We now well into 2022 and have passed 'Blue Monday', officially the most depressing day of the year. But alongside the cold and gloom we have had some glorious, bright frosty January mornings, and the observant will have noted that new shoots are pushing up through the ground, and there is optimism that the pandemic could be beginning to recede. Life is always characterised by a mix of darkness and light, success and failure, sadness and joy.


It is with very mixed feelings that I recently shared the news of the decision Dawn and I have made that now, after 10 years, is the time for me to leave my role as Rector, and to make preparations for handing on the leadership of our churches as I move back towards full-time medical work. I will be very sad to leave, but there is much to look forward to and be optimistic about.  Our churches are full of gifted, committed people, we are surrounded by opportunities to engage with our communities, and we have the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead living in and amongst us. We are God's Church, and God will cause his precious Church to grow and flourish in 2022 and beyond.
 

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are fellow workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building."

1 Corinthians 3:5-9

 

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
19th January 2022


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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Epiphany

Dear Church member

Happy Epiphany!

We tentatively feel our way ahead into the New Year, and are being urged to keep testing. Of course I'm talking about 'lateral flow tests', but the greater test is that of our faith.

God says to his people - however uncertain the future may seem from an human point of view - "I will never leave you nor forsake you". This promise is found in multiple books of the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, and can be claimed by all God's people. 2022 and beyond is part of the inheritance of the heirs in Christ, and as we enter that 'promised land' let us hold on to God's promise of old:
 

"It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed" Deuteronomy 31:6-8
 

News & Updates

Click for more information


Collect for Epiphany
O God,
who by the leading of a star
manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth:
mercifully grant that we,
who know you now by faith,
may at last behold your glory face to face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Yours, in Christ,


Jonathan signature

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton

 

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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Happy Christmas!
Dear Church member,
 
"The rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace" (Luke 1:78b-79).

christmas-the-dawn-of-deaths-dIn the midst of gloomy headlines and thick cloud above, the challenges of life can cast a shadow over us, or even threaten to overwhelm. The story of the Bible realistically speaks of the darkness in this world and in human hearts, of broken relationships, suffering and death. But the darkness is constantly pierced by the light of God's abiding presence with his people - in wilderness, in Exile, and in the everyday.

The shepherds were just ordinary folk going about their ordinary lives, when during the darkest earthly hour a heavenly light broke through, accompanied by ecstatic angelic song and an enthralling vision of the glory of God. With the announcement of the divine dawn was a message of hope for every human being, and indeed for the whole of creation. God himself has come into his world to bring love, joy and peace. To bring light that even the deepest darkness cannot overcome.

 
"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness"
Jesus, John 12:46


Online services
It is good to celebrate Christmas together as a church family. As well as our in-person services, we are also continuing with online Sunday worship plus a special online service for Christmas Day. Please consider the online option if you are able. Online services found here.

In-person services
We have five in-person services in the benefice over the next 24 hours, but given the recent increase in Covid incidence and transmission, we are practising social distancing, good ventilation, use of hand sanitiser on the door, and other recommended measures such as lateral flow tests before attending (for those who are able). There will be no refreshments after the services, and at All Saints' we will not be singing (though we will have recorded music). Please note that Government regulations require those over the age of 10 (unless exempt) to wear face coverings in church.


Christmas card 2021 imageChristmas Eve
10.00pm All Saints' Chilton - 'Midnight' Communion [said]
11.30pm St Matthew's Harwell - 'Midnight' Communion

Christmas Day
9.30am All Saints' Chilton - Worship for All Ages [said]
11.00am St Matthew's Harwell - Worship for All Ages
12 noon St Matthew's Harwell - short service of Holy Communion [said]


Boxing Day onwards
We are planning to have in-person services on Boxing Day at 9.30am in Chilton (Morning Worship), and 11.30am in Harwell (Holy Communion) - with singing! - but there will be no evening service.

Everything is subject to change (which we will publicise as necessary by email, on our website, and on Facebook), but we are currently planning for a 'normal' set of services (9.30/10.00/11.30/6.00) the following Sunday, 2nd January, and our regular pattern of in-person service thereafter.

Courses in the New Year
Do please take note of and being praying about two courses starting late January.

alphalogoThe Alpha Course
A hugely popular video and discussion-based 11 week course that makes space for a conversation about faith, life and God. Do be thinking and praying about this, and whether you might like to take part and/or invite a friend, neighbour, colleague or family member. Taster evening Monday 24th January, more info from Deborah.

Living in Love and Faith logoLiving in Love and Faith
This new, five-session course on Wednesday evenings beginning 26th January provides a structured and accessible way to learn about and reflect on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage. Including short-story films, Bible passages and discussion, it is designed to inspire us to think more deeply about what it means to be human, and for followers of Jesus to walk in love, faith and holiness today.

The church office will be closed until 4th January, but do please contact me directly if needed.


 
The Collect for Christmas Night

Eternal God,
who made this most holy night
to shine with the brightness of your one true light:
bring us, who have known the revelation
of that light on earth,
to see the radiance of your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


 
May you have a joyful Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Christmas services - update
Dear Church member,

This is just a brief update about our Christmas services and some changes in the light of Covid situation.



Crib Service
Crib ServicesTOMORROW OUTDOORS in HARWELL
In a change of plan due to the Covid situation, instead of two services we will be having a single Crib service for Harwell and Chilton, tomorrow (Thurs 23rd Dec) at 3.30pm outdoors at St Matthew's. Children are very welcome to come dressed as someone from the nativity but please wrap up warm; the forecast is for dry weather, but it could be chilly! Parking will be available at Prince's Manor Farm, and will be signposted.


We are currently planning for our other services to proceed as planned (as below), but given the recent increase in Covid incidence and transmission, we will be encouraging social distancing, good ventilation, use of hand sanitiser on the door, and other recommended measures such as lateral flow tests before attending (for those who are able). Please note that Government regulations require those over the age of 10 (unless exempt) to wear face coverings in church.


Online services
As well as our in-person services, we are also continuing with online Sunday worship plus a special online service for Christmas Day. Please consider the online option if you are able. Online services found here.


Christmas card 2021 imageChristmas Eve
10.00pm All Saints' Chilton - 'Midnight' Communion
11.30pm St Matthew's Harwell - 'Midnight' Communion


Christmas Day
9.30am All Saints' Chilton - Worship for All Ages
11.00am St Matthew's Harwell - Worship for All Ages
12 noon St Matthew's Harwell - short service of Holy Communion



Boxing Day onwards
We are currently planning to have in-person services on Boxing Day at 9.30am in Chilton (Morning Worship), and 11.30am in Harwell (Holy Communion), but there will be no evening service. We are planning for a 'normal' set of services (9.30/10.00/11.30/6.00) the following Sunday, 2nd January, but any changes will be publicised by email, on our website, and on Facebook.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Christmas and the New Year!
Dear Church member,

Christmas is coming and the New Year is not far behind! We have news of a few changes to existing plans - including this Sunday - and also of new plans for the New Year. Do please pass on the news to others.



Christmas card 2021 imageCarols in the Churchyard
Following last weekend in Chilton, this Sunday is Harwell's turn for carol services. The day and times are as previously advertised, but given the Covid situation, we have decided to hold these in the churchyard. The weather forecast is for dry weather, but do still wrap up warm, wear stout footwear in case slippery, and bring a torch.

Contrary to my previous email, given the change of location, the good news is that mulled wine and mince pies are back on! Please bring your own mug (and please wear face coverings near the serving area). To smooth the flow, entry will be from the east and south entrances.


- Sunday 19th December 4pm St Matthew's Churchyard - Family Carols
- Sunday 19th December 6.30pm St Matthew's Churchyard - Nine Lessons & Carols


Other services
Please note that in light of the extra services over the coming couple of weeks, we have cancelled the 10am and 11.30am services this Sunday (19th) and the 6pm service on 26th December. We do, however, have a service of Holy Communion at All Saints' Chilton at 9.30am this Sunday (19th), and are planning to have services at 9.30am (Chilton) and 11.30am (Harwell) on Sunday 26th.


Details of all our Advent and Christmas services can be found here.

I would be grateful if you would note that the regulations require those over the age of 10 (unless exempt) to wear face coverings in church.


Courses in the New Year
Advance notice of two courses starting late January.

alphalogoThe Alpha Course
A hugely popular video and discussion-based 11 week course that makes space for a conversation about faith, life and God. Do be thinking and praying about this, and whether you might like to take part and/or invite a friend, neighbour, colleague or family member. Taster evening Monday 24th January, more info from Deborah.

Living in Love and Faith logoLiving in Love and Faith
This new, five-session course on Wednesday evenings beginning 26th January provides a structured and accessible way to learn about and reflect on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage. Including short-story films, Bible passages and discussion, it is designed to inspire us to think more deeply about what it means to be human, and for followers of Jesus to walk in love, faith and holiness today.


Announcement - new CFW
I am delighted to announce the appointment of Brendan Bailey as Children and Families' Worker (job share) to work alongside Sarah Barrett. Many will already know Brendan, who with his wife Lucy lives in Harwell next to the shop. Brendan will formally start in post on 1st January.


 
Eternal God,
as Mary waited for the birth of your Son,
so we wait for his coming in glory;
bring us through the birth pangs of this present age
to see, with her, our great salvation
in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Carols by Candlelight
Dear Church member,

Christmas is coming! Over the next two weekends we are celebrating Carols by Candlelight in both churches; this weekend (11-12th) in Chilton and the following Sunday (19th) in Harwell.


Christmas card 2021 imageCarols by Candlelight
- Saturday (today!) 11th December 4pm All Saints' Chilton - Family Carols
- Sunday 12th December 6.30pm All Saints' Chilton - Nine Lessons & Carols
- Sunday 19th December 4pm St Matthew's Harwell - Family Carols
- Sunday 19th December 6.30pm St Matthew's Harwell - Nine Lessons & Carols

With regret, given the recent change in regulations and the situation locally, we have decided that we should not serve mulled wine and mince pies following these services, nor should we have refreshments after our other services. This decision will be reviewed after Christmas. I would be grateful if you would note that the regulations also require those over the age of 10 (unless exempt) to wear face coverings in church.

Other services
In light of the extra (11) services over the coming couple of weeks, we have cancelled some (6) of the 'regular' Sunday services at St Matthew's, including the 6pm service tomorrow (12th December), the 10am and 6pm services on 19th and 26th December, and the 11.30am service on 19th December.


Details of all our Advent and Christmas services can be found here.

Poinsettias
poinsettiaThis year we are trying something a little different. There is an opportunity open to all to make contributions to the decoration of All Saints’ Church at Christmas by donating poinsettias in memory of - or to honour - someone special. The plants can be delivered to the church from Sunday (12th December) and it would help if they could be placed within some container (e.g. a foil tray) to prevent leakage of water onto the floor. If you wish the name(s) of those being commemorated or honoured to be known please enter the name(s) on the list which will be placed on the font. Donors may wish to recover the poinsettias after Christmas but those that are not recovered by 28th December may be passed on to local care homes.


 
God for whom we watch and wait,
you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son:
give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord.


I look forward to seeing you soon.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - December 2021
Dear Church member,

Advent is well underway with a number of activities and services for all ages.



Church CafeChurch Community Café TODAY - come for a cake and a cuppa!
Thursday 2nd December, 10am-12pm St Matthew's Church. Do drop in, and maybe arrange to meet a friend, at the first of what will hopefully become a regular event. Good coffee and tea and delicious cake! Free, but donations welcome.


Screen Shot 2021-11-06 at 21.0Living Advent Calendar
Daily from 1st-24th December in both villages, an amazing way for the whole family to discover new things about our villages, about the people who live there and about the Christmas story. Click here for more info and to register.



magiGeneration Gold
On Monday 6th December, 2.30pm at St Matthew’s we will be continuing our theme of ‘Lessons from the Land’ and thinking about the spices we use at Christmas and what they may suggest about the person and work of Jesus. Generation Gold is aimed at people of retirement years, and if you haven’t been before, do join us and bring a friend. We end with light refreshments.


Advent CentralAdvent Central
Wednesdays in December; next session 8th (then 15th & 22nd). Beginning at 7.30pm at St Matthew's with festive refreshments, the sessions will start at 7.45pm with worship, an excerpt from the classic Christmas movie “Miracle on 34th Street” and then time in small groups to share reactions on what they have seen and heard. The groups will come together again to share thoughts, pray and sing, finishing by 9.15pm. Everyone welcome; no problem if you were unable to make the first session (notes for session 1 available on request). Click here for more info.



Poinsettias
poinsettiaAnyone is invited to make contributions to the decoration of All Saints’ Church at Christmas by donating poinsettias in memory, or to honour, of someone special. The plants can be delivered to the church from Sunday 12th December and it would help if they could be placed within some containment (e.g. a foil tray) to prevent leakage of water onto the floor. If you wish the name(s) of those being commemorated or honoured to be known please enter the name(s) on the list which will be placed on the font. Donors may wish to recover the poinsettias after Christmas but those that are not recovered by 28th December may be passed on to local care homes.



Christmas card 2021 imageCarols by Candlelight
- Saturday 11th December 4pm All Saints' Chilton - Family Carols
- Sunday 12th December 6.30pm All Saints' Chilton - Nine Lessons & Carols
- Sunday 19th December 4pm St Matthew's Harwell - Family Carols
- Sunday 19th December 6.30pm St Matthew's Harwell - Nine Lessons & Carols

Details of all our Advent and Christmas services here.


Vacancies - please share
  • Children and Families' Worker (job-share) - Harwell and Chilton Churches in partnership with Greater Didcot Christian Children and Youthwork Trust. Please click here for more information. Application deadline 10th December.
  • Debt Coach and Trainee Centre Manager (part-time) - Didcot and Wallingford Area Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre. Please click here for more information. Application deadline 19th December.
Please be praying for these significant appointments.

   
Almighty God,
purify our hearts and minds,
that when your Son Jesus Christ comes again
   as judge and saviour
we may be ready to receive him,
who is our Lord and our God.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Advent 2021
Dear Church member,

A brand new Church year and the countdown to Christmas(!) begins this Sunday, Advent Sunday. As a church community we are marking this important season of preparation in several ways. The next couple of weeks also includes a few other significant church and community events. Do please share with family, friends and neighbours.


Tree decoratingTree Decoration
Saturday 27th November. Drop in to make decorations for our church Christmas trees: 11am-12.30pm at St Matthew's and 2.30-4pm at All Saints'.


toysToy Collection
On Sunday (28th November) at all of the services, we will be receiving donations of toys for children aged 0-10 who will be spending Christmas at Oxford Women's Refuge. Further information about this here.


youthworkYouthwork Trust Launch
Sunday 28th November 3-5pm Didcot Baptist Church, for young people in years 6-13 (ages 10-18). Please pray for this event and the Trust as the exciting work begins! Contact Jonathan if you have a young person who would like to go along or would like to find out more about the Trust.


Screen Shot 2021-11-06 at 21.0Living Advent Calendar
Daily from 1st December in both villages, an amazing way for the whole family to discover new things about our villages, about the people who live there and about the Christmas story. Click here for more info and to register.


Advent CentralAdvent Central
Wednesdays 1st, 8th, 15th & 22nd December at St Matthew's. Beginning at 7.30pm with festive refreshments, the sessions will start at 7.45pm with worship, an excerpt from the classic Christmas movie “Miracle on 34th Street” and then time in small groups to share reactions on what they have seen and heard. The groups will come together again to share thoughts, pray and sing, finishing by 9.15pm. Everyone welcome; RSVP not essential but helpful for planning. Click here for more info and to register interest.


almaAlma Barn Lodge Grand Launch
Wednesday 1st December, 1.30-4.30pm Alma Barn Lodge, Harwell. A circus-themed afternoon of fun with fire eaters, balloon modelling, clowns, stilt walkers and a magician. Come and see this significant new Care Home in our benefice.


Church CafeChurch Community Café
Thursday 2nd December, 10am-12pm St Matthew's Church. Do drop in, and maybe arrange to meet a friend, at the first of what will hopefully become a regular event. Good coffee and tea and delicious cake! Free, but donations welcome.

magiGeneration Gold
On Monday 6th December, 2.30pm at St Matthew’s we will be continuing our theme of ‘Lessons from the Land’ and thinking about the spices we use at Christmas and what they may suggest about the person and work of Jesus. Generation Gold is aimed at people of retirement years, and if you haven’t been before, do join us and bring a friend. We end with light refreshments.



Christmas card 2021 imageCarols by Candlelight - advance notice
  • Saturday 11th December 4pm All Saints' Chilton - Family Carols
  • Sunday 12th December 6.30pm All Saints' Chilton - Nine Lessons & Carols
  • Sunday 19th December 4pm St Matthew's Harwell - Family Carols
  • Sunday 19th December 6.30pm St Matthew's Harwell - Nine Lessons & Carols
Details of all our Advent and Christmas services here.

Vacancies - please share
  • Children and Families' Worker (job-share) - Harwell and Chilton Churches in partnership with Greater Didcot Christian Children and Youthwork Trust. Please click here for more information. Application deadline 10th December.
  • Debt Coach and Trainee Centre Manager (part-time) - Didcot and Wallingford Area Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre. Please click here for more information. Application deadline 19th December.
 
The Collect for Advent Sunday

Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ
came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


I think that's just about all for now!

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Youthwork Trust, Advent plans and Wilsons update
Dear Church member,

This email is to update you on plans for this Sunday, give advance notice of some Advent activities, and pass on some news from our Mission Partners the Wilsons.



Sunday 21st November, Youthwork Trust visit
youthworkThis Sunday we have our postponed visit by Joe and Hannah, two local Christian youth workers, who are employed by the Youthwork Trust recently set up by our two churches in partnership with five other local churches to reach out to the young people of our area with the love and good news of Jesus.

They will visit the 9.30am (Chilton) and 11.30am (Harwell) services and be leading the 10am Interactive Service (at Harwell). Do please prioritise coming to one of these services if you are able, so that you can meet them and hear more about the exciting plans, and a launch event for young people on the following Sunday, 28th November, 3-5pm.



Sunday 28th November, Advent Sunday - Toy Collection
toysThis Christmas, St Matthew’s and All Saints’ are once more supporting the Women’s Refuge in Oxford by providing toys for mothers to give to their children on Christmas day.
 
This year we are appealing for donations of toys suitable for children aged 0-10 years. Please bring your gift to one of the services at St Matthew’s or at All Saints’ on Sunday 28th November or drop it in to the Church Office at St Matthew’s by Thursday 25th November (opening hours usually 9am-2pm). The toys should be new and unwrapped. Please click here for more information.



Other Advent plans - more detail to follow

Christmas Tree Decorating - Saturday 27th November - 11-12.30 Harwell, 2.30-4.00 Chilton
- Living Advent Calendar - Daily, from 1st December
- Advent Central - Wednesdays 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd December - 7.30 for 7.45pm


Wilsons update

Wilson-Chris-and-Suzy"We're currently on an SIM retreat in Kenya, due to the increasing conflict in Ethiopia. The hope is we'll be able to return in a week or so, but it's a volatile situation and SIM will make a recommendation in the next few days or so. If we can't return yet, we have plans to stay with friends in Zimbabwe until the situation is more stable. We'd appreciate prayers that the leadership here and ourselves are able to make a clear decision about what we should do. Thankfully the kids are home schooled for now, so we'll plough on with what wherever we find ourselves."

Do please be praying for Suzy, Chris, Abigail, Matthew and Micah.


 
Eternal Father, whose Son Jesus Christ
ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Remembrance, Youthwork and CAP news
Dear Church member

Remembrance Sunday, 14th November

remembrance rainbowThis Sunday we remember and give thanks for those who have died in active service in the two World Wars and in subsequent conflicts, and express our faith in God, who is the source of life, peace and hope.

The 9.30am service at All Saints' Chilton will be attended by 2nd Chilton Scout Group, and lead into an activity session in the Village Hall for primary-aged children. Following the service, refreshments will be available in the Village Hall, and at 11am in the churchyard we will have a short Act of Remembrance. We would be grateful if anyone could bring cakes and biscuits to enjoy together over tea and coffee.

In Harwell there will be a short service at 10.45am at the War Memorial on the High Street, including a parade. This will be followed by a service in St Matthew's at around 11.30am (or slightly earlier). There will be no 'interactive' service in Harwell this week. The 6pm evening service this week at St Matthew's is BCP Holy Communion.

Sunday 21st November, Youthwork Trust visit

youthworkThe following Sunday we will have our postponed visit by Joe and Hannah, two local Christian youth workers, who are employed by the Youthwork Trust recently set up by our two churches in partnership with five other local churches to reach out to the young people of our area with the love and good news of Jesus.

They will visit the 9.30am (Chilton) and 11.30am (Harwell) services and be leading the 10am Interactive Service (at Harwell). Do please prioritise coming to one of these services if you are able, so that you can meet them and hear more about the exciting plans, and a launch event for young people on the following Sunday, 28th November, 3-5pm.

CAP news

CAPimage-300x300There's great news from the Christians Against Poverty local Debt Centre which our two parishes support: they are celebrating their 48th client to go debt-free! This winter will be particularly harsh for many, amongst them the clients the Centre is still supporting. The team is working with South Oxfordshire District Council to ensure that some of the Government grant money for those who are struggling gets allocated to CAP clients.

Another seasonal project is providing hampers for the clients in partnership with Didcot Emergency Foodbank and local churches. Liz Roberts is coordinating the provision of treats in Harwell and Chilton - the kind of item which the basic food parcel will not include, such as a Christmas pudding - as well as small presents for children. We are putting together a hamper each for two families by the end of November and Liz would be very glad to hear from you as soon as possible if you would like to contribute something. She has details of the age and gender of the children and lots of ideas if you're lacking in inspiration!  The hampers are put together to demonstrate Jesus' love for the clients, and to show that we care too. Please help if you can.

Another CAP service is the 'CAP Money' money management course which our two churches are running online on the evenings of 16, 23 and 30 November. Again, please contact Liz if you'd like more information.


