Ashdon Magazine Article Summer 2017

As I am writing this, with the deadline for magazine articles fast approaching, we are in the gap in the church year between the Ascension (25th May) and the Day of Pentecost (Whitsunday – 4th June). We are coming to the end of the Easter season by celebrating what John the Baptist promised; that Jesus would baptise his followers with the Holy Spirit. This happened first when the disciples witnessed fire falling from heaven, were able to speak in many different languages; and when 3000 people in Jerusalem put their faith in Jesus and were baptised in water.

We talk about ‘famous last words’; the last sayings of people tell us something about them. Bob Hope was asked by his wife where he wanted to be buried; his last words were, “Surprise me.” The last words of Jesus on earth were not before his death, but before being taken up to heaven. He was together with his disciples outside the village of Bethany:

So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)

The disciples were looking for the establishment of an earthly kingdom and for the removal of the occupying Roman forces from the land of Israel. This must have saddened Jesus, because he had spent 3½ years telling them about the kingdom of God. Jesus used parables and analogies to help them see that this is a very different kind of kingdom, ultimately it is where God rules, where his will is done on earth as in heaven. God has always had a number of ways to bring this about:
1. By direct rule, by enforcing his will using his infinite power
However, God has a problem – he loves us, the fallible, weak creatures he has made; and you don’t force people you love to do what you want. Nor do you impose your will by any other means. There must be another way, in fact there are at least two:
2. By giving people rules and regulations to live by
This is what we read about in the Old Testament, but the witness of history is that this doesn’t work, we are incapable of just living by rules, no matter how good they are.
3. Through relationship
Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30). This the way that the kingdom of God is to be established, by free people expressing their love for God, and giving thanks for all that he has done for us in Jesus.

The only piece of the kingdom of God that was missing on the Day of Ascension was given on the Day of Pentecost – the gift of the Holy Spirit: the presence of Jesus living in us and working through us to bring in God’s kingdom. So Jesus’ ‘last words’ were anything but, he continues to speak to us through the Holy Spirit. In All Saints’ Church, we are gathering occasionally on Sunday evenings (at 6:30pm) for what we are calling ‘Listening to Jesus’, a time of informal worship, teaching and waiting on him. As he said. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27). Please see the church website (www.allsaintsashdon.org.uk) for the date of the next ‘Listening to Jesus’.

In the last magazine, I wrote that All Saints Church was about to become a ‘Local House of Prayer’ according to the model developed by the retreat house in south-west Wales, Ffald- y-Brenin. A group is now meeting weekly in church after each Sunday 9:30am morning service to pray for our village and to bless all that live here. You are very welcome to join us any Sunday.

We had a great Fun Day last August with children from the village, and Gavin Walter and members of Ashdon Baptist Church. Please look out for posters and invitations for this year’s event on Tuesday 28th August (10am – 3pm); or email Gavin (gshwalter@gmail.com) or me (rd.spencer@virgin.net) for more information.

Every blessing
Richard Spencer
Team Vicar, All Saints’ Church, Ashdon
The Vicarage, Radwinter Road, Ashdon CB102ET
Tel. 01799 584171

 

 

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