Spiritual Gifts

Please forgive me for mentioning Christmas (when we’ve only just celebrated Easter) – but if you’ve read or seen C.S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe you’ll recall that Father Christmas has a brief, but significant cameo. Peter, Susan and Lucy are on a mission to save their brother, restore peace in Narnia and bring an end to the never- ending winter. Their mission is fraught with danger, they are fearful yet determined and a great battle lies ahead. On their journey they meet Father Christmas who has a gift for each of them. To Lucy he gives a healing remedy. To Susan he gives a bow and quiver of arrows. To Peter he gives a powerful sword. As the wide -eyed children look at these gifts in awe, Father Christmas says this to them, “These are tools, not toys. Bear them well….and wisely.”

Over the coming term we are going to spend some time learning about, practicing and developing spiritual gifts. Around Pentecost last year we studied the person and work of the Holy Spirit and this year we are going to hone in specifically on the area of Spiritual Gifts. Paul urges the early church to ‘eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit,’ (I Cor 14:1) and so that’s what I hope we can experience together as a church. We’ll be thinking about the purpose of these gifts, the place they have in the life of the church, how they operate, how we receive them and how we develop them. This may be familiar territory for some and brand new for others. You may approach this with great excitement or with some nervousness and reservation. Wherever you’re at – I pray that we’ll learn and grow together and support each other as we do so.

My own experience tells me that churches risk arriving at one of two extremes when thinking about the supernatural work of the Spirit. One extreme is an unhealthy obsession where the gifts become ‘all about me and my experience’ – rather than all about Jesus and His mission. The other extreme is to totally ignore the work of the Spirit because it is hard to understand and even harder to control, spiritual gifts can conveniently consigned to the history books. I hope we can avoid both extremes – and this is where those words of Father Christmas can help. So let’s eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit – and may we bear them well and wisely.

With love

Gift Aid

Thank you to all those who have Gift Aided their donations to St John’s Church during the past tax year (April 6th 2018 – April 5th 2019)
Gift Aid is an income tax relief designed to benefit charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs. If you’re a UK taxpayer, Gift Aid increases the value of your donations by 25%. So if you donate £100 we will receive an extra £25 without extra cost to you. In the last tax year we were able to receive an extra £14,418 through the gift aid scheme.

If you pay tax but do not gift aid please would you consider doing so? All you need to do is fill out a Gift Aid Declaration form and give it to Sian or me. Your donation may be by monthly giving using a standing order from your bank or by weekly or monthly giving using the brown envelopes in the chair backs. If you use the envelope system code numbers can be given to avoid completing name and address details each time and also keeps your donation more private.

Maybe you are not a tax payer and put your donation on the plate on a Sunday morning. Well, the good news is that we are still able to claim through a scheme called Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme although we can only claim for up to £8,000. In the last tax year we reached that limit and therefore were awarded £2,000. So thank you also for your donations.

If you would like to know more please speak to Sian or me.

Linda Miles

Ode to the Homeless by Val Collings

With nowhere to go …

Even some dead
Have somewhere to lay their head
In their comfortable coffins.

Even a tent on a beach in bleak January
With the sea in reach
Is better than the vulnerability of a night time desert.

Jungle-wise children cower in groups
For fear of night time attack
Like those imprisoned in warm houses;
Victims of domestic violence, slavery and abuse
Who might crave the freedom of raw streets Where Anything is possible – Good or Bad.
Pristine subways
Regularly disinfected with Japanese precision Offer a welcome safe shelter, as immaculate and seemingly indifferent commuters
File past.
Homeless, with somewhere to go

But where?
Here or in a refugee camp
That’s what they need to know.
Staying near what was home …
Now demolished by tsunami, hurricane, sink
hole or passing mud slide …
There’s nowhere to hide

Except in some illegal lorry – a mobile capsule
Secured with a bribe.
Cockroach-ridden Sino shop doorways shelter from the rain
Or under some English remote rural hedge, where nearby water from a gulley
Pours down an overflowing drain.
For now, protected from view of critical eyes, by cloak of darkness …

Daybreak comes, bringing with it a gnawing hunger
And numbness of freezing limb
A sodden sleeping bag –
And soaked to the skin.