 
Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   
Dear Church member

Volunteers needed to run a creche for local Afghan Refugees 
 
refugeeYou may recall from a previous email that our churches are working with other local churches to support a number of Afghan refugees who have arrived in our area. There are now at least 100 Afghan refugees staying at a local hotel and no immediate plans for the rehousing of these families in permanent accommodation.

An initial planning meeting is taking place tomorrow afternoon, 3rd November, to discuss the setting up of a creche at the hotel and a call has gone out for volunteers to help run it.

With apologies for the short notice, if you are able to offer some time as a creche volunteer would you please make initial contact so that the planning meeting can have an idea of numbers available? Volunteers would need to be DBS checked before taking up this role and Oxfordshire County Council will provide safeguarding training.
 
If you can help please would you email joanna.schuder@gmail.com to indicate your potential availability.

We will be in touch again later about other ways that we can be involved in supporting these families, and demonstrating to them the love of Christ.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church bulletin - Sunday 24th October
Dear Church member

I am looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at All Saints' Chilton or St Matthew's Harwell.

As a reminder, our services across the day tomorrow (Sunday 24th October) are as follows:

9.30am Morning Worship at All Saints' Chilton
10.00am Interactive Worship at St Matthew's Harwell
11.30am Morning Worship at St Matthew's Harwell
6.00pm Holy Communion at St Matthew's Harwell

We also have an online service available via our website from 9am.

Further information about our current pattern of services (on which we are seeking feedback), can be found here.

On Thursday (28th October) at 11am we have a short, said (no music) service of Weekday Holy Communion at St Matthew's Harwell. The next weekday service of Holy Communion at 11am on a Thursday will be a fortnight later, 11th November, at All Saints' Chilton.

Please also remember that we have a weekly Zoom prayer meeting for half an hour from 9.30am on Saturday mornings. Anyone is welcome to join either regularly or occasionally, and there is no pressure to pray our loud. The Zoom link is visible to logged-in members of the website here, or on request from me.

Contrary to my previous emails, I am afraid that Joe and Hannah from the Youthwork Trust will at short notice not be able to visit us tomorrow, due to a rogue test Covid result! We are hoping that instead they will be able to join us on 21st November. Please put the date in your diary.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Melanie Shields - Leaving Gift
Dear Church member

Headshot Melanie 178Melanie Shields, who has been our job-share Children and Families' Worker with Sarah Barrett since January 2018, has decided for personal reasons to leave the post at the end of this month. Melanie has been fantastic in the role, and with Sarah and a wonderful team of volunteers has had a very fruitful ministry amongst the children and families of our church and community, through Fledgelings, Holiday Club, Sunday groups, community activities, pastoral work, and much more.

If you would like to contribute financially to a leaving gift for Melanie, please make a payment through the website (which has, as option 1, that your donation is towards this gift), or else you can leave cash or a cheque in a marked envelope in either of the wall safes in our churches. We will aim to put together any contributions on 30th October. Thank you.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church News - Service and martyrdom
Dear Church member

Play the manIn the Church of England calendar, today we commemorate the death in Oxford in 1555 of Reformation Martyrs Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer.

The original meaning of the Greek word martyr is “a witness.” Throughout the history of the church - including the early church in the Roman empire, the European church during the Reformation, and the Church in many parts of the world today - men, women and children people have witnessed to their faith through suffering and death. In doing so, they have imitated the supreme martyr, their Lord and Master, Jesus. For many, the death of martyrs has served as an important confirmation of the Christian faith, proving the power of the gospel to forgive and transform believers willing to die for it.

AmessYesterday we heard of the murder of a much-loved MP, Sir David Amess, who over decades was motivated by his Christian faith to serve his local community and campaign for the protection of the vulnerable. The motive behind this horrific killing is unclear, but his public profile and presence in the community which he served made him vulnerable, and he paid the ultimate price for his public service. Our prayers are with his family, friends and community at this sad and shocking time.

oppositionWhilst most of us will not pay with our lives in this way, Christian service and witness is costly, and we are called to sacrifice all we are and have for the sake of the Kingdom of God; all Christians are called to 'take up their cross' and follow the way of Jesus. What that looks like will be different for each of us, but as with Jesus, who 'endured the cross for the sake of the joy before him', we can be confident that the gospel hope - for which generations of martyrs before us suffered and died - is worth living and dying for.


We continue to meet Sunday by Sunday and in our weekday groups to encourage one another in the Christian life and to follow in the steps of Jesus.

This Sunday (17th October) we celebrate Holy Communion at All Saints' at 9.30am and have Morning Worship at St Matthew's at 11.30am. At St Matthew's our Interactive Service at 10am and Evening Worship at 6pm (and the online service available from 9am) are on the theme of Christian service.

youthworkThe following Sunday (24th October) is Bible Sunday, when we get to meet our two local Christian youth workers, Joe and Hannah, who are employed by the Youthwork Trust recently set up by our two churches in partnership with four other local churches to reach out to the young people of our area with the love and good news of Jesus. They will visit the 9.30am (Chilton) and 11.30am (Harwell) services and be leading the 10am Interactive Service (at Harwell). Do please prioritise coming to one of these services if you are able, so that you can meet them and hear more about the exciting plans. Our 6pm service (Harwell) that evening will be Holy Communion.

This term we are running all our services in a trial pattern, and the PCCs are seeking feedback on services from everyone. To assist with this there are paper questionnaires available in church, and also online here; we are aiming to collate responses in early December. Do please let us know what you think!

Thank you to those who have expressed interest in helping the Afghan refugees who are now living in our area. An inter-church group has been established and we are investigating how we might best be involved in serving these families. More news on this in due course.


 
God, the giver of life,
whose Holy Spirit wells up within your Church:
by the Spirit’s gifts equip us to live the gospel of Christ
and make us eager to do your will,
that we may share with the whole creation
the joys of eternal life;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - October and 'Second Sundays'
Dear Church member,


Second Sundays and all that...
Something that is often mystifying for people not familiar with the Church of England is the casual reference to events in terms of 'third Thursday', 'fourth Sunday', 'first Tuesday', etc. There are a number of reasons why a repeating monthly pattern of events and services is useful, but it can still be confusing even to the initiated!


Sunday 10th October - this Sunday

PFSAt the risk of befuddling, I do want to draw your attention to this coming Sunday, 10th October - a 'second Sunday' of the month - which in our current, experimental pattern of services means that it is slightly different to most other Sundays of the month, in two main ways.

1. 'Interactive Worship' in Chilton
The 'second Sunday' includes a monthly, informal, 'interactive' service in Chilton Village Hall at 10.30am, alongside the usual weekly services: at All Saints' at 9.30am, and at St Matthew's at 10am, 11.30am and 6pm. The 9.30am service ends and the 10.30am Interactive service starts with coffee for the two congregations together in Chilton Village Hall.

2. Book of Common Prayer ('BCP')
jan presidingThe other main difference on 'second Sundays' is the opportunity to attend traditional Book of Common Prayer (BCP) services at St Matthew's at 6pm (each month), and at All Saints' at 9.30am (on 'even numbered' months, including October, i.e. six times a year!).

The 'BCP' goes right back to the birth of the Church of England and is still 'legal tender' and loved by many today, though more modern liturgies ('Common Worship') have been introduced since the 20th century and become mainstream. If you have never experienced the BCP, do try out one of these services and let us know what you think!

All of our current set and the pattern of services are being run on an experimental basis, and will be reviewed by the PCCs over the coming months. Questionnaires for those attending will soon be in evidence; do please fill in and return them when you can!


Sunday 24th October - Youthwork Trust visit
In two weeks' time, our morning services (9.30, 10.00 and 11.30am) will be visited by Joe and Hannah, Youth Workers with a Youthwork Trust that six local churches (ours included) have recently established to work with the young people living and schooling in our area. They will be introducing themselves, and sharing news of the exciting activities and groups planned. I'm tempted to say more here, but don't want to steal their thunder!


poppyAnother 2nd Sunday - Remembrance, 14th November
Sunday 14th November is Remembrance Sunday, the village Scout Groups will be parading, and there will be some key differences in our services across the day. News on that to follow.



Afghan Refugee Welcome
afghan welcomeA number of local churches have joined together and are liaising with the Welcome Churches Network to work out how we can welcome and support the Afghan refugees currently living in our area. Options are being explored, and volunteers sought. If you are interested in finding out more, please have a word with me or email the church office.


Thank you for being part of our church family in Harwell and Chilton, and for your support for our services (information about opportunities to join teams here). Gathering together Sunday by Sunday is such an important act of witness to - and mutual support for one another in - our shared Christian faith, and glorifying to God.


 
"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Harvest
Dear Church member,

It has been really lovely to be able to reconnect with so many over the last few Sundays as we have recommenced a regular pattern of services - 9.30am in Chilton, and at 10am, 11.30am and 6pm in Harwell. More details about the pattern and each of the service types here.

strawberriesThis Sunday (26th September) our churches are celebrating Harvest - giving thanks to God for his gifts of creation, and especially for the fruitfulness of the earth and those who are involved in bringing food to our tables.

At each of our services we have an opportunity to bring offerings of tins and packets of imperishable food for Didcot Emergency Foodbank.

Do drop into our churches next week (open during the daytime) to enjoy the floral Harvest displays that our talented teams have produced.


saladAfter the morning services, we will have a Bring and Share Lunch from 12.45pm at St Matthew's Harwell. Everyone is invited to bring a plate or bowl of savoury or sweet food to share with others.

If you are able to bring your own cutlery and crockery, that would be very helpful.


communionThis Thursday (23rd September) sees the second of our weekday services of Holy Communion.

These 'said' services are at 11am and held fortnightly - on the 2nd Thursday of the month at All Saints' Chilton, and on the 4th Thursday of the month at St Matthew's Harwell. On 'odd' months we follow the traditional BCP liturgy and on 'even' months Common Worship. Everyone is welcome.


As we re-start a regular pattern of 'in person' worship please be thinking and praying about how you might be involved in church life. There are opportunities to suit everyone, and our Churchwardens have recently written about opportunities to help with the smooth running of our services. Information about other opportunities to follow...


 
O Lord, we beseech you mercifully
to hear the prayers of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive
and know what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - September 2021
Dear Church member,


Sunday services this week
This Sunday (12th September) is the second week of our new, trial pattern of services across the Benefice. This week there are a few important differences.
  • AS9.30am at All Saints' Chilton is Morning Worship
    • This service (and all our services) is open to everyone, for Chilton, Harwell and beyond!
  • 10am at St Matthew's Harwell is an Interactive Service
    • This week will include a Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child, and be followed by coffee
  • 10.30am at Chilton Village Hall is an Interactive Service
    • This is a monthly informal, friendly service (previously 'Pebbles Family Service') with chat, singing, prayer, a craft and a short talk, and starts with coffee and cake
    • This week the service will be followed by a picnic at Chilton Park to celebrate being back together; everyone is welcome - please bring your own picnic and rug!
    • Other dates this term are 10th October, 14th November, and 12th December
  • SM11.30am at St Matthew's Harwell is Holy Communion
    • This service is preceded by coffee shared with the 10am congregation
    • Unlike last Sunday when we met in the chancel, we will trial meeting in the main body of the church, where there is more space
  • 6pm at St Matthew's Harwell is Evening Prayer (BCP)
    • This week the evening service uses the traditional liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer, and will be held in the chancel; the following week will be a more modern liturgy with projected songs
Currently we are requesting that at all of the services adults who are able to wear face masks do so out of consideration for others.

feedbackFor all of our services we are seeking feedback on all aspects - content, music, style, location, etc, and especially welcome written feedback either on cards that will be provided, by email, or via the website. This term we are deliberately trialling a number of different things, and will make changes in light of experience and feedback.


Service teams
teamIn order to run our services we need your help. There are plenty of roles, to suit all types, including reading, praying, welcome, hospitality and technical support, and further information on this from Yvonne and Eliza can be found here.

There are plenty of other ways to get involved with the life and mission of our churches and local communities, but more on that to follow.


Harvest Sunday - 26th September
harvestThis year we will be celebrating harvest in our churches on Sunday 26th September. Our services will have a harvest theme, we will be visited by David and Heather Sharland, former Mission Partners with CMS, and we will be having a Bring and Share lunch. More details to follow, but please save the date!



As we think about and plan for our services together, would you join me in praying this week's Collect, which seems particularly appropriate?

 
Almighty God, whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church bulletin - Sunday 15th August
Dear Church member

This is just a brief reminder email about plans for tomorrow (Sunday 15th August) - a mid-August special!


WilsonsWe have our regular online service available from 9am, and at St Matthew's Harwell this week we have our informal interactive service at 10.30am and Evening Worship at 6pm. In addition this week we have another special service of Holy Communion at 9.30am in the Churchyard of All Saints' Chilton. Everyone is welcome to all or any of the services. No booking is required, but currently we are requesting that adults who are able to wear facemasks do so at indoor services out of consideration for others.

At all of our services our preacher/speaker is Chris Wilson, who with his wife Suzy and children Abigail, Matthew and Micah, are our new Mission Partners. The Wilsons are planning to head to Ethiopia at the end of September where Chris and Suzy work in theological education and in peace and reconciliation. You can find out more about them here.

packed lunchFrom midday we have a 'bring your own' picnic lunch at St Matthew's Harwell (on the Rectory lawn if fine, inside the church if not!) to socialise with one another and also have an opportunity to meet Chris, Suzy, Abigail, Matthew and Micah. Do please come along if you can with your lunch. It would be lovely for as many as possible to meet up!

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - The Transfiguration of our Lord
Dear Church member

transfigurationToday the Church of England marks the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mount, which is described in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and Peter refers to it in his Second Epistle. The testimony of the law and the prophets to Jesus as the one who brings God's salvation are given by the presence of Moses and Elijah, and the event also pre-figures the resurrection, giving a foretaste of the life of glory.


Services from September

A new, regular pattern of services across our two churches is starting on 5th September and includes a range of types and styles. Do please try out the different services and let us know what you think! This coming term will be very much a trial, and everyone's feedback and ideas will be really important. An outline of the pattern is as follows:

On Sundays:
  • 9.30am All Saints’ Chilton – Services of Morning Worship and of Holy Communion (1st and 3rd Sundays)
  • 10.00am St Matthew’s Harwell – Informal ‘interactive’ worship services
  • 11.30am St Matthew’s Harwell – Services of Morning Worship and Holy Communion (2nd and 5th Sundays)
  • 6.00pm St Matthew’s Harwell – Services of Evening Worship and Holy Communion (4th Sundays)
In addition there will be monthly services as follows:
  • 2nd Sunday of the month, 10.30am Chilton Village Hall – Informal ‘interactive’ worship service
  • Thursday 11am All Saints’ Chilton Service of Holy Communion
  • Thursday 11am St Matthew’s Harwell Service of Holy Communion
There will also be services on ‘festivals’ and other special occasions.

Please click here for a fuller explanation of the plans, and the answers to some questions that people might have.


Services in August

For the rest of August we are continuing with the pattern of weekly online services available from 9am, an informal 'interactive' service at St Matthew's at 10.30am, and a 6pm evening service alternating between All Saints' and St Matthew's - this Sunday (8th August) we are in Chilton. As mentioned in previous emails, we are at the present time asking those who are able to wear face coverings in church out of consideration for others.


WilsonsOn Sunday 15th August we have some special plans.

In addition to the services above we have another special service of Holy Communion at 9.30am in the Churchyard of All Saints' Chilton.

We will also have a 'bring your own' picnic lunch from midday at St Matthew's Harwell (on the Rectory lawn if fine, inside the church if not!) to socialise with one another and also have an opportunity to meet Chris and Suzy Wilson and their children Abigail, Matthew and Micah, our new mission partners, who will be heading to Ethiopia at the end of the month. Chris and Suzy work in theological education and in peace and reconciliation, and you can find out more about them here.

Do please come along if you can with your lunch on Sunday 15th August from midday. It would be lovely for as many as possible to meet up!


 
Father in heaven,
whose Son Jesus Christ was wonderfully transfigured
before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain,
and spoke of the exodus he would accomplish at Jerusalem:
give us strength so to hear his voice and bear our cross
that in the world to come we may see him as he is;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Services in 2021 and beyond 

pivotMany of us have found ourselves ‘pivoting’ – quickly changing the way we do things because of a new challenge –since March 2020. Our first ‘pivot’ as a church was on Mothering Sunday 2020, when we did our first ever online service – hastily put together when the original national lockdown was announced and it became clear that our familiar church services would be needing to stop for some time. Since then those online services have continued and developed, and been supplemented with other online and limited ‘in person’ services as Covid restrictions have allowed. The last year and a bit has been an interesting time of innovation and experimentation!

As we anticipated the eagerly-awaited easing of restrictions, our church leadership teams have been considering how to re-establish a regular pattern of services across the benefice. The year-long ‘pause’ imposed by the pandemic has created an opportunity both to build on what was good before the pandemic and during it, and to try new things.

After careful prayer and discussion, we have agreed a pattern of a range of services types that will start in September. Some of what is planned is similar to what we were doing before, but there are also some significant differences. As we try out different things, we will be seeking feedback from those who attend, and we are planning formal reviews, so that we can modify the pattern and style of services as needed.

We want to work as a benefice – Harwell and Chilton together – and make the most of our two beautiful but different church buildings, as well as other suitable venues for services, and benefit from the pooling of resources. We would love to encourage people to try out the different services in both villages, whichever village they live in, and will be able to help out with transport. And alongside our ‘in person’ services, we want to continue with some form of online service, at least in the short-term, and possibly longer-term.

The pattern of weekly Sunday services from September will be as follows:

  • 9.30am All Saints’ Chilton –
    Services of Morning Worship (2nd, 4th, and 5th Sundays) and
    Holy Communion (1st and 3rd Sundays)
  • 10.00am St Matthew’s Harwell –
    Informal ‘interactive’ worship services (every Sunday)
  • 11.30am St Matthew’s Harwell –
    Services of Morning Worship (1st, 3rd, and 4th Sundays) and
    Holy Communion (2nd and 5th Sundays)
  • 6.00pm St Matthew’s Harwell –
    Services of Evening Worship (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Sundays) and
    Holy Communion (4th Sundays)


In addition there will be monthly services as follows:

  • 2nd Sunday of the month, 10.30am Chilton Village Hall –
    Informal ‘interactive’ worship services
  • Thursday 11am All Saints’ Chilton
    Service of Holy Communion
  • Thursday 11am St Matthew’s Harwell
    Service of Holy Communion


There will also be services on ‘festivals’ and other special occasions.

Details of which service is happening where can be found here: http://HCChurches.org/services

We have put together a series a questions and answers that we think people might be asking. These can be found here.

We are excited to be planning to meet together again and hope that the range of services will appeal to a wide range of tastes and needs. Do please come to the services – even ones you might not normally consider attending – and let us know what you think! You can share your thoughts with us at any time (de.HCChurches@gmail.com, 01235 834256 or via the website ‘contact us’ form).

Jonathan Mobey
August 2021
 


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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Festival of Mary Magdalene
Dear Church member

Mary-Magdalene-Sarah-Beth-BacaToday the Church remembers Mary Magdalene. All four gospels give this woman a unique place among Jesus’s followers. Probably from Magdala by the Sea of Galilee, she is described as having been healed by Jesus before accompanying him during his ministry. Along with other faithful women, she stayed beside the cross during the crucifixion and was the first disciple to discover the empty tomb on Easter morning. She was privileged with the first appearance of the risen Lord, who sent her to take the good news of the resurrection to the other disciples. This commission earned her the title ‘Apostle to the Apostles’ in the early Church. From humble beginnings, the result of her faithfulness to her Lord and Master has had a global impact. Her witness, service and leadership can be an inspiration to us all.

the-feeding-of-the-5000Having come to the end of our seven week overview of the Bible, our services during the coming weeks zoom in on two key parts of the Bible - John chapter 6 with its focus on the feeding of the five thousand, and the book of James. Until the end of August we continue our pattern of weekly online services available from 9am, an informal 'interactive' service at St Matthew's at 10.30am, and a 6pm evening service alternating between All Saints' and St Matthew's - this Sunday (25th July) we are in Chilton. As mentioned in my previous email, we are at the present time asking those who are able to wear face coverings in church out of consideration for others. I plan to write again shortly about an extra service in August and our plans for September onwards.

cleanAs we start using our church buildings again more regularly, it is a good time to review how we care the wonderful buildings with which God has blessed us. As with everything God entrusts to our care, whether as individuals or as churches, we want to be found as good stewards, and this includes ensuring that our church buildings are cleaned on a regular basis. Would you consider volunteering some time to come in and facilitate the mission of the churches in this very practical way? When you volunteer we will not be asking you to do this forever, but for as long as you are able or want too. Any time you can offer to serve is welcomed. To find out more please get in touch with Deborah in the Church Office: de.HCChurches@gmail.com or on 834256.

I take this opportunity to pass on to you the sad news of the death of 
Reg East yesterday in hospital at the age of 94. Reg was a well known resident of Harwell and leading member of the Royal British Legion Harwell Branch. Please pray for his family and friends as they grieve. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
 
Almighty God, whose Son restored Mary Magdalene
to health of mind and body
and called her to be a witness to his resurrection:
forgive our sins and heal us by your grace,
that we may serve you in the power of his risen life;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Freedom Day?
Dear Church member

Freedom Day?

balloonsMonday 19th July marks 'stage 4' of the Government's 'roadmap out of lockdown', which some have dubbed 'freedom day'. For some people, however, the changes will feel like a backwards step, placing them in a position of vulnerability and fear. So how should we use our freedoms? To love one God and one another. 


 
My friends, you were chosen to be free.
So don't use your freedom as an excuse
to do anything you want.
Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love.


Galatians 5:13, CEV

There is a difficult balance to be struck, and there is a wide range of views - including within our church family - about how fast and far we should be going back to 'normal'. Loving one another includes caring for the vulnerable, and so whilst making steps towards how services were before March 2020, we will be retaining certain safeguards, for the time being at least.

Masks and all that...

