Becoming an Invitational Church

Michael Harvey’s talk today was fascinating and brought home many points that can really help us at St. Andrew’s.  For me what I see as most important is that we are all working for the same Lord, the same purpose with the same goals.  We all aren’t called to do the same things and we all aren’t good at the same things so God gives us different gifts and these must be recognised so that we can be effective.  If we can complement one another, we’ll be able to encourage, in the right way, everyone we meet, to join us at St. Andrew’s and come to faith.  Father God, open up our hearts so that we can really work together in love for your kingdom here in Coniston and the world where you move us each and every day.  Amen.


New Beginnings

At St. Andrew’s we celebrate New Beginnings.  Yesterday’s blessing service for the new homes was awesome.  It is great to have Mark back with us and we have just issued our first ever Annual Report.  Praise God!  To receive a copy, please contact Mark East on 41262.

Alternatively you can download it in two parts:

Cover;  Annual Report


A Harvest of Grace

Harvest Supper by Candlelight.

Harvest Supper by Candlelight

Words cannot describe the awesome power of grace at work for the Harvest Supper last term.  Spearheaded by Grisedale Arts, the entire village donated food, lots of good cooks volunteered their time and in three short hours, the local Primary School was transformed into a dining extravaganza.  A long William Morris print table cloth, candles, mood music, waiters, and personalised service.  It was an extraordinary evening where many were fed by the few.

There was nothing we could do to earn it.  Like God’s grace, we were given a Harvest Supper to remember.  Delivering containers of food throughout the village the next day was even better.   An encounter with more lovely souls.


The Dynamic of Music in Worship

Mark, our Priest in Charge, is studying the dynamic of music in worship.   He is looking for views across all ages and has compiled a questionnaire to help the process.  Two versions are available on-line:

 The word view can be completed on-line and e-mailed.

 The pdf version lends itself to printing and posting.

Whichever way you choose, your views are important.  If you are interested in this topic and can take the time, your views are very much appreciated.


Shining Stars

Thanks to all you shining stars for making our dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving, St. Andrew’s Day and Advent such a success!

Blessings to the churches of St. Andrew’s and St. Luke’s for coming together at the very large table beautifully laid out by Liz and Mike with candles from their daughter’s wedding along with their entire linen supply. For Gill who supported me in planning from the beginning baking beautiful rolls and supplying two massive bags of potatoes.  Her nimble hands chopped vegetables diligently, washed every single potato and stood at a very hot stove to the very end.  To Linda who gave us that last minute power assist needed to get the sausage and roast potatoes cooked.   To Mike Furness, Mike Batho, Nick, Howard and Liz who helped serve every delicious morsel – we even had turkey, mashed potatoes and kale leftover.  To Mark who arranged for us to get the Youth Centre making the entire event possible and for personally calling to ensure all were invited.  Thank you for leading us in the blessing.  To Gill and Linda who supplied lovely pies for the pumpkin pie bake-off and to Peter for being such a good judge.  To Mike Furness for a knock-out quiz and the reminder of that exquisite horse, See the Stars! To our surprise visitor who helped massively by washing up at the end.

A special thanks to Howard and Norman who stood by us all the way from the beginning to the end running interference to insure every pass was completed.

To all who came and joined in the celebration with much wine and merry mirth,  God bless you all.


The Tomb is Empty – Does Jesus Live Today?

At Easter we celebrate the empty tomb, the risen Lord, the resurrection life and I wonder…

I wonder what this means for us here, in this place, in the 21st centurty.  Somehow it seems to me that what we choose to think about Christ’s resurrection power will fundamentally alter every aspect of our lives.

Thursday I attended a funeral for a man who was full of love and grace.  I never knew him when he was a preacher but as I sat there listening to the CV of his life I found myself wanting to hear instead the story of how he became full of the love and grace of the living Lord.  I wanted to hear the stories of the lives that were changed through this man’s relationship with Jesus.

