Rev. David Jenkins
Superintendent Minister of
The Vale of Aylesbury
The Circuit holiday is gathering momentum and popularity and there are people who are very much looking forward to being part of it this year.
Looking forward is an important feature of human life.
Within the Circuit it has a strong dynamic too.
Those involved in leading worship look forward to the next service they lead and that becomes their focus, rather than the last one they led.
Treasurers have one eye on future budgets as well as concentrating on
Those who look after property-churches and manses- are putting into place a schedule of works to be done.
A forward-looking church is one that seeks to kindle hope and enthusiasm.
One of the resources for meeting in groups which we intend to follow in some of our churches this year is called “Step Forward” and is devised by the current President of the Methodist Conference, Mark Wakelin. It is about building
confidence as we respond to personal challenges in our lives and engage more effectively in interacting with our local communities.
In the centre of this next quarter is Pentecost and the reminder that our life together is driven forward by the Spirit of God.
In what fresh directions will the Spirit take each of us in the next few months?
One great servant of the Methodist Church in our Circuit, Laurie Gower of Weedon, died earlier this year. At his funeral we sang words that resonated with Laurie and offer us direction too:-
“We’ll praise him for all that is past,
And trust him for all that’s to come.”
Keep looking forward!
With loving care,
Prayer for the Quarter
Forgive us, Lord, when we insist on looking backwards to how things used to be.
Although it is important for us to remember the past and to learn from it, set our sights on what lies ahead.
Give us fresh vision, renewed energy, rekindled hope and enthusiasm.
With gratitude for what has been, while living fully in the present moment, may that moment also contain the germ of forward looking impetus.
Guide us onwards into a future that is larger than we can imagine.
Reassure us of your ongoing presence within us.
Help us in realising the potential of what we can contribute in your service.
Rev. Bill Murphy
We have been fortunate that a man of Bill Murphy’s calibre came to live among us in this Circuit.
We are humbled to realise that the life-changing energies of the Karibuni Trust is based here at Stoke Mandeville Methodist Church.
To all of us Bill has been an immense inspiration, and we will treasure our memories of him with very deep respect and considerable affection.
Weeks before he died, knowing that he was terminally ill, he led the Church Anniversary at Aylesbury, putting a great deal into the preparation of the service and leading it with characteristic enthusiasm and drive. His theme was to encourage people to work together to maintain the church’s unity and mission.
As a Methodist Minister Bill’s first Circuit was at Basingstoke from 1962 until 1968.
All his appointments from then on were as Superintendent Minister-from 1968-1975 he was at the Wandsworth Road Mission in London, known as “Friendship House”, Springfield Methodist Church.
From 1975-1982 he was in a very different appointment at Dorking and Horsham.
From 1982-1991 he was based at Northwood in the Harrow Circuit. This appointment also involved him in a 7 month exchange in Kenya, during which he was Superintendent of 2 Circuits at the same time-the large Kariokar and the Charles New Circuits.
Bill’s final appointment was from 1991-1994 at Amersham.
He loved being a Minister in each place in which he was, and believed that God had led him and all the family to that place to serve. His warmth, compassion and deep love for people endeared him to all, and his enthusiasm and zest for life in all its fullness encouraged and empowered others.
His depth of pastoral care, his understanding and support, his challenging integrity will live on in the lives of thousands of people across the world whose lives have been touched by his influence.
His so-called retirement saw the development of a new sphere of ministry. From the tragedy of his daughter Corrine’s road accident and brain injury came her transforming vision of improving life for needy children in Kenya, and the Karibuni Trust came into being. Under Bill’s leadership the charity grew from the smallest of beginnings to one which currently supports more than 1,200 children in 14 projects. In the process many children’s lives have been turned around. Bill and his wife Joy visited Kenya at least once every year to share with staff and children in the projects and to ensure that the Trust’s funds were being put to best use.
As Joy continues to be an effective advocate for Karibuni, we pray for her and her children and grandchildren, who will, like us, miss Bill greatly, but will want to build on all that his inspiring influence has given us.
For the Circuit Prayer Diary, see 'Space for Prayer' (...Click)
For the Circuit Prayer Diary, see 'Space for Prayer' (...Click)
The most recent of David's published sermons will appear here:
Living in these times
A sermon first preached on 9 December 2012,. based on Luke 3:1-6
In which historical period would you most like to be living?
In Roman times, Tudor times, Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian times?
Personally, I’d rather be alive now than at any previous time. I like the home comforts and the advanced technologies of the present day too much to want to go backwards!
When we are living and where we are living is of great importance.