Passively waiting for someone to drop a sandwich
Like unwanted gulls on a beach in summer Or actively searching in a hotel bin –
That’s what people think
People who haven’t been there
But where? And where to go?
That’s what they need to know …
That’s what we all need to know.

My husband and I first met our dog Libby thirteen years ago. She had been very badly treated and abandoned before being taken to the RSPCA.

She has recently passed away and we wanted to share part of her story with you, in her memory.

We went to the centre with no idea of the type of dog we wanted to take home other than wanting to have a companion.

I had recently lost the central vision in both my eyes and this meant I would be unable to work so would be at home and able to care for a dog.

When we walked along the cages, we noticed Libby who was throwing herself at the cage, growling and barking. You would have thought she looked very scary, but I could see that she was very frightened. We agreed to meet her properly and take her for a walk. As she was brought out to us, her furry black head was down towards the ground, and I couldn’t get her to lift it up to look me in the eye and she crouched down shaking.

We fell in love with her that day, and gave her the quiet home, comfy bed and love she needed.

We have treasured her faithful companionship ever since.

Recently as we walked together, I overheard a lady say, observing Libby, “Look how proudly she walks”. It struck me how true that was. Libby was confident, and she looked right into your face instead of looking away. Being cared for and accepted changed her from being a pitiful sight to a secure and happy dog.

She so reminds me of how we can heal and change when we receive love from those around us. This can reach the deep places of our hearts so we can walk through life with our head held high, unafraid to look the world and circumstances in the face.

Maybe you still find that your head is down, perhaps you struggle with shame or lack of worth. Why not consider letting that go, through believing in yourself and the power of healing.

Alison Fox

St Agony’s Day Out

In January, Roger announced that he would like to produce a Murder Mystery Farce I eagerly volunteered to take part.

At the beginning of February cast members gathered together with Roger, (Director/Producer) to read through the script. Gill and Sally who had undertaken to head up the provision of a three course meal which was to be served between the scenes.

Every Tuesday until the performance we met to rehearse. However during February and March it was often very cold and we didn’t even stop for coffee. There were 5 acts and 7 scenes. There was a lot to get our heads around so we had to concentrate to get the sense of the plot and story. It was quite difficult to learn our lines.

As the weeks progressed we became more acquainted with the play but still found learning our parts not easy. Roger was always patient and long suffering with us; an ideal Director/ Producer. It was amazing how the set jointly evolved. The last week before the actual performance we had four dress rehearsals and gradually became more confident. At every rehearsal we had so much fun!

The actual performance evening was a truly happy time. It was a full house and the thespians were encouraged by the audience laughing heartily giving us the courage to continue.

The meal was excellent. Sally, Gill and their team waited on and looked after everyone in a most gracious manner. There was lots of laughter and true good hearted friendship.

We thespians were so grateful to all the friends who moved chairs and tables and who worked so hard.

As ever we look to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, and it was He who made it all such a lovely occasion.

Meg Fox

A murder mystery farce was performed at St John’s in front of about 70 people.

The drama was based on a church (called St. Agony !) outing to the seaside resort of Fablethorpe. The murder victim was discovered on the beach. Working out the murderer was very challenging. 7 people correctly identified the culprit who was the person you’d least expect, namely the vicar!

Being fairly new to St. John’s, we were really impressed by the acting skills of the brave souls who took part in the drama. It was obvious that a lot of preparation was involved in providing a most enjoyable evening, much better than watching entertainment on the television!

A delicious 3 course meal (prepared by ladies who worked really hard) interspersed between the various acts of the play was most enjoyable. The members of the cast, including the murder victim sat with the audience during the meal.

At the end of the performance, there were many thank yous from a very appreciative audience. It’s not possible to mention all the names, but a big thank you must go to Roger Welch who was the inspirational leader for this event.

With a new vision for our church, it would be good to have more social events, providing us with an opportunity to invite along our non-Christian friends and family.

Mike and Hilary Lidstone