Blog

The St Mary's blog is a mixture of news pieces and topical articles. Each month a number of these are collated into a printed magazine, Touchline. Blog items over three months old are moved to an archive, which is available when logged in. Views expressed here are those held by the individuals posting, and not necessarily representative of St Mary's Church.

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Sam Allberry at the General Synod (Rob Wingfield)

On 15th February, in his capacity as a member of the Church of England's General Synod, Sam Allberry spoke as the bishops' report on the subject of same sex marriage was discussed.  You can hear what Sam said below:

St Mary’s students talk mission (Sam Brewster)

On Sunday 29th January we celebrated 'World Focus Sunday'. It was a great opportunity to remember our many godly and servant-hearted mission partners across the world. It was also a chance to think about Jesus' call to reach the whole world with his good news. At the 6:30pm service we some recorded reflections from some of our students on their experiences of short term mission trips. Listen to them here! 

Could you take time out for a short term mission trip? Cross Links, SIM and OM are some of many great organisations that provide such opportunities. Have a look, and go for it!

Concrete slab pour (John Furley)

Watch the concrete base of the new church floor being poured. It's not like watching paint dry! Don't forget, we regularly post photos of our building works on our special Connect blog page.


Freedom from Slavery in the 21st Century (Steve Dauncey)

Recently at the 4pm service, we looked at Matthew 1:1-21 about Jesus' genealogy. As I led during the service, I challenged the congregation to think generationally. I believe God wants us to be seeking to make the ceiling of today, the floor for the next generation. This blog regarding human trafficking is one example of how thinking generationally could look in practice, in order to advance and build God's Kingdom here on earth, for His Good and Perfect Will.

It is estimated that there are 20.9 million slaves worldwide, that's three out of every 1000 people worldwide. Human trafficking is the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation. 

One UK charity, Hope for Justice's tag line is, "Change Lives, End Slavery". Their mission is to bring an end to modern slavery by rescuing victims, restoring lives, and reforming society. The Most Reverend Justin Welby has been quoted to say; “Trafficking in human beings is one of the greatest scandals and tragedies of our age. I am encouraged to see that Hope for Justice is drawing so many together to speak out and act against this injustice… the world urgently needs to wake up to the scale of human trafficking that is modern day slavery.”

My previous blog [log in for a link] named "P Word Conference - Living in Freedom" addressed how you can be set free from sexual addiction through prayer, openness & God's Grace. A film called The Heart of Man is due for release in 2017 (watch a trailer here). It seeks to be a key resource in raising awareness on the tie between pornography and sexual exploitation and how to effectively address it within our communities. In addition, the following video by rescuefreedom.org helps illustrate the aforementioned link:

Here in Maidenhead or wherever we are, we face a problem. Silence. The devil loves us remaining silent; however, as believers, we are to oppose him and speak out with God's Power, for ourselves and others in order to be set free. The best news about this is that God is on our side - Romans 8:31 "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"

As we know, every human being is created in the image of God with inherent dignity, value and purpose. FAAST, a strategic alliance of Christian organisations, are working together to combat slavery and human trafficking. They suggest that we as believers have a biblical mandate to care for the poor and the oppressed - those who are vulnerable and exploited. Slavery and human trafficking are forms of evil that seek to destroy God's image in people and corrupt His purposes for humanity. FAAST exists because eradicating human trafficking reflects the heart of God.

I believe there is hope, and the best agency of change and restoration is God's people, the Church... you!

In the UK's anti-slavery commissioners first annual report published 2016, Kevin Hyland said police in England and Wales had received 3,146 allegations, but recorded just 884 crimes. Following on from this, Prime Minister Theresa May has said, that she vows to make it her mission to help rid the world of this "barbaric evil" and calls for the UK to lead the global fight against human trafficking, promising the UK will "work tirelessly" to combat modern slavery. 

Let's keep talking, not only with each other, but to our King of all Kings. I encourage you to pray for our nation and for the next generations to be freed from slavery. Let us be a generation that extends our hands and hearts to those who have been affected, who are likely to be much closer to home than we may expect. Galatians 5:13 "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."

References:

  1. International Labour Organisation (Human Trafficking Facts and Figures)
  2. Rescue:Freedom international is a non-profit organisation that is a leading force in the rescue and restoration of survivors of human trafficking
  3. Hope for Justice believe freedom is worth the fight
  4. Every Click Enslaves (An Organisation seeking to protect the innocence of the next generation)
  5. Weekly Podcast "that steps into the messiness of life and gazes through the lens of God™s grace"
  6. BBC News Report in October 2016 "Modern slavery: England and Wales police investigating 'too few' cases"
  7. "My Government will lead the way in defeating modern slavery" (Theresa May in July 2016)

Christmas Unwrapped (Toby Martin)

  • "Why do we have presents at Christmas?"
  • "Why is God the father of Jesus?"
  • "Why did God send a baby not a soldier?"
  • "Why doesn't everyone believe in Jesus?"
  • "Why did we even need Jesus to come?"

This is just a sample of the kinds of questions we were asked at Christmas Unwrapped, an event St Mary's put on annually for schoolchildren in year 6. A total of 250 children and 30 staff, from seven different schools over two days, came to St Mary's, White Waltham, to discover the true meaning of Christmas. And wonderfully, thanks to new links from parents, two of these schools (Highfield and Holyport) were new this year!

Their journey to discover more about Christmas led the children through mince-pie making, a myth-busting quiz on the nativity (which revealed fun facts such as the lack of a donkey in the gospel accounts of Mary's journey to Bethlehem), and even a Christmas rap recounting the events and implications of Jesus' birth.

We were all very grateful for the opportunity to share the gospel message of Christmas so widely. And while many of the children had little appetite to learn more about Jesus, it was wonderful to have some great engagement and interest as shown by some of the questions above.

Our prayer was that these children and staff would understand more of Jesus at our next event, Easter Cracked, where they will hear more about how the Saviour died to rescue us from our sins. And we pray too that, under God, these foundations of knowledge which were laid will be fertile soil for the gospel in years to come as, we pray, they hear more about Jesus.

Glory to the new born king!

Subscribing to downloads of our sermons (Rob Wingfield)

Did you know it's possible to subscribe to downloads of sermons from the St Mary's web site?  For a while there has been a RSS feed (for those that know how to use "Rich Site Summary")!  And as of today, we are also now registered as a podcast on iTunes which should make it easy for even technophobes to take advantage of this facility.  For more details on what podcasts are and how to subscribe, take a look at this article by Apple.

We would always encourage people to attend St Mary's in person (for many reasons why, do read Sam Allberry's book Why Bother With Church).  However, if you're on holiday, unwell, or simply want to listen to the sermons of a service you don't regularly attend, subscribing enables you to automatically download all our sermons to your computer or mobile device. We are also glad to make it easy for members of other churches to share in the blessings we receive from God's word week by week too!