St Joseph’s Church 2021

A vision for the year ahead

Jesus said, ‘‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)’

 

As members of God’s family, the church, our faith is central to every aspect of our lives. The values of God’s kingdom must be evident in all that we do.

 

We are:    People of Faith

                 People of Prayer

                 People of the Word

                 People of integrity  

                 Members of the Body

 

How do these values impact upon us on a daily basis? What is our vision for being God’s people in the year ahead? Here are four priorities, encouraging us to keep us in step with God, and with one another. 

 

 

Priority 1:     To build Christ-centred lives. 

Priority 2:     To deepen the Prayer Life of the Church.

Priority 3:     To be the Body of Christ

Priority 4:     To make disciples of Jesus Christ

 

 

Priority 1:     To build Christ-centred lives.

 

‘Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.’ 

(Ephesians 4:1)

 

At the heart of our faith must be our personal relationship with God. Like all relationships, there are no short cuts! Our salvation begins and ends with Jesus. As Paul teaches, we are saved, ‘by grace, through faith’. This has implications for us. We have the immense privilege of spiritual blessing from God (read Ephesians chapters 1 and 2). But with privilege goes responsibility.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to live in a way that honours God. And that involves behaving in a godly way, and seeking the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. That all comes back to love.

 

Paul goes on to write, in Ephesians, ‘Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.’ (5:1-2)

 

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Priority 2: To deepen the Prayer Life of the Church.

 

‘Lord, teach us to pray’ (Luke 11:1)

 

Prayer is our spiritual life-force. It is the way by which we keep in touch with God. It is so much more than just intercession – like any friendship, it is about listening and sharing. Prayer is spending time with God, and so discerning what He says to us, and sharing with Him all that is on our hearts. How important that we spend time in prayer (which includes reading the Bible), on a daily, regular basis.

 

There is much to pray about at the moment. The entire world has been shaken by the covid-19 pandemic. We are all aware of individuals to bring to God in our intercessions. We must also pray for wisdom as we seek to build God’s kingdom. We cannot escape the financial implications of living on earth; we are acutely aware of the practical and outreach needs of our church; we long to see new disciples embracing faith; we know that we need to reach out to the next generation and inspire faith in the young generation. 

 

As we pray, God will speak to us. And be warned – often he will show us how He can use us to answer our own prayers!  

 

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Priority 3: To be the Body of Christ

 

‘Do not neglect to meet together’ (Hebrews 10:25)

 

Thus far, we have thought in personal terms. We each have our own, unique, relationship with God, but there is a corporate dimension to faith. When we are baptised, we are baptised into the Body of Christ – the fellowship of all believers. We need other members of the Body. In order to maintain our spiritual health, we need to meet together – for worship, prayer, and mutual support. That’s why it’s so important to meet, not just on a Sunday morning, but with like-minded members to encourage and support one another. Belonging to the church is not just an optional extra, it is an essential part of our spiritual lives.

 

During the months of lockdown, this has not been easy. We have developed new ways of ‘distance’ meeting, but nothing can replace actually being together in one place. A challenge we face, as a church, over the next few months is to re-create the sense of fellowship and belonging which is so essential to St Joseph’s.  

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Priority 4   To make disciples of Jesus Christ

 

‘Go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19)

     

When Jesus left the earth, he entrusted His work to His disciples. And so it has been ever since. The church is only here today because faithful, God loving people have shared their faith and brought others to believe. We are part of that chain, and Jesus last words are imperative for us. How do we make disciples today? We do face big questions at St Joseph’s – especially concerning children’s and young people’s work. How will we respond?

 

 

And finally…..

 

In Isaiah 6, the young prophet has a vision of God, seated on His throne. He hears God say, ‘Who shall I send? Who will go for us?’

Isaiah’s immediate response is to cry aloud, ‘Here I am. Send me.’

“Lord, use me in Your service. Amen.”

PASTORAL LETTER FROM OUR CLERGY CONCERNING THE RECENT TENSIONS SURROUNDING "BLACK LIVES MATTER"

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Dear Friends,

 

Recent events in the United States of America have drawn public attention to the systemic racism that continues to cause immense harm across the world. We know these recent events will have caused much distress to many people where past and present experiences of racism have been brought to the forefront of their minds. We stand with the statement produced by the Archbishops by saying our hearts weep for the suffering caused – for those who have lost their lives, those who have experienced persecution, those who live in fear and for those who live with the ongoing trauma that racism has caused.

 

As members of the body of Christ, we affirm the value and the dignity of all human life. We recognise that every human life is made ‘in the image of God’, and as God’s creation, has inherent value. 

As followers of Christ, we have an obligation to work for peace, unity, tolerance and understanding. 

As members of the Church, we rejoice that people from all cultures and ethnic groups can worship together under the Fatherhood of our loving heavenly Father.

As people of the Way, we look forward to the time when we will be ‘with Christ’, when every tear will be wiped away, and there will be an end to sin, suffering and all evil.

 

We pray for a time where the peace of Christ rules in everyone’s hearts and for a time when ‘Black Lives Matter’. We pray that God will help us to live together as members of one family at home in the world, sons and daughters of one Father who live in the liberty of the children of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

We want to extend our support and prayer to anyone who is finding the recent events particularly difficult, so please do contact any of the clergy team if you have any pastoral need that you would like to discuss further with us. Please be assured of our continued prayers…………………

 

Peter, Tim, Treena