The introduction as to when John the Baptist was living is particularly precise in Luke’s Gospel- “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Anna and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness”.
We who are living during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, when David Cameron is Prime Minister and Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury, are located in these times and in the place in which we live.
John was both a man of his times and a man ahead of his times.
He was ahead of them because he was a visionary, who created new practices (to him we owe the practice of baptism), who saw the needs of others and was not afraid to speak out and to take action regarding them.
He was also very much a man of his time, who was able to realise the unique significance of his age and to see his part in it. The Messiah is coming. Therefore it is imperative that we should be ready-preparing the way of the Lord.
It was not only important when he lived, but where he lived.
John didn’t stay in the wilderness, but went into all the region around the Jordan. This was his sphere of influence-the place in which he made a difference. Though his influence was to spread far beyond that region, the region around the Jordan is was where it was concentrated.
Where is your sphere of influence?
What else was important was how he lived. He took action by proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His life energy was directed towards making life better for people.
He recognised people’s needs and sought to provide what could improve their situation.
His was a challenging and uncomfortable presence that did not accept the status quo, but was directed towards preparing, making ready, tackling corruption, putting things right.
Not being time travellers like Dr. Who we can’t choose any other historical period in which to live, even if we wanted to.
The times in which we live are now.
So where are the unique opportunities of the present age? Where do things need putting right? Where does corruption need to be tackled?
What difference can we make, both by being people of our times and people who could be ahead of our time, by moving life on into new improved situations?
Often people of faith are perceived as not being ahead of our time, but behind the times! Because so much of faith is rooted in history, because we are conveyers of a tradition, it is not surprising that we are seen as backward looking, because to some extent we are bound to be. But we can also be people who are ahead of our time.
John looked back, quoting the prophet Isaiah, a figure of the past –hundreds of years past. But John was also an innovator, leading people forward into the future, with reference to the past.
Our role, in the mission in which we are engaged, relates to the past, finding our roots and foundations there; but we are also fully people of our own time, and sufficiently forward looking to be involved in what is ahead of our time.
Some of the causes with which we may identify-bringing world peace, ending global poverty, halting global warming, may be areas which we will not see realised in our own lifetime, yet it is important to be working towards them now, insofar as they help to improve the quality of life for the people of the world in the present and the future. This is not only for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. This is for people around the world who need such an emphasis in the here and now.
The ministry we share in the present seeks to address our own context-the times in which we live and the place in which we live. What difference does our being here at this time make to wherever it is in which we live or work?
What is vital too is how we live.
What insights fire our lives?
With what causes do we identify?
How do we use our energy?
How do we seek to follow God in this present age?
John called people to repentance as a step towards the forgiveness of their sins.
People nowadays will have just as many reasons for repenting as they did then.
As John thundered about the need to sort out corruption, we have become aware, even in our own country of how deeply corruption appears to have scarred almost every institution within society, which is designed to hold the fabric of society together, which is meant to be respected and to lead by example. We have seen corruption in Parliament, newspapers, the police force, the BBC, even within the church in attempts to cover up and conceal and avoid the implications of human wrongdoing.
But how do we campaign for an improvement in standards without becoming judgmental, without claiming the moral high ground, without putting ourselves 6 feet above contradiction? What right have we to protest about the speck in our neighbour’s eye if a plank remains in our own?
Is the challenge of this reading that we need to repent, that we need to sort out corrupting influences and ideas and attitudes in our own psyche and behaviour?
There are things to put right in society-no doubt of that.
There are terrible wrongs to address in our world-unquestionably, and it is wholly right that we devote time and strength towards those shared efforts that are directed towards a better world for all.
But we would be disingenuous if we saw the problem as being always out there and never in here, always someone else’s problem and never our own.
The most effective contribution we can make towards the world’s healing is to recognise our own need of healing and to take whatever action can help us there.
There’s a story about a small boy who was given a jigsaw for Christmas. The jigsaw pieces had pictures on both sides. On the box it showed that on one side there was a picture of the world and on the other the picture of a man. The boy didn’t know what the world looked like, but he did know what a man looked like. When he made the jigsaw of the man and carefully turned the pieces over, he had made a jigsaw of the world.
We put the world right by putting human beings right, and the only human being we have any power to change is ourselves.
Living when we do –recognising all the reasons for being thankful for living in these times –and recognising all the reasons to lament living in these times;
Living where we do, and not wishing to be anywhere else, but facing up to the specific and unique opportunities of being in this place;
Living how we may-working towards creating a more just and sustainable world-but also facing our own need for forgiveness and turning life around;
May we address our context as part of our mission as followers of God in this time and place-through the strength and grace God gives. Amen.
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