From Sunday 25th July we will re-commence singing in our services - which many people - but not all - will be delighted about. We will, however, along with many other groups and organisations, be strongly encouraging everyone who is able to continue to wear face coverings when inside, and we will also not be serving refreshments after services (indoors, at least). We will not have any restriction on the numbers attending services, and there will be no need to pre-book. Whilst not formally 'social distancing' (e.g. "1 metre plus", etc) we will be encouraging people to spread out in our church buildings, and we will ventilate our buildings as much as possible, and have hand gel available at the entrances.


Services in July and August

04Before these 'stage 4' changes occur, we do this Sunday, 18th July (for which the weather forecast is glorious!), have at 9.30am a special service of Holy Communion in the Churchyard of All Saints' Chilton, where we will also be singing (outside). Do please come along if you can.

Our other regular services in July and August are the 10.30am Interactive Service at St Matthew's Harwell, 6pm Evening Worship services alternately between All Saints' and St Matthew's (see website and posters for details), and the online services available from 9am every Sunday. Do please try out these services, even if they are not something you have done previously.

Our new pattern of services will start in September - news of those to follow soon.

Spring Harvest 2022

SH2022A number of church members have booked to go to Spring Harvest at Butlin's Minehead on 18-22 April 2022 (the week after Easter). The theme is 'Restore, Renew, Rebuild'. It would be really great if others decide to go along at the same time. Not only is it a great faith-building time with lots of opportunity for fun and relaxation, it is also an opportunity to connect with others in our church family. Further information here. If you do decide to book, do please let us know.

Sylvia Bosher

I would like to take this opportunity to pass on the sad news of the death of Sylvia Bosher on Saturday 3rd July at Framland Care Home, Wantage, where she lived for the past few years. Sylvia had been a longstanding, committed member of St Matthew's. Her funeral will be on Friday 23rd July, 2pm at St Matthew's.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Festival of Peter and Paul
Dear Church member

PeterPaulYesterday was the Festival of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Of very different backgrounds (Peter an uneducated fisherman and Paul a highly educated Pharisee), and coming to faith in Jesus in very different ways, God powerfully used these two men to establish and grow his Church in the decades following Jesus' death and resurrection. But alongside these men were numerous others - a few whose names we know, but most whose we don't - who in perhaps less obvious ways knew and witnessed to the risen Christ, and whose words and deeds turned the world upside down. Despite not having festivals in our honour(!), we - in all our diversity - are the present-day successors of those men and women whom God uses to extend his kingdom and grow his Church, wider, deeper and closer. God has a vital role for each one of us in seeing his Kingdom come, and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We continue in our Sunday services (online from 9am, interactive at St Matthew's at 10.30am, and in the evening at 6pm, currently alternating between our churches - this Sunday, 4th July, at St Matthew's) with week four of our seven-week 'Bible Series', this week thinking about 'Messiah and Love'. The series is a great exploration of the overall story of the Bible, with each week touching on key themes and how they relate to universal human needs, such as the need for meaning, freedom, peace, love, community and home.

Bible Series images

Our leadership teams have been carefully and prayerfully discussing the options for an exciting range of services across our two churches that will be starting up as we move out of Covid-19 restrictions. I plan to write again next week with news about this.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to pass on thanks from Jeremy Burbage and Gemma, Kerry and Zoe, to those who attended Jude's funeral on 16th June, and for everyone who has been so kind and supportive following Jude's death. A recording of the service should be available online until 25th July and can be found here (username zuto9176 and password 147744).

 
Almighty God,
whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul
glorified you in their death as in their life:
grant that your Church,
inspired by their teaching and example,
and made one by your Spirit,
may ever stand firm upon the one foundation,
Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Corpus Christi
Dear Church member

Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, which is a celebration of Holy Communion, two months after its institution at the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. Of particular importance to Roman Catholics, we should all value and give thanks to God for the gift of this special means of grace, that which we do together in remembrance of the death of Jesus on our behalf, gathered together as the family of God. Holy Communion has been difficult - and at times impossible - to celebrate during the pandemic, but as restrictions ease (God willing!), we look forward to be including regular services of Holy Communion (on Sundays and also weekdays) within the range of services we offer across the benefice. Please be praying about the discussions about this pattern of 'services in 2021 and beyond' taking place, and the decisions that will be made.

communionOur evening service this week (6.00pm at St Matthew's) will in fact be a service of Holy Communion, so do please consider coming along to this service if you wish, indicating your intention to do so here (as we are still needing to limit numbers and ensure social distancing).

Our other 'in person' service this Sunday is an experimental 'interactive' service at St Matthew's at 10.30am, including informal worship (with singing outside, weather permitting!), activities for children, and discussion groups for teens and adults. As with the evening service, we currently have restrictions on the number allowed to attend (but more flexibility if the weather is good and we can use outside!), but do please consider coming along if you wish.

Bible Series images

In both our 'in person' and online services this Sunday we will be starting our seven-week 'Bible Series', which I am really excited about. This is a great exploration of the overall story of the Bible, with each week touching on key themes and how they relate to universal human needs, such as the need for meaning, freedom, peace, love, community and home. A number of our homegroups will also be joining in with this series.

harwellstoneSpeaking of services, this year's annual D-Day memorial service held at the RAF Harwell Memorial Stone will be taking place, but given that very few will be permitted to attend, it will be live-streamed, and available online afterwards, for those who wish to watch at home. The service is due to start at 5.30pm on Saturday (5th June), and can be watched on the following link: https://youtu.be/DrIinkW9KOg

This weekend, then, we honour and remember the sacrifices made by a previous generation for those who would follow. Their sacrifices reflect that of our Lord Jesus Christ which we remember together in broken bread and wine outpoured, and in the great story of the Bible, which tells of God's good purposes for the world.

 
"God’s dwelling place is now among the people,
and he will dwell with them. They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. 
There will be no more death or mourning or crying
or pain, for the old order of things has passed away"

(Revelation 21:3b-4).

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Nicaea
Dear Church member

This day, 20th May, in 325 was the First Council of Nicaea - the first ecumenical council of Christian bishops that sought consensus in the church through an assembly representing all Christendom. One of its fruits was the Nicene Creed, which includes the famous lines

 
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.

Our churches in Harwell and Chilton work together with other believers in the one Lord Jesus Christ in various ways in the local area, and one such expression of that is an ecumenical prayer meeting for the growth of the Church in our area. Do please join in with this if you would like to, either as a 'one off' during this time of 'Thy Kingdom Come' or more regularly if you wish. The next meeting is tomorrow, Friday 21st May, at 2pm.

prayer meeting

The Nicene Creed also includes

 
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

This Sunday, 23rd May, is when we remember Pentecost, when the life-giving Holy Spirit was first poured out on the believers. That same Spirit is poured out on all of God's people today to empower, guide and comfort.

areaOn Sunday afternoon we have a Benefice Walk. The walk will be circular, approximately 4.7 miles in length and take around 2.5 hours. A group will leave from St Matthew's at 1.30pm and another group from All Saints' at 3pm, and both groups will meet for the central section of the walk before returning to their respective starting points.

There are no stiles, the only steps are those going down from the Reading Road to Broadway (which are very shallow), the walk is all-terrain buggy friendly, and will be at a leisurely pace, which will give people plenty of opportunity to chat. We will stop at several points for a short reading/reflection and prayer for our local area. All are warmly welcome.

If you would like to take part in this - and in order for us to comply with the restrictions on numbers gathering - please click here to book your place.

On Sunday 6th June in our services and in some of our small groups we will be starting the Bible Series, a 7-part journey through the big story of the Bible. Each week touches on key themes and relates them to universal human needs. More information on this to follow!

7 themes

Do please also remember the closing down sale at The Fountain Christian Bookshop in Wallingford between now and Saturday 29th May, with 60% off everything. Do go along to bag some bargains and support Ridgeway Church Wallingford in the process, and pass on news of this to others who you feel might be interested.
Fountain Sale 60

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - mid-May 2021
Dear Church member

Just two items today...


areaBenefice Walk

On Sunday, 23rd May, we will be marking Pentecost Sunday with a benefice walk. The walk will be circular, approximately 4.7 miles in length and take around 2.5 hours. A group will leave from St Matthew's and another group from All Saints', and both groups will meet for the central section of the walk before returning to their respective starting points.

There are no stiles, the only steps are those going down from the Reading Road to Broadway (which are very shallow), the walk is all-terrain buggy friendly, and will be at a leisurely pace, which will give people plenty of opportunity to chat. We will stop at several points for a short reading/reflection and prayer for our local area.

To aid the planning, and to take account of the current limit on 30 people meeting outdoors, I would be grateful if you would indicate whether you think you might like to take part, how many people you are responding for, and whether you would be starting from Chilton or from Harwell by clicking this link. This would be merely be a helpful indicator; I will be sending out another email later in the week to actually book places.


Fountain Sale 60Closing down sale

The second item is to let you know about a closing down sale at The Fountain Christian Bookshop in Wallingford between now and Saturday 29th May, with 60% off everything. Having served the community for many years the space is to be made into a community hub with a redeveloped kitchen at its heart. Do go along to bag some bargains and support Ridgeway Church Wallingford in the process. Please also pass on news of this to others who you feel might be interested.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Christian Aid Week
Dear Church member

Kenya KituiThis is just a brief email at the beginning of Christian Aid Week, 10th to 16th May, to draw your attention to two ways of standing together with those on the frontlines to battle coronavirus and fight for climate justice amongst the world's poorest communities.


CATomorrow (Saturday 8th) Chilton is having its annual Plant Sale for Christian Aid in a pared down event from 9am to 12 noon on Crafts End Green, Chilton. There will be a variety of plants, annuals, shrubs, herbs and vegetables. There will also be a wide range of home-baked items - pies, cakes and breads, and books and jigsaws. Weather permitting, refreshments will be served.

There is an opportunity to give through an 'e-envelope' in place of the usual door-to-door collection. Click here for e-envelopes for Chilton and for Harwell.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - May 2021
Dear Church member

Ascension Day and Thy Kingdom Come

tkcFor 40 days following Easter, the risen Christ appeared to his disciples and other groups of people, until he ascended to heaven to the right hand of God the Father, promising to send upon the Church the Holy Spirit in his place. Between Ascension Day (Thursday 13th May) and Pentecost (Sunday 23rd May) is a period of praying and waiting that has in recent years been marked by a growing global movement called 'Thy Kingdom Come', during which Christians of all denominations are encouraged to pray that their friends, family, neighbours and colleagues would come to faith in Jesus.
  • We mark the beginning of this period with a service of Holy Communion on Ascension Day, Thursday 13th May, 2.30pm at St Matthew's Church.
  • For each of the 11 days of 'Thy Kingdom Come' we will be sending out daily emails containing resources for all ages designed to spiritually nourish and encourage us.
  • We conclude this period with a Benefice-wide walk on Pentecost, Sunday 23rd May - more details to follow.

Services

LoveOur online service this week is about the 'Agape' love that Christians are to have for one another. Pebbles Family Service is on Zoom at 10.30am - link from Sarah. Our 6pm Evening Worship service this week is at St Matthew's. Our church Zoom prayer meeting continue on Saturdays at 9.30am - further information here. All are welcome to all of these gatherings - online and in person.

Our leadership teams have been thinking and praying over recent months about our pattern of services in 2021 and beyond as we emerge from lockdown, and we are excited about the possibilities before us. We will be in touch again shortly about this.

Annual Meeting

meetingAll Saints' had their annual church meeting last week, and today (Thursday 6th May at 7.30pm), is the turn of St Matthew's. The annual meetings are your chance to hear about, ask questions about and discuss any aspect of church life, and is when Churchwardens, Deanery Synod members and PCC members are elected. Meeting agenda and papers can be found here, or printed copies are available via the Church Office. Please email us if you need the meeting link.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - St George's Day
Dear Church member

Yesterday was St George's Day. As well as being the patron saint of England, George is also the patron saint of Ethiopia, Georgia, Malta and Gozo, along with numerous other states, regions, cities, universities, professions and organisations, including Scouting. Clearly popular, George is also described as a prophetic figure in Islamic sources.

st-george-crossThe famous red cross on a white field attributed to George visually testifies to his Christian faith, for which he was martyred on 23rd April 303.

George was not prepared to deny his Lord even when persecuted, and though he was to pay the ultimate price for his faith, he was to gain the ultimate reward. As Jesus, the Good Shepherd, laid his life down for George, so George laid his life down for Jesus.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).

shepherdIt is common for us to behave or speak in faithless ways. I am always encouraged, however, by the story of Peter, who though he denied his Lord three times on Good Friday, was forgiven and restored by Jesus following his resurrection. However low any us have sunk, however faithless we have been, we can still be forgiven and restored by our gracious Lord, when we take hold of the hand extended to us. We may not be a St George, but we can still know the joy of eternal life given freely as a gift to those who place their faith in Jesus.


Our online service this week is about Jesus the Good Shepherd and what it means for us to be his 'sheep' (people). Pebbles Family Service is on Zoom at 10.30am - link from Sarah. Our church Zoom prayer meeting is on Saturdays at 9.30am - further information here.


Our annual church meetings are coming up and will be on Zoom, with the option to dial in by telephone. The annual meetings are your chance to hear about, ask questions about and discuss any aspect of church life, and is when Churchwardens, Deanery Synod members and PCC members are elected. Meeting agenda and papers can be found here, or printed copies are available via the Church Office.

 
  • All Saints' - Thursday 29th April at 7.30pm
  • St Matthew's - Thursday 6th May at 7.30pm 

Please contact the Church Office for Zoom meeting details.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - faith and resurrection hope
Dear Church member

resurrection runChrist is risen! Alleluia!

I hope you have been able to celebrate the world-changing, liberating resurrection of our Lord Jesus despite the current restrictions we remain under. The resurrection changes everything.

In our services this Sunday we hear again the story of Thomas and reflect on the nature and importance of belief and doubt. What do we believe and why? How much evidence do we need? Is it wrong to doubt? How can we get along with those who believe very different things to us?

Our online service will be available from 9am, and an interactive, family-friendly version will be Zoom-hosted at 10.30am (joining details here).

We are also re-starting 6pm services in an alternating pattern, this week (11th April) at St Matthew's, and next week (18th April) at All Saints', and so on; it would be helpful if you would click here to indicate your intention to attend.

Our leadership teams are currently thinking and praying about our pattern of services for the summer and beyond. Please be praying about this important process. More news in due course.

Prince PhilipWe join with millions in giving thanks to God for the life of Prince Philip who died today aged 99, and for the contribution that he made to the life of our nation, and for his long and loving partnership with our Queen. We pray for the Queen, the rest of the Royal Family, and for all who mourn. May God bless them and comfort them in their grief, and assure them of his loving purposes for them and his resurrection power.



Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton

 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - countdown to Easter
Dear Church member

Easter card image 2020The last Sunday of Lent - and the Sunday before Easter - is known as Palm Sunday, which the Church remembers as the day that Jesus enters Jerusalem to popular acclaim, and sets in train a series of events that lead to his death and resurrection one week later. The events of Holy Week take up over a quarter of the gospel accounts of Jesus' life, so momentous and significant they were, and our churches are marking the 8 days of Holy Week in a variety of ways.

Creative, interactive activities

At St Matthew’s and All Saints’ Churches and churchyards there will be free activities for all the family to follow the Easter journey from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Please come on any day or several days. We will also be sending out daily emails during Holy Week including a reflection, bible reading and family friendly activity sheet.

Easter Story Trail

Easter Story TrailTake some time as a family this Easter to follow our ten point Easter trail around each village. Our free trail will be available from Sunday 28th March to Monday 5th April. Download or print the map and follow the trail to find all 10 egg pictures, read the Easter story and pick up some treats as you go! For more information click here or email Sarah.

Agape Meal

agape mealOn Maundy Thursday, 1st April, at 7.30pm there is an opportunity to join on Zoom for a remote 'Agape' meal together. Please click here for information about this ancient Christian celebration based on the Jewish 'shabat' meal.

Services: in-person and online

Palm Sunday 28th March
9.00am Online Service - link here
10.30am Zoom Pebbles Family Service

Maundy Thursday 1st April
7.30pm Agape Meal via Zoom (see above)

Good Friday 2nd April
9.00am Online Service - link here

Holy Saturday 3rd April
8.00pm Vigil Service in All Saints’ Churchyard with candles

Easter Sunday 4th April
9.00am Holy Communion services in both All Saints' and St Matthew's
9.00am Online Service - link here
10.30am Zoom Pebbles Family Service

For more information see HCChurches.org/easter2021


Online services for Holy Week and Easter from the Diocese of Oxford can be found at oxford.anglican.org/livestream

risen

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - St Patrick's Day
Dear Church member

PatrickI write this on St Patrick's Day. Living in Britain in the 5th century, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates aged 16, and sold into slavery in Ireland. Whilst captive, Patrick prayed daily for his freedom and God answered his prayer, miraculously helping him escape Ireland. Later, God revealed to Patrick in a dream that he should return to Ireland and preach the Gospel to the people who had once held him captive, and so he returned, later becoming a bishop. Patrick is largely regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland.

The missionary spirit of Patrick lives on in God's people called to share the good news of Jesus with friend and foe, at home and abroad.

SharlandsThis week we draw attention to the work of longstanding mission partners David and Heather Sharland who have been sharing God's love in word and deed through their work in agriculture and healthcare in the West Nile and Uganda for many years, but who are planning to return to the UK this year. Click here for their latest newsletter.

Another itinerant minister of the gospel and great friend of many in Chilton and Harwell is the late Bruce Keeble, who died in January after a long illness. Alex Reich has written an obituary, which can be found here.

open handsWe continue with our weekly church prayer meetings on Saturday mornings from 9.30-10am by Zoom. Everyone is welcome to join in either regularly or occasionally to give thanks and praise to God, to seek his will, pray for our needs, and for the wider world. This is a relatively informal time, with some sharing of scripture, silence, and open prayer, and there is no pressure for anyone to pray out loud. Do please join in on the link found here.


2 Cor 12.9The Church annual meetings this year will be by Zoom once again, 7.30pm on Thursdays 29th April for All Saints' and 6th May for St Matthew's. Ahead of these meetings we are revising the Electoral Rolls, which are the lists of those qualified to vote at the annual meetings and stand for election to the PCCs. Please click here for more information about the electoral roll and how to register (between 27th March and 9th April).

Do please continue to pray for the work of the Church in Harwell and Chilton, the UK and beyond. Reflecting on the words of St Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, Bruce wrote in his memoir of his increasing conviction of 'God’s persistence in accepting me and calling me to serve Him and others, with all my weaknesses and failings'. God has a plan to use each one of us in his service, however weak or unqualified we feel. All God's people are his saints, have 'good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do' (Eph 2:1), and will only find true purpose and fulfilment when we respond to his call to serve Him and others, as Patrick, David, Heather and Bruce have done.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Mothering Sunday
Dear Church member

mumMothering Sunday is a day honouring mothers and mother churches, celebrated in Britain on the fourth Sunday in Lent since the Middle Ages. It is a day when Christians have historically visited their mother church, that is, where they were baptised, their local parish church, or the nearest cathedral, and it coincides with Laetare ("rejoicing") or Refreshment Sunday, a day of respite from fasting halfway through Lent. More recently, Mothering Sunday was a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members.

Sadly we will not have the opportunity to gather at All Saints' or St Matthew's this coming Mothering Sunday (though both churches are open for private prayer during the day), but we will have both an online service available from 9am, and also a live-hosted, family-friendly Mothering Sunday service on Zoom at 10.30am, joining details here.

small posyNormally we would have posies given out at our services. This year we have alternative plans for distribution, and would like to invite anyone who wishes to make any contributions of flowers or foliage to leave them in the buckets provided in St Matthew's Church Harwell, or outside 6 Latton Close Chilton on Friday (12th) from midday, or on Saturday morning before 10am. Thank you in advance!

Do please join in as you can, as we give thanks to God for our own mothers and all those who have mothering roles.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - First Weekend of Lent
Dear Church member

This week's email from me is just a short one, focussed on the coming weekend.

Saturday (20th Feb)
open handsWe have now held a number of Saturday morning prayer meetings on Zoom. Everyone is welcome to join in either regularly or occasionally with this 30-40 minute virtual gathering at 9.30am on Saturdays to give thanks and praise to God, to seek his will, and pray for our needs. This is a relatively informal time, with some sharing of scripture, silence, and open prayer, and there is no pressure for anyone to pray out loud. Do please join in on this link.

Sunday (21st Feb)
temptation-in-the-wildernessOur online service is available as always from 9am. This week is an all-girl team: our preacher is Kate Evans, leader Jan Radford, reading by Elizabeth Shields, prayers led by Eliza Wheaton, and all put together by Deborah Evans.

Pebbles Family Service is at 10.30am on Zoom. And at 8pm this week on Zoom we have a time of praise and prayer - a few songs followed by a reading and then time to be quiet and still before God. If you would like to join with either of these, please contact Sarah for joining details.

Every day
foodbankWe have an opportunity to contribute via collection boxes in our churches towards the Didcot Emergency Foodbank collection. The Foodbank is currently in particular need of tinned vegetables, fruit and meats, but any non-perishables are welcome and will go to local people in need.
 
 
The Collect for the First Sunday of Lent

Almighty God,
you show to those who are in error the light of your truth,
that they may return to the way of righteousness:
grant to all those who are admitted
   into the fellowship of Christ’s religion,
that they may reject those things
   that are contrary to their profession,
and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same;
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Valentine's and Ash Wednesday
Dear Church member,

love sunThis weekend the thoughts of many turn to love. February the 14th marks the Feast of St Valentine, which honours the Christian martyr who is said to have ministered to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century. According to an early tradition, St Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer, with later legend claiming he wrote the jailer's daughter a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell before his execution.

Valentine's Day has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romantic love around the world. But as we think of martyrdom, our thoughts turn to the 'love that is stronger than death' that is seen in Jesus, and to the love of God that is ours as we are changed into his likeness: "if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us" (1 John 4:12b).

1 John 4.16Join our online services this Valentine's Sunday, led by Brendan Bailey, with Vicky Macarthur preaching.

This week you have the option of the service...
  • Live Zoom-hosted at 10.30am - link here and more info below
  • Pre-recorded from 9am - link here
There is no Pebbles Family Service (PFS) this week (more information on PFS from Melanie or Sarah)

Lent EncounterLent begins on Ash Wednesday, 17th February. Live-streamed services from the Diocese for Ash Wednesday are available at 10am and 6.05pm - more info here.

