The Rectory Bulletin

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The Danger of Bare Ritual

Sun 29th Aug 2021

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (Mark 7:1-8) - The problem with the Pharisees was that their faith had become an external matter. Rules had supplanted relating to God. Earning God’s favour had replaced revelling in the grace of a forgiving God. Christianity is a matter of the heart.

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Don’t Settle for Second Best

Sun 22nd Aug 2021

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:69, ESV) - God’s grace is not cheap, but it is worth everything. Christianity is not a thin veneer to can apply to your life, but it is your whole life. To try and knock off the bits of Christianity which offend is to lose it all. We end up with a cliche in sandals. Christianity may be radical, it may be costly, but then it should be. It is worth everything.

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Careful How You Walk

Sun 15th Aug 2021

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-16) - True joy is not found in serving yourself, but in serving others. Not selfish, but selfless. This is what it is to be wise, to live in the presence of God.

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More than a Teacher

Sun 08th Aug 2021

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35) - We would do well to allow Jesus to speak for himself, and to acknowledge the vast scope of the claims he makes about himself. As he himself will say much later: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). What words! What teaching.

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The Bread that Endures

Sun 01st Aug 2021

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) - In a world which asserts that all religions are the same, and that to have no faith is as valid as having faith, these words of Jesus stand as an offence. They put him at the heart of any approach to God, and put belief in him as the “work” which restores us to God. This a claim to exclusivity. All must come through Christ.

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What is the Kingdom of God?

Sun 25th Jul 2021

When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:14-15) - Never be satisfied with a merely external or physical form of faith. Embrace the Kingdom of God! Allow God to reign, and be transformed. Earthly kingdoms come and go, but the Kingdom of God lasts forever.

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Chronological Snobbery

Sat 17th Jul 2021

Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you. (Deuteronomy 32:7) - Oh Christian, you stand at the forefront of twenty centuries of the church! The pages of the past are written with tales of our spiritual forebears, and their words still ring clear. The history of the church is our family history, and enriches our experience of the present. Be wary of falling for something simply because it’s new. Often it isn’t, it’s just something which was dismissed in the past and then forgotten.

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The Shepherd

Sun 18th Jul 2021

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:30-31) - So it is that Jesus the good shepherd is in fact the LORD returning to shepherd his people, those sheep without a shepherd. He is, as Isaiah foresees, the “righteous Branch” of King David. He is the one from the line of David who will reign. He is the one who will bring Salvation to Judah. He is the one who is called “The LORD is our righteousness”.

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Books

Fri 16th Jul 2021

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. (1 Timothy 4:13) - So where to start? That is a more difficult question now than it was twenty years ago. By and large Christian bookshops have disappeared, and even a city as large as Bristol has none. Surprisingly, though, there are two near us: one in Newent with a cafe attached, and another in Bromyard. Neither are huge, but they do give an opportunity to flip through some pages before you buy.

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Why Bother with Prayer?

Thu 15th Jul 2021

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) - At its base, prayer is consciously being in the presence of God. It is talking to God. It is an awareness that this is a place where God is, and that makes a difference. Some prayer may be wordless - at times words are hard to find - or a pouring out of the heart. It might be silent, spoken or written. Perhaps the written prayers of others might act as a ‘starter’ to begin prayer, or it might be that your own words flow more easily. Some wrestle in prayer at night, others might speak a single line in the midst of the day.

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