We have been awarded a Bronze Award for our work, as a church, to promote care for God's earth.
Now we plan to work towards a silver award!
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From Jill @Cheshunt Free Church
When I started out as an early years inspector, one of the checks I needed to make was to determine whether children had sufficient opportunities to experience ‘awe and wonder’ in their learning. I was reminded of this at a recent lay preachers’ conference, when we were encouraged to enable people in our churches to experience the awe and wonder of knowing God, through word and/or image. Both are important. You might look with awe at the earliest written Gospels, immaculately decorated on each page with wonderful imagery illustrating the words. You might listen in wonder to an exposition of a well-known Bible story, hearing details you had previously missed, helping you to create your own images. In learning, the words enhance the images and the images enhance the words.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians (2.10), describes God as an artist. We can see God’s artistry in the created world, which is beautiful and diverse, but also in the incarnation – the coming of Christ into the world – when God created a link between the human and the divine. Artists of faith have produced numerous pictures of the event, including a wonderful diversity of ‘Madonnas’. The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth hosts a collection of Madonnas created by artists all over the world, each showing the characteristics of their particular culture. Artists are inspired by their own cultural and faith traditions. They help us to see Christ in different contexts and also to recognise that Christ is universal – he came to all peoples everywhere.
At Christmas we can experience the awe and wonder of worship in fellowship with Christians all around the world. We need not feel restricted to our own ‘little patch’. In churches everywhere, people will hear the same story and be exposed to the same familiar images of the nativity, centring around a starlit stable in Bethlehem. However, the Indian artist Sahi reflects his cultural tradition in a portrayal of Christ that is a little different. He represents Christ as a dancer, one who is dancing his way through creation, redeeming all peoples to God - Christ of the cosmos. Christ dances his way through incarnation, through death and resurrection, inviting all people to join in the dance.
We have a choice – either we can sit back in our ‘little patch’ and watch the dance, or we can get out there and join in the dance, experiencing the awe and wonder of belonging to a worldwide body of Christ. In a New Year of new beginnings I pray that we might be confident enough to refrain from watching Christ dance and get up and join in!
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he
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Walking the way of Jesus, as we are encouraged to do more actively and more positively, is a lifetime journey. The Bible can help us find the right way. In the Old Testament, the leaders of the faith gave the Israelites three instructions – as you journey remember what God has done, make a choice to stick close to God and be a witness for God. There are always distractions along the way, obstacles to get around and cross ways, where decisions need to be made. But the important thing is to recognise that, in difficult places, we learn and eventually come through to a better place. Then we have much to tell about God.
In the new Testament, Paul reminds us to keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the way. If we stray he brings us back. His is a way of love, justice and peace, a way that we should all take care to follow closely. It is a way that encourages us to serve and to witness too. As we follow his way we grow closer to God. We might stop growing physically, but we continue growing in our relationship with God. That never stops. And the more people we can encourage to walk with us, the more enjoyable and blessed our walk becomes.
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Eco Church Updated
Our church is registered in the Eco Church scheme. This is what it is all about:
Eco Church is an award scheme set up by the environmental organisation ARocha UK and helps churches to show, and promote, care for the environment. It involves an online survey, to which churches can return again and again as they act further to increase their care for the environment. There are five key areas – worship and teaching, management of church buildings, management of church land, community and global engagement, lifestyle. (The survey takes into account if a church has no land). There are three levels of awards - bronze, silver and gold. If a church feels they have reached a certain level they can apply for an award, although for a gold award they need an assessor to check – only three churches in the UK have so far achieved gold! At present we at Cheshunt are working towards achieving a bronze award, maybe in 2018.
Everyone can help, for example, by improving lifestyle, suggesting ideas for buildings and teaching, looking for ways to connect to the community. It is all part of being good stewards of God’s earth.
We are now applying for our bronze award.
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A Prayer Diary for Creation Time
September 1st – October 4th is Creation Time for the churches. It starts with the World day of prayer for Care of Creation and ends with St Francis of Assisi day. We are encouraged to pray for God’s creation and to promote care for creation in any way we can. Here are some ideas for prayer and reflection.
