A challenge we have all been facing recently is how do we stay connected. Staying connected to friends, family and to God. With another UK wide lockdown in place, Kempston East is once again having to close our doors until it is lifted and it is safe to meet and worship together again. So we are once again left with this question, how do we stay connected with God?
It is important to keep a strong connection with God and we wanted to outline some ways in which you can do this.
In terms of connection, I’m talking about how strong is our connection to God - similar to a WiFi signal. I thought that was fairly apt for the current times where the most asked questions nowadays must be: “How do I improve my WiFi signal?” and “Have you tried clicking on the microphone symbol?” We have all been there when our connection to the internet has been a bit dodgy, the picture isn’t as clear as it could be, and we have unexpectedly left an online meeting due to a bad connection — or that was our excuse anyway! In order to keep the picture clear and be able to communicate we have to have a strong connection. This is the same in our Christian life; we have to have a strong connection with God.
To ensure we have a strong WiFi connection, we have to pay a subscription. To ensure our strong connection with God, we have to play our part as well. Instead of paying money, we have to dedicate our time and our lives to God to ensure our connection with Him stays strong. Recently, we have celebrated Kempston East's 116th Church Anniversary and this week we remember those who served in the war all those years ago. Both of these initial events in time that we are marking are remembered in a similar way; where the actions of the few benefit the lives of many. The people involved dedicated their lives to do God's will and to make the world a better place.
We are all God's people and we were created to do his will. By doing this, we strengthen our connection with Him.
Without this strong connection with God, we cannot communicate with Him and we cannot understand the plan that he has for us. We can do our bit to keep our connection strong by praying, reading our bibles, living as the people of God and being stewards of his world.
The Bible tells us how important it is to have a strong connection with God. We learn on several occasions that Jesus removes himself from everyone else to pray. Sometimes, his own followers have to look for him in the mountains, where Jesus sits and connects to God. He was able to re-connect with his Father in Heaven. We can do the same and create a deep connection when we take time to spend with God. This deep connection can balance us, create direction and purpose in our lives, and recharge us for the rest of the day. This is all linked with our relationship with God.
Private prayer, Bible reading and meditation play a pivotal role in our personal walk with God, in building a relationship with him. This doesn’t have to all be done inside either; going outside for a walk and being thankful for the world that he has created is very beneficial for the soul. Many great thinkers and leaders scheduled a daily walk to help their thinking and connect to God. Winston Churchill walked every single morning right after he got out of bed. Other great leaders who set the same example include Einstein, Beethoven, and of course Jesus.
It’s important to remember that no journey with God is ever the same. We all take different paths in life and have discovered Christianity in different ways, so keeping our connection with God is going to be personal for each person. Ensuring a strong connection is one of many challenges we are facing at the moment but as was mentioned earlier, a strong connection with God can balance us, create direction and purpose in our lives. Keeping a strong connection with God will make everything else in life fall into place.
Put your faith in him and you will not be disappointed.
Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you back at the church when we are able to worship again.
We are pleased to be celebrating our 116th anniversary as a church in 2020. Despite the unusual circumstances, we still worship, share in fellowship and feel the presence of God just the same as our founding members in 1904.
Church Anniversary services are about looking back with thanksgiving, learning from the past and then they are about moving forwards. We celebrate the achievements and faith of so many saints at Kempston East. Many we shall never know by name but they quietly and faithfully kept the faith and passed on the baton to the next generation; for that we are truly grateful. But if it’s only about looking backwards then what of today and the future of the Church? We need to ask ourselves questions about the church, organisation and our own faith.
Why does it exist? What in a sentence is it doing today? What will it have become in, say, 5-10 years? What does your church have to do in the next year in order to become the church you wish it to become in 10 years time? What are the values which you will not sacrifice in order to see your vision fulfilled? What is your strategy? These are not easy questions to answer, but the real shock is if we have rarely asked them. These four points may help us:
1. Building a Personal Faith
Looking at Acts 2, which is a snapshot of the early church where building a personal faith was vital. Is our faith the same as 50 years ago or has it changed? I am not talking about the core beliefs but our experience and knowledge of our faith. Hopefully we have grown and John Wesley’s rule on doing good all the time means we have an active faith.
