Ministers Message – January 2019

Identity

If you had to define who you are with just one sentence, what would say?

Its common place now for people on social media to use only a few words to describe who they are, usually describing their interests more than who they are.

Jesus throughout his ministry was challenged by the expectations people had of him, and how these were in stark contrast with who he actually was. In the end we read in Matthew 16:15 Jesus asking the disciples:

‘Who do you say that I am?’

Jesus wants the disciples to truly understand who he is, because from understanding that core truth they will have greater understanding of the events to follow.

Understanding who we are and being comfortable with who we are is vital. So much of the chaos and confusion of our national life is because of a lack of understanding about identity. (My personal opinion)

When we understand who we are, and we allow that identity to thrive we can have confidence in ourselves and in our surroundings.  In the coming weeks my identity will shift slightly as I become Vicar of Bramhall. That may mean some changes, but at the heart of it I remain confident that I am first and foremost a child of God.

God gives a new identity to each of his followers, our task is to understand it and allow it to shape who we are and how we live, confident in his promises and confident in his wisdom.

In the coming months, as a church, we will spend some time thinking, praying and discussing who God has called us to be as the Parish Church for Bramhall in 2019 and beyond. As we discern from God what this identity and purpose is, my hope and prayer is that our communal life together will continue to be renewed and our passion for God and serving him will increase.

Revd Calum Piper, Vicar Designate

Ministers Message – December 2018

I want my way!

What do you do when you don’t get your way? If you are anything like me, there will be numerous occasions each week where things don’t go the way you planned and you are left disappointed, frustrated or even angry. How do you deal with those feelings?

Talking as someone that likes things to be perfect, when what I plan goes wrong it can usually spiral me into a really grumpy mood. For others I know, they go around gossiping about the person who got it wrong, while others plan how to get their own back.

Over the last few days I have been reflecting on this theme and I realised the extraordinary way in which God got his own way.

Knowing that the world had gone wrong and wanting to put things right, the way they were meant to be, God didn’t throw his toys out the pram, he didn’t get angry or miserable, but he sent his beloved Son to earth to share our ways, to share our life.

In his pain and in his determination to see things put right he offered more of himself. When faced with something we don’t like or disagree with, how often do we follow this example and give more of ourselves to help put things right? How often do we give more of ourselves without moaning, complaining and grumbling?

May this Advent be a time of trying to be more peaceful and giving more of ourselves in creating good relationships and peaceful communities.

Ministers Message – November 2018

From War to Hope

As I write this, we are in the throes of cutting out red paper poppies and bringing them together forming one large installation to commemorate and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Every day more poppies arrive at church and sit waiting to be joined together, it feels a little chaotic and slightly overwhelming. Why did I think 7000 would be a good idea?

In the grand scheme of things pulling 7000 paper poppies together for a community art project is nothing compared to those that were left when the war ended with the feelings of grief, anger and chaos. It must have been very disturbing, if not overwhelming.

100 years on from the armistice, even though it did not end the notion of war, the world is a different place. Nations who were once enemies now sit down together peacefully, landscapes that were destroyed by firepower have regrown and flourish with beauty, and discrimination because of identity is widely condemned. Out of mass destruction has come hope.

This hope for a better place is what Isaiah foretells in Isaiah 11:

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)

Isaiah tells of a vision where enemies by natural order sit together in peace. Whilst today’s world is far from perfect, to the people of 1918, the world probably looks much better. In 1918 there were brave men and women who stood up to say, “let’s build a better world where our sons and daughters won’t live in fear”. And then they did!

Whilst we have come a long way, Isaiah’s vision is still not fulfilled, and our world still has many problems. Even in 2018, we need to continue to work together for what is right, we must continue to tell a better story marked by hope, and we are called to lead the way in being people of forgiveness and truth and reconciliation, even in the hardest of places following the one who made the perfect sacrifice.

Ministers Message – September 2018

New Year

For a lot of people September has come to be another point at which New Year is marked with the start of the new academic year. New teachers will be let loose on their first classes, students will meet new teachers if not new schools, and many parents will give a sigh of relief as the holidays come to an end. September is also a time when families will travel to distant cities to drop off loved ones at university too.

All these new starts will require change. Adapting to new syllabuses or routines, learning new names and getting to know classmates, and even discovering new cities and how to live alone or in a house with strangers.

For those in the education system I think the arrival of September can sometimes feel like it’s a time when you are pushed out of your comfort zone. The start of this new academic year might also be a time when you could challenge yourself to something new and something that might broaden the horizons or deepen the roots of your faith. There are a number of new things starting and I want to take the opportunity to make you aware of them:

Knit and Natter starts on the Second Thursday of the month at. You could join to learn a new skill or rekindle an art of old whilst getting to know others a little bit better.

A weekly bible study will start on Wednesday 12th September, every Wednesday at 5.30pm in Costa on the high street. It will be a simple session looking at what a passage might mean to us as Christians today and open to all.

We will also be launching a free soup lunch on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 12pm following our midweek communion. A chance for people to come and share fellowship and eat together – something Jesus showed was important.

So I hope even if you have long left the academic world, you might take time this September to ask yourself, what new challenge can I rise to? What else could I do or change to help me grow as a disciple of Jesus?