1 Stand up and ‘plant yourself’ in a spot outdoors. Be completely still. Close your eyes and feel the ground, solid beneath your feet. Feel the connection to the deep earth, rich and fertile, and recognise it as a gift. Now look upwards and sense the air around you - the stuff of life that is so essential, yet far too often taken for granted. Join hands with a friend. Feel the strength, the fragility, the connection of one to another. There are over 7 billion of us sharing this planet, with each other and God’s created order. Bloom where you are planted but remember to share God’s good earth.
2 This year’s theme is ‘walking together’. Take a walk in a garden or park. Look closely at the plants, bushes and trees. Notice the leaves, the light and shade, the movement in the breeze. Focus on the flowers, the colours and shapes of the petals. Smell the air around you as you listen out for wildlife – insects, birds, small animals. Recognise your place in their world, pray for guidance as to how best look after the natural areas around where you live.
3 Spend some time finding out about places in the world where creation is spoilt, either through the direct actions of humans or as a result of climate change. They may be places where weather is now unpredictable, places that no longer support active ecosystems, places that have suffered in wildfires, droughts, or conflict. Join with others in confessing to God our abuse of his gift of creation and our yearning to set it right.
4 Read any books, magazines or leaflets you can find that tell about the work of Christians who are concerned about the state of the natural world and want to improve it. For example, ARocha, Operation Noah, Creation Care Network. Pray for the work they do and pray with them for the natural environment.
In this Creation Time
We commit ourselves to follow You
To build a world of love, justice and peace
And to be better stewards of Your creation.
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Broxbourne Winter Night Shelter Update
The BWNS project continues to progress well.
Progress to date….
- Venue Co-ordinator meetings are held regularly to keep venue leaders updated. The last one was on 13th November, and another is planned for some time in December before Christmas, or maybe early January.
- First Aid training was held on 27th October and 10th November at the British Red Cross, Baker Street, Hertford. Feedback has been good. The British Red Cross gave their time and expertise for free, although attendees were encouraged to donate their change in the collecting bucket there. Well over100 volunteers attended both sessions.
- On 22nd November, afternoon and evening sessions will train all volunteers from across all 7 venues, and any “free” volunteers who are happy to attend any venue. The afternoon session is from 12-2.30, and evening session from 7-9.30pm. The venue is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and St Joseph’s RC Church, Waltham Cross.
- The Core Team has a meeting with the Council on 20th November to progress referral systems, etc
- Each venue should now be collecting bedding – single duvets, single duvet covers, single bed sheets, non-feather pillows, pillow cases, towels. Other churches can help out too, and donate to a venue church to help out. Broxbourne Foodbank has a supply of sheets, duvets, etc, if you are short.
- The Fire Service is gradually moving round the venues to check health and safety…they have contacted venues now
- 12 beds have been purchased for £792 [including waterproof covers donated by St Cuthbert’s Church, Rye Park]. Broxbourne Foodbank has kindly donated their electric van and a driver to collect beds from each venue and transport to the next one between 8-9am each morning. They could do with volunteers to help out and travel with them as they move beds from one venue to another.
- Each venue has been asked to provide a key for their premises for the duration of the project so that the beds can be moved quickly and easily around in that 8-9am time slot. If we can’t have a set of keys, then the receiving venue must have someone available from 8am on the delivery morning to receive the beds.
- The project goes LIVE on Monday 7th January at Waltham Cross Baptist Church, and runs for 8 weeks, finishing on Sunday 3rd March after each venue has hosted 8 times. Please hold Waltham Cross Baptists in your prayers for a peaceful, calm opening.
- This project needs covering in prayer. Weekly prayer updates will be sent out.
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As part of the URC initiative Walking the Way, we shall be introducing a series of ‘Holy Habits’ at church during the next few months. ‘Holy Habits’ is a way to nurture Christian discipleship. It is set out in a collection of 10 books. Each book has a separate theme. The 10 themes are - Biblical Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking Bread, Prayer, Sharing Resources, Serving, Eating Together, Gladness and Generosity, Worship, Making More Disciples. They are based on the account in Acts 2: 42-47, where Luke describes the life of the early church and, as such, should encourage Christians to learn and grow as disciples.
Initially the elders at Cheshunt are reading all of the books and making a note of any ideas they think are worth trying. Over time, the church can explore these ideas in worship, study, fellowship and, indeed, individually at home. Holy Habits are designed to be repeatable so that they become a rhythm of life for us all. They are flexible and meant for everyone, regardless of age, ability or situation. The books are available in church and from Thames North Synod. Holy Habits are for sharing so any ideas are very welcome!
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