Is this transformation power a one-off event relevant only 2,000 years ago?  is it a momentary event, a one-off for each one of us or is it a filling up again and again, brought on by a relationship that takes us from here to God’s eternal throne?

This is about relationships.  This is about encounter.  Do you have a story to tell?  Does Jesus live today?


Christening, Baptism or What?

‘I’d like to get my baby done, Vicar!’ has been a very common request in parishes up and down the country. That request still goes on though I have to say in general people today will use the word Christening or Baptism. Many people, whether they regularly attend church or not, are still requesting something special in their children’s early life by asking for a Christening (or Baptism) the words are interchangeable.

At St Andrew’s and St Luke’s we are taking a fresh look at the best way in which to respond to these requests and help the parents and their families understand the implication of what they are entering into. In the Bible, baptism was clearly seen as a personal and public declaration, by adults, of their own desire to be a committed Christ-follower.

The Anglican Church has adopted the practice of not only baptising adults, but also their children, on the understanding that these children are brought up and nurtured to be Christ-followers.
Right at the beginning of the Baptism service we read the words:-
Children who are too young to profess the Christian faith are baptised on the understanding that they are brought up as Christians within the family of the church. As they grow up, they need the help and encouragement of that family, so that they learn to be faithful in public worship and private prayer, to live by trust in God and come to confirmation.

The implication of this paragraph is that whole families together will be involved in the regular worshipping life of the local church, so that the children understand better what it means to be a Christian, a Christ-follower.

In my experience, not just here in our two villages, but in most of the parishes I’ve ministered in, as a rule, this does not happen. One approach we could take is to say, Baptism, particularly infant Baptism, isn’t achieving what it sets out to achieve, therefore we’ll only baptise adults who show a real personal desire and commitment to becoming Christ-followers! However, our desire as churches is to discover, with you, how we can make the best sense of the Baptism promises that are made by, or on behalf of, those brought for Baptism.

You see, the baptism event is in itself symbolising the beginning of a life-long spiritual journey with other Christ-followers. So we would value your help as we seek the most effective way of journeying together into a deeper relationship with Christ. It makes little sense to baptise if there is no desire or real commitment to develop one’s relationship with Christ Jesus. How can we effectively nurture you and your children in growing as Christ-followers? It’s like joining a Gym or Golf Club then not going anywhere near it. You’ll not develop you expertise or get the benefits unless you do!!

We’d love you to join us on Monday 24th April, 7.30 pm in St Andrew’s Church so that we can together find the best way of fulfilling the baptism promises we make for ourselves and our children.

Easter Blessings & happy journeying to you all!
Mark East, Priest-in-Charge.


Revelations from Joshua

Sometimes the word of God comes when you least expect it.  This morning’s UCB readings from Joshua 5-8:29 gave me much food for thought.  I came away with three revelations.

  1. To be effective, we all have to be on the same page.  Grumbling, in-fighting, tiny criticisms, petty jealousies – they all come from the powers of this world not the Kingdom of Heaven.  We can’t go to the promised land until we are on the same page.
  2. God will reveal methods, strategies and tactics that make no sense to the powers of this world.  If God speaks, listen and act.  The result will be beyond anything imagined by our human minds.
  3. Do not let down your guard.  No matter what crisis is taking place, maintain good practice to ensure the gates are guarded.

Is this a Divine Plan?

When in London recently, I saw the Supremes exhibition at the V & A.  It was more about the rising up of black people from the south and their journey from the lands of cotton picking to the Motor City, where good paying jobs could be found.  There was strife along the way.  Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream” rallied the people and culminated in a series of riots during one of the hottest summers in the 60’s several years later.  In fact, some of these burnt out blocks have never been rebuilt and stand as a memorial of this terrible time.  I was struck by the reminder that Martin Luther King was assassinated in April 1968.  Forty years later, a young black man, Senator Obama was running for President.

