Author: Graham Stacey

Engine Room meets weekly on Sundays

Engine Room brings together Christian young people so that they can make new friends, grow in their gifts, and be inspired to be culture-changers in their communities.

Run in conjunction with The Door as part of illuminateStroud, Engine Room is designed for those in school years 7-13 who don’t necessarily have regular access to a church youth group as well as those that do.

Each week centers around a key topic for conversation tackling big issues in young people’s lives, and involves plenty of cake (bring your own cos of covid!!!!). This Autumn we are talking about Social Action from poverty, to refugees, to Climate Change.

We meet weekly on Sundays at 6 pm at St Matthew’s Church in Cainscross.

For more details, contact Kate, or head to illuminatestroud.org.uk

Living in faith and love

An opportunity for a good respectful conversation about human sexuality.

The course will run on consecutive Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm, starting on 23rd September and ending on 21st October, and will be held at Cainscross Church Hall.

Each session lasts about 1½ hours and you can find out more about it on the church’s Living in Love and Faith (LLF) website and general information about LLF on the relevant page of the diocesan website.

Loved and Liked

‘Loved & Liked’ – a 6 session course running in Stroud starting Thursday, September 30th and then on the following 5 weeks. The first session we will meet face to face and then use Zoom for the remaining sessions – it works really well on this course. Joanne from Slad and Peter will run the course this time.

The video on this news piece is a 3-minute video with 2 people from Stroud telling their stories after being on the course earlier this year.

The course is intriguing, different and people seem to really like it. It’s also a great way to meet some of the other people in Stroud.

We only have 15 places left now – so please email Peter Hill to confirm your interest in joining before September 16th

NO financial charge and a free course manual as well.

If you want to know anything more about it:

Who’s it for – everyone! Church leaders and non-churchgoers, young and old – anyone who wants to ask some big questions and isn’t interested in the ‘correct’ answers!

The distinctive style includes space for honest big questions without obvious answers, NIV and Message readings in parallel to surprise us all, together celebrating our diversity.

Things you might discover include:

  •     God likes/delights/wants us… not just ‘loving us’ because He ‘has’ to
  •     We are all different- and that is not a mistake 
  •     We have only seen the tip of the grace iceberg so far
  •     What plans for good, He has for you… and wanting to equip us for next
  •     You are essential

Team Service Sunday 29 August

Do join us on Sunday at 11am at St Laurence’s for a special joint Stroud Team Celebration: Holy Communion for Creationtide – ‘One Planet, One Species, One Destiny’ with Rev Simon presiding. Inclusive of music led by Rebecca Coleman and Jon Trim, and an excerpt from, and Christian reflection upon, the film ‘Overview’ – a film looking at the momentous spiritual effect of the first photographs of the earth from space. Look forward to seeing you there.

Readings and questions for Sunday 29 August

James 1.17–27

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Mark 7.1–8,14,15,21–23

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

“This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;

in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.”

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’

Then he called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’ For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’

Questions:

  • In our own faith journey, where might we have held onto rules and forgotten the meaning behind them?
  • What is your experience of seeing what comes out of someone as a blessing or otherwise?

Bereavement Ministry

Many people from across the Stroud Parishes show care and compassion to those who have been bereaved.

Some of us thought it would be helpful to draw people together who want to develop this ministry.

The idea is that we could support one another, learn from one another and learn together from resources that are available to equip us further as caregivers.

If you are interested in this type of support group and in giving it shape please get in contact with me on 07494 322221 or by emailing me [email protected]

Our first meeting will be at the beginning of September.

Reading for Sunday 22 August

John 6:56-69 Good News Translation

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. The living Father sent me, and because of him I live also. In the same way whoever eats me will live because of me. This, then, is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the bread that your ancestors ate, but then later died. Those who eat this bread will live forever.” Jesus said this as he taught in the synagogue in Capernaum. Many of his followers heard this and said, “This teaching is too hard. Who can listen to it?” Without being told, Jesus knew that they were grumbling about this, so he said to them, “Does this make you want to give up? Suppose, then, that you should see the Son of Man go back up to the place where he was before? What gives life is God’s Spirit; human power is of no use at all. The words I have spoken to you bring God’s life-giving Spirit. Yet some of you do not believe.” (Jesus knew from the very beginning who were the ones that would not believe and which one would betray him.) And he added, “This is the very reason I told you that no people can come to me unless the Father makes it possible for them to do so.” Because of this, many of Jesus’ followers turned back and would not go with him any more. So he asked the twelve disciples, “And you—would you also like to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. And now we believe and know that you are the Holy One who has come from God.”

Ephesians 6:10-20 New Revised Standard Version

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Questions on these passages

Q: Does this passage challenge you about what you understand communion to be?
Q: Can you sympathise with the disciples who ‘turned back and no longer went about with him.’?

Q: What does it mean to ‘stand firm’ and how can I do that?

 

Readings and questions for 15 August

Ephesians 5.15–20

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 6.51–58

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’
So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’

Questions:

How does this passage help you understand what we do when we come to communion?

Do you find it comforting or unsettling?

Weekly News for 5 August

Graham and I enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Scotland and want to say thank you for all your blessings and kindness for our anniversary.

The rest of the team are off on holiday this coming week which does mean that things will take a little more time to get to, and some things will not be able to happen. We really appreciate your care and understanding about the importance of rest.

This coming Sunday in Holy Trinity, next to the hospital we are looking forward to welcoming Oscar and Ruby into the family of God this coming Sunday as they are baptised – please do remember them in your prayers. This is one of the great joys and privileges for us as churches, to come alongside families to help them say thank you for their children. If you would like to be more involved in this ministry, why not come along to our Baptism drop in at St Matthew’s hall this Saturday morning, 9.30-11, to find out more.

From 1-12 November COP26 will be held in Glasgow; a pivotal international gathering to address our climate crisis. In the build up to this event people of faith from all across the country will be walking to the event as pilgrims of our planet. The Western camino pilgrims will be passing through Stroud on 11th and 12th September. If you would like to be part of this inspiring act of faith, please consider offering a pilgrim a bed for the night? If you could, or if you want to find out more, please get in touch with Karen Burridge – you can find her details in the text below this video.

That same weekend we have an opportunity for a mini pilgrimage ourselves! It is Ride and Stride day, where we are encouraged to walk/ride/run between churches to raise money for Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust. 50% of money raised comes back to us and 50% is set aside for grants across the county. Graham is planning to cycle and I am planning to run to each of our churches across the team. Do you fancy joining in? Look on our website for information.

Amongst the wide range of services coming up this week we have Communion 9.30 at Whiteshill and 11am at Slad and then 11.30 next Wednesday at Holy Trinity next to the hospital. This Sunday we also have a quarter peel being rung at St Laurence followed by said Evensong at 5pm. All are welcome.

You’ll find the readings and questions to give you some food for your soul on our news page. One of our readings this Sunday is from Ephesians.  I’ll sign off with some words of encouragement taken from that letter:

…be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

May God bless you and keep you, may God’s face shine upon you and bring you rest.