Sunday, January 21, 2018

Giving for Growth

Text for the week: we pray that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. Colossians 1:9-12

Welcome to our services today and a special welcome to any worshipping with us for the first time. Our Highbury Church family is made up of everyone who belongs … and everyone has a part to play, however small that part may seem to be. Today we are launching Giving for Growth. Do the quiz. Use the leaflets on Time and Talents and on Money and decide what you can do and what you can give as together we seek the growth of our church to the glory of God. Today is a day, Robert Pestell suggested last week, for us to “dream dreams, be brave, think the impossible, love one another and love God.”  He invited us to reflect on three things: “What is God calling me to do in my life and in the life of this worshipping community here at Highbury? What is God calling us to do, as the worshipping community here, to further the Kingdom of God in his place? Are we ready and willing to take up the baton, the challenge of sharing and passing on the Good News to others, with energy and enthusiasm as confident Christians, knowing that if we are listening to God He will speak to us and bless our efforts of obedience to His will? And he challenged us “above all to be a prayerful community, seeking day by day to grow closer to God both as individuals and as the Christian family in this place.”

We live-streamed this morning's service for those who couldn't get to church. To follow the live stream and to access a recording of the service please email for details to the private links.

Welcome and Call to Worship

510 Jesus calls us here to meet him [Blaenwern]

Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Something old … something new

Our Highbury Church family is made up of everyone who belongs … and everyone has a part to play, however small that part may seem to be. Today we are launching Giving for Growth. We’re going to think about our church and the part we can play in the life of the church. It’s timely doing this in January. It’s going to be a year of change for all of us as Felicity and I move on in retirement and the church begins the process of seeking someone else to share in ministry and leadership of the church. So we began the year  by inviting people to reaffirm the profession of faith they made on joining the church and the promises they made too – if you haven’t already, you are invited if you are a church member to sign the Church membership book as a statement of that renewed commitment.

And today … we move on to think about the church and the part we can play in the life of the church.

Have you had a go at doing the quiz Roger has prepared? It’s surprising how many pastoral visits we do, how many young people Highbury has helped train for ministry of various sorts, how many children come to Highbury each week, how many outside groups use our premises, how many local organisations we support, how much the weekly FoodBank contributions weigh, and how much we support through the Congregational Federation.

It’s the morning in the month when we celebrate Communion … and we thought we would do communion differently today. That last supper Jesus shared with his disciples was a Passover celebration – and so we today are going to make just a few connections between what we do in Communion and Passover.

Passover is a family celebration that involves the whole family – from the youngest to the oldest around a table at home – we aren’t at home, but we are a church family and so we are meeting round tables – and everyone counts – from the youngest to the oldest. The Passover celebration is a fun  occasion and before it begins there’s a lot of cleaning that needs to be done – as the whole house is cleaned. And then as the celebration begins there’s a bit of fun involving the children – so we’ll get the children to do the last little bits of clearing – Bridgette was hard at work getting the place clean as she always does on Friday, and Grace earlier in the week too.

Passover marks the last night before the people of Israel fled from Pharaoh to safety – they didn’t have time to make the bread … they were in such a hurry they left the leaven out of the bread.

That’s what makes the bread rise and be lovely as it usually is.

And so at a Passover meal it’s a unleavened bread that is used. And there’s a game of hide and seek – there’s a piece of ordinary bread I have hidden – and I’m wanting the children to find it!  Can you have a look to see if you can find it?

It would be brushed up on to a wooden spoon with a feather – and then disposed of …

Maybe shaping what we do involves as a church family realising there are some things we cannot do – maybe it’s good to have a clear out of what we have been doing.

And then people make sure they’ve washed their hands.

When Jesus got his close friends together as it were his family – he noticed it was really sticky and hot, a mucky day and there was one thing he determined to do.

He washed his disciples’ feet.

Kate is going to read to us the account of what happened in John’s Gospel – listen carefully to what happened.

Reading John 13:1,2b-5,12-15,34-35

Now before the festival of the Passover,
Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world
and go to the Father.
Having loved his own who were in the world,
he loved them to the end.

And during supper Jesus,
knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands,
and that he had come from God and was going to God,
got up from the table, took off his outer robe,
and tied a towel around himself.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
After he had washed their feet,
had put on his robe, and had returned to the table,
he said to them,

‘Do you know what I have done to you?
You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have set you an example,
that you also should do as I have done to you.

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.’

Jesus sets us an example – that we should serve one another.
He gives us a new command – that we love one another.

And that’s our starting point as we launch Giving for Growth – we are called by Jesus to serve one another, to have a servant heart, and to love one another. That’s the way everyone will know we are his discples.

A Hy-Spirit Song

Activities for all over 3

Giving for Growth Time and Talents

Giving for Growth invites us to think about the life of our church, and then the time and talents we have that we can share in the life of our church.

Have a look at the first of our leaflets – it starts and all of is it underpinned by prayer.

Karen explored at Explore on Tuesday how we can pray for our church family – she pointed us to the prayers that Paul makes for the church. She is going to read the opening of Paul’s letter to the church family at Colossae – it could be written to our church family here at Highbur.