During this important season leading up to Easter, you may like to sign up for Lent Encounter. This is a completely free 40-day journey to help us connect more with the Bible and the life of Jesus – AND we don’t have to give up chocolate! Sign up today and you’ll receive one email every day during Lent. These will include Bible verses, beautiful and inspiring images (created especially to save as a device screensaver), video reflections and practical challenges.


 
The Collect for this Sunday, the Sunday before Lent

Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross: give us grace to perceive his glory, that we may be strengthened to suffer with him and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

   

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Further options for the live zoom service at 10.30am on Sunday 14th February
 
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88542981759?pwd=dmZhY2NQU0Y5ejNqRVVva3RnS1gxQT09

Meeting ID: 885 4298 1759
Passcode: 966582
One tap mobile
+442030512874,,88542981759#,,,,*966582# United Kingdom
+442034815237,,88542981759#,,,,*966582# United Kingdom
 
Dial by your location
        +44 203 051 2874 United Kingdom
        +44 203 481 5237 United Kingdom
        +44 203 481 5240 United Kingdom
        +44 203 901 7895 United Kingdom
        +44 131 460 1196 United Kingdom
Meeting ID: 885 4298 1759
Passcode: 966582

 

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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - February 2021
Dear Church member,

JackieAn online parish council meeting that spiralled into chaos has made the national news, when footage of the Zoom call - which saw insults, laughter and members kicked out - went viral. The valiant Chair, Jackie Weaver, became an overnight internet sensation, and received widespread plaudits for her attempts to support councillors at Handforth Parish Council in Cheshire.

Of course the meeting was nothing like that of our excellent PCCs (who met on Tuesday), the members of which I wish to publicly thank for their commitment, encouragement and wisdom, especially during the past year. But it did remind me of the group of twelve disciples that our Lord gathered and then nurtured and supported to the point when they established and led the first century Church.

God doesn't call only paragons of virtue - he calls ordinary people, with all their flaws and foibles, but equips and empowers them to do his work. The Lord is more than able to supports us in our weakness, and fulfil his good mission through fallible humans.


 
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this
all-surpassing power is from God and not from us"


2 Corinthians 4:7


This month we are sad to say goodbye to Vicky Johnston, who has been Church Administrator and PA to the Rector for the last six years, and who has decided not to return to her role following her maternity leave, but instead to spend more time with her adorable baby daughter, Ruth. We are delighted to be able to share that Deborah Evans, who had been covering Vicky's maternity leave, is now joining us on a permanent contract. Welcome Deborah!

TLMOne of our mission partners is The Leprosy Mission (TLM), a global Christian organisation leading the fight against leprosy. Following Jesus Christ, TLM seek to bring about transformation; breaking the chains of leprosy and empowering people to attain healing, dignity and life in all its fullness. To find out more about TLM, click here.

Lent EncounterLent begins on Ash Wednesday, 17th February. During this important season leading up to Easter, you may like to sign up for Lent Encounter. This is a completely free 40-day journey to help us connect more with the Bible and the life of Jesus – AND we don’t have to give up chocolate! Sign up today and you’ll receive one email every day during Lent. These will include Bible verses, beautiful and inspiring images (created especially to save as a device screensaver), video reflections and practical challenges.


 
The Collect for this Sunday, the Second Sunday before Lent

Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image: teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things, now and for ever.

   

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - God-with-us
Dear Church member,

I want to share some thoughts from a vicar friend of mine, Dan Heywood, which while sobering also give us great hope to hold on to in a challenging time.

 

'On Wednesday this week we saw holocaust memorial day, the anniversary of the liberation from Auschwitz and an opportunity to remember all those who suffered and were killed under Nazi persecution and in the genocides that have followed in countries such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and most recently, the Darfur region of Sudan. I read that if we observed a minutes silence for all those who died in the Nazi genocide of Jews, we would be silent for 11 and a half years.

This week also saw the 100,000th COVID-19 death in the UK. A minutes silence for each of these treasured people would be 69 days. That would be keeping silence until just after Easter. 

As we think on the terrible deaths and suffering that have happened throughout history at the hands of humankind, and most recently at the hands of this virus, we recall that we worship and serve a God who is familiar with suffering, who is loving and just and who has experienced death and risen again victorious. We worship the God who promises "I will be with you" whatever you face, and who promises that there is hope for eternity and life in all its fullness even in the darkest of days. He doesn't insulate us from our loss and the suffering, but he promises to walk with us through it all. Jesus Christ says, "I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me, even though they die will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." '


We had our first Saturday morning prayer meeting on Zoom last week. Everyone is welcome to join in either regularly or occasionally with this 30-40 minute virtual gathering at 9.30am on Saturdays to give thanks and praise to God, to seek his will, and pray for our needs. This is a relatively informal time, with some sharing of scripture, silence, and open prayer, and there will be no pressure for anyone to pray out loud. Do please join in on this link.

CAP Money courses will be running Feb, March, April with the next course starting on 9th February. Information from the main CAP website and here: http://capmoneycourse.org


Parentalk imageMost parents would agree that being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world - at the moment maybe more than ever! If you would like some tips and techniques, help and advice, and space to give and gain support, to help you with the most important job in the world, why not join us at our online parenting course. On Monday evenings at 8pm we are meeting on Zoom for "Parentalk - The Primary Years". We watch a short (10-15 minute) video, and discuss some questions related to it, in a relaxed and supportive small group. If you are interested in taking part, please get in touch with Melanie or Sarah for details on how to join.

During the next two weeks I feel it is right for me to do some extra medical work, whilst the pressure on the system seems to be especially intense, staff sickness is high, and the vaccination programme is taking up significant human resource. I am planning to do a combination of Covid clinics, back-up telephone work for hard-pressed GP surgeries, and vaccination clinics, according to need. I will also stay in touch with what is happening in the parishes and will be contactable and able to make some online meetings/activities.

Do please keep in touch. Our online and telephone services continue weekly, many homegroups and Connect groups are meeting online and/or keeping in touch by phone, and our churches are open daily for private prayer.


 
The Collect for the 4th Sunday of Epiphany

God our creator,
who in the beginning
commanded the light to shine out of darkness:
we pray that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ
may dispel the darkness of ignorance and unbelief,
shine into the hearts of all your people,
and reveal the knowledge of your glory
   in the face of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Prayer
Dear Church member

This week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We would usually meet with those from other local churches to pray, to learn from and encourage one another, and to build the relationships that underpin our communal witness and the activities and groups that we come together to run, for the blessing of those living, working and studying in our local area. Those activities include Didcot Emergency Foodbank, Christians Against Poverty Debt Centre, Wednesday Church for those with learning disability and dementia and their carers, Prayer Spaces in Schools, and shared Alpha Courses, and we are now working to develop plans to establish a Christian Youthwork Trust.

open handsPrayer is vital to the Christian life, as breathing is to our physical lives. As communication with God it cultivates our relationship with him, it enables us to discern and follow God's leading into the good plans he has for us as individuals and a church. It is also the channel by which we ask of and receive from God for material and spiritual needs of ourselves, those we love and the wider world. We can and should "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests" (Eph 6:18). But how?

runFor those wanting to learn more of and go deeper into prayer, it is not too late to join in with the Prayer Course, which begins this evening, Thursday (21st), at 8pm. Please reply to this email if you are interested and/or want the Zoom link.

We pray together in homegroups and our 40 minute Zoom Connect groups. We also have an email Prayer Chain. Please be in touch if you are interested in any of those or have any prayer requests.

We are also going to start regular church prayer meetings - to give thanks and praise to God, to seek his will, and pray for our needs. The day/time may change, but we are going to begin with a 40 minute online prayer meeting this Saturday, 9.30am. It will be a relatively informal time, with some sharing of scripture, silence, and open prayer, and there will be no pressure for anyone to pray out loud. Do please join in on this link.

We will include prayer for our Children and Families' Work, which is needed more than ever in these challenging times, and needs to keep changing. Alongside the Sunday morning Family Services at 10.30am each week, the current live weekly online activities are the following:
  • Storytime: Mondays at 4pm 
  • Fledgelings: Wednesdays at 10am
  • Praise Party: Thursdays at 4pm
Do please contact Melanie or Sarah to find out more, if you know of someone who might be interested, and for the links.

I look forward to seeing as many as possible on Saturday morning.


 
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus"


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Epiphany 2
Dear Church member

come and seeEpiphany (meaning ‘manifestation’ or ‘appearance’), which began on 6th January, is a season which recognizes Jesus to be the Son of God, the Light come into the world. Beginning with the recognition of the newborn Jesus by the world, last Sunday we remembered the Baptism of Christ by John, when a voice from heaven declares Jesus to be God’s beloved Son. The season of Epiphany ends on 2nd February with the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple ('Candlemas') when he is recognized by Simeon to be ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of God’s people Israel.’ On the Sundays in between we focus on episodes in John's gospel when Jesus calls his first disciples and does his first miracle.

How can we benefit from that Light, knowing the reassurance and guidance of God, and grow our faith in Jesus in challenging circumstances? We are to hear the words passed down to "come and see" (John 1:46) and see and heed the signs of his glory (John 2:11). Some ways that we might do that are detailed below.

For the time being all our services are online and over the phone every Sunday:
  • From 9am for a pre-recorded online service found here, with the opportunities to interact via Zoom - details/dates to follow
  • At 10.30am for a Zoom-based family service - details from Sarah or Melanie
  • At 6pm via the telephone for services of Evening and Night Prayer - details here
Please also consider joining in over the coming weeks with at least one of the following - everyone welcome!

runThe Prayer Course which will be starting on Thursday evenings from this coming Thursday, 21st January. The Prayer Course is an eight week journey that will help us to grow and deepen our prayer life. Each week of the course is made up of a video, discussion questions and practical prayer activities. For further information and to register your interest, please click here.

cuppaHomegroups continue online, and new people are always welcome to join or visit. Homegroups read the Bible together, pray together, and support one another in the Christian life. More information from Jean Barton.

connectSome Zoom Connect groups from before Christmas continue, and are open to new members, and other groups can be formed as needed. These small groups meet weekly for 40 minutes at various times of the week via Zoom, to enable us to connect with one another, our local churches, and with God. Please be in touch if you are interested.

a2We are also looking to run another online Alpha Course, but no day/time has yet been set. Alpha is a low-pressure, fun and informative course, in which to share thoughts and explore the meaning of life. Please be in touch if you are interested or know of someone else who might be.


All Saints' and St Matthew's continue to be open during the day for private prayer, though St Matthew's will not be accessible Monday 18th to Friday 22nd January whilst some work is going on. Our churches are also bases for dropping off donations for Didcot Emergency Foodbank, whose services are in great demand at present. Please note that Vale of White Horse District Council are able to help people who are struggling to afford food and stay warm this winter through the Winter Support Grant scheme in the form of advice, supermarket and fuel vouchers or through the direct payment of energy or water bills. Call 0300 3309042 for further guidance, or if you know of someone who is struggling please tell them to get in touch.


Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature
by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Epiphany
Dear Church member

epiphanyWarm greetings for Epiphany and the New Year!

The subtitle in the Book of Common Prayer of Epiphany, one of the principal feasts of the Church, is ‘The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles’. From the moment of the incarnation, the good news of Jesus Christ is for all: Jew and Gentile, the wise and the simple, male and female. Nothing in the Greek text of the gospels indicates that the Magi were all male: even the idea that there were three and they were kings is a much later, non-scriptural, tradition. Jesus has come for all people, and Christians are called to share the light of that hope with all.

In a new year and a new lockdown we continue to be God's Church, seeking to be - as well as to proclaim - God's good news to a needy world, but we will do so in new ways.

We will not currently be having services in our church buildings, but every Sunday we have the following opportunities to worship together
  • From 9am for a pre-recorded online service found here, with the opportunities to interact via Zoom - details/dates to follow
  • At 10.30am for a Zoom-based family service - details from Sarah or Melanie
  • At 6pm via the telephone for services of Evening and Night Prayer - details here
runWe also have weekday opportunities to meet online for homegroups and also for The Prayer Course which will be starting on Thursday evenings from 21st January. The Prayer Course is an eight week journey that will help us to grow and deepen our prayer life. Each week of the course is made up of a video, discussion questions and practical prayer activities. For further information and to register your interest, please click here.

Please be in touch if you need any practical, emotional or spiritual support at this challenging time. The Lord makes us into a church family so that we can support and encourage one another; to do so is both our duty and a privilege.

 
Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Romans 12:10-15

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Christmas Eve and Day
Dear Church member

Christmas cardAs a strange year draws to a close, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for your partnership during 2020 in the gospel of hope; for your prayers, for your service, and for your gifts freely offered in love of God and neighbour. Having now passed the shortest day of the year, we think not just of the hope of lengthening days, but also the sure hope of the coming of the Saviour of the world not just as a baby at Christmas, but to bring about a new age of life and light and the renewal of all things.

Please join in with our online and in-person services as you are able to over the next couple of days, and on the Sundays following.

Christmas Eve
Communion services - due to the need for social distancing, you will need to book at place at these services here. At the time of writing, we do have plenty of space, though.
  • 10pm All Saints' Chilton
  • 11.30pm St Matthew's Harwell
Online: We also have a short online service for Christmas Eve, link to be found here.

Christmas Day

CribCommunion services - no need to book
  • 9am All Saints' Chilton
  • 9am St Matthew's Harwell
Online: We will have an online service for Christmas Day available from 9am, link to be found here.

We will also be live hosting a Zoom-based service for all ages at 10.30am, link below.
Please join in if you can - it would be lovely to see as many of our church family as possible on Christmas Day morning: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82086233514?pwd=c2dZVkk3bDNxclc0eVJKcXg5SVA4Zz09
(Meeting ID: 820 8623 3514, Passcode: 280569)


 
'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel - God with us'
Isaiah 7:14


With Christmas greetings, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Third Sunday of Advent
Dear Church member

waitingMid-way through Advent, Christmas plans are well underway. A summary of services and events and latest updates can be found on our website here. Please join in with what you can, and pray for all involved in running activities and contributing to services, and for everyone who takes part.

Do please also be praying that God would guide us a churches as we move into 2021 and need to make some decisions about our pattern of services, both in person and online, in Chilton and Harwell. I am excited about the prospect of being able to meet again in a non socially-distanced way, to sing together, interact and share food and drink, and explore the many possibilities before us. I'm also keen to build on our experience of online worship, which many people have found helpful and enriching. After a long season of waiting, the prospect of mass vaccination raises the hope of new life in the spring. The parallels with our Christian faith are crying out for a sermon - but I will spare you that at this time! For now, please be praying for God's clear leading for us as churches.

Back to more immediate plans, I list below some of our main Christmas services.


Christmas cardCarols in the Churchyards
Drop in to either churchyard for choir-led carols at the days/times below. More information and any wet weather plans here.
  • St Matthew’s Harwell: Sunday 13th & Friday 18th December between 7pm and 8pm. Bring a mug for free mulled wine!
  • All Saints’ Chilton: Saturday 19th December between 3pm and 4pm

Crib Services
For more information about - and to book a place at - one of our Crib Services on Sunday 20th December (Harwell 3pm, Chilton 5pm) or Wednesday 23rd December (Harwell 3pm), click here


Christmas Eve
Communion services at Chilton 10pm and Harwell 11.30pm. Due to the need for social distancing, you will need to book at place at these services here.


Online: We will also have a short online service for Christmas Eve available from 9am, link to be found here.


Christmas Day
Communion services at Chilton and Harwell both at 9am - no need to book.

Online: We will have an online service for Christmas Day available from 9am, link to be found here.
We will also be live hosting a Zoom-based service for all ages at 10.30am, link below. Please join in if you can - it would be lovely to see as many of our church family as possible on Christmas Day morning.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82086233514?pwd=c2dZVkk3bDNxclc0eVJKcXg5SVA4Zz09
(Meeting ID: 820 8623 3514, Passcode: 280569)


Our other regular Sunday online and in person services continue. Please see our websiteFacebook, and posters for further information on services and other events including the Advent Windows trail.


Two resources to close...

starA 4-part Advent course helping us to reflect, at the darkest time of the year, on our calling to be Lights for Christ. Please find a pdf attached to this email, but the material is also available online in a nice format here.

lizipLocally-created charity Christmas cards by Lizi Potter in aid of Didcot Emergency Foodbank - Facebook page here and Etsy page here.


God for whom we watch and wait,
you sent John the Baptist
to prepare the way of your Son:
give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Advent 2020
Dear Church member

This Sunday marks the beginning of Advent. Below I outline our plans for the coming weeks, but for the very latest plans do please check HCChurches.org/christmas, Facebook, and posters in key locations around the villages.


Christmas cardAdvent and Christmas services
The Sunday after next, 6th December, alongside our online services, our pattern of in person services is re-established, with family services at St Matthew's (contact Sarah or Melanie for more information), and 6pm services alternating between All Saints' and St Matthew's.

Our special Advent and Christmas services are as follows:
  • Drop in to either churchyard for choir-led carols in the churchyards at the days/times below. Bring a torch and wrap up warm!
    • St Matthew’s Harwell: Sunday 13th & Friday 18th December between 7pm and 8pm
    • All Saints’ Chilton: Saturday 19th December between 3pm and 4pm
  • Online Sunday services will continue throughout December with additional services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
  • We hope to offer pre-booked Crib Services the week commencing Sunday 20th December. For up to date details and booking, please see HCChurches.org/crib
  • We are planning Communion Services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in both All Saints’ and St Matthew’s
Please see our website, Facebook, and posters for further information on services and other events including the Advent Windows trail.


Free Advent Resources
LamentAdvent video series launching on Sunday

Lamenting in Advent? In this year of Covid-19, we need to, and Bible Society have teamed up with Movement Day UK to produce a powerful video series. There will be four Advent prayer videos released each Sunday at 9am, beginning on 29 November, and daily short Advent prayers calling on God to come and restore, comfort, heal and transform the places we live in and the people we care about. Find out more.

discovering prayerDiscovering Prayer podcasts
A very accessible series of 23 guided Christian meditations for each day over advent have been put together and are being offered for free. If you are looking for ways to put the meaning back into Christmas and would like to focus on God at the centre of our celebrations, consider signing to listen to free daily prayer times (5 minutes on weekdays and 10 minutes at weekends) from Discovering Prayer.

In brief..
toysToy Collection for Oxford Women's Refuge
This weekend is the last opportunity to donate to our Toy Collection for Oxford Women’s Refuge. Further information about toys and collection arrangements can be found here.


smileAmazon
Please consider registering with Amazon Smile for our churches to benefit from a donation of a portion of the price of your purchases at no extra cost to you: smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1158861-0

prayer courseAdvance notice
We are planning in the New Year to run a weekday evening online 'Prayer Course'. Open to everyone, more information to follow in due course.


And finally...
prayer for the nationPrayer for Week 4 of Lockdown
Our fourth prayer for our month of prayer for our nation is below.



Loving God,
your Son Jesus Christ came
that we might have life and have it abundantly;
pour out your blessing upon our nation;
where there is illness,
bring your healing touch;
where there is fear,
strengthen us with the knowledge of your presence;
where there is uncertainty,
build us up in faith;
where there is dishonesty,
lead us into truth;
where there is discord,
may we know the harmony of your love;
this we ask in Jesus’ name.
Amen.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Sunday before Advent
Dear Church member

This Sunday is the Sunday before Advent. Where has the year gone?! Advent and Christmas will of course be very different this year, and there is much uncertainty about what will be permitted, but we are hoping to have a range of activities and services for all ages - online, in person, outdoors, in church, and around our villages. More news in due course; latest plans at HCChurches.org/christmas, on Facebook, and on posters in key locations around the villages.


connectZoom Connect
Our Zoom Connect groups have got to a good start. We have three groups meeting - on a Wednesday afternoon, a Thursday morning and a Thursday evening - each for 40 minutes and including a Bible reading, some discussion and sharing, and then time for prayer. It is not too late to join a group if you would like to, and we can easily start other groups at other times/days as necessary. Just let us know if you are interested.


toysToy Collection for Oxford Women's Refuge
This Christmas, our churches are once more supporting the Women’s Refuge in Oxford by providing gifts for mothers to give to their children on Christmas Day. Women and their children tend to flee to the refuge with very few belongings, so possessions are scarce and cash is tight for these families. Unfortunately, domestic violence is particularly prevalent over the Christmas period, as well as during lockdown generally, so the refuge often experiences an influx then. Having a decent gift to give their child at Christmas can make an enormous difference to these mothers and children. We are arranging collection of items in both Chilton and Harwell between 23rd and 29th November, and further information about toys and collection arrangements can be found here.

 
smileAmazon
If you shop online with Amazon, it is possible for charities to benefit from a donation of a portion of the price of your purchases at no extra cost to you. So if you are considering using Amazon for Black Friday sales or Christmas (or any other) purchases, please consider supporting the work of our churches through the AmazonSmile programme by clicking here: smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1158861-0


prayer for the nationPrayer for Week 3 of Lockdown
Please continue to keep November as a month of prayer for our nation during this time of national lockdown. We know that we are in the faithful hands of the risen Christ who knows our weaknesses, tiredness and struggles, and whose steadfast love endures forever.


Lord Jesus Christ,
in these dark and difficult days, we turn our hearts to you.
In ages past, you have delivered our nation from disaster.
Do it again, we pray.
Give wisdom beyond human wisdom to our leaders,
Give strength beyond human strength
to the NHS and all our frontline workers.
Give comfort beyond human comfort
to the elderly and all who grieve.
Lord Jesus Christ,
in these dark and difficult days,
turn your face towards us,
have mercy upon us,
and heal our land, we pray.
Amen.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church update - November 2020
Dear Church member,

After a recent flurry of recent emails from me, another but slightly shorter update one today!

ComputerOnline services - something different...
During the national lockdown, our 'in person' services have had to stop, but we continue online.