John Wesley’s rule:
Do All the Good You Can, In All the Ways You Can,
At All the Times You Can,
By All the Means You Can, In All the Places You Can,
To All the People You Can,
As long as Ever ......You Can!”
2. Building a People of Faith
Ezekiel 37 is a picture of walking through the valley of dry bones and being given a vision by God of new life. I am not suggesting that Kempston East looks like a valley of dry bones, but when we celebrate Pentecost it is a reminder that the spirit created a fellowship and community of faith. The Church is NOT a spiritual sanatorium in which to hide from the world but a mission station where folk are cared for and equipped to engage with the world. Ultimately, it’s not about church meetings but MEETING with the living God that really matters. We are in the business of ‘Building a People of Vision’ in our 21st century post-modern culture.
3. Connecting Locally
The church in the book of Acts connected with folk from a wide range of backgrounds. In fact the wrong sort of people got converted and Kempston East should be attracting the wrong sort of people as well as the right kind. In the words of Archbishop William Temple the Church exists for the benefit of its non-members. The church that doesn’t evangelise will fossilise and we need to constantly re-connect to the local community.
4. Connecting Globally
The New Testament Church communities connected and supported each other. However I sometimes think it is easier to contact with people around the world than locally. I have spoken to Church members by phone - one was on a beach in Corfu, another in Shanghai - and with a Methodist Minister from Ghana ringing up from his village in the jungle. Perhaps it would help to see Kempston East as a part of a global church worshipping locally.
If we want the Church to be around for the next 116 years we need to allow God’s spirit to continually renew its life. A good question to ask ourselves, do you still have faith in a Great God?
Kempston East, Happy 116th Birthday Blessings
Rev. Michael Giles
Kempston East Minister
As of Sunday 13 September, we are pleased to be reopening for Sunday worship. As you may be aware, the Government has just announced new regulations on meeting together from 14 September. Therefore, we will now be meeting together for worship in the church at Kempston East this week under our four-point guidance. We have also included a new poster below about how you might recognise someone who is unable to wear a mask because of a hidden disability.
If you are not able to come to the church on a Sunday morning, we plan to livestream and record the services and make them available to view in full on the website. If you would like to watch the services live, please sign up to our email list to receive the viewing details.
Four Point Guidance
New Rules on Socialising from September 14
Last Tuesday, and following the large increases in Covid-19 cases in the previous three days, the Government announced new rules for how we can socialise with other people. This is our guide to what these are and how they might affect us.
There will be a limit of six people allowed to meet together socially (up until tomorrow the limit is thirty people). This applies to meeting together indoors and outdoors, so you won’t be able to have more than six family members meeting together, even in your garden, in a restaurant, or in the park.
There will be some exceptions to these rules:
This exemption has not been mentioned as widely on the news as the others have but the Methodist Church has posted its guidance by quoting a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury: "After contact with Government we hear that there is no change to guidance on places of worship. Worship is the work of God – not a social gathering – and gives the strength to love and serve. The increase in COVID cases is very concerning. We must follow the guidance and take all the necessary measures to keep people safe. And let’s keep praying for everyone who is affected – those who are ill, or whose families are ill, those who are anxious, or struggling with cancelled plans and isolation. We give grateful thanks to God for the NHS and all those who work tirelessly to keep us safe." - The Archbishop of Canterbury
This Sunday (5th April 2020) is Palm Sunday where we commemorate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1–9), when palm branches were placed in his path. It marks the beginning of Holy Week and the final week of Lent.
It is a time where we remember and read about Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, as the King of Israel who had come to save all mankind. Palm Sunday is traditionally celebrated by the blessing and distribution of palm branches representing the palm branches the crowd laid in front of Christ as he rode into Jerusalem.