I had a sense that in this 40 year span, there was a divine plan at work.  Forty is the time of waiting in the Bible.  Moses waited forty years working on the land before his calling.  The Israelites waited 40 years to be taken to the promised land.  Jesus was tested by Satan for 40 days and 40 nights.  Chills ran down my spine.  It was clear to me that this was Obama’s time.  This was confirmed in Tuesday’s election.

Did we have a previous chance to move the world in a different direction and did we fail in our first try?  Is this all part of God’s plan for us?  If so, what are we to be doing differently?

After 911, I felt that America had a chance to reach out to the world in love and humility.  What could have possibly brought about such wrath?  Was it a chance to bow down to our heavenly Father in prayer or was it a time to take up arms and dust off the same old weapons?  I believe that nations around the world were filled with empathy for America at that time.  Could we have changed the course of the world by reaching out to them and holding hands around the world?

In the book of Jonah we read of a man called by God to preach to the people of Ninevah.  Jonah refuses and is swallowed by a whale.  Finally he is spewed out of the whale and he does as he was told.  He preaches a gospel of salvation and the people are saved.  The message here is that God will have his way with us one way or the other.  If one tactic will not do, he will use another.  If God wants something to happen, it will happen.

We had our first chance to repent and start anew.  The events of the last few months have been like a waterfall of woes.  Falling markets, falling economy, and tales of doom abound.  Enter Obama.  Groomed for this task, plucked out of the ocean of humanity for just this time.  God has a plan and it will happen.

So what are the new ways of looking at the world?  Jesus came with love, salvation and the offer of grace.  He was crucified and died for our sins.  I believe that if we can reach out to one another in unity and peace, forgive one another, and work together with citizens from every land, we can mend fences and build a better world.  Let’s get down on our knees and ask for the grace to make it happen.


As American Election Looms

An Outside Perspective

The eyes of the world have been held in rapt attention over the election between McCain and Obama for U.S. President.  There is no question that the dramatic rise of Senator Obama and his staying power are messianic.  The people are looking for a saviour and this man knows how to handle himself.  A man with these charismatic qualities coupled with strong values and clear vision has the power to transform America and the world.

The question one must ask is whether or not we are looking at a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  I was sent the following commentary written by a black Christian pianist stating his case on why he wouldn’t be voting for Obama.  Please pray for the American election and for God’s hand upon this nation and the world.  Whoever wins will need divine guidance to navigate these uncharted waters in which we live.

Why I Can’t Vote For Obama

By Huntley Brown

Dear Friends,

A few months ago I was asked for my perspective on Obama, I sent out an email with a few points. With the election just around the corner I decided to complete my perspective. Those of you on my e-list have seen some of this before but it’s worth repeating…

First I must say whoever wins the election will have my prayer support. Obama needs to be commended for his accomplishments but I need to explain why I will not be voting for him.

Many of my friends process their identity through their blackness. I process my identity through Christ. Being a Christian (a Christ follower) means He leads I follow. I can’t dictate the terms He does because He is the leader.

I can’t vote black because I am black; I have to vote Christian because that’s who I am. Christian first, black second. Neither should anyone from the other ethnic groups vote because of ethnicity. 200 years from now I won’t be asked if I was black or white. I will be asked if I knew Jesus and accepted Him as Lord and Savior.

In an election there are many issues to consider but when a society gets abortion, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning to name a few, wrong economic concerns will soon not matter.

We need to follow Martin Luther King’s words, don’t judge someone by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I don’t know Obama so all I can go off is his voting record. His voting record earned him the title of the most liberal senator in the US Senate in 2007.

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Obama: Most Liberal Senator in 2007 (01/31/2008)

To beat Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton as the most liberal senator, takes some doing. Obama accomplished this feat in 2 short years. I wonder what would happen to America if he had four years to work with.