As usual we have our pre-recorded service available on Sunday from 9am, but this Sunday (15th November) it will also be hosted live on Zoom at 10.30am by Kate Evans. The service will include all the usual elements, but also the opportunity to interact and to share 'virtual coffee' with other members of the online congregation afterwards. Do please join in if you can!

The link (which should be live from 10.30am on Sunday) is as follows:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84484970782?pwd=NC9aeERaMlJmVnNnczhKTXl4OHNHQT09

Meeting ID: 844 8497 0782
Passcode: 072936

The service will also be available online in the usual way from 9am here for those who are unable or would prefer not to join via Zoom at 10.30am.

connectZoom Connect Groups
Speaking of Zoom, our 'Zoom Connect' groups will be starting in the next few days. We have had quite a few people sign up to join in, and it is not too late if you would like to but have not yet done so. These short, online weekly groups with a short Bible input, catch up and prayer are one way to help us to connect with God and one another during these challenging times of social distancing. Please let me know before Sunday if you are interested in being part of a group.

kid headphonesCelebration Choir for Christmas
Something else that it is not too late to join in with is our "Harwell and Chilton Virtual Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus" arrangement of 'Joy to the World' for Christmas Day. Music, backing track and instructions should be available shortly, giving anyone who would like to be involved time to make a recording and return it by 10th December. If you would be interested in taking part please contact David Evansdavid@sungrove.plus.com

prayer for the nationAnd finally... keep praying!
God works through the prayers of his people. In this difficult time, as well as our practical acts of care and giving of our time, talents and treasure in service of God and others, we can be part of God's work by praying for his kingdom to come and his will to be done.

The prayer for the second week of the national lockdown is as follows:

Loving Father God,
be with us in our distress;
be with our families, friends, and neighbours,
our country and our world.
Give health to the sick,
hope to the fearful,
and comfort to mourners.
Give wisdom to our frontline and key workers,
insight to our Government,
and patience to us all.
Overcome disease with the power of your new life,
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - remember remember
Dear Church member

homeAs we enter another lockdown, a national situation in which we all make sacrifices to our usual way of life and liberty for the common good, we approach a time of remembering the sacrifices made by others for our life and liberty, sacrifices that reflect the sacrifice made once for all by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

poppyThis Sunday (8th November) in Chilton we will be holding an Act of Remembrance in All Saints' Churchyard from 10.45am. In Harwell we are planning to livestream a service from the War Graves Cemetery from 10.50am; link here.

ComputerDuring lockdown services in church are not permitted, but online services will continue and Sunday groups will go back online. Our online service published at 9am (and previous weeks) can be found here. For information about services and groups for children and families, please contact Melanie or Sarah. Our churches will continue to be open for private prayer, usually between 10am and dusk. Please check our website for the latest information on what is happening.

foodbankLooking back to our recent focus on stewardship, I wanted to pass on thanks from Didcot Emergency Foodbank to those who kindly donated over harvest time: "Thank you, they were a great selection of items that we need... As anticipated, things are busier now that we are into the colder months, and especially last week during half term, when we issued food for 90 adults and children. Thankfully, with Harwell & Chilton's donation and all the others that are coming in at this time we are well placed to meet these needs."

money-medI also want to thank those who have responded to our Gift Day appeal. To those who were meaning to do so but not had a chance, let me assure you that it is not too late! I plan to send a separate email about this shortly, but in essence, you can give to the general work of the churches, or make a 'restricted' gift such as towards Children and Families' Work, the upkeep and development of our iconic church buildings, or our support for the work of our local Christians Against Poverty Debt Centre. Gifts can be a one-off, or a pledge to give regularly.

connectIt is also not too late to join a Zoom Connect group, which we anticipate to be especially valuable to stay connected with one another and with God as we go into this next lockdown. More news also to follow on staying connected in prayer...

prayer for the nationAnd finally... the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called the Church of England to make this month of lockdown a month of prayer. "During the first lockdown we cheered for the NHS every Thursday. During this second lockdown we invite you to fast in a way appropriate to you as well as pray for our nation every Thursday, for its leaders, its health and essential services and all those who suffer". You may this simple printable prayer booklet helpful, and also the following prayer, which has been written for week 1.


Loving God,
at this time of crisis
when so many are suffering,
we pray for our nation and our world.
Give our leaders wisdom,
our Health Service strength,
our people hope.
Lead us through these parched and difficult days
to the fresh springs of joy and comfort
that we find in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.



Amidst the fear and uncertainty let's remember and fix our minds on the foundational things: God's love for us in Jesus, and our call to love one another with the love of God.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   From Jonathan - Partnership and Giving
Dear Church member,

handsI want to thank you for your partnership in the work of St Matthew’s Harwell and All Saints’ Chilton. We are a Christian community at the heart of our village communities, seeking to serve our neighbours in love, share with them the good news of Jesus, and help one another to deepen our lived-out faith. We are about growing God’s Church, wider, deeper and closer.

We do this through teams of people who run our worship services, in-person and now also on-line, small groups such as home groups and the Alpha Course, our baby and toddler groups, baptisms, weddings and funerals, Generation Gold and Evergreens, children’s, youth and women’s groups, Holiday Club, pastoral work, hosting repair cafes, concerts and other community events, sponsoring a Scout Group, supporting our local Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre and a number of mission partners further afield, and more! Enabling and underpinning much of this activity are our church buildings and Church Hall, lovingly cared for, maintained, cleaned and decorated, our leadership and governance teams, and the generous financial giving of many.

gifting exerciseOur church is one body but made up of many parts, each able uniquely to give their time, talents, and “treasure” to enable the work of our churches and fulfil the mission of God amongst our communities; to do so is an act spiritual worship that glorifies God (cf Rom 12).

At our annual meetings this month we reviewed what God has been doing amongst us, and where he is leading us. Our annual reports focus on 2019, but we reflected also on 2020 so far, with its considerable challenges, but also opportunities. Do please look at the annual reports, and be encouraged!

money-medI am asking us all to take the opportunity to review our financial giving to our churches in Harwell and Chilton, taking account of our individual circumstances. Many individuals and families in our church and community are finding themselves in financial difficulty at this time; our churches are here to support them in various ways, including through the provision of our CAP Debt Centre. Others will not be struggling in the same way and may even have made savings over the last few months. Our churches are facing a particular challenge this year to balance the books and ensure that we are able to continue to do all that we wish to do, and even do exciting new things, but we know that God is able to provide for all our needs. God’s plentiful resources are there, some of them within our own bank accounts!

Following this month's Harvest focus on stewardship - of making wise, generous use of all that we have been given - I would encourage each of us to review how we are using our God-given time, talents and "treasure", especially in relation to the ministry and mission of Harwell and Chilton Churches in our communities and beyond.

fruit“All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above, so thank the Lord… for all his love”

This coming Sunday, 1st November, is our a Gift Day, which is an opportunity for us to individually respond to God’s goodness to us, and to support the ongoing work of our churches. It is also All Saints' Day - a great occasion to celebrate the rich diversity of individuals and their gifts that make up the Church, and to offer ourselves and our resources to serve God and one another.

There are two main ways that we can respond. The first is with a one-off gift. The second is to pledge to give on a regular basis, e.g. monthly, perhaps for a set time. There will also be the opportunity for our gifts to be used in one of four ways. More information on each can be found by clicking the links.

 

  1. General giving, to support the whole work of our churches, and used in the way most needed
  2. Headshot CFW 178To enable us to continue to employ our Children and Families’ Workers, Sarah and Melanie, beyond the end of the year; this has the exciting possibility of securing match-funding from the Diocese
  3. To support the work in our communities of our local CAP Debt Centre, which has to date enabled 42 individuals and families to become debt free, and will be even more needed in the coming months
  4. To maintain and develop our beautiful church buildings, and particularly in the case St Matthew’s to cover the cost of essential roof work following last year’s lead theft


God multipliesGiving can be electronic - one-off or regular (click here) – or by cash or cheque by using the yellow Gift Aid envelopes which are available in both churches near to the entrances to then put in the wall safes or pass to either of our Treasurers.

If you are a tax payer, the value of your gift is increased by 25% through the Gift Aid scheme, but as with the five small loaves and two fish, whatever our tax status, be assured that all that we give back to God is hugely multiplied by the Giver of all good things (cf James 1)!

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship" Romans 12:1

 

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Remembering and Giving
Dear Church member

As October turns into November, we move from a theme of stewardship to remembering. Some things in life are perhaps best forgotten, but other things (like birthdays for two of my daughters in November!) are best remembered.

connectZoom Connect - starting soon
Our memory can be helped by others, and routines can be valuable to ensure that important things and people are not forgotten. I mentioned in a previous email the 'Zoom Connect' groups that will be starting soon. These short, online weekly groups with a short Bible input, catch up and prayer are one way to help us to connect with God and one another during these challenging times of social distancing. Please let me know if you are interested in being part of a group.

diversityAll Saints’ Day, Sunday 1st November
As usual, our weekly pattern is an online service available from 9am, a socially-distanced family service in St Matthew's at 10.30am, and a 6pm service alternating between our two churches. This week the evening service will be at Chilton, and instead of holding a service of Night Prayer as we have been doing at All Saints' lately, the service will be a shortened service of Holy Communion to celebrate All Saints’ Day. Because of the Covid-19 restrictions we will have only bread and not be able to share the common cup. Towards the end of the service there will be an opportunity to remember our loved ones who have died by lighting candles as we would normally do at our All Souls’ Service (All Souls’ Day will actually be on Monday 2 November).


remembrance rainbowRemembrance Sunday, 8th November
We will hold an Act of Remembrance in All Saints' Churchyard from 10.45am, with an opportunity to place a poppy at the memorial in church. An Act of Remembrance in Harwell will be live-streamed from the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery from 10.55am here.

kid headphonesCelebration Choir for Christmas!
Last May a number from our churches ("Harwell and Chilton Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus"), participated in a recording of 'Jesus is Lord' for Pentecost. We will repeat the exercise for Christmas, singing an arrangement of 'Joy to the World' for Christmas Day. Music, backing track and instructions should be available shortly, giving anyone who would like to be involved time to make a recording and return it by 10th December. If you would be interested in taking part please contact David Evans: david@sungrove.plus.com

handsPartnership and Giving
Following this month's Harvest focus on stewardship - of making wise, generous use of all that we have been given - I am encouraging each of us to review how we are using our God-given time, talents and "treasure", especially in relation to the ministry and mission of our churches in our communities and beyond. This Sunday, 1st November, will be our 'Gift Day' when we can respond to God’s goodness to us, and to support the ongoing work of our churches in one of four areas, with a one-off gift and/or a pledge to regular giving. More details available here and to follow by email.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship"  Romans 12:1


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Connections
Dear Church member,

wifiIn my last email I mentioned that I would be writing to you about connection. Over the last week or so we have been experiencing frustration with our home internet connection, which we depend on for dozens of daily emails, keeping up to date with the constantly changing Covid situation and regulations, downloading and uploading resources for services and other activities, updating websites and social media, attending virtual meetings of leadership teams, local clergy, charity and school governing boards, etc, running online groups and courses, making funeral and wedding arrangements, and having other pastoral conversations, not to mention school homework/home schooling, virtual Scouting, online grocery shopping, and films/TV if there is any bandwidth left! Many of us are reliant on good internet connections for work and domestic life and relationship, and we are significantly impacted when the connection is weak or fails entirely.

touchThe same is true for our connection with one another and with God. Human beings are made for relationship (to "love God and love one another"), but many things can create blockages in those connections. We feel this especially acutely during this strange time of social distancing and restricted activity. The change of life imposed by the pandemic will be affecting us for some time to come, and we need to adapt in order to maintain those critical connections. I mention below three ways to connect with one another, with God's Church in Harwell and Chilton, and with God himself.

connect1. Zoom Connect
Small groups are critical for human flourishing and are also brilliant for learning and growing in faith. I can't commend highly enough homegroups - which are a fundamental part of our church life - and many are managing to meet either in person in a socially distanced way or online. Others are not currently able to meet, and many of us are not a member of one of these groups.

We are going to be starting up a number of 'Connect' groups, that will meet weekly for 40 minutes at various times of the week via Zoom for six weeks, to enable us to connect with one another, our local churches, and with God. They will have a short focus on a Bible reading and brief discussion, then a chance to catch up with other members of the group and pray together as appropriate (though there would be no pressure for anyone to pray out loud). I would love for every member of our churches to be part of one of these groups if not already in a homegroup (though you would be welcome to do both!). Please don't be put off by the technology - help will be available! If you are interested in being part of a Connect group between now and Christmas, please click here.

generosity week2. Generosity Podcasts
I would like to send out over the coming week (23rd to 30th October) links to a brand new Church of England podcast exploring generosity and giving. Over 8 days we journey through the Bible with a range of different contributors from across the UK, as they bring experiences from their lives that speak of the generosity of God at work in the world today. This podcast could be a great way to give ourselves a bit of space each day to focus on generosity and how we can positively impact the world around us. Each of the eight podcasts is a roughly 10 minute audio recording that can be listened to on a computer, tablet or smartphone, or via Spotify, iTunes, etc. I propose simply to email out daily a link to each talk, but if you wish to opt out of this, please update your email preferences by clicking here.

hands3. Connecting with the work of St Matthew's Harwell with All Saints' Chilton
The last seven months have created great challenges for us as individuals, communities and in society generally, and also for our churches. Much has needed to change, and whilst many of our regular activities have been paused, much has continued and new things begun. We have new opportunities going forward, and challenges to overcome, not least in our finances, which have been impacted.

Coinciding with this month's Harvest focus on stewardship, I would encourage each of us to review how we are using our God-given time, talents and "treasure", especially in relation to the ministry and mission of Harwell and Chilton Churches in our communities and beyond. I will be writing more about this in coming days and mentioning it in our next online service, but now would like to give notice of a Gift Day on 1st November, which is All Saints' Day - a great occasion to celebrate the rich diversity of individuals and their gifts that make up the Church, and to offer ourselves and our resources to connect with and serve God and one another.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship" Romans 12:1

Do please stay in touch.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Harvest 2020
Dear Church member

harvestHarvest Greetings! I love harvest time, and not just because of blackberry and apple pies and sunny walks amongst technicolour autumn leaves. Harvest is a great time to give thanks to God for material provision, but also to bring to mind all those agricultural pictures and stories in the Bible that help us to understand deep spiritual truths.

flowersDo take the opportunity in the coming week to visit our two churches to enjoy beautiful harvest floral displays made by our talented teams of flower arrangers, and engage in some interactive prayer. Our gratitude to God for all he has freely given to us is appropriately expressed in our prayers, but also in our generosity to others, and in both churches you may leave packets and tins for Didcot Emergency foodbank to help those in need at this difficult time; to help in this way is to share God's heart for the poor.

This month is also a good time for us more generally to be reviewing the use of our time, talents, and "treasure", and this has been the theme of our online services (which you can see here). At our annual meetings we celebrated all that our churches have been doing - using that God-endowed time, talent and treasure - and looked at some of the challenges and opportunities before us. I will be writing again in the next few days about opportunities to connect with one another and with God in a time when we can easily become disconnected, and to partner together with one another and God in the exciting work of Kingdom sowing, growing and harvesting.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Sunday Sixth September
Dear Church member

Time flies! I can't believe that it is almost six weeks since I last emailed. The year rolls on, much is the same, but much has also changed.

Since last writing we have run a successful three weeks of Holiday Club at St Matthew's Church Hall for 45 children, delivered delicious cream teas to members of Generation Gold, continued to produce weekly online services, weekly 'gathered' Sunday Evening Services, and experimented with an outdoor family service; we've taken funerals, had socially-distanced meetings with wedding couples, kept in touch with Fledgelings families currently unable to meet in person, and completed a Zoom Alpha Course; we've had Zoom meetings of the SLT and PCCs, advanced plans for collaborative youth work, made arrangements to allow safe resumption of some Church Hall activities and use of our church buildings by home groups and others, and lots more besides!

There are three things coming up that I wish to highlight.

communityThe first is our annual church meetings, postponed from April. These will be Zoom-based meetings (login details to follow), with an option to attend in person at the relevant church. They will be at 7.30pm on Wednesday 7th October for St Matthew's and Thursday 8th October for All Saints'. In advance of these meetings we are revising the electoral roll, which is for those who wish to vote at the annual meetings and/or would consider standing to be PCC members. If you are already on the roll, you do not need to register again, but if you would like to be on it, forms can be downloaded from the website or found in our churches, and must be returned to the Electoral Roll Officers by Wednesday (9th September).

CEThe second is a Zoom-based course, Christianity Explored, that works through Mark's gospel, running on Tuesday evenings from 22nd September until the end of November. Like the recent Alpha Course, this is a great, video-based course that is accessible to everyone - to those enquiring about Christianity and established Christians alike. Please be in touch if you are interested.

Colin FletcherThe third is a farewell service for our local Bishop Colin, Bishop of Dorchester, who retires at the end of the month. This service of Evening Prayer by Zoom is scheduled for Wednesday 23rd September at 7.30pm. To join the service, please click here.

Moving into September feels like something of a gear change. But despite the changing circumstances and seasons, we need to keep our eyes fixed on that which is unchanging and eternal.

"The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:17)

I hope to see you in person or online soon!

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - into August...
Dear Church member,

"When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof" (Deuteronomy 22:8)

You would be forgiven for thinking that the recent heat has gone to the Rector's head. Why is he talking about parapets? Who is building a house? What does this archaic Old Testament law have to do with me?

parapetI thought of this law as I was reflecting on the recent moves to enforce the wearing of face coverings in enclosed places where we are likely to meet people we do not often see, and this includes in church. The main point of face coverings during this pandemic is to protect others from an infection we may (unknowingly) be carrying. Whilst inconvenient and uncomfortable for us, it is a practical expression of the command to love our neighbour. It is out of concern for others that we comply. And it is why the multi-purpose flat roofs in the ancient near east needed parapets.

We continue with our online services, but it has been good to be able to start some small services on Sundays at 6pm alternating between our churches, this week in Harwell. It is helpful to indicate here if you are intending to come. And please cover your face if you are able to.


AmazonSmile in app UK WEB 300xThe practically-skilled among us will probably make their own face coverings. Others of us will be buying, quite possibly online. If you use Amazon, do please consider supporting St Matthew's at no extra cost to you by using Amazon Smile! Just search for 'Harwell Church' (Chilton Church is unfortunately not eligible).

It is now our intention that our church buildings are open every day, usually from 12 noon to 7pm. Special thanks to those who are looking after our buildings and keeping them clean.

Holiday Club is well underway, with week one of three done. Please pray for the teams, the children and their families, for them to understand and experience God's love, and for lasting fruit in their lives.

pathwaysIn other news, the Oxford Diocesan Pathways magazine is now available online here. It is worth taking a look.

Parapets do not guarantee to prevent people falling off a roof, but they make it less likely. Let's stay safe and - following the example of our Lord who is the true 'Good Samaritan' - love our neighbours with the love of Christ.

Yours, in Him,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - services in church
Dear Church member

Just a brief email from me today!

CreamTea2014-6
In addition to our online services, we are delighted now to be able to have small services in church. From this Sunday, 19th July, we will be having a weekly Sunday service at 6pm, alternating between St Matthew's Harwell and All Saints' Chilton (this Sunday, 19th, at Harwell, the following Sunday, 26th, at Chilton, and so on). Due to current restrictions there is no singing allowed, and social distancing measures will be in place. Further information about what to expect here.

In order to manage these services, it is really helpful if people indicate whether they are planning to attend. You can do this via our church website or via the church office.

st matthews seAll Saints' and St Matthew's each continue to be open from 12 noon until 7pm two days a week (Tuesday and Saturday for All Saints', Wednesday and Sunday for St Matthew's), but we are hoping to open for more days soon. Any offers of help with cleaning in order to enable this to happen would be much appreciated.

We are excited to be able this year to run a reduced Holiday Club for 45 children (3 'bubbles' of 15 children on consecutive weeks from 27th July in St Matthew's Church Hall), and would very much value your prayers as we prepare for this.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton

 

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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Ember Day
Dear Church member

"Look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting"   John 4:35

Today is one of twelve Ember Days in the Church of England calendar that are occasions of fasting, prayer and reflection, with a focus on vocation and ministry. It is a good time to be asking how God might be calling us to serve him and the mission of his Church with our own unique gifts and opportunities.
hands
Part of the mission of the Church, and a strong theme in the Bible, is the care of the poor and vulnerable. In our online service this week (available from 9am on Sunday), as we continue our journey through Acts and its description of life and mission of the early Church, we hear of the shared life of the believers, and the generosity they showed towards those in need.

CAPimage-300x300One expression of that mission is the partnership that our churches have with six other local churches and the award-winning national charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) which helps local people find a practical, lasting solution to debt and poverty through debt counselling and community groups. In the five years the Debt Centre has been established, 40 clients and their families have been released from crippling financial debt and many have found new or strengthened faith in the process.

The need for CAP locally and nationally will only increase as we enter a difficult economic climate, and our support for its work all the more important. Other local organisations serving those in need are Chilton Mutual Aid Group, Harwell Helpers, and Didcot Emergency Foodbank. Do please consider whether God might be calling you at this time to support the poor and vulnerable through one of these organisations, practically or financially. Information about CAP, which I wholeheartedly recommend, can be found here.

A prayer of blessing for Embertide:

May the boldness of the Spirit transform you,
may the gentleness of the Spirit lead you,
may the gifts of the Spirit equip you
to serve and worship God.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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P.S. We have been working on providing a facility for people to download past services. This would allow services to be shown to people who have no internet access. A service could be downloaded onto a tablet or laptop and then this given to or brought to someone. If you would like to make use of this facility could you email Allan Macarthur on the_macarthurs@yahoo.com and he can provide a link to a folder where individual services can be downloaded.

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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - the longest day
Dear Church member,

Joshuah Ordering the Sun to StThis weekend sees the longest day, the summer solstice, midsummer, the first day of summer... name it what you will. Solstice literally means "sun stand still" and reminds me of the story recorded in Joshua 10, which is about a time over 3000 years ago during a key battle soon after Joshua and the Israelites entered the Promised Land, when the sun is said to have 'stood still'. A plausible alternative translation with scientific credibility, though, is that the sun stopped shining, i.e. there was an eclipse. The Lord, through Joshua's prayer, helped his people in their battle against overwhelming odds. No foe is too strong for the Lord of the universe, the One who promises never to leave or forsake us, and who hears and responds to the prayers of his people.