The symbolism of this event is captured in the Old Testament: Zechariah 9:9 "The Coming of Zion's King – See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey". According to the Gospels, Jesus Christ rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, and the celebrating people there laid down their cloaks and small branches of trees in front of him, singing part of Psalm 118: 25–26 – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
At the end of the Bible, people from every nation raise palm branches to honour Jesus (Revelation 7:9) and we want everyone to do the same now. In this time of adversity and uncertainty, let us put our faith in our constant friend and saviour, Jesus Christ. Put your cross in your window and join others around the world as we celebrate the coming of the King.
Send in your pictures and we will share them on our website and Facebook page.
If you don't have a palm cross but would like to make one, here is a great video tutorial of how to make a paper origami cross.
As you may be aware, the Government has provided updated information suggesting that social gatherings be limited and have suggested that for the over 70’s social distancing is encouraged.
With that in mind, the stewarding team and our minister have met this evening and agreed the following:
There will be a service on Sunday 22nd March (Mothering Sunday) at 10:30 am led by Rev. Peter Byass. There will be no refreshments served after the service. Individuals can of course choose not to attend if that is their preference.
After the service on Sunday we will be suspending all worship at Kempston East Methodist Church until further notice.
- We are aiming to publish weekly internet-based worship material for the duration of the church closure, that will be accessible from the church website. (More information will be published in the church newsletter this Sunday).
- Our pastoral leaders will be in contact with our church family to keep them updated.
- Weekly newsletters will be published online, which will include information on where to e-mail any prayer requests. These may be mentioned in the online newsletter the following week and may be used our internet-based worship, so that we can also include them in our personal prayers.
- In line with Methodist Church guidance published earlier today, there will be no refreshments served after the service this Sunday, nor indeed at any events on our premises.
As a church, please continue to look after each other by speaking regularly on the telephone and reaching out to us if you need help.
We pray that you and your families remain in good health and look forward to seeing you in person as soon our face to face worship resumes.
May God’s love be with you all.
Phil Timms (Senior Church Steward)
Revd Prof Peter Byass (Minister)
Life seems so uncertain at present. I suppose it’s always been that way but there just seem to be so many more things that are outside our control which could have a major effect on us.
The spread of COVID-19, the novel form of Coronavirus, around the world is occupying many people’s thoughts at present. While it was only in China we perhaps were less concerned. It’s over there, thousands of miles away, no need to worry. But now, as I write this, there are three cases in Hertfordshire and, maybe by the time you read this, it will have got even closer. Much more of a concern.
Then, because of the effect the COVID-19 is having on the financial markets, people are also getting concerned about their savings, their pensions and so on. Not only that, but how much of our liberties, that we take so much for granted, will we lose if the government starts to impose restrictions on our lives to try to ‘contain’ the problem.
Mind you, if you live in Worcestershire or in Yorkshire, losses of a different kind may be occupying your mind, particularly if, like one couple, you’ve got flood waters right up to the eaves of your bungalow and have lost not only most of your possessions but possibly your home as well.
Like I said, so much uncertainty, so much to concern us. But, time and time again, Jesus tells his disciples, and us, not to be afraid. When he walked on the water towards his disciples, they thought he was a ghost but he reassured them - ‘Don’t be afraid’. When Peter, James and John were overwhelmed by the vision of the Transfiguration he told them - ‘Don’t be afraid’. These were all things that were
beyond both the control and the understanding of the disciples. No wonder they were afraid, but Jesus calmed their fears. As long as he was there, in control, they had no need to fear.
It’s the same now with us. Whether it’s the fear of catching Coronavirus or the worry of what the weather may do to our home, Jesus is in control. Don’t be afraid. Whether it’s the uncertainty of the outcome of tests you might have been having or the operation you might be facing, Jesus is in control. Don’t be afraid.
There are some books in the Bible that you can just dip into, read a few verses and you feel much better. The book of Proverbs is one of those, so let me quote to you some verses from The Message version of Proverbs 3, verses 21-26.
“Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.”
So, don’t be afraid, God is in control. He will keep you safe and sound.