Fun and Fundraising

This weekend was a BUSY one.

On Friday evening we had a findraiser to support poor kids in the Philippines aqnd help them to get an education.  Rhythm and Joy travelled all the way up from Birmingham to perform for the event.  It was a great evening and we raised well in excess of the £420 that was needed for the sixteen pupils.

 

We thought we’d have plenty left over for extraneous school expenses until Tess told us that more kids had enrolled and sheepish;y asked whether there was money for them too.  We were delighted to be able to tell her that the IS enough money!  How amazing it is that the supply was (for once) in place BEFORE the need was known.

Untitled 1!

The final grand total was (to date) £530 so well done and thank you to everyone who came along to support us and those who gave even though they couldn’t come along.

Thanks again to everyone who helped and contributed in so many ways.

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St George’s Day

Finally I have managed to wrestle the pictures of the Scouts’ St. George’s Day celebration off of the memory stick that has held them captive!  Don’t you just love technology sometimes?

It was a fabulous day for a few reasons.  It was obviously a great honour to be able to welcome the scouts of Scarborough to church on such and auspicious day. Every boy, girl, man and woman behaved beautifully and they were definitely a great credit to their organization.

It was fabulous to see the church full to bursting.  That was really encouraging for the members and friends of the church who really benefitted from having a vision planted in their brains of how things will one day be EVERY week!

Without further ado….here are the pictures.

 

 

 

 

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Christ Is Risen – Hallelujah!

Hallelujah is right!

We had a fabulous day last Sunday.  It was also LONG!  It went something like this:

6:00am – Sonrise service including communion with the sun coming up and the sea as a backdrop.  It was a fabulous time of celebration.

7:00am – Back to Albemarle for bacon butties and a few pots of tea until the feeling returned to our frozen fingers and toes.

9:00am – Everybody ran home for showers, naps, and (in my case) final preparations for the rest of the day.

10:45am – Traditional Sunday Morning Service.  I preached the gospel just about as plainly as I could have done to a congregation of 22.  Now that might not seem a lot to some people but at Albemarle it’s almost a 100% increase on our regular numbers so everyone was thrilled.  The sermon went like this:

God’s Empty Promises

  • The Empty Cross – The Promise of Sins Forgiven
  • The Empty Tomb – The Promise of Eternal Life
  • The Empty Grave Clothes – The Promise of a Relatioship with the Risen Saviour

11:45am – Tea and Coffee accompanied by hot cross buns and cornflake nest cakes provided by the lovely Paul. (Thank you Paul!)

2:00pm – The launch of ABC International.  This is a more contemporary style of worship.  we discussed the vision and mission for the international congregation and re-affirmed the glory of the resurrection as the power that energizes our faith.  I was surprised and thrilled to find a congregation of 18 for this first meeting. Hallelujah again!

4:00pm – We watched the boat race.  Least said, soonest mended.  I’m a dark blue to the core and was not best impressed with the result.

5:00pm – Soup and bread for tea for the flagging few who spent practically the entire day together.

6:00pm – An informal evening service where everybody participated in a discussion of the symbols of the resurrection and how they link together, overlap and yet stand very individually in each of our minds.  We ended the service by making an Easter display with all our symbols……see?!

Easter Symbols 008

And finally……9:00pm – Go home, sit on the sofa and wake up with a stiff neck at 2am!!!

I don’t mind though – it was worth every minute of effort, preparation and execution.  It was a fabulous day because new life was celebrated and enjoyed by so many people all coming together as one.

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A New Boy In Town

We recently had a visitor in town.  He was an old boy of sorts – and yet completely new too!

Yes, the newly re-fitted Flying Scotsman came to Scarbados and one of our intrepid reporters was there both to see the grand event and to capture it in pictures.

There’s nothing excessively spiritual here but Bryan and I thought you might like to see this fabulous piece of machinery that holds the soul of a nation.  So here he is (or is he a she?).  Pronouns are such a bother!

 

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ABC INTERNATIONAL STARTS HERE

After months of praying and waiting and hoping and thinking and planning and wondering…..THE TIME HAS FINALLY ARRIVED!

Let me explain.