Solar annular eclipse of JanuaThe time when the Earth’s poles are at their maximum tilt towards the sun marks a welcome milestone in our journey through this long season of lockdown. We are pleased from this weekend to be able to open St Matthew's and All Saints' to individuals and households for private prayer. In order to meet hygiene requirements, hours of opening are restricted, and are currently between midday and 7pm on the following days: All Saints’ Chilton: Saturdays & Tuesdays; St Matthew’s Harwell: Sundays & Wednesdays.

Do check our website for updates on opening hours and information about online services and other activities and support.

As lockdown is gradually eased, and more activities are becoming possible, we are wanting to develop the activities already being provided, and make plans for the medium to long term. To do so, it would be really helpful if as many people as possible were able to share their thoughts and ideas using this link to a short online survey. You can write as much or little as you like, and do so anonymously if you prefer. All feedback is most welcome!

sanhedrinThe link to this week's online service, which continues our exploration of the life of the early Church in Acts, and what it shows us about being Church today, will be available in the usual place from 9am on Sunday.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton



P.S. Chilton parish owns a funeral bier (a wooden hand cart which was used to push coffins to funerals). It was presented to Chilton in 1931 by a Mrs Harris and has been stored in the village by kind residents for a number of years, but it is currently needing a new home. If you or someone you know might have a sheltered place to store this piece of parish history (2.08m long x 0.7m wide x 1m high), please be in touch.
 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Pentecost
Dear Church member

wateringI hope you are able to enjoy the lovely sunny weather. As the sun shines, gardens are in particular need of watering. What is true physically for plants is true for us spiritually: to remain alive and vibrant we need the Water of Life that flows from Jesus. We can be refreshed in our individual time with the Lord as we read the Bible, pray, or simply rest in his presence, and when we gather together, both 'virtually' and in person.

dove-4191376 1280Our online service this Sunday (available from 9am) marks Pentecost, the beginning of the promised era when God's life-giving Spirit is poured out on all flesh.

Previously Jude and Jerry Burbage have hosted in their home a number of quiet days. Unable to do so at this time, Jude has kindly put together for us a resource 'A Quiet Day in Lockdown', to help us make time to be in God’s presence, to rest, to heal, to be refreshed in mind, body and spirit. Click here.

Alpha Word CloudA reminder that our Alpha Course begins next Thursday evening (4th June) - 8.15 to 9.30pm by Zoom. Do please consider investing an hour or so each week to do this really useful, well-produced and popular course, with engaging video input followed by an opportunity for discussion. It is good for believers and enquirers alike: everyone should do it at least once! I've been involved with several courses now, and enjoy and get something new from it each time. The first week is a 'taster' session. More info and/or log in details from me or Deborah.

'On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” ' (John 7:37-38)

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Ascension Day and Thy Kingdom Come
Dear Church member

tkcI write this on Ascension Day, or - as is someone has put it - the day when Jesus starting working from home!

Between Ascension and Pentecost we mark Thy Kingdom Come - 11 days of prayer for people we know to open their hearts to Christ's transforming love. Please consider praying for five people during this time.

There are lots of great resources available. You may like to consider the following:
  • Praying The Lord's Prayer daily, e.g. at midday, and/or lighting a candle and placing it somewhere to remind you to pray
  • Downloading the Thy Kingdom Come prayer app (or here) for inspirational daily prayers, reflections, readings and videos
  • Using the special Daily Prayer resource for Morning, Evening, Day and Night Prayer from Ascension to Pentecost
  • Doing a prayer walk or walks around your neighbourhood, praying for those in the houses you pass, asking God to bless them; a good prayer walk resource here
  • Joining and/or inviting others to join in with our (postponed) online Alpha Course on Thursdays from 8.15 to 9.30pm, which will be starting in two weeks' time - Thursday 4th June - more information from me or the church office

Yours, in Christ,
Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Matthias the Apostle
Dear Church member

matthiasI write this on the Feast of St Matthias. Not to be confused with St Matthew, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas as one of the Twelve Apostles. Matthias comes out of the shadows - is brought on from the subs bench - during the time of waiting between the Ascension of Jesus and the 'harvest' Day of Pentecost. He served his apprenticeship as a disciple of Jesus and is commissioned just as the Church is about to spring into life and explosive growth when the Holy Spirit is poured out.

Even in the strange times in which we are living there are signs that something is afoot. In the last couple of months across the nation many people are turning to prayer (3 million new people according to one survey), many more than they were attending services in church buildings (almost 1:4) have 'attended' online church, sales of Bibles have increased, and public opinion and media reporting of Christianity is seemingly much more positive than it has been for some time. We could - please God! - be approaching a season in which we will need to be recruiting many more 'Matthiases' to help with God's harvest.

Alpha Word CloudSomething that will hopefully be of interest to a number of people (and do invite your friends!) is an online (Zoom) Alpha Course that we are planning to run on Thursday evenings from next week, 21st May (Ascension Day). Alpha is brilliant for both enquirers and believers, with a engaging video followed by discussion/questions (or to just to listen to others!), and it is free. Why not try out the first session? If you would like to register for the Zoom link (or find out more), please let me or Deborah know.

Something else that a number of folk might be interested in is taking part in Harwell and Chilton's very own virtual choir and orchestra, being organised by David Evans in time for our online service for Pentecost. Please contact David for instructions/music or further info; recordings need to be in by Friday 22nd May.

communionThis Sunday within our online service we will be including parts of our familiar Communion Service and an invitation to make 'spiritual communion' with God who comes to meet us wherever we are; more information about this attached (with thanks to Jan). Whilst unable to join together to share the one loaf and one cup, spiritual communion can provide comfort, and also encourage a godly desire for the time when we can be meeting and sharing together again.

There is much waiting at this time, but we can also be sharpening our tools for the coming harvest, and limbering up and honing some ball skills as we prepare to join the game! And as the other apostles prayed before choosing Matthias, so we should seek the Lord's face with expectation and faith, and pray for God's great harvest and our part in it. News and resources on 'Thy Kingdom Come' which begins next week to follow.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - May 2020
Dear Church member

resurrection runAnd still it continues! We have for over six weeks been living life differently, being Church differently. Many things are uncertain: how much longer lockdown will continue, if/when a vaccine will be developed, who will catch the virus and when. But many things are certain: tomorrow will be Saturday, Earth continues to orbit the sun, and - as we continue to remember and celebrate in this Easter season and in our online services - Jesus is alive! And even though we cannot meet, the Church is alive and active, too.

guzman'The Church' will be the theme of our services and sermons as we begin to look together at the Book of Acts. The early Church did not have buildings to meet in (neither did it have Zoom!), but the Church both then and now is the Body of Christ, united and empowered by the Spirit of Christ to do the mission of Christ in the world. Do check out our online Sunday services as we explore and celebrate being God's Church even when we can't 'go to church'.

John 21 Lakeside BreakfastOn the subject of the online services (available via the website on Sundays from 9am), could I please ask for feedback (to me or Deborah in the office) on the services so far, and how we might build on what is working well and what could be done better? We are learning as we go, and it would be good to hear of people's ideas and experiences to date.

alphalogoTo supplement our online services, we are planning a live online weekday evening gathering. One option is the Alpha Course, which has video input and discussion. There are other options of courses that we could run. Please let me know if you might like to take part in something like this. Now is a good time to explore and go deeper into the Christian faith.

johnstonsDuring this time of physical separation, we thought it would be a good idea to be able to share some news and views via the church email bulletin/website. A 'starter for ten' is the lovely news of the arrival of Ruth Alice to Vicky and Phill Johnston, born at home on Wednesday 22nd April weighing 8lb 5oz, a sister to Mark and Toby. Do send any items you might like to share to Deborah.

veCommunity engagement and service continues with Chilton Mutual Support Group and Harwell Helpers, alongside other neighbourly acts and pastoral care. Do please make the most of VE day today (Friday 8th May) to engage with our village communities (as far as possible following 'social distancing' requirements) - one idea attached, links to creative activities here and here - and keep praying for friends, family, neighbours, key-workers, and government.

The Church exists to glorify Jesus and bless God's world; may this collaboration by 65 churches be an encouragement to you to continue to pray and work for the Kingdom of God during lockdown and beyond.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church Update - First Day of British Summer Time!
Dear Church member

Our second (ever) online service should be available on the website from 9am on Sunday (29th March) - please join in if you can.


gettySadly we are required to close the doors of our church buildings at this time, but the Church of God continues to be active in many different ways. As well as online services, we intend to share other resources and encouragement in the coming weeks. This week alongside James' sermon on John 11 - the Raising of Lazarus - please check out Peter Barton's reflection on two of the other readings for this Sunday; more devotions and reflections in due course. Families may like to check out resources on the Children and Families Work pages, including Melanie leading "See and Know" as you've never seen or known it before!

More links to follow, but you might like to check out some of a growing series of home-grown devotionals including this heart-warming offering from the family of Keith and Kristyn Getty - slightly less polished than we usually see these professional musicians!

Lent and Coronavirus bring us face to face with our mortality and the reality of living in the shadow of death, but as we approach Easter and reflect on the resurrection of Christ pre-figured in the raising of Lazarus, let us focus on, celebrate and share with others the sure hope of resurrection and eternal life for all who put their trust in Jesus.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Easter Weekend
Dear Church member

For many people this strange time feels a bit like a dream, in which daily life has taken a surreal turn. For others it's more like a nightmare. Some people are busier than usual, especially those working in essential services, those struggling with home schooling, and those trying to get to grips with new technology and other novel ways of working. Others have much more time on their hands. But many of us are in a uncomfortable state of waiting – for the present danger to pass and for life to return to normal. Waiting to wake up...

waitingIt is a bit like how it was for the first Christians who lived through the first ‘Holy Saturday’ – the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Following an increasingly popular public ministry that peaked with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the first Sunday of Holy Week, in the space of just a few days Jesus is betrayed, sentenced and executed. Shocking events unfold around them, and the frightened group of disciples retreat from everyday life, and spend Holy Saturday hiding away, confused and fearful. Waiting. But waiting for what?

It is a humbling time in which it is obvious that the situation – of huge political and even cosmic significance – is way beyond their control. But it is not beyond the control of God. When the time is right, God brings the waiting to an end and begins a new thing. With the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, a whole new creation is begun. And seven weeks later, with the outpouring of the life-giving Holy Spirit, the Church is born, and has been active ever since.

At this time we may not be able to meet together in person, but we are together in spirit. The use of God’s gift of technology enables us to stay in touch and even increase our reach. The present crisis gives us opportunities to serve our neighbours including through Harwell Helpers and the Chilton Mutual Aid Group, emails and phone calls. Even whilst waiting, we can be active in prayer and preparation. God who brings life out of death will act with his own timing. It is for us to be patiently dependant on God’s loving control, and to seek to discern the leading of his voice as we wait.

More on Holy Saturday here
 

risenServices
Our online services continue with a reflective Good Friday service and an Easter Sunday Celebration. Both will be available on our website from 9am on the day. Previous services are also available.

The Diocese of Oxford is live streaming services over the next few days via http://oxford.anglican.org/livestream, including today, Maundy Thursday from 8.15pm, on Good Friday (a series of six short addresses from Bishop Steven with hymns and prayers), on Easter Eve for a Vigil at 8 pm, and on Easter Sunday at 10am.

In addition, Melanie and Sarah will be holding a live Zoom version of Pebbles Family Service at 10.30-11.10 on Sunday morning. If you'd like to join them for family friendly worship, chat and prayer, please contact Sarah Barrett for login details. It's not too late to take a look at our online Easter Trail! You can watch videos about the Easter story, sing a song and complete a craft or challenge each day. Please also see our CFW page for our weekly Fledgelings ‘See and Know’ singing time video and a short parent talk for encouragement. Also on the CFW page you can find a link to BeSpace who have created great prayer resources to do at home with your family including BeStill, BeCalm, BeClean!

Groups
A number of our home groups are keeping in touch with one another via Zoom, etc., but if anyone who is not part of a group would like at this time to be connected up with others somehow for fellowship and support, please contact me, Pam or Jean. Also, if you might like to take part in an online version of the Alpha Course, the Bible Course or similar, do let me know. It would be great to organise something after Easter.

Posters, crosses and gardens!
garden 1garden 2Finally, this evening there will be a poster that you can download, print out and display in your windows or on fences as an act of witness. You may also like to make your own posters and/or colour in one of the posters listed on the same page (linked here). Other ideas include displaying palm crosses if you have any, and making and displaying Easter gardens; it doesn’t have to be just children who make them! Do let me know if you are planning to do this (and where you live) and if there are a few, we will try to give publicity via the village Facebook pages to encourage people to look out for them.

This comes with warm Easter greetings.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Palm Sunday online service
palm sundayDear Church member

Just a brief email to remind you that our online Palm Sunday service should be available via the website from 9am tomorrow (Sunday 5th April).

I will be in touch shortly about resources and activities for Holy Week and Easter.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Mothering Sunday service
Dear Church member

Our online Mothering Day service will be published tomorrow - Sunday 22nd March - at 9am, to be accessed at any time from then, at your own pace.

The link for this and subsequent online services is: https://harwellandchiltonchurches.org.uk/services

The service contains all the usual Sunday elements (expect refreshments!), familiar faces/voices, and a Mothering Sunday video. The preacher is Vicky Macarthur, intercessions led by Peter Barclay-Watt, readings by Yvonne Sanderson, and the service led by me.

Do please pass this on to anyone you like. See you there!

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church Covid-19 update *important*
Dear Church member

We are living in unusual and challenging times that severely disrupt our usual way of life and relationships, and can shake the bedrock of our security. But whilst we might be reeling from the speed and scale of what is happening around us, our Lord is not. He is before and beyond all things, and not one sparrow will fall to the ground outside our heavenly Father's loving care. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Ps 46:1).

Highly appropriate for the present time, in coming days, could I urge us all to 
read, reflect on and pray together Psalm 91?

Following national guidance, we are as churches for a season radically changing the way we do things, but we will continue to pray, worship and serve one another and the wider community in a range of ways. We are not "shutting down" or “closing”. We will be continuing the work of building up the Church, helping care for God’s world, and caring for one another in the coming weeks and months.

Our church buildings will be open for prayer, but as of today we won't be meeting together on Sundays or midweek. There will be no Lent Central, Sunday services, Fledgelings, Homegroups, Evergreens, Kids Church, Pebbles, Youth Fellowship, CAP Money courses, or bell ringing until further notice. The APCMs will be postponed. We are still making plans for Holiday Club at the end of July, but will only be able to confirm that this is going ahead nearer the time.

We are currently planning to produce a regular 'online' version of our church gathering, and there will be other resources and online 'streamed' services available. News of our latest plans as they develop and on a range of resources will follow: please check our website and follow us on Facebook.

I would encourage everyone to join in with the National Day of Prayer on Sunday, 22nd March, and at 7pm light a candle in the windows of our homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.

O God,
You know us all to be set
in the midst of so many and great dangers,
that by reason of the frailty of our nature
we cannot always stand upright:
grant us such strength and protection
as may support us in all dangers
and carry us through all temptations;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 
The Collect for the Fourth Sunday before Lent


Keep praying, keep caring - especially for neighbours in need (see for example Harwell Helpers and Chilton Mutual Support Group) - and keep in touch.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - coronavirus update
Dear Church member

Sunday services and groups tomorrow (15th March) are continuing in Harwell and Chilton at the usual times, with a few modifications. Please see http://HCChurches.org/coronavirus for the latest on our response to the evolving situation. We are planning to keep this page - and the linked pages - updated.

I thought it would be good to share the following from Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading

Each day, global concern about the COVID-19 virus increases – for good reason. We know that it is very contagious, that it is a new virus which we don’t have inbuilt immunity to, and that it can have very serious consequences for those who are elderly or physically vulnerable. We are sensibly planning for the worst, while working for the best. While thinking about what we should do (or not do), here are some thoughts about how we should be:
  • Calm: the opposite will lead us to do things which might impact seriously on others – like panic buying,
  • Caring: those who self-isolate (those in high-risk groups, or who have been in contact with the virus) need to know that we care about them. Phone calls, messages, letters, cards, food left on the doorstep are all signs that we care.
  • Considerate: let’s look out for one another, and act collectively to prevent the spread. It isn’t just about me, it’s about us.
  • And of course, Christ-like: let’s live hopefully, love generously and pray earnestly – and let’s bless each other by the way we behave.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Lent Central tonight - 7.15 for 7.30pm
Dear Friend

This evening, Thursday 5th March, is the second of six 'Lent Central' evening meetings at St Matthew’s Harwell studying the brilliant ‘Grace Course’, which combines video input with small group discussion, in a sociable, informal setting. Refreshments will be served from 7.15pm, for a 7.30pm start. Even if you didn't make the first session last week it is not too late to join in.


grace course“If you don't first know God's love for you in your heart - not just your head - it's impossible for your life to be motivated by love for Him. Instead you are likely to end up motivated more by guilt or shame or fear or pride. You may be doing all the "right" things, believing all the right things and saying all the right things but there will be precious little fruit and you won't experience the true rest that Jesus promised.”
“For the first time in the decades that I’ve been a Christian, I’m suddenly ‘getting’ grace – it is amazing and it is shocking!”


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - February 2020
Dear Church member

This is a quick update on the next two Sundays and a couple of events in between...

everday faithThis Sunday, 23rd February, we have a focus on 'Everyday Faith' and of finding and following God in whatever we are called to do. We are inviting everyone to bring to church an object that represents where they are called to serve God. So a shopkeeper might bring a stack of delivery crates; a tailor a mannequin; a jogger a digital exercise watch; a student their bag full of books; a retired person their very busy diary plus an object from their pastimes or buggy if they do childcare; a person who runs a youth football team as a volunteer a bag of footballs, etc. What might you bring?

CAPimage-300x300The following Sunday, 1st March, 10.30am at Didcot Civic Hall we will be celebrating all that God has been doing through our CAP Debt Centre and joining in worship with our CAP partner churches – Didcot Baptist Church, King’s Church and Ridgeway Church. We will have services at 9.30am in Chilton and 11am in Harwell as usual, but we are encouraging as many as possible to attend the CAP service. Please note that there won’t be any children’s groups during the 9.30am and 11am services, but a full children and youth programme at the CAP service.

lent beginsLent begins on Ash Wednesday (26th February) with a Service of Holy Communion at 7.45pm at All Saints' Chilton.

The next day, Thursday 27th February, we begin Lent Central; six evening meetings 7.30-9.30pm at St Matthew’s Harwell. We will be studying the brilliant ‘Grace Course’, which combines video input with small group discussion, in a sociable, informal setting. Do consider joining in.


grace course“If you don't first know God's love for you in your heart - not just your head - it's impossible for your life to be motivated by love for Him. Instead you are likely to end up motivated more by guilt or shame or fear or pride. You may be doing all the "right" things, believing all the right things and saying all the right things but there will be precious little fruit and you won't experience the true rest that Jesus promised.”
“For the first time in the decades that I’ve been a Christian, I’m suddenly ‘getting’ grace – it is amazing and it is shocking!”


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Vision Evening - today!
Dear Church member

This is just a brief reminder that today (Thursday 30th January) we have our 20202020 Vision Evening meeting at St Matthew's, 7.30 for 7.45pm, to worship, and think and pray together about a vision for our churches for the coming year and decade. I am sure that it will be an encouraging time when we can take stock, give thanks for what God has been doing, and seek his guidance for the future. This will feed into the PCC/SLT Away Day on Saturday.

Do please come if you can.


Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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Harwell and Chilton Churches L   Church news - Jan/Feb 2020
Dear Church member

Just 600 hours(!) into the new decade, I wanted to draw your attention to a few important and exciting things that are coming up.


2020On Thursday (30th January) everyone is invited to a 2020 Vision Evening meeting at St Matthew's, 7.30 for 7.45pm, to worship, think and pray together about a vision for our churches for the coming year and decade. It is a great time to take stock, give thanks for what God has been doing, and seek his guidance for the future. This will feed into the PCC/SLT Away Day next Saturday (1st Feb).


ChristingleThe popular, annual, family friendly Christingle Services return next weekend on Sunday 2nd February, 9.30am in Chilton and 11am in Harwell. Christingles will be made during the services and then available to take home or give away. Feel free to invite family, friends and neighbours!


BIG FIX 2020We have our next Repair Café at St Matthew’s Harwell on Saturday 15th February 2-5pm. A great community event, caring for God's creation, saving money and resources. Bring along broken items and a team of experts will do their best to fix them! Coffee and cake provided by Harwell Explorer Scouts.


Lent CentralFollowing a successful pilot last year, Lent Central returns this year for six Thursdays from 27th February, 7.30 for 7.45pm (parking available at the neighbouring farm). We will be running the really excellent 'Grace Course', with video-based teaching, discussion, worship and refreshments. Do please consider committing to six weeks of spiritual growth, encouragement and friendship during this important season.


adminpaWe are advertising for a maternity cover for Church Administrator and PA to the Rector from the end of March. Do please let anyone know who might be interested in this temporary, part-time position at the heart of church life, share our adverts, and pray about this important appointment. Closing date 3rd Feb http://hcchurches.org/adminpa


And a few other events coming up...
  • Pebbles Family Service with food, craft, music and fun, Sunday 9th February, 9 for 9.30am Chilton Village Hall
  • Ash Wednesday Communion Service to mark the beginning of Lent, 26th February, 7.45pm All Saints' Chilton
  • CAP Celebration Service with our partner churches, Sunday 1st March, 10.30am Didcot Civic Hall

With thanks for your friendship, support and partnership in the gospel.

Yours, in Christ,

Jonathan signature
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton


 
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bread of life 

breadOne thing that unites all humans – all living things in fact – is the need for food. We need it to build, power and repair our bodies, and our physical health depends on getting just the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and so on. Without it we become ill and die. And food is more than biological necessity. The preparation of and consumption of food can give great pleasure, establish and maintain relationships, celebrate milestones, and much more. Much of our human culture and social life is formed around food and meals; what we eat really does make us what we are.
 
