Tuesday, 28 June 2016

All Saints' Church - worship that renews and inspires

Worship that renews

Here is Rev Lorna's third talk called "Worship that renews and inspires" which she gave at Potterhanworth last week. From now on these talks are going to be posted on the All Saints Blog if you would like to continue to read them. I hope you have enjoyed reading the first three here on the Nocton Blog.

Jonathan Sides

Sermon – Sunday June 19th 2016 – Worship that renews and inspires

Plate 1 - All Saints' Church - steps to pulpit
Fourth Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Isaiah 65:1-9, Galatians 2:23-29 and Luke 8:26-39

James turned up at church one Sunday morning. At St Mary’s, Queniborough. No-one recognised him. He’d not been there before, or at least, not for a very long time.

They were a little worried. He looked like what he was, a middle-aged, well-educated, articulate, business man. And he’d turned up on the Sunday when it was the free4ALL – the family service!

So there was no prayer book and no traditional hymns, but modern songs, words projected on the overhead screen. It wasn’t quiet and peaceful – there was all the noise and restlessness you’d expect when there are babies, toddlers, children, and distracted parents. And the vicar wasn’t even there – she was at another church taking communion.

The free4ALL team did their best to make him welcome – but were afraid he wouldn’t like the service.

At the end, over a cup of coffee, someone talked to James. And he said: I’m so glad I came to church today, it was just what I needed.

Sunday worship. Just what I needed. I don’t think he meant that particular family service, but worship. Worship in church. Worship with other people. It was just what he needed. It is just what we all need.

God doesn’t need it. We need it. The Almighty isn’t like some elderly grandad, lonely and crotchety, wanting our company, but then finding us a bit of a nuisance if we make too much noise. He’s not like Father Christmas, wanting to give us nice things, but only if we’re good. And he’s not like some ancient despot, needing us to grovel in order to make him feel more important or more secure.
  • God doesn’t need our worship.
  • We’re not doing him a favour by turning up to pay our respects.
  • We’re not here to keep an institution going.
  • We’re not here because we’re on duty.
  • We’re here because in the end we need to worship. Because worship does us good.
There are lots of reasons why. I’ve not tried to produce a comprehensive list, though I have contrived to make them all start with the letter P. So here they are:
  1. Firstly we need to worship – it does us good - because it restores our sense of proportion. Worship is a way of saying that I believe there is a God, and - I know it’s not me. That’s very liberating.  There is a God – and it’s not me. I’m a creature, of his making. In the very best sense of the words, I know my place in  creation. More than that, I know myself to be loved, cherished, valued … all those things. I enjoy the full dignity of being a child of God. I don’t need to grovel, because God invites me to stand on my own two feet in his presence. But in order to do that - he first invites me to put down all the worries and vexations that weigh on my mind, all the guilt, shame, all the other distractions. Of course there is also a proper sense of awe and reverence, of ‘fear’ in the old sense of the word, but that too is liberating, because it’s reverence freely offered, not demanded.
  2. And then secondly – we need to worship, worship is good for us, because it gives us a sense of perspective. Worship invites us to take the long view. We know ourselves ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven. And we know that we’re being changed –  our characters becoming more Christ-like. But change take time. We can look back into our past and see how far we’ve come, but we don’t need to let that past control us - because we are being re-clothed with Christ, who is far more interested in our future. And that future has an extraordinarily trajectory – because it extends beyond death and into our heavenly and imperishable inheritance with Christ.
  3. Thirdly – worship connects us not only with God, but also with the community of his people. And it is a truly extraordinary community – there’s nothing else like it the world over. It’s not a club for like-minded people who enjoy a sort of religious hobby. It’s a community called together by God – a small part of it gathering here in this place, but extending around the world and throughout time. It includes people of every colour, language, sexual orientation, every race and nationality. As Paul wrote to the Galatians: we are all one in Christ Jesus. And that community can – should – offer us a safe place in which to ask our questions, express our doubts, wrestle with the issues that perplex us, to learn and to grow.
There are other things to include in this list – that worship is a sort of party, a celebration and thanksgiving. That it’s a proclamation, a public statement of our allegiance to Christ.

But I’m going to include just one more. That worship recalls and renews our sense of purpose. We are sent out, in the words of the Eucharist, to live and work to God’s praise and glory. Sent out – not invited to stay in where it’s easy and secure. Sent out.

It reminds me of a poster I once saw, at a confirmation service. It said: A ship is safe in harbour – but that’s not what ships are for. So we’re sent out, to fulfil the purpose of our lives. Individually and collectively, sent to build the kingdom of God, with whoever is alongside us, in whatever place we find ourselves.
By now you might have noticed how closely this list mirror the events of today’s gospel.
A man out of his mind, tormented, spending his days and nights among the dead instead of the living - desperate, ranting and raving. And then he meets Jesus - comes to Jesus. And Jesus sets him free from what troubles him, re-clothes him in his rightful mind, restores him to his community, and sends him into his future with a job to do. Or to put it another way, renews and inspires him. Breathes new life into him.