There is a reason Planned Parenthood gives him a 100% rating. There is a reason the homosexual community supports him. There is a reason Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro, Hamas etc. love him. There is a reason he said he would nominate liberal judges to the Supreme Court. There is a reason he voted against the infanticide bill. There is a reason he voted No on the constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. There is a reason he voted No on banning partial birth abortion. There is a reason he voted No on confirming Justices Roberts and Alito. These two judges are conservatives and they have since overturned partial birth abortion. The same practice Obama wanted to continue.

Let’s take a look at the practice he wanted to continue The 5 Step Partial Birth Abortion procedures:

A. Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabs the baby’s leg with forceps. (Remember this is a live baby)

B. The baby’s leg is pulled out into the birth canal.

C. The abortionist delivers the baby’s entire body, except for the head.

D. The abortionist jams scissors into the baby’s skull. The scissors are then opened to enlarge the hole.

E. The scissors are removed and a suction catheter is inserted. The child’s brains are sucked out, causing the skull to collapse. The dead baby is then removed.

God help him. There is a reason Obama opposed the parental notification law.

Think about this: You can’t give a kid an aspirin without parental notification but that same kid can have an abortion without parental notification. This is insane.

There is a reason he went to Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years.

Obama tells us he has good judgment but he sat under Jeremiah Wright teaching for 20 years. Now he is condemning Wright’s sermons. I wonder why now?

Obama said Jeremiah Wright led him to the Lord and discipled him. A disciple is one in training. Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19 – 20 “Go and make disciples of all nations.” This means reproduce yourself. Teach
people to think like you, walk like you; talk like you believe what you believe etc. The question I have is what did Jeremiah Wright teach him?

Would you support a White President who went to a church which has tenets that said they have a …

1. Commitment to the White Community

2. Commitment to the White Family

3. Adherence to the White Work Ethic

4. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the White Community.

5. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting White Institutions

6. Pledge allegiance to all White leadership who espouse and embrace the White Value System

7. Personal commitment to embracement of the White Value System.

Would you support a President who went to a church like that?

Just change the word from white to black and you have the tenets of Obama’s former church. If President Bush was a member of a church like this, he would be called a racist. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton would have been marching outside.

This kind of church is a racist church. Obama did not wake up after 20 years and just discovered he went to a racist church. The church can’t be about race. Jesus did not come for any particular race. He came for the whole world.

A church can’t have a value system based on race. The churches value system has to be based on biblical mandate. It does not matter if itʼs a white church or a black church it’s still wrong. Anyone from either race that attends a church like this would never get my vote.

Obama’s former Pastor Jeremiah Wright is a disciple of liberal theologian James Cone, author of the 1970 book A Black Theology of Liberation. Cone once wrote: “Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him.

Cone is the man Obama’s mentor looks up to. Does Obama believe this?

So what does all this mean for the nation?

In the past when the Lord brought someone with the beliefs of Obama to lead a nation it meant one thing – judgment.

Read 1 Samuel 8 when Israel asked for a king. First God says in 1 Samuel 1:9 “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

Then God says

1 Samuel 1:18 ” When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

Here is what we know for sure.

God is not schizophrenic

He would not tell one person to vote for Obama and one to vote for McCain. As the scripture says, a city divided against itself cannot stand, so obviously many people are not hearing from God.

Maybe I am the one not hearing but I know God does not change and Obama contradicts many things I read in scripture so I doubt it.

For all my friends who are voting for Obama can you really look God in the face and say; Father based on your word, I am voting for Obama even though I know he will continue the genocidal practice of partial birth abortion. He might have to nominate three or four Supreme Court justices, and I am sure he will be nominating liberal judges who will be making laws that are against you. I also know he will continue to push for homosexual rights, even though you destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for this. I know I can look the other way because of the economy.

I could not see Jesus agreeing with many of Obama’s positions. Finally I have two questions for all my liberal friends. Since we know someone’s value system has to be placed on the nation,

1. Whose value system should be placed on the nation?

2. Who should determine that this is the right value system for the

Blessings, Huntley Brown