This Sunday, 7 January, the focus of our Circuit Prayers is on Fairtrade. Gone are the days when Fairtrade was just a new, novel idea. It has become an integral part of our Christian ethos, and our faith requires that we consider the needs of others in every sphere of activity that we engage in. Rod shares below, his thoughts on how the principles of Fairtrade and the practice of his faith, dovetail into practical awareness and concern for those around him. Please remember these principles and consider the effect on others whenever you have a choice to make.
This contribution was pulled together in Advent while pending a trip away to spend time with family. Thus I have at least two reasons to be anticipating Good News. One allows a long awaited (and so missed) physical meeting with a son, his wife and two grandchildren. The second invites me to remember the Birth of God's son. Each bring to the fore the message of love and sharing something special.
I was introduced to the words of the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians many a year ago. I have read it and heard it many a time since at weddings and services. Its reference to Faith and Hope, but with a priority on Love, have long provided a backdrop for what I do (or at least try to), how I cope with the ups and downs and why I feel that it is important to see all around me, both the animate and inanimate, as being of concern to me.
I've spoken before of my history and principles that drive my involvement in Fairtrade. The drivers include a recognition of the comparative benefits and privileges I have, as well as factors that have been in play in my life, many of which have been outside my control.
My life's fellow travellers have, in the main, been good. This has been highlighted by others I have met who have been less fortunate in their birthplace and their life setting.
I have faith in the notion that Fairtrade works, hope that it will make a difference, backed by the calling to love, which we are seemingly asked to employ without definition or the limitations that we see acted out or mooted in many World events.
I'm of the view that, if the example of, and setting for giving and receiving as shown in Jesus could be extended into the everyday, there is potential for increasing the feeling of fairness and contentment in the life of more of our fellow travellers.
May the happiness of your New Year be added to by other's actions towards you and yours towards others.
This Sunday, 14 January, the focus of our Circuit Prayers is on all our Preachers, those who lead our services each week. This week we hear how God has supported and confirmed Lynda's journey of faith. I like the way Lynda casually glosses over the fact that she has been a Local Preacher for over fifty years, what commitment and a wonderful achievement. Thank you to all our Preachers, young and mature, and as Lynda says – 'There is always room for more!' Please support our preachers in your prayers this Sunday.
I was quite surprised when I received my 50 year Preaching certificate last year. I felt it was but a short time since I had been travelling on a bus home in a really bad storm and it was then that I believe I felt it was time to follow the path that God seemed to have planned for me.
I had not passed my driving test then and transport to the villages was sketchy. This was the last bus that night. I did feel a bit frightened as the wind and rain buffeted the bus about. We had to go a different route due to the storm but it was as we left our normal route that I saw a poster in the bus. It was from John 14 v 6 "I am the the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." I became calmer in myself as I thought about the words, and I realised I had never seen a text on display in a bus before. Was this a special message for me? We certainly got to our destination safely that night and the text stayed with me.
I had started my training as a Local Preacher and later as it came time to preach my trial sermon this was the text I chose. For me God has always been the way. In good times and sad times. I have worked within the church in many roles and tried to bring our Lord into my working life. Our family have always encouraged me, as have the wonderful people I have met along the way.
Today going to the chapels in the northern part of our circuit is a blessing. Local Preaching is not for everyone but we could do with a few more. Yes it takes time to prepare services but you can help others to find their way to the Father through his love, through his Son, and through the words that we have in the Bible of how he died for us all. There are many blessings to being a Local Preacher.
Perhaps you can consider if it is what God is calling you to do. We can all serve in different ways and finding the right path for you is the right path for God too.
This Sunday, 21 January, the focus of our Circuit Prayers is on Aylesbury. We share in the story of Derek and hear how he has been 'looked after' throughout his ministry. Peter G has supplied some background and then Derek's family continue. I am sure that we are all 'looked after' in our journeys of faith, I am also sure that some of us cause our Guardian Angels a lot more work than others!
Peter G writes:
I don't believe you have ever had a 'Good News from the Circuit' written by a Guardian Angel. Well you have now!
Our church steward, Derek Adams on reaching 80, vowed to trek the coast of Britain before he was 85 and in the process, fund-raise for the RNLI, BHF and Cancer Research. Now 81, and after five completed legs, he is half way there, having trekked the whole east coast of England and Scotland up to the Orkneys and Shetlands, all the south coast and the west coast from Land's End to Cardiff. He hopes to start the sixth leg sometime this spring.
Here, Derek's Guardian Angel gives a fascinating account of his spiritual adventures.
(Note that Wikipedia says that tipi is an alternative spelling to teepee.)
Encounters with Faith.
