Every Sunday at 11 am Family Church is held. On the third Sunday of the month Holy Communion is celebrated at this service. (Please note that occasionally services take place at Brookmans Park URC – check our Calendar page)
As we are a joint pastorate, our Minister leads us in worship on the second and third Sundays of the month.
On other Sundays we benefit from welcoming to our pulpit a wide range of preachers all of whom have strong links with our church.
A Message from our Minister (September 2018)
I am very excited about my return to full time ministry. I am especially excited about picking up the threads of the vision for mission on which we were working before I became unwell.
David Ramsey has taken on the role of church secretary so ably during my absence that I am thrilled to have a new partnership through which to develop that vision. There are many opportunities for us to explore. The days to come promise much.
I have taken the opportunity presented by the change in pattern during August to reflect and to share my reflections. The church in general – and our church in particular – is a very different place with respect to its surroundings than it used to. This is a challenge to us to think differently but also an opportunity for new kinds of service. The next phase of our church’s life promises to be a great adventure.
As we take the good news out from our gathered community I hope we can all hear it afresh. It is in giving up the illusion that we know the answers that we can have a chance of discovering some. It is only by trusting Christ that we can find him trustworthy. It is only by taking risks that we can make our way to safety.
With all blessings
Geoff Peterson’s Monthly Message.
(Geoff is an adherent of our Church, who writes a regular message for our magazine The News)
The Ministry of Jesus begins and the Truth is revealed(October 2018)
Last month we began our study by ‘dipping’ into the Gospel written by the Apostle John. We noted that John was writing an account of the Gospel story for the Greek believers and readers, as they would not know of Jewish ideas and history. He explained how the Greek quest for the answers to the great eternal questions of life and its meaning were answered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The Jewish world was waiting for the appearance of the Messiah, the Greek world was looking for ‘the Word’ and the meaning of ‘God’.
This was the essence of the first 18 verses of the first Chapter of John. Notice the final statement in v17 that `God gave the Law through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’, and note too that ‘Jesus’ is followed by the Greek word of kingship. Verse 18 tells us that ‘no one has ever seen God, the only Son who is the same as God He has made him known. So this then was the mission of Jesus, to make GOD known. The Jews knew the Law, but neither the Jew nor the Greek could comprehend the Truth and the Grace.
Now let us continue from verse 19. The next thing that happens is that John (the Baptist) was teaching and baptising on the eastern side of the River Jordan. and the authorities wanted to know why and by whose authority he was so doing. This John was actually a priest, if you look at the Christmas story you will see that his father was a priest, so John was a priest by the inheritance rule of the Jews. However, he was preaching a different truth, namely that to be ‘right with God’ one had to confess one’s wrongdoings, change one’s lifestyle, and henceforth love God in life and deed. Baptism was a sign that one had resolved to do this.
For his listeners and his disciples John (the Baptist) in our story did two things, he identified Jesus of Nazareth as the Prophet of God and the Messiah and Christ, and as the Lamb of God the Saviour of the world. These words had an important meaning both to Jew and to Greek. Now stop and read the account in verses 19 to 34.
Next, Jesus draws a band of followers, or disciples, into the work that He has to do. They are east of the river Jordan near a different Bethany to that near Jerusalem. The very next day two of John’s disciples resolve to meet Jesus, they follow him to see where he comes from, or lives, or is staying. Jesus is aware and turns and questions them. If it were me, I would probably have said ‘what do you want?’ rather curtly, but I am sure that the Prince of Peace spoke both gently and kindly to them. Notice what he says. ‘What are you looking for?’. This is a really loaded question. For both Greek and Jew it could well mean ‘What are you looking for in life’, or ‘what is salvation’, or spiritually ‘I desperately need something’. The two answer with the word ‘Rabbi’ or ‘teacher’ and an implied request to go and sit at the feet of the Teacher in his living place. They spend the rest of the day with the Lord and resolve to follow Him. – and John notes the time that it happened, in the afternoon at 4 o’clock! Can you remember exactly when you made the choice to follow Him? I can. At 19 and waiting for my call up for National Service, at the evening service I went up to our Minister the Rev T E Sims-Davies and said, ‘Simmy, I want to be baptised. ‘!
Notice who these first two disciples were, they were Andrew and the reporter of the event, i.e. John. Now read verses 35 to39.
Next, Andrew goes and finds his brother, Simon Peter. Andrew tells his brother about the Good News and brings him to the Lord.
Jesus greets him, renames him – there is a play on words here between Simon’s given name -the Greek and Aramaic and Jewish equivalents – signifying that Simon has been reborn. When we resolve to follow Him, we also are reborn a new person. Read the account in verses 40 to 42,
Next day – see how fast events happen- Jesus goes up the river Jordan to Galilee you will remember that is where Peter lived. Jesus finds Philip, probably a friend of Andrew and Peter, and calls him to service. Philip goes and finds Nathanael and tells him the Good News and takes him to the Lord. Jesus had seen him previously ‘under the fig tree’. Was Nathanael perhaps praying for the coming of the Messiah whilst under that Fig Tree?, because the narrative alludes to something of the kind. After a discussion with Philip and then talking with Jesus, Nathanael is convinced and joins the band of friends. So the Word spreads. Now read verse 43 to the end. That is how our own faith should work. One is changed or converted and then tells another of what has happened in their lives, this next person then is able to meet with the Good News.
Two days later – notice again how quickly the story unfolds and how John remembers it – Jesus goes inland a short distance to Cana for a wedding celebration. It is at this Festive occasion that the first sign of His ministry is played out. Read the account in Chapter 2 and the first 12 verses. Whilst reading it, do notice the detail, only an observer of the event could be that precise so John will have been there.
From the wedding they go back to Capernaum, at the lake side, and soon after they are off to Jerusalem for a Passover.
To return to Nathanael, he does not appear in the other three Gospels, however in the Gospels of Mathew and Mark the name Philip is coupled with Bartholomew, could it be that Nathanael and Bartholomew are one and the same person?
The only other time that Nathanael is mentioned is at the end of John’s Gospel when he is one of the seven disciples who go fishing with Peter. You might like to turn to the end of John chapter 21 verses 1 to 24 and read that wonderful story of the last meeting that Jesus had with his friends, incidentally they are all those that I have talked about above! Yes, John was there too, as the beloved disciple.
In March Heather and I were at this lakeside and on the self same small beach: it was both tranquil and awesome and Paul led us in a powerful devotion. We were then left alone on the beach to ponder on what happened two millennia ago, and its truth for today.
May I ask you the same question that Jesus asked of Peter that day (and, by inference the others, too), ‘ Do you love the Lord? If your answer is ‘yes’ the message is clear, namely, that we go and tell our friends about this Christ that they may come and meet Him too.
Go forth and tell!
O Church of God, awake
God’s saving News
to all the nations take:
proclaim Christ Jesus,
Saviour, Lord and King,
that all the world
His worthy praise may sing.