Prayer: Colossians 1:3-6,9-12

In our prayers for you
we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
and of the love that you have for all the saints,
because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth,
the gospel that has come to you.
Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it
and truly comprehended the grace of God.

For this reason, since the day we heard it,
we have not ceased praying for you and asking
that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will
in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord,
fully pleasing to him,
as you bear fruit in every good work
and as you grow in the knowledge of God.
May you be made strong
with all the strength that comes from his glorious power,
and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience,
while joyfully giving thanks to the Father,
who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Have a look at the leaflet – all of  us can share in prayer – but it’s good to get together with others for prayer as well – Judi, can you explain the prayer partners idea … the regular prayer meeting on a Wednesday. Or sometime else?

Worship, Care and Children
Youth, Discipleship, Mission

Sharon is needing to hand over the reins as worship ministry leader, but is going to be helping as part of a team to sort out services – which will become important as we lead – we already have plans to do some services in-house, ourselves – the first Tuesday of the month, alongside the craft evening we are going to do an evening preparing services.
All sorts of ideas – sometimes people will come and speak, but would like us to lead – so have a think … what might you be able to contribute to our Sunday services?

Pastoral Care – Lorraine,

Children- Andrea – particular need to help with Messy Church – cooking, crafts, celebration.

Young People – helping out with Hy-Tec – as Adrian will be finishing at Easter – and joining the team of leaders – Mary for comment

Discipleship – help lead or plan – Judi?

Mission and Outrach – Jean

Support behind the scenes – making it happen.

Helen not able to continue as Church Secretary – going to re-shape it, appoing an administrator - need someone to be over-all responsible, Church Secretary in a different way. Other helps with Admin – and room bookings too.

Pause a moment – around the tables – have a think about filling in what you feel able to do – on the leaflet or on another piece of paper. Make sure you add your name.

I will offer up my life (Hy-Spirit)

Giving for Growth – Money

All our financial commitments we have to meet ourselves – we don’t have any external source of funding. Roger’s work as Treasurer is backed up by our Finance Group.

Ted, who has been Treasurer with Jenny, is going to read for us some reflections paul made about giving.

Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-12

The point is this:
the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each of you must give as you have made up your mind,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance,
so that by always having enough of everything,
you may share abundantly in every good work.

As it is written,
‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
   his righteousness endures for ever.’

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed for sowing
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity,
which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints
but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.

Roger is going to explain our Giving for Growth – money leaflet. Something for you to reflect on , think about … and Roger has forms to fill in for a standing order or for gift aid too.

Make sure you return the forms with you names on so that we can then build together for the future.

502 Take my life, Lord, let it be

Prayers of Concern

When we renewed our profession of faith and our promises to the life of the church we sang a hymn – we are going to sing again … it captures something of our vision for church here at Highbury.

522 The church is …


Children to join our tables.

At Passover there were bitter herbs on the table – a reminder that sometimes there are difficult times to go through – and there’s no escaping those difficult times.

And then green herbs – a reminder that God provides, and God cares for us.

There were four cups – and at different points people drank from each … and then a fifth cup was left untouched – a reminder that Elijah would come at the last days.

There are a number of different accounts of what happened that last supper night – most have one cup – was this the cup of Elijah – because the kingdom was ushered in by Jesus.

But Luke records two cups – maybe one is for fellowship together that we are bound to God

Let’s drink that cup of fellowship together – on each table is one of our leadership team – a Deacon or a Ministry Leader.

I’m going to ask them to pour out the fruit of the vine into a glass for each of us.

And then let’s drink a cup that binds us in fellowship with each other –

We share the cup of fellowship

And then unleavened bread. Three pieces – one for the Priests, one for the Levites, one for the ordinary people. It’s telling Jesus had just one piece – we are all in this together – as one people, the body of Christ.

Let’s be really quiet as I invite that person to take the bread.

And listen … in a moment as we break the bread – break the bread and share it around – you can hear the snap as the bread is broken – a reminder that Jesus’ body was broken for us.

THe Passover would have had a shank of lamb to eat – roasted – but we don’t have that because Jesus is the lamb of  God who has taken away the sins of the world

Let’s eat of the bread.

We share the bread

And then another cup – this cup is the cup of new beginnings, that new partnership we have with each other and with God, that new covenant, sealed by the blood of Jesus.

Let’s take this second cup and as we share together sense the presence of the love of God in jesus Christ, renewing that partnship we have with each other and we have with God.

We share the cup of new beginnings

Communion Collection – a plate on each table – to bring to the front – as a sign of our commitment to the wider world as well – this month it is for the Cheltenham branch of Samaritans.


When the last supper was over at the very last they sang a hymn and went out into the future that lay ahead of them – the death, the resurrection of Jesus, the outpouring of the Spirit and that great new life as the body of Christ on earth.

At Passover they would have sung one of the great Alleluia Psalms – 116-118.

Hymn 46 is Psalm 117 – as paraphrased by Isaac Watts.
146 – Psalm 117

From all that dwells below the skies
Let the creator’s praise arise:
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Words of Blessing

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