Albemarle Baptist Church is a huge building with a very small but very dedicated congregation.  The majority of people in the church are quite elderly and they like church to be a pretty traditional, sedate, reverent experience.  I can respect that.  I can enjoy that. I have found comfort, peace, joy, strength and growth in that.

In essence, we do traditional and we do it well.

But, in this day and age, our conception of church sometimes seems to be viewed as outmoded, inaccessible and generally alien.

I was at a conference recently.  We were discussing the general topic, “How does the man or woman on the street view the church?  How does he or she view Christians?” The conversation was illuminating!  It revealed that people often find us:

  • Irrelevant because we don’t talk about real life
  • Rigid in our practices and structures
  • A sort of secret society that has its own language that outsiders don’t understand
  • (And this one astonished me!) A group of people who eat fruit and muesli in a society that eats chicken nuggets.

What people concluded was that we need to find new ways of being church.

Never one to ignore the advice of my betters I have fixed the date on which our church will begin to be church differently.  The exciting (and slightly intimidating) way we are going to do that is to open the doors for a brand new congregation meeting every week on Sunday afternoons at 2pm.

2pm isn’t a traditional time to meet and we are hoping it might prove popular in itself.

But that’s not the main difference.

The main difference is that this congregation is going to do things in a totally freeform way drawing on the experience of the church worldwide. That’s why we’re calling ourselves ABC International.

We want to know how church looks in Chile, the Philippines, India, Poland, Germany, Syria, Iceland, Albania, China – anywhere and everywhere.  We want to learn about difference.  We want to talk about Jesus in every context in the world.

Sometimes that will involve a worship service.  Sometimes it might be a chat.  Sometimes it might be a shared meal.  Sometimes it could be a film and popcorn.  Sometimes it could be a concert or a worship session.  Sometimes it could be a bit of everything and sometimes it could be quite a bit of nothing all except listening to God and to one another.

We don’t want to DO church, we want to BE church.  We don’t want to force people into a mould, we want to invite people to come and add their voice and their faith to a free-moving whole.

I can’t promise you anything about what a meeting of ABC International might be like.  All I can guarantee is that everyone will be welcomed, listened to, accepted, and loved.

So if you are one of the thousands of people in and around Scarborough who finds church foreign, why not come and check us out at Albemarle Baptist Church on a Sunday afternoon at 2pm?  You might be surprised at what you find.

The first meeting is on Easter Sunday – 27th March.  It’s the day we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead and bringing new life to the world.  Why not make it the day you start a new life this year?

See you there!

Church Location Map

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Big Birthdays

Sweet Sixteen parties are booming in the Western world.  I recently heard of a boy whose 16th birthday cost his parents over half a million pounds.  I’d be sixteen again myself if someone was going to give me that much money!

At 18 we become “adults” and suddenly a whole raft of activities become legal – not always helpful but legal nevertheless.

At 21 we get the key of the door, although if anyone doesn’t have a front door key in this day and age before reaching 21 I’d be astonished.

30, I’m told, is the time when people now become fdull adults.  What have they been doing for the previous decade?  But there is some precedent for this view.  It was traditionally the age at which a Jewish man became a full man and so became eligible for various leadership roles in Israel.

Life begins at 40 people say.  In my case, most of my forties were not the typical definition of “living”.  I had my accident and was flat on my back for a good part of that decade.  I didn’t like it much.

These birthdays are milestones; significant markers in the progress of our lives.  They are ages when we can and should take a little time out to reflect on what we have done so far and what we want to do with our personalities, our careers, our families and so forth.

So when I hit 50 a few days ago I did what every civilised person does on their birthay – I googled it!  “What is the significance of a 50th birthay?”  I asked.  That was my first mistake!  This is what I read:

“A 50th birthday is one of the most important birthdays a person has in their life, it’s a milestone and accomplishment, and the person being honored deserves the best than their friends and loved ones can muster. Marking the beginning of the latter years of a person’s life. Being such a milestone, it is important to not pull out the “over the hill” style of black humor for a person’s 50th Birthday (unless of course, that’s what they ask for) also it is important to make this day not just a celebration of their birthday, but quite literally their life, for you are honoring a half a century of memories, victories, struggles and everything in-between.”