October is a time when traditionally we celebrate harvest and the huge variety of food that we can enjoy. It is a time to recognise that the food that we need is a gift from God, and is an opportunity to give thanks to him for it, and for those who work to bring it to our tables. This year following our harvest services on 7th October our churches will be celebrating with a shared meal at Harwell Village Hall.
 
But amongst our celebration of material blessings, it is important to remember – as Jesus reminds us in his Sermon on the Mount – that life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. We are physical beings, and need those things, but we more than that; we are also spiritual beings, and spiritual health also needs nutrition, too. As well as seeking physical food, we should also be concerned about spiritual food. But where is that to be found?
 
At the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus spend time in prayer and fasting, during which he was tempted by Satan. When tempted to miraculously create food when he was hungry, Jesus replied “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3). The very words of God are spiritual food.
Words spoken or written by humans are powerful. They can be used to form our thoughts, transmit ideas, affirm, inspire and unite. And they can also be used for great harm, their potential to do great good or harm multiplied by the media and internet.
 
But the words that emanate from God are supremely powerful. Right at the beginning of the Bible we are told that God literally speaks the universe into existence. Like a powerful ruler, God speaks and things happen. As it says in the famous harvest hymn, “the winds and waves obey him, by him the birds are fed”. And in the life of Jesus we see the same authority and power. When Jesus speaks, critics are silenced, storms are stilled, people are healed, and the dead are raised.
 
The words of God create, heal and give life. And Christians believe that God’s words are to be found in the Bible, and made flesh in Jesus Christ, who is described as the Word of God. Jesus is God in person, word and action, revealing and acting for God. And as the Word of God, he brings spiritual life.
 
Jesus says of himself “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). Without spiritual nutrition we will die, but Jesus is given to humanity that we might live eternally with God. Our loving heavenly Father provides for us both bread of the earth, but also the Bread of Heaven. Let’s celebrate and give thanks for both this harvest time.
 
 


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choices

journeyChocolate brownie or sticky toffee pudding? Say ‘I will’ or ‘No thanks’? Cash in your pension pot or leave it untouched? Life is full of decisions, and every day is a succession of options and choices, some relatively insignificant, others potentially life-changing. But we can only make a good decision when we have the facts.
We would never agree to major surgery without good reason – a diagnosis, an
explanation of what is involved, and any associated risks. For important decisions, it is essential that we make a choice that is informed.
 
There is one issue that we each have to make a decision about, that is arguably even more important and significant than whether or not to have major surgery. What I am thinking about has significance not just for this life, but for eternity. Jesus put the issue before his disciples 2000 years ago: “Who do you say that I am?” And this is something that we each need to decide for ourselves. The Christian faith claims that everything hangs on our personal response to that question. But how do we make an informed choice?
 
For a start we should look at what the Bible says; it contains eye-witness accounts of the life, death and – alleged – resurrection of Jesus, and of those who first believed that Jesus rose from the dead. St Luke is concerned that his readers consider the evidence and make an informed decision about Jesus. Right at the beginning of his contribution to the Bible he says,
 
“Since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I… decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:3-4)
 
The Bible must be our starting point. But alongside the Bible we should look at the
evidence of history. We should also look at whether the Christian claims hang together and fit with what we know of the world, or whether other religions or worldviews make more sense. We should look critically at the difference that genuine adherence to the Christian faith makes in societies and in individuals. Does prayer make a difference? Does God heal today? Without investigating these sorts of things, we cannot make an informed decision.
 
The Alpha Course provides an opportunity to explore these crucial questions in a friendly, interactive setting. Alpha has been run in 169 countries and attended by over 22 million people who have wanted to make an informed decision about matters of eternal significance. We will be hosting Alpha at Chilton Village Hall on Thursday evenings from 13th  September. For help with making an informed decision about an issue as important as they come, why not commit spend some time in stimulating conversation, with good company and delicious puddings? (All for free).
You may even get a choice of desserts!

http://hcchurches.org/alpha
 
 


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weddings 

flowersWeddings celebrate love – the love of two people for each other, the love of families and friends, and also the love of God – the beginning and source of it all. Love makes the world go round. The airwaves are full of songs about love, much of our literature is stories of love, the cinemas are full of romance.
 
But what is real love? The love we are celebrate at weddings is more than romantic love. Romantic love is a wonderful things, but it is the sort of love that can be here one day and gone the next. A Bible reading popular at weddings – 1 Corinthians 13 – describes true love that is deep-rooted and endures.
 
Firstly, love should come first
The Bible starts with a love story. In telling us of the very first married couple, Adam and Eve, the Bible explains how it is God’s good plan that “a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.” Marriage completely re-orders our priorities and commitments. Everything else – hobbies, career – must come second to a marriage.
 
1 Corinthians 13 says "If I have everything but not love, I have nothing." Love is the most important thing.
 
A marriage should be a top priority. The wording of the marriage vows is important. Hollywood weddings says “I Do” which suggests the here and now, whereas the response in a wedding is “I Will”, pointing to the future. To love is a decision, an act of will.
And saying “I Will” to love means saying “I Won’t” to some other things. It needs commitment and effort to continue to keep one’s vows, but love is the priority.
 
Secondly, love is about number two –
the other person in other words
For love to be deep and lasting, it has to be filled with trust and commitment. And especially, it requires us to be quick to say sorry and graciously accept the failures of the other. The longer we know someone, the more faults we discover, and the more opportunity there is to forgive!
 
Love is about ‘number two’ – our husband or wife in other words. These words from 1 Corinthians 13 make that clear: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things endures all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
 
If that sounds tough, that’s because it is. It is actually impossible, if we try to do it on our own. And that bring me to my third and final point.
 
Thirdly, love needs a third person involved: God
The Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, says,
“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccl 4:12).
The awe-inspiring love that we are celebrate at weddings becomes possible when God is involved. Love like this is a gift from God. God is the one who gives us the ability to love.
 
Couples at weddings promise to love one another “until death do us part”. The old joke is that ‘marriage’ is not a word, it is a sentence – a life sentence! And that is the Christian understanding of marriage. Just as there is no ending to the circle of gold of a wedding ring, so there should be no ending to the loving in a marriage. As we read in 1 Corinthians 13, love never ends. And if the eternal God of love is part of a marriage, then eternal love becomes a possibility.
 
 


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Stones & Rocks 

“The comment was met with a stony silence” “It dropped to the ground stone dead”. Nothing could be more lifeless than a stone.
It is their inert, lifeless nature that makes them permanent and useful for a range of purposes.
 
Stones are formed in the ground, often over extremely long periods of time, through the geological processes of accumulation, pressure and heat, and come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and properties, from the rather plain to the stunningly beautiful.
 
Stones are a basic building material, and have long been used to create landmarks and memorials. In June every year, locally we gather around a stone that marks the departure point to remember servicemen who were amongst the first to land on D-Day (see item on page 4). The stability and permanence of a stone gives a very physical, present-day rallying point for significant, historical events and for individuals. And as well as pointing back, they can serve as a signpost into the future – “we will remember them” – and a commitment to live or journey a certain way in the future, as people did in bygone days with the aid of milestones that both mark progress and provide guidance towards a destination.
 
The Bible describes stones and rocks being used in many different ways, including as memorials and altars, where significant events and God himself are brought to mind; an ancient, tangible object bringing to mind in the present things that otherwise remain intangible.
 
Jacob, later named Israel, was the builder of one such memorial (at Bethel), and – recognising the unchanging, enduing nature of God – gave him the name ‘Rock’, or ‘stone of Israel’. But Jacob’s other names for God – Shepherd, Mighty One, etc. – make it clear that for him, God is far from lifeless.
Jesus, too, is described in the Bible as a stone – a living stone, a chosen and precious foundational cornerstone. He is the basis of a building made up of many other ‘living stones’ – the description of those who trust in Jesus and become part of that spiritual building.
 
It is written about by St Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, formerly called Simon but given by Jesus the name that means ‘rock’ (the Greek word for ‘rock’ is where we get our word ‘petrol’). Peter realised that this name did not apply just to himself, but that all Christian believers who become living stones – stones of different shapes and sizes (as acknowledged in the name for the ‘Pebbles’ children’s group at All Saints’ – see item on page 2). All have a place and role in the magnificent building that is built for the glory of God.
 
Come to Christ, who is the living Foundation of Rock upon which God builds; though men have spurned him, he is very precious to God who has chosen him above all others.
 
And now you have become living building-stones for God’s use in building his house. What’s more, you are his holy priests; so come to him – you who are acceptable to him because of Jesus Christ – and offer to God those things that please him. As the Scriptures express it, “See, I am sending Christ to be the carefully chosen, precious Cornerstone of my church, and I will never disappoint those who trust in him.”
 
1 Peter 2:4-6 (The Living Bible)
 


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church bells 

There is something very British about the sound of church bells. For centuries, their ringing has called us to wake, to pray, to work, to arms, to feast, and, in times of crisis, to come together. They ring out joyfully at weddings and toll mournfully at funerals. They mark the significant events in the lives of individuals, communities, and nations.
 
The early missionaries used small hand bells to call people to worship, with bells being introduced into Christian churches around 400 AD. Since then, the technology and art of bell ringing has developed significantly, including the development of ‘changes’ that could be learned by heart to create patterns of ringing, and ‘methods’, often titled after the cities in which they were first rung, such as Norwich, London and Cambridge.
 
At the end of the First World War, bells rang out across the country to celebrate the coming of peace, and have been used in celebrations ever since. 95% of bells in the UK ‘rang in’ the Millennium, a bell announced the opening of the London Olympics in 2012 and, as part of the Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations a floating belfry with eight bells led the Thames Pageant of a thousand boats.
 
Located as they are at the top of church towers – often the tallest structure in a community – and their sound going out in all directions, the ringing of bells is a good picture of a key part of the Christian gospel – that of proclaiming the ‘gospel’ (good news) of Christianity and calling all people to respond. A group of people work together, using their skill and commitment, to do their part, which is then translated into a pitched ‘song’ that is broadcast to all people in the vicinity, whatever their age, sex or social status. The good news of Christianity is for all, and it ‘rings out’ when Christians work together to bring that good news to their local communities in word and action.
 
“The Lord’s message rang out from you…”
(1 Thessalonians 1:8a)
 
The ringing teams in both Harwell and Chilton are always open to new ringers, and learning bell ringing can open up a hobby that can last a lifetime. A band of ringers can do so much more than one or two individuals – the variety of the ‘changes’ possible increases exponentially with each additional member. And so it is with proclaiming and being good news in our communities; with each new member, the possibilities multiply. We each have a unique and valuable role to play, ringing out across our communities.
 
 


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Mother's Day 

March the 11th this year provides an opportunity for celebration. And I don’t just mean for hard-pressed florists and chocolatiers hoping for a boost in their cash-flow. Mother’s Day has become an international phenomenon, in part because of commercial interests, but also, I believe, because it is a good thing to appreciate and celebrate those who gave us life.
 
In Britain, mothers are traditionally celebrated on Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, a welcome half-way break in a season of austerity. But what of the fathers? Hard as the men might try to be supportive and ‘hands-on’ with their families, much of the burden, especially in those exhausting early years (including of course pregnancy and childbirth itself!), falls on the mother. Much of mothering is hard grind, a 24-7 commitment to putting the needs of a small, dependent human being before your own, and bearing the toll, physically and emotionally.
 
Of course, there are rewards to be had along the way, and the joy of witnessing landmark achievements such as first words. It was not very diplomatic of my children that the first word several of them uttered was not the deeply rewarding ‘ma-ma’ but the rather galling ‘da-da’! Of course, it was probably nothing to do with expressing a preference for one parent, but simply making an easier sound.
 
Whatever the significance of baby’s first word, it is universally true that we are not very good at appreciating those who have given so much to us, in particular our parents. Mothering Sunday and the fathers’ counterpart in June are an opportunity, in a small way, to address this oversight.
 
But there is a greater oversight that needs to be addressed. The love and sacrifice of our human parents directs us to an even greater, even more loving Parent, the one ‘from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named’ (according to Ephesians 3:15).
And like our earthly parents, we often take the heavenly Father for granted and neglect to express our gratitude to Him for His goodness to us.
 
Whilst our mothers give birth to us, feed, clothe, educate, and comfort us, God is the ultimate source of all those things. Whilst our mothers have made and make great sacrifices out of their love for us, all that is a pointer towards the much greater love of the God who became one of us in his Son, and  the unimaginable sacrifice made so that the beloved children of the heavenly Father might have life.
 
 


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Who am I? 

Who am I? Many a good film or book has been based on the hidden identity of the central character – hidden sometimes to others and sometimes to themselves. Another popular genre and hobby currently
is tracing our ancestral roots, whether through historical or genetic research. It is a basic human need to know who we are, and where we come from. Who am I?
 
National identity is very much in the news at the moment with an upsurge in a number of nationalist independence movements and the debates around Brexit. National identity is very difficult to pin down, and relates not just to geography, but also to culture, language and shared history. Influential in British national identity is the national memory of times of war, and of the sacrifices made by so many to preserve our national freedom. Remembrance Day and our services on 12th November give us an opportunity to look back with gratitude and remember.
 
November provides another opportunity to remember with gratitude – on Sunday 5th both our churches will have a focus within the main morning services on remembering loved ones who have died. Our self-identity is very much tied up with the significant people in our lives – friends and family members; they have made us the people we are, and the very memory of them shapes our self-identity.
Our present identity – who we are now – is rooted in what we have done and those who have been part of our lives to date.
 
One of the cruellest aspects of dementia is that it brutally strips away our self-identity, as our memories of what we have done and been and the people in our lives, are lost. Of course the individuals stripped of their memories are the same people, but their loss of rootedness in the past brutally disrupts their self-identity and stability in the present.
 
But it is not just our present identity and sense of self-worth that is formed by the memory of what and who has gone before. Our future is determined by it as well.
 
The central aspect of corporate Christian worship is the memory of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, a key expression of that being a re-enactment of the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples, which itself rehearsed the Last Supper (the Passover) that the children of Israel had before their miraculous rescue from captivity in Egypt. Both Suppers remember – and celebrate – that powerful demonstration of God’s love for his people and his power to save them. The memory of those great, world-changing events, can create in us our identity as God’s beloved children and members of His kingdom.
 
But ultimately it is not our memory that makes the difference. It is God’s. As he was being crucified, the thief on the cross beside Jesus said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43); in doing so, the thief was assured of his identity as a beloved child of God and member of God’s kingdom. Our future – and eternal – identity depends on us being remembered by Jesus.
 
 


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St Matthew's re-ordering 

This month’s letter is an update on St Matthew’s re-ordering plans. Whilst of greatest interest to the Harwell readership, many people in Chilton might be interested to know what is going on down the road in the sister church.

What’s this all about?
You will hopefully recall that, following consultation, St Matthew’s have committed to making the church building more flexible, accessible and comfortable by replacing the fixed pews with chairs and installing a new heating system. The plans also involve some minor levelling of the floor and laying a new carpet. We are also planning to redecorate the nave (the main seating area), which is a major project involving scaffolding.

So how far have we got?
We already have permission and funding for the redecoration, and are in the final stages of seeking formal approval for the seating/flooring project. We are doing some extra work on the heating plans before formally seeking approval to proceed with this. We have identified some - but not all - of the funding for the heating/seating/flooring project.

What is the timescale?
We have committed to the redecoration work between 25th September and 3rd November, during which time the church will not be open to the public. During October the 11am services (1st to 29th inclusive) will not be held in church, and will instead be held in Harwell Village Hall (please bring your own bibles!). We hope still to be able to use the chancel for the 8am and evening services, however. (During this period, post for the office can be delivered to the Rectory).
We hope to do the seating/flooring work during November, if we are granted permission in time and contractors can be lined up, but this is currently uncertain. Alternatively this could be done in the New Year. This work should hopefully not disrupt our regular pattern of services and other activities. The heating aspect of the project would not happen until early 2018.

How can I get involved?
Firstly, please pray for the project, for permissions and funding, and that it would help our mission to Grow God’s Church, wider, deeper and closer.
Secondly, please consider whether you might be able to make a financial gift towards the seating, the heating, or both, and whether you might like to donate a chair/chairs in memory of a loved one (see link below or call the Church Office).
Thirdly, please consider whether you might like to buy a pew. Some are already spoken for, but there are still some available. There is more information about this on the previous page.

“We are fellow workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building”
1 Corinthians 3:9

For further information about the project and a downloadable copy of the fundraising leaflet, please see http://HCChurches.org/fitforthefuture

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
October 2017

 


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time to rest 

restHow are you? In my experience, that classic British greeting usually gives rise to one of two responses: “Fine, thank you”, or “Busy”. For many of us, ‘busy’ is normal and expected.

We live in a 24-7 “always on” society.
We have moved a long way from the rhythms of nature, with sunrise and sunset defining and policing our hours of activity. The industrial revolution and the invention of electric lighting put paid to that. The always-on society has been advanced further by mass transportation, globalisation, and the world wide web, which connects us, at any time of day or night, to shopping, entertainment and even work.

It is not bad to be busy, and work can be fulfilling. Human beings are made to work. But excessive busyness can be damaging. Sleep deprivation is commonplace, and stress-related illness seemingly an unavoidable part of modern life. Rest is for our good. We work more effectively and happily when we are properly rested.

We are made in the image of God, who from the very beginning has been at work, but who is also described in Genesis as resting after - and taking time to enjoy - his work of creation. God wants us to be the same – to work, but also to rest. It is in fact one of the Ten Commandments that we should take time out of our busy working lives for rest and recreation, and also to worship God. The Bible calls it ‘Sabbath’, and it is where we get our word sabbatical.

The Bible also prescribes for the Old Testament people of God an annual cycle of feasts and holidays, tied in to the agricultural year, to celebrate God’s provision and their shared history. These are the forerunners of our modern holidays (or Holy Days), when we can step back from the regular patterns and commitments to do something different and – hopefully – refreshing and life-enhancing.

Sabbaths and holidays are the antidote to rushing through life in a blur, and a foretaste of heaven. They are an opportunity to stand back, to look around, and to look up to God who gives us the ability to work, but also blesses us with the gift of rest.

Jesus says, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ (Matthew 11:28-30).


Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
September 2017


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do not worry 

 triangle of needs“It’s a disaster!” cried out one of my teenage children, clearly distressed. “What’s wrong?” enquired their father, sympathetically, and with genuine concern. “The Wi-Fi* has gone off!” came the reply. Paternal interest rapidly evaporating, my attention was drawn back to the interrupted task, but only for a moment as a further – slightly more significant – piece of information was passed my way. “And the power seems to be off, too.” Now I was more interested. Had a fuse tripped? We had had problems with a kettle recently, and I wondered if the issue had recurred. But no, it turned out that the problem was not limited to our household, but a significant part of the village was without power, causing no small degree of domestic and commercial disruption. But other than an inability to keep up with social media for an hour or so, and having to make a cup of tea by boiling water over a gas ring rather than using a kettle, our household was not significantly affected by the short-term disruption to the power supply.
But the incident did get me thinking about what it is in our lives that we consider to be essential, how much we strive to keep those things in place, and how much we build our lives around them. For my teenage offspring, free Wi-Fi is considered a basic human need (and the main significance of electricity being to ensure that the Wi-Fi stays on). Most people across the world would consider something like clean water to be of greater importance, its absence for a relatively short time making human life impossible. But then how does one compare the importance of this to that of the very air we breathe, without which we could not last more than a few minutes? And what about the non-physical things, such as the safety and security of the place in which we live, from both hostile human forces and the forces of nature? What about the need for the care and companionship of other humans, and human love, even? How far would we get in life without them?
Many people will be familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who proposed a theory describing how humans require fundamental needs (such as food and clothing) to be met, before intermediate needs (such as safety and belonging) can be addressed, which themselves need to be met before individuals are able to have their ‘highest’ needs (e.g. self-esteem and self-actualisation) met. Many people think in those terms, and of course it makes a lot of sense. How interested can someone be in studying literature or music if they don’t know where their next meal is coming from?
But Jesus provocatively turns Maslow’s famous pyramid on its head. Half way through his Sermon on the Mount, having taught about prayer and our attitude to possessions, Jesus says,
“I tell you not to worry about your life. Don’t worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food or clothing? […] Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.”
Matthew 6:25, 31-33 (CEV)
Gosh. Challenging words! Is Jesus saying we should neglect our basic physiological and psychological needs, and go and sit on a mountaintop contemplating eternity?! No. The challenge he is giving is not to worry about the basic things of this life, but instead to direct our thoughts – and the actions and emotions that follow – to God who is our loving heavenly Father, who knows we need all these things, and is the ultimate source of them all. It is a question of putting God and his will first, rather than living life according to our own priorities. That is the life of the Christian disciple, and the only way to escape the tyranny of worry and to gain genuine self-realisation and fulfilment.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
May 2017

* Wi-Fi is the signal that enables devices like mobile smartphones and laptop computers to connect to the internet without a physical, wired connection

 


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A world-changing Event

Easter card 2017There have been a fair number of events in the last year that people have described as ‘world changing’. A referendum result, the election of a leader, landmark legislation, a scientific discovery, a technological breakthrough. But do any of these things really change anything? Are they not just tinkering around the edges of human experience? Still people are born and die, humans achieve remarkable things and do appalling things in almost equal measure, and we all ultimately succumb to disease and death.
 
The world changing event marked at Easter is centred around a three-day period about 2000 years ago during which a man died at the hands of the brutal Roman empire but now, as his followers then and many millions since have claimed, is alive again. The claim is that he was not just resuscitated but resurrected, and that it was not an isolated incident, but the beginning of a new humanity and a whole new world. If it really happened, this is the only event that really qualifies as ‘world-changing’.
 
You are warmly invited to explore and celebrate its significance this Easter.
 
