash Wednesday we are reminded that we are only human. For many Christians, ashes are a symbol of being sorry for the things they have done wrong and want to get rid of. It is also a reminder to them that we all come from ashes and to ashes we all return. The marking of the cross on the forehead with ash is a sign of their commitment to Jesus Christ and God. ‘The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart he will not despise’ (Psalm 51:17) We had a very good team at this HOTS session. We had 12 members. What a good number to have! Also we had quite a few who hadn’t been for a while. After the session, when we met together for de-briefing and prayer they said that they were
Aged 16-29? Searching for something more? Looking to explore or refresh your faith? Wondering what to do with your life? Saturday 10th – Monday 19th August 2013 Diocesan Pilgrimage to Taizé At Taizé there is an opportunity to share life and worship with thousands of people from all over the world and time for Bible study, discussion, silence and fun. Being part of a group from Birmingham means that we prepare well beforehand and reflect together while we’re there. Those who travelled with us last year found it a really enjoyable and transformative experience. This year’s pilgrimage will be led by Faith Claringbull, Susannah Rudge, Manda Howett, Oli Preston and Tom Ruston. There will be an introductory meeting at St Francis, Bournville on Saturday 23rd February, 12.30-2.30pm. The church is at Sycamore Road/Linden Road, B30 2AA. It would be helpful to know numbers in advance. If you would like more information, would like to watch a 4-minute youtube clip of the 2012 pil
Week Beginning: Sunday 10th February 2013. Question 5: Who is the Holy Spirit? Bible readings: 1 Corinthians 2:12-16, John 14:15-21. Discussion Questions: 1. Choose one of the 3 images we’ve mentioned this morning: ‘fire’, ‘wind’ & ‘water’. How has it helped you to understand more clearly who the Holy Spirit is & what the Holy Spirit does? 2. Romans 8:27 refers to the Holy Spirit helping us in our weakness and relates it to weakness in prayer. Have you ever experienced this before and how do you think it might be possible in the future? 3. In what areas of your life do you want the Holy Spirit to turn your timidity or fear into boldness and courage? 4. Can you identify one way in which this session: “who is the Holy Spirit?” has helped you to a clearer understanding? Further resources for those exploring… Websites: www.alpha.org Books: “I believe in the Holy Spirit” – Michael Green & “On in the Spirit” – David Watson.