(Nine marks)
Of course, fragile and feeble as we generally are, we need this renewal and inspiration more than once. That restoration of our sense of proportion and perspective, we need it week by week. We need those other people, week by week. We need to be reminded of God’s good purposes for our lives, week by week.

So the question is this: does what we do at the moment in our worship renew and inspire us? Or might we do things differently? If so, what?

Research on what makes churches flourish and grow shows that it’s not necessarily the particular style of worship that matters. In some places it might be formal sung evensong, in others it might be a praise party.

For some people it might be something very quiet and gentle, for others it might be more of a rave in the nave.

There’s a wide range of possibilities, and they can all work – in the right place. But what might renew and inspire in this place? And not just for us – what about the people we are called to serve?

Lorna Brabin-Smith

Monday, 27 June 2016

Nocton Cricket Club - match report

Nocton CC v Ancaster, June 19th – League Match

Last Sunday the 2 clubs at the top of the division met for a “Clash of the Titans.” It didn’t quite work out the way anyone expected! After all the heavy rain the pitch was soft despite the players’ best efforts with the roller. The air was heavy and humid and the ball was swinging. Whoever won the toss was bound to field first. Ancaster won the toss – and just 11 overs later they had won the match!! I arrived about 5 minutes into the game (just as one of the Nocton batters was out) and realised that, although I’d brought all the Treasurer’s admin stuff with me … I’d forgotten the camera! By the time I got back about 15 minutes later another batter had also just been dismissed. Little did I know what had been going on in my absence. Richard Free, who was keeping the scoreboard moving, simply said, “Whatever you do, don’t look at the scoreboard, Jon!” Nocton had lost 7 wickets and had only scored 7 runs. The remaining 3 wickets fell for just one additional run. We were all out for 8 – a new club record. Miles scored 4, there were 4 extras and all the rest were ducks – as if the village doesn’t have enough already!  Lee Willford was quick to point out to me that although he scored a duck, at least he was not out! Good one, Lee! “Strictly’s” Craig Revel Horwood would have called it “A bit of a disarrrster, darling!”

So, what happened? There was nothing more the lads could have done with pitch preparation – it was soft and that’s bad news for batting. The ball was swinging and that’s bad news for batting too. From what I saw the main issue was speed – the Ancaster bowlers, Joe Bottomley and Ian Whatton, were very, very fast – faster than any I have seen in all the matches I’ve watched. And they bowled straight - and let the pitch cause havoc. Rob Garfoot, honest as the day is long, said to me, “I never saw the ball, Jon – I just swung the bat where I thought it was!”

You can’t defend a total as low as that. All you can do, which skipper Dylan did, is to set a very attacking field and hope for a breakthrough. It didn’t come, and in the third over Ancaster’s Anthony Richardson hit the winning runs. The players were eating a hearty tea before 3 o’clock.

Report and photos by Jonathan Sides

Plate 1 - Stumps flying as our rock solid defender
Paul Carrott is beaten for pace

Plate 2 - Isaac Appleyard loses his leg stump to Ian Whatton

Plate 3 - Rob Appleyard knew where he wanted the
ball to go... but it didn't!

Plate 4 - Set an attacking field and hope for the best

Plate 5 - Mikey thinking, 'What can I do with this one?'

Plate 6 - The winning runs in the third over

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Nocton Club - announcements

Change to opening times

Please note a change to Sunday opening times - with effect from Sunday 3rd July the new opening time will be 2pm to 7pm

Forthcoming functions
  • Annual Produce Show - Sunday 28th August 2016
  • Back by popular demand - Cat Litter Band - Saturday 3rd September 2016
More details next month.

Lorraine Chapman

Saturday, 25 June 2016

All Saints Church - transformed lives and communities

Lives and communities

Throughout the summer our new Rector, Lorna Brabin-Smith, will be talking in church about some very important issues and themes. These don’t just relate to people who choose to go to church on Sunday – the message is for everyone.

Lorna’s talks are short, lively, often amusing … and very much to the point. Her second talk is called "Transformed lives and communities" and was given at Nocton on June 12th.

Jonathan Sides

Plate 1 - Flower display in All Saints' Church

Sermon – Sunday June 12th 2016 - Transformed lives and communities

Third Sunday after Trinity
Readings: Galatians 2:15-end and Luke 7:36-8:3

'I wonder if you heard the item on the news last weekend about Christian asylum seekers. Someone was protesting about the way people claiming asylum were being questioned – questioned to try to establish whether they were Christian - or not.