Guardian Angel. No 23697477
My journey as Protection Officer CPO to Derek William Adams. BA. FRGS.
Within a year of Derek's birth I had a portend of what was to come. I had to deflect a stick of bombs away from the Anderson Shelter in which the family were taking cover. The blast from the bombs shattered the windows and blew the back step off, but the Adams family were safe and Derek and I began our journey together.
In his eighth year my charge joined two life enhancing Organisations, The Scouts, as a Wolf Cub, and the Methodist Association of Youth Clubs. The Scouts helped to equip him for survival and enjoying life in The Great Outdoors, amid the wonders of nature and the security of God's Kingdom.
The Methodist Church nurtured his spirituality, pointing him along the correct path. One influential episode enjoyed with the Youth Club was taking part in an International Youth Camp, in North Wales. This was his first experience of interacting with people from different ethnic groups and cultures. This inspired both his love of travel, meeting new people and living in the Great Outdoors.
Two early influencers I introduced to Derek's life were a Quaker Preacher, with whom he shared a train carriage, and a very long, probing conversation on a journey to Wales, and fellow Northamptonian, Stanley Seamark, also a Quaker Preacher. These friendships and many deep conversations were the catalyst for Derek's involvement with the grass roots of the CND movement, the latter resulting in many arrests, one of which involved being locked in a cell with Bertrand Russell and three Bishops. Bertrand Russell commented to him that "there are times when even our wisest men will be incarcerated for their beliefs. At this moment you are in the right place."
In his late teens/early twenties Derek kept me busy, trekking around Europe and the Middle East, living with people of different religions; Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh. I enjoyed listening to his many conversations and comparisons of the roots of different religions/sects.
He was impressed by the similarity between different religions, particularly that between Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.
Still fresh in his memory (and mine), is an evening spent snowed in, with a Scottish friend, and two shepherds, on the col between the twin summits of Mt Ararat, and a Christmas Eve spent with Syrian shepherds.
Then, in 1990, my charge was invited to join a Commemorative Trek, joining 360 Native Americans to retrace the 180-mile trail to Wounded Knee, where a similar number of their forebears had been massacred 100 years previously. Derek spent two nights, atop Bear Bute in blizzard conditions, prior to joining his friends, ridding himself of all his European norms and thoughts, with the Chinook winds dropping the temperature to minus 81 verified by the USA Meteorological Office, your freezer should be set at minus 18 as a comparison. The weeks of trekking that followed were very spiritual and despite extreme cold no one complained. Living in Tipis, this band of Christian souls celebrated Christmas Day with a joyous meal of Buffalo, antelope and prairie dog!
The prayers said at the start and ending of each day confirmed to each participant the Lord's blessing and the fact that each was at the right place, with the right companions, doing the right thing.
Now in his 80's and still testing me with his travels, Derek is aware that I am with him on his journey, and that he will never be alone.
This Sunday, 28 January, the focus of our Circuit Prayers is on Cheddington. We join Cathy as she explains where she finds God's presence around her even in the middle of the darkest days of winter. Please remember all those for whom the winter is a time of darkness and loneliness and pray that they may see and feel the love and presence of God surrounding and supporting them.
As I type this it's Tuesday 16th January and it's minus something outside and as cold as we can expect in January.
The cold reminds me of that much loved carol (which we probably won't sing again until the end of the year) 'In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone'. So where do I find 1 Corinthians 13 Faith, Hope and Love in the midst of the January problems that we face each year e.g. staying warm and the cost of heating, leaden skies etc?
I find FAITH in the comment of one of our oldest members – 'When I come here, (Cheddington Chapel) I feel that I'm coming home to my Christian family' and in the life of our youngest member who brings her family along, all of whom we cherish in addition to all the other young children who worship with us.
I find HOPE in the lambs tail catkins on a winter's day walk and despite the ground being as 'hard as iron', the snowdrops manage to appear each year to bring us great delight – not forgetting the aconites, hellebores and the splash of colour from the winter jasmine – the wonders of nature. Not forgetting a young 5 year old who is learning to read and would like to read at Messy Church and a service and who also wants to be baptised.
I find LOVE in all our members as we care for each other, and who love to serve and share that love with all those who cross our doorstep either for Toddlers, Coffee morning, Singalong, Lunch groups etc. The LOVE that is poured out on us in great abundance from our Lord who gave His life for us. The same LOVE which unites us as a circuit, district etc.
So, in the bleak midwinter when many of us spend more time indoors than at other times of the year, which can give us a little more time to pause, reflect, despite our busy lives I think again of verse 4 of that carol:-
'What can I give Him, poor as I am? .........
Yet what I can I give Him, give my heart.'
Blessings to you all from Cheddington.
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