To some people this might look like an innocent enough piece of advice.  To me, it looked like the end of life as I know it!  What I read (in my delicate condition) was, “Be nice to the old girl and don’t be mean about the fact she’s on her last legs”.

At the armouries

Fortunately, my friends failed to google what I did.  Thank goodness for that!  The first person who had treated me with this particular pair of kid gloves would have had a swift kick in the pants from me.

Really Google?  Is this really what my feeble future holds?  If I had been younger and less experienced I might have got depressed about this.  But the wisdom of age told me to disregard this and look for something more useful and positive instead.

Google came up blank.

There is nothing useful on Google about being 50.  Thanks for that Google.

So I did what I ought to have done in the first place: I went to the Bible.  The Bible is a fabulous place for making you feel young.  People in Genesis lived for hundreds of years – up to 966 years.  I began to feel like a spring chicken.  Things were looking great!

But seriously, 50 years in scripture is the Year of Jubilee.  Slaves are freed in the 50th year.  Property that was lost is restored in the 50th year.  Foreigners are liberated and can go home in the 50th year.  Debts are erased in the 50th year.  Trumpets of praise and victory are blown in the 50th year.

In short the 50th year is, in God’s design, not about the beginning of the end but the beginning of a fabulous new era of health, wealth, freedom and celebration.  I’m looking forward to the coming decade with a whole new outlook now.

If you have reached or passed the glorious 50 year mark I want to encourage you to look forward to a bright future in God.  It doesn’t matter what people think about things in life; it matters what God says about them.  God says, “This is your year of liberation” and that is what you should focus on and live in.

And the best part?  The Bible is still better than Google! YES!!!!

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Sadness and Struggles

I admit it – I’m struggling.

Not about faith or the Meaning of Life – everyone knows the answer to those thorny questions are Jesus and 42 respectively.

I am struggling because one of the youth who meet at the church has recently passed away.

It’s not right and it’s not OK.  Young lives should not be snuffed out prematurely.  Those of us who are older sort of accept that we can’t go on forever.  Most of us wouldn’t want to.  But this wisdom comes with age, maturity, philosophical reflection and a good deal of planning.  A good deal of living.

But when a young man has not lived yet – not really lived – the loss is not just the loss of a friend, a son, a brother; it is the loss of a life, of potential, of hopes and dreams.

I was the kind of child who refused to go to bed early in case I missed something.  I never want to leave a party in case something exciting happens after I leave.  I don’t even want to leave church before the doors are locked in case something amazing kicks off when I’m gone.  In short, I live in the constant hope of experiencing something great.

And this is what makes this particular loss so devastating to me.  I will miss the young man, of course.  I sympathise with the much greater loss being felt by his family.  I try to be strong for the others in the youth group who have been so shocked and devastated by the loss of their friend.  But the real pain for me personally is something that some may never understand: I cry over the lost possibilities.

Zack was full of life, a budding DJ with a heart for people, a bit of a clown.  And now all that life and talent and joy has been stolen from him and from the world.

I want to scream and stamp my feet and shout, “It’s not fair”!  And I’m right.  It’s not fair.  But loss never is.

In the mathematics of life, good is not equal to a long and happy life.  Bad is not equal to a short and miserable one.  Life is more like a random sequence of digits that make little sense at times.  Mathematicians, philosophers and theoretical physicists have examined those digits for centuries and have never found the rule that makes the equation balance.

The only thing that makes that happen is the addition of Christ.  He is the spiritual Higgs-Boson particle that makes the maths work.  He is the Task Manager that makes this great universal machine work when it freezes and gets snarled up.  He is the fixed factor when we are lost in a sea of randomness.

And that is how I feel.  Like I am being tossed around in randomness like an odd sock in a tumble dryer.

And yet even a tumble dryer has a fixed point – a pivot around which it spins.  So do I.

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.

(Matthew 7:24-25)

Make sure your life is built on that firm foundation because the rains will come and the floodwaters will rise an the winds will beat against you.  That’s life.  If your life is built on Christ your foundations will be strong enough to stand against the storm.

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