The problem was that the officials given that task were interrogating people with a battery of questions about the bible, as if knowing your bible makes you a Christian.

So as I understand it, the questions included:
  • Can you name the writers of the four gospels?
So, hands up if you think you could do that – I don’t want the answer, just whether you think you know the answer.

And then there was:
  • Can you recite all ten of the ten commandments?
Put your hand up if you think you could do that.

And then there was:
  • How many books are there in the bible?
Put your hand up if you think you know that, and finally:
  • Can you name all twelve of the twelve apostles?
Put your hand up if you think you could do that.

Well, I don’t think many of us would pass the test. But the news reminded me of that old question. It’s quite challenging: If someone accused you of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Which got me thinking – what sort of evidence might you look for? In other people. But more importantly, in yourself?

Or to put it another way: what difference has being a Christian made to you, or better still, made in you?

And what sort of difference has it made to the world around you? To your neighbours? To your community?

This week, we’re talking about transformation. Transformed lives and transformed communities.

So I’d like to suggest at least two ways in which being a Christian makes a difference to us - transforms us. There are more, many more, but these two connect us to today’s readings, especially today’s gospel.

The first is an inner transformation. And the second is a transformation in how we look at the world. Which in turn could transform that world.

So, Exhibit A - the first transforming difference - is that a Christian knows forgiveness. Not just know about it as an idea, not just a theory, but know themselves forgiven. Actually, more than that, first know themselves in need of forgiveness – have faced up to that terrible truth. And then know themselves to be forgiven.

Forgiveness is so often the starting point. It’s liberating. And it’s transforming.

I’ve been struck more than once by those words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. His words of joy and prophecy over his son. We know it as the Benedictus. We say it every day at morning prayer.

Zechariah said: And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation, by – by what? By the forgiveness of all their sins.

Knowledge of salvation, by the forgiveness of all their sins.

Knowledge – not just by knowing about, like you might know about the bible. Knowledge – because you’ve understood it and experienced it for yourself.

And forgiveness once experienced, transforms us. It changes us – for the better.

In our Old Testament reading David, the great and powerful king, is brought face to face with the truth of his sin – adultery, murder, the utter misuse, abuse of power – and finally realises his own need for forgiveness.

In the gospel, the woman – a person at the opposite end of the scale. She’s the least and the most powerless. But she’s ahead of David. She has already realised that she needs forgiveness – and has been forgiven – forgiven a great deal it seems.

As Jesus puts it: she has been saved – saved, rescued from guilt, from shame, from her own sense of unworthiness. She has been set free from it all. And can go in peace, to a new life. A life transformed.

But there’s something else in today’s gospel. Just a phrase, a passing phrase, a phrase we might easily miss. But it’s so powerful, says so much.

Simon the Pharisee is disgusted with the woman. Who on earth does she think she is? What on earth does she think she’s doing? She’s a nuisance, an irritation, an embarrassment.

But Jesus asks a question. He’s good at asking questions. People think that he’s always making statements, telling stories, or giving sermons … but very often, at the heart of what Jesus says – is a question. The sort of question that can challenge and change the way we think. Can transform us.

Jesus says to Simon: Do you see this woman? Do you see this woman? Do you see her as I see her? Not a nuisance, not an irritation, not an embarrassment. But a child of God, a beloved child of God. Someone that God loves, and grieves over. Someone that God wants the very best for. Someone with huge potential, created as they are in his image. Someone God has set free, as he longs to set you free.

So – if we were in court, maybe that could be our Exhibit B. Our second transforming difference – that a Christian sees things differently. Or at least begins to see things differently.

Begins to see with God’s eyes. Sees the irritating colleague at work, the shy child, the drunk in the street, the anxious mum, the blustering politician, the overworked husband, the hooligan at the football match, the layabout teenager, the nuisance neighbour, the stranger, sees them as God sees them. And sees our community as full of potential for goodness and blessing.

That would change how we relate to them, pray for them, work with them. That would have the power to transform us all.

Heavenly Father
Open our eyes to our own need for forgiveness.
Open our eyes to see those around us as you see them.
And so transform and bless us all.


Lorna Brabin-Smith

Friday, 24 June 2016

Neighbourhood Plan

Nocton and Potterhanworth

'This is the latest version of the draft Nocton and Potterhanworth Neighbourhood Plan which has recently been submitted to NKDC for the Strategic Environmental Assessment. As such, it may be subject to amendment and is, therefore, not for formal consultation at this stage. It is appreciated, however, that residents may wish to see an early draft. It is hoped that formal consultation will begin towards the end of the summer.'

Alternatively, you can independently access the plan on the main 'Nocton & Potterhanworth Neighbourhood Plan' weblog, or on the 'Nocton Parish Council' website - see 'Companion Sites' to the right of this blog.