Update from the Vicar
26th January 2022
Here's the link for the video update
Here's the link to a document with images and a few questions to help you as you pray into the vision for St Mary's .
Transcript of the video update:
Hi everybody this week in my update I wanted to talk about St Mary’s vision. We’ve been praying as a PCC and the staff and we’ve prayed about it at First Priority as well, and this is going to be an ongoing process obviously of praying into and seeking God’s face about his vision for us for 2022 at St Mary’s.
I’m going to share some images that’ll help with explaining what we’ve been thinking about. The main vision statement for St Mary’s is that we are about Encountering God, being Rooted in Christ and Transforming Lives. So we start with our Encounter with God – we need him, we worship him, we make sure that our lives are rooted in Jesus Christ (we are completely Jesus centred as a church) and we expect to see God transforming lives. So that’s our main vision and within that we are a Word and Spirit church so we value the Word of God, the Bible and it’s authority and we value the Holy Spirit and we are expecting him to lead us and be at work in us and to empower us, and it’s all part of our relationship with him and our expectation of his fruit to be born in our lives and his gifting as well. For many years Isaiah 61 has been a passage that has shaped St Mary’s and we still believe that it is really central to who we are. It is a passage that Jesus took, when stood up in the temple and said ‘this day this is fulfilled in your hearing’, meaning that he himself fulfils Isaiah 61. You can read about that in Luke chapter 4. So really, at the very heart of who we are as a church we are a Jesus shaped church and centred on him and we look to him and we seek his face, seek first his face, his kingdom and his righteousness and we trust God for the rest.
On our walls in the lower hall we now have some images that remind us of these things within that passage. So you’ll see that it says at the outset that “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” We are called as a church to speak out the Good News of Jesus Christ to the poor. So that is the poor in the normal sort of sense of the word, those who are lacking in different things and struggling in life and it is the poor spiritually so that’s all of us because all of us need rescue and help in life, all of us need God’s help. And it’s for those who have an open heart and are aware of their need of God, so they will be able to receive and hear that really really clearly and we are anointed to proclaim this amazing good news we have in Jesus of how he’s come to bring his rescue into the world. It says that “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting for the display of his splendour.” So God has planted us in a particular place, with particular people with a purpose to bring him glory – to be the display of his splendour, the church is meant display his beautiful splendour as we live in step with him, with the Word and with his Spirit. So we have an image of a tree which reminds us that we’re here not just for ourselves but so that the birds of the air can come and roost and come and find their home amongst us. We’re here for those who are not yet a part of the church. And it says in Isaiah 61 that “He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.” So to care for those who are hurting and to bind them up, to bandage the wounds. “To proclaim freedom for the captives” for those who are held back and imprisoned. “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes” As we come to God in repentance we receive this amazing crown of beauty. There’s so much to be reflecting on in Isaiah 61 and we’re going to continue doing that this year.
We need to imagine it being like the wording that you see through a stick of rock. So when you’re down at the seaside and you get your stick of rock there’s writing written into the very centre of it that’s at the very core of what it is. So the idea is that anywhere that you cut that rock you’ll see that central core of what it’s about – that we are at St Mary’s, anywhere you chop us up, you should be able to see that Isaiah 61 is shaping who we are whether that’s ministry with the children, whether it’s how we welcome people, whether it’s how we serve refreshments, whether it’s a project that we’re running as a church you should see through that this Isaiah 61 heart because it’s what Jesus is like.
This year we want to focus on 4 things in particular : Prayer We want to be about prayer, thinking about how prayer shapes things and obviously prayer is the first priority for us because it’s about a relationship with God, it’s about encountering God and hearing him, hearing what he would like, he is the Lord. And it’s about Small Groups – so small groups, yes, our mid week groups where we meet around the Word of God and we worship together and we encourage each another, we pray for one another, we find ways of sharing all the good stuff that we have with those around us in those small groups. And also it’s about other sorts of small groups, so for some people it might be their Flames group, their childrens group, or it could be your group of 3 people that you regularly pray with and you share with and keep accountability with. How is it that God is shaping us both in the congregations when we’re gathered as lots together and when we’re gathered in smaller groups, what does he want to do through that? And then Whole Church Hospitality. We are called as a people to follow Jesus, to be hospitable. We’re thinking about how can we gather as a whole church. So we already gather in socials for childrens groups, or socials for women or socials for men (the men recently had a men’s curry and that’s great) but also how can we all get together? What can we all do intergenerationally and what might it look like for us as we gather in our own homes with others, we keep hospitality important? And then there’s Outreach as well, because we’re all about offering and proclaiming the good news that we have about Jesus and seeing his amazing life-transforming work in others around us and blessing the people around us in our communities and our networks. So there’s those 4 things for us to be praying into and reflecting on so I’d really encourage us all to be looking at that in our times with God in that secret place you go to where you spend your time with him, whether that’s shutting the door to your room and having that quiet time or going for a walk, wherever that is for you to think more on what does it mean to be shaped in this way? This is what St Mary’s is like. We’ve had a preaching series not that long ago on these three points of being those who Encounter God, are Rooted in Christ and Transform Lives. So let’s keep praying into this vision and be excited about what God’s going to show us in the coming days together, so I encourage everyone to be doing that. It will outwork itself in practical choices that we make this year like what socials we do, so look out for a whole church social that’s going to be coming up soon.
I also want to tell you a few practical things because this week there’s been some changes with the government about COVID arrangements and masks are not mandated from this weekend when we gather together and that means that although it’s not law to wear your masks anymore, at St Mary’s we remain wanting to be COVID responsible so we will encourage people to wear masks particularly whilst singing. Otherwise we’ll carry on as we have done before with all the precautions like having our windows wide open, good ventilation we’re a huge big barn of a place with hand sanitiser. We’re looking out for each other and being considerate of each other, so if you want a bit more space you can get the flyer from the back to indicate that you’d rather save a few spaces near you. Come and feel welcome. We’ll also be continuing to provide the audio of the sermons online.
We’ve got a couple of things coming up in the diary so the Big Playdate has been moved to the 10 Feb (3:30pm for 0-6 year olds in church with an adult) so if you had that in the diary already just look out for that. Also there’s going to be a new craft group meeting from the 27 Feb on a Sunday night once a month at the upper hall, you can ask Lizzy for more information about that, it’ll be 7:30pm onwards so you can go along to it after the evening service if you want to and you book onto that. There’s a flyer about it or email email@example.com and next Monday there is a parent chat on zoom in the evening and it’s worth knowing that we do at the moment still need more volunteers for our Sparklers aged group, that’s 2-7 year olds. So if you can volunteer for that that would be amazing. A bit longer range into the future don’t forget that there are Ventures that you can take part in with your children if you’re a volunteer on them or send your children along to enjoy. There’s an 8-11 year olds Venture that people are beginning to book up on that runs in the summer and also there’s the New Wine summer conference (New Wine B – 29 July to 3rd August) that’s coming up as well. So if you’re thinking and planning your holidays then have those things in mind and do give us a ring at the office if you need any more information. It’s 01926 778505 or send us an email. So hopefully that’ll encourage you as you go into this week and do be praying into our vision and our direction for 2022 with those key areas.