With Easter greetings,

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
April 2017


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Education and Flourishing

On the first Sunday of March our churches will be celebrating education: the dedication of teachers and support staff, the achievements of our children and young people, and the great history of the Church’s role in education.

blackboardMany of our schools and colleges and the very first universities across Europe were established by Christians and the Church. Missionary work has always been strongly linked with education, along with agriculture and healthcare. It is far more effective and empowering to teach people how to feed and look after themselves than to maintain them in a state of dependency. Freedom start with the mind. Human flourishing requires minds that are educated.

Jesus himself was a teacher, and we have a record of some of what he taught in the accounts of his life found in the Bible, including the famous ‘sermon on the mount’. Unlike many people in his day, we know that Jesus was able to read and write (both are mentioned in the Gospels), and he welcomed and taught all ages and all social classes, both individually and in groups.

The writers of the Old Testament are keen that people use and develop their minds, urging people to mediate on the Law of the Lord. In the New Testament, St Paul is another advocate of exercising and honing the mind: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” he writes in his letter to the Roman Christians, “then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom 12:2).

Knowledge is power and can be used for good or ill. As the very opening chapters of the Bible warn us, knowledge can promote and be used for both good and evil, and we need to be concerned with more than just our ‘heads’; the ‘heart’ (which represents what motivates us) is fundamentally important. This is why education should be provided within the context of a moral framework; information and skills alongside the promotion of values and virtues. It is a legal requirement, and a consequence of our Christian heritage, that our schools do this, and this critical – though easily overlooked – moral dimension of education needs to be protected and supported.

Teaching has long been recognised as a vocation, a career to which someone is ‘called’, and it is right and good that the Church can and should celebrate the wonder and privilege of education and all those who – by God’s grace, and in the steps of Jesus – open the minds and shepherd the hearts of our children and young people, that they might truly flourish.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
March 2017


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Science versus Faith?

I was appalled recently when one of my children was asked in class to choose between the scientific and the biblical explanation of the beginnings of the universe. “What if I think they are both true?” asked my conflicted offspring. The teacher didn’t seem to be able to cope with this possibility and was either unwilling or unable to adjust the lesson plan to accommodate a surprising turn of events. So she insisted on sticking with the dichotomy; science or religion was the choice. And that is the way many people think today, but is, I believe, based on misunderstanding.

If I were to come into a kitchen to find a kettle boiling, I could explain what is happening in terms of the electricity from the cable causing the element to heat up, the heat energy being transferred to the water molecules, increasing their kinetic energy to the extent that the vapour pressure of the water exceeds that of the ambient atmosphere, and the liquid therefore boiling. That is a scientific explanation. But it is also true that the water is boiling because someone is intending to make a cup of tea. Both explanations are true. One is concerned with process and mechanism and is ‘scientific’, the other is concerned with purpose and meaning. It would be a nonsense to be forced to choose between the two explanations.

earth sun moonWe live in an area of wonderful scientific research and technological innovation, and our local communities and churches are full of those who happily call themselves both scientists and Christians. This month’s Broadsheet back page interview features one of them, Dr Tony Hughes.

Feeling the need to somehow have to choose between science and faith is a relatively new thing, and certainly not shared by many scientists, past and present. The possibility of science itself – the discovery of orderly laws by which the universe is governed – is underpinned by Christian beliefs that there is a divine Creator, who has ordered all things, and created human beings in his image with the ability to understand how things are and then creatively apply that knowledge. It can be argued that it was the Christian worldview that gave rise to the scientific revolution in medieval Europe, with scientific pioneers across the disciplines, such as Boyle, Galileo, Mendel, John Ray, Newton and Faraday, being inspired by their faith, as are many leading scientists today.

Kepler expressed it well for those in his field: “astronomers are the priests of God called to interpret the book of nature”. The founders of the Royal Society considered the study of nature to be a form of religious worship and devoted the Society “to the glory of God the Creator and the advantage of the human race”.

Both science and theology are concerned with the search for truth. If you are interested in thinking about important things and exploring the relationship between science and the Christian faith, why not consider coming to the talk advertised on the front cover, or the fortnightly discussion group, or the monthly Family Science Club? There is lots of good material online and in print, too.

As it says in Psalm 111:2, and inscribed above the main door of the Cavendish Physics Laboratory in Cambridge,

“Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.”


Let’s ponder together!

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
February 2017
 


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Life in its Fullest

Christmas Card 2016The Christmas season is full of many things. The shops are full of gifts to buy, diaries full with seasonal events, and many houses full with visitors. The temptation of luxury foods, a seasonal tipple, and the obligatory turkey can fill our stomachs to bursting, full of things we don’t really need.

So when Jesus says he has come to give us life in its fullest, is he talking about the fullness of frenetic activity, surging crowds and piles of stuff? I don’t think so. Jesus was born in poverty and spent his public ministry without possessions or home, leaving the riches of heaven to bring to us something that we do all desperately need.

The fullness that Jesus brings – and is announced by the Christmas angels – is the fullness of a relationship with God that gives meaning, peace and joy. All this and more is available to all who will ask Jesus to fill their lives in an unimaginable way.

May you know peace and joy – and life in its fullest – this Christmas and in the coming year.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
December 2016


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Lighting up the Darkness 

You may read this around the time when the clocks go back an hour and ‘Daylight Saving Time’ ends. ‘Losing an hour’ of light at this time of year can be striking, and thoughts often turn to how we might brighten things up a bit.

sunset

Fireworks displays are a great way to light up the night sky with dazzling displays, and if not already up, High Streets up and down the country will soon be putting up festive lights in order to hopefully attract shoppers. We are even now making plans to put the Christmas trees and lights up on our churches to lend some cheer to the darkest weeks of the year.
 
There is another type of light that we celebrate, particularly locally – the bright ideas of creativity and scientific discovery that shines light into areas of dark ignorance. Right in our midst we have the ‘Diamond Light’ source, a wonderful example of how cutting edge technology has been harnessed and made available to researchers from around the world, bringing with it the hope of medical advances, new technologies, and the world made better in numerous ways. In September our churches started a year-long project to encourage people to explore the fruitful relationship between science and faith, and celebrate the great gift of God that science is. See page 7 for news of the Family Science Club; news of other events and activities to follow.
 
Great good can come from the light cast by science, but the way scientific discoveries are harnessed is entirely down to the choices made by individual people. The deeds done by humans themselves are described in the Bible as light.
 
Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
 
What a difference we can make with the time, talents and opportunities that we each have. The interviewee in this month's Broadsheet is Judy Goodall, whose good deeds in the community and contribution to making the world a brighter place were recently recognised with a British Empire Medal. Judy follows in the steps of the one who described himself as the Light of the World, who came to banish the darkness that so blights human life.
 
Jesus is divine light incarnate, “the true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9) who came into the world. As plants naturally grow towards the light, so we are invited to turn towards the light of God. In the dark months ahead, let us decide to do just that, as we look forward to the arrival of the glorious light and warmth of spring!
 
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
November 2016


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The Giving Season 

Harvest is a time when nature is in ‘giving mode’. Having spent the previous seasons hibernating, germinating, and growing, plants have moved into a phase of producing an astonishing variety of fruit and seeds. Having taken in water, nutrients and sunshine, and reached the peak of maturity, we are treated to a dazzling display of the bounty of nature. Having spent the previous part of the year in receptive mode, the harvest season is all about the self-giving of nature.

harvestThe Bible uses the picture of fruitfulness to describe what it is to be a fully-developed human. Mature character is described in Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians as displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, humility, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (cf Gal 5:22-23). This bountiful harvest of personal qualities is described as the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, the inevitable consequence in season of a life blessed and watered by God. It is what is to be expected in “those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Gal 5:24) and who, on a daily basis, become more and more like their Master.

It is traditional at harvest time to give thanks to God for his provision of food, for answering our prayer to “Give us this day our daily bread”. It is also traditional to share that bounty with those in need. In both our churches during our harvest celebrations, non-perishable items are collected and given to Didcot Emergency Food Bank, and we raise money for Tearfund who work with those living in poverty in other parts of the world. It seems appropriate to join with nature’s pattern of moving from a season of receiving to a season of giving.
 
The life-giving harvest is a beautiful illustration of the giving heart of God, who provides “daily bread” not just for our physical needs but also for our spiritual needs. ’All good gifts around use are sent from heaven above’. Without God’s good gifts humans would perish.
 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
October 2016


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Community and Unity 

The EU Referendum has revealed deep divisions within our country and, indeed, our local community. During the campaign and in the aftermath of the vote, strong feelings have been expressed, and people on both sides have been hurt. There are reports both of a rise in xenophobic behaviour and of people feeling unable to speak about legitimate concerns for fear of being misunderstood. Whilst some are optimistic, others are fearful about the future.
 
There is much work to be done, not only by our national leaders in brokering a good ‘Brexit’ outcome, but also by ordinary people at the local level to heal rifts in communities and restore relationships.
 
One of the most emotive issues in the whole Referendum debate has been immigration. Whatever our views on how or whether immigration should be regulated, Christians must in their attitude and dealing with others take their lead from God, whose heart is revealed in the Bible to be very much for all people.
 
Whilst the Old Testament is focussed on the history of a particular ethnic group, the Israelites, they are told that non-Israelites living with them are not to be mistreated, but to be treated as one of them, loved even (cf Lev 19:33-34), and given an inheritance in the land (cf Ezek 47:21-23). From the very beginnings of the Church in the New Testament, people from all nations have been included and welcomed, irrespective of race or nationality. The Christian faith is about radical hospitality.
 
The Church is called to represent and serve the whole community. As in the wider country, people in our churches and its leadership voted for both Remain and Leave. Some people have been open about their decision, many have kept it private. As our community is not monochrome, neither is the Church. But despite its diversity, it is called and committed to being united.
 
St Paul likens the Church to a human body – a single thing, but made up of many, different and complementary parts. He explains that ‘The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” ’ All the parts are needed and valuable, and there should be no division. It is the diversity of its parts that when working in harmony gives the body its amazing abilities. Just think of the astonishing athletic feats displayed in the recent Olympics.
 
In Chilton and Harwell we have a wonderfully broad mix of ages, temperaments, skills and ethnicities – an inspiring cross-section of God’s diverse creation. As the late Jo Cox MP observed, “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”. All human beings are made in God’s image and are equally valuable. We need to value and celebrate the diversity of our local community, and the strength and richness that diversity gives. We should say to no-one “I don’t need you”.
 
It is easy, however, to express ourselves badly, to misunderstand one another, and to make unfair assumptions without really taking time to hear what the other is saying. We should always speak with gentleness and respect, and be prepared to apologise when we cause offence or upset, whether intended or not.
 
Good communication is essential for good relationships and a healthy community. Unity, whether in a local church, a village, a country, or even a group of countries, can only be achieved when we are prepared to listen and learn from one another, taking a turn at being an ‘ear’ in the body. Taking time and effort in the months ahead to listen respectfully and carefully will be essential for our political leaders, and for all of us.
 
Let’s make every effort – despite our political, cultural and ethnic diversity – to be united. It is God’s will and plan for his world.
 
“God made known to us the mystery of his will… to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:9-10).
 

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey, Rector
Revd Pam Rolls, Associate Minister
Peter Shields, Children & Families’ Worker
September 2016


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Running the Race 

A few years ago, whilst working as a GP, I had a visit from a man who had ruptured his Achilles tendon, that which attaches the calf muscle to the heel. He was rather embarrassed to explain that it happened during the Dad’s race at the school sports day. Out of condition and sprinting from a cold start, his hope of sporting glory was cruelly cut short by a ‘pop’ in the back of his leg and a humiliating crash to the ground.
 
School sports days with their egg-and-spoon, sack and other races, are very much a summer tradition. Summer and sport are closely associated for many people, whether it be following Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the US Open, cricket Test Matches, the Summer Olympics, family rounders, or welly-wanging at the village fete.
 
raceThe Apostle Paul was fond of describing the Christian faith in terms of sport. Writing to a first-century church in the Greek city of Corinth, the location of an annual Games, second only in importance to the ancient Olympics, he says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the Games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

So how is the Christian life like a race?

For a start, it only lasts for a time. Some get to run a great distance, others much less, but we each have a limited time on this earth, that we should “live aright”, as the funeral service puts it.

Secondly, it needs commitment. As with studying for exams (another summer tradition!), long-term relationships, parenting children, or pursuing a career or significant project, the Christian faith takes day-in, day-out commitment and focus. Every day we have to choose whether to press on or ‘throw in the towel’.

Thirdly, it has a goal. If we decide to don the kit and get down onto the track in the full view of the crowd of spectators to join the Christian race, we are doing so because there is a prize to be won, a ‘crown’ as Paul puts it.

Thankfully, It does not depend on our performance, since it is a team sport, but we do need to be on the team. Jesus, through his life, death and resurrection, has won the prize for us, which will be shared with all the team members.

So if you are worried that taking part risks rupturing a spiritual Achilles tendon or worse, fret not. The eternal crown is already in the hands of the victorious team captain.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
July 2016


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Summer 2016 

Growing God's Church - wider, deeper and closer


Dear Church Member,

On Tuesday (7th June) our PCCs met and discussed a number of issues, including four key areas in which we hope to see God’s Church grow wider, deeper and closer. I would like to draw attention to these areas in this letter, which also asks five questions that invite your response.


Worship Services – ‘inherited’ and ‘fresh’
Harvest 2013Central to our church life is our regular pattern of worship services where we Welcome one another in God’s name, encounter God through his Word, respond in Worship and are sent out to Witness to God’s goodness – to “live and work to His praise and glory”. We meet in order that the Kingdom of God is extended and God’s Church is grown wider, deeper and closer.

But our established form of worship, whilst enjoyed and appreciated by many, does not suit all, especially those who have been born since the 1960s. In recent decades there has been a major cultural shift and progressive reduction in the number of those brought up attending and familiar with church. Many of those in so-called generations ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ do not connect with what could be called “inherited church” and need a “fresh expression” that fits more closely with their culture and outlook. The Church has constantly needed to adapt as it has encountered new cultures and new times, and that is especially true today.

In seeking to serve and be relevant and accessible to our whole community, our two churches are committed to developing a new form of worship alongside our traditional ways of doing things, drawing from the wealth of experience that other churches have of successfully connecting with those not engaged with ‘inherited church’.

fresh expressionOur PCCs have decided that this ‘Fresh Expression’ should be done co-operatively across Harwell and Chilton to serve both parishes, with the target audience being younger adults and families, whilst being open to all.

So what will it look like? The details are yet to be worked out, but key words are informal, interactive, relational, accessible, participative, and fun. It is likely that food would be involved. Various options are being considered for timing (e.g. Sunday, Saturday or a weekday) and location (e.g. in a church building, a hall, or a school). It would seek to learn and take the best from Alpha, Messy Church, Connect, Hands Free, and Café Church.

Would you like to be involved in shaping this exciting new initiative, and consider committing to it?

jan presidingAlongside this ‘Fresh Expression’ we are of course committed to preserving all that is good in the current way we do things. In some ways Sunday services are the ‘shop window’ of the church and we get large numbers of visitors, with the potential for many more. How can we make the most of this opportunity for new people to engage with Sunday worship, become involved in church life, come to faith in Jesus and grow? I would find it really helpful to know your views on what is it about our regular services that make it easy or difficult to invite others.

If wanting to attract more people to our services, what do you feel should be continued, and what should be changed?

Please either write your thoughts on a slip of paper and put it in the collection bag or wall safe, or else email me or send me a message via the website, which can be done anonymously if you wish.


CAP Centre
CAPimage-300x300Christians Against Poverty (CAP) exists to bring freedom and good news to the poor by releasing people from debt, poverty and their causes. This is done through services run by local churches – CAP Debt Centres, Job Clubs, Release Groups and the Money Course. Our churches have recently been running CAP Money Courses, and a member of Harwell PCC, Lizi Bowerman, is an Area Manager for CAP. More info here: https://capuk.org

In January 2015 a partnership of three churches established a CAP Debt Centre in Wallingford, serving those in the OX10 area. CAP Wallingford has been successful in helping those in great financial need and also in connecting people into local church fellowships. There is, however, demand for CAP Debt Centre coverage in our (OX11) area. Our PCCs have therefore been discussing the possibility of partnering with other local churches to support the expansion of the Wallingford CAP Centre to cover our area. This would involve a financial commitment, but also the need to provide volunteers to support the Centre Manager and CAP clients.

Would you be interested in supporting this either through volunteering or giving?


Science and Faith
science and faithSince the autumn a group has been meeting regularly to explore the relationship between science and faith. A perceived conflict between the two is a stumbling block for many, but this is often based in misunderstanding. Given our location, these issues are especially relevant. The group has had a fruitful time exploring how science and faith are in fact complementary ways of looking at reality and have much to offer each other.

We have been successful in securing funding for a year-long project that helps people engage in the conversation between science and theology. The project will include a monthly, hands-on family science club, an adult discussion forum, and three high-profile speaker events, and will begin in September.

Please speak to Carina Lobley or me, project co-directors, if you would like to know more or are interested in getting involved.


Ministry Apprentices or ‘Interns’
ministry traineesSome of the funding for the Science and Faith project is available for an intern to manage the project, and this opens up the exciting possibility of having one, or even two, Ministry Apprentices or ‘Interns’ attached to our churches next year.

A growing number of churches and Christian organisations are developing and running internship or apprenticeship schemes, local examples being St Ebbe’s Church and St Aldate’s Church in Oxford, and ‘Christians in Sport’ (Bicester). Interns typically spend a year post-university in a combination of ministry experience, practical service and formal training. Training interns is a way of investing in the next generation of Christian leaders and growing the ministries of local churches.

We discussed this possibility at our recent PCC meeting and in principle thought it was a good idea. One thing that would make this realistic would be the provision of accommodation.

Do you – or someone you know – have accommodation – a room, annex or even a floor of your house, perhaps – that could be made available for a Christian graduate (or two), for a few months or even a full year, so that they could live and work amongst us?


I am excited about what God is doing amongst us – there is much encouragement and many possibilities for seeing God’s Church grow deeper, wider and closer, including through a ‘fresh expression’ of worship, a CAP Debt Centre, exploring the interaction of science and faith, and beginning a ministry apprentice/internship scheme. Please be thinking and praying about these possibilities and how you might be involved in working with God to grow His Church in Chilton, Harwell and beyond.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow… For we are fellow workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor 3:6,9).

With best wishes,

Jonathan

Revd Dr Jonathan L Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
Summer 2016


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A Good Father 

It is hard being a good father, grandfather, stepfather or other father figure. It is much harder in fact to be a Dad than become one!
 
But what is a good father?
 
It is widely acknowledged, whether we look at scripture, academic research or day-to-day experience, that fathers make unique and irreplaceable contributions in the lives of their children. Research shows that children with good dads are usually more at ease with other people, have more confidence to do well at school, and are happier.
 
fatherAnd fathers have a crucial role to play in the spiritual nurture of their children. Research carried out by the Church of England in 2008 showed that an overwhelming number of dads – 88 per cent – felt that they were responsible for the spiritual care of their child. More dads than mums in fact. Dads clearly want to accept responsibility not only for the physical and financial well-being of their child, but also for their spiritual well-being.
 
Normal child development includes a child beginning to ask deep questions about life and explore spiritual things. The commitment and encouragement of both parents, and other significant adults, makes a huge difference to that development. How well-equipped do we feel for the task?

Our Father in heaven understands the challenge, and equips us for this God-given work.

God sets the pattern for all earthly dads, and men who walk in his footsteps are following the perfect example.

His affirming love is sacrificial
His guidance is based on wisdom
His discipline is rooted in love
His support comes from a giving heart
 
The Apostle Paul tells us that every family in heaven and on earth derives its name from God; he is the ultimate Father, able to empower all earthly fathers – all of us in fact – to be the people we need to be and do the things
we need to do, strengthened “with power through his Spirit” (Ephesians 3:15-16). We just need to ask our Father in heaven, who loves to “give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matt 7:11).
 
All fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, father figures and their families are invited to a celebration and BBQ on Father’s Day, Sunday 19th June, held at Chilton Primary School from 4.30-5.30pm. More information on page 6. It is good and right to celebrate these special men and what they mean to us.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
June 2016


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A Remarkable Woman 

queenThe Queen is by any measure a remarkable woman
 
She's the longest reigning monarch in British history.
 
She never went to university, but she has been the adviser and confidante to twelve British Prime Ministers.
 
She's a 90-year-old senior citizen, but still works over 40 hours a week.
 
She employs 1200 people, but feeds her own dogs.
 
She can rebuild the 6-cylinder, 3462cc engine of an Austin K2 Ambulance, trek hatless for hours on her Fell pony across the windswept Highland moors, but she looks entirely comfortable and elegant in the 488 diamond Kokoshnik tiara.
 
She is the most famous woman in the world, but seems as relaxed in a school. a residential care home or a technology company as in the company of celebrities or other Heads of State.
 
She is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, attends church weekly, even on holiday, and prays daily but never tells anyone to go to church.
 
She has no power to make political decisions but her personal authority has brought nations together.
 
She has had a gruelling travel and work schedule for over 6o years but as political commentator Andrew Marr pointed out: ‘There are no reliable recorded incidents of the Queen losing her temper, using bad language, or  refusing to carry out a duty expected of her.’
 
Most of us would find it hard to match that record for a week never mind 60 years.
 
What is the secret of the Queen's remarkable consistency of character and extraordinary contribution to nation, Commonwealth and the global community?
 
It's a question she herself answered in 2002:
 
“I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my
best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God... I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”
 
(From the introduction to ‘The Servant Queen and the King she serves’ by Mark Greene and Catherine Butcher)
 
Join in a celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday at a special ‘Songs of Praise’ service in the Feast Marquee on Harwell Recreation Ground at 4pm on Sunday 29th May.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
May 2016


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An informed Decision 

Chocolate brownie or sticky toffee pudding? Say ‘I will’ or ‘No thanks’? Cash in your pension pot or leave it untouched? Life is full of decisions, and every day is a succession of options and choices, some relatively insignificant, others potentially life-changing. But we can only make a good decision when we have the facts. We would never agree to major surgery without good reason – a diagnosis, an explanation of what is involved, and any associated risks. For important decisions, it is essential that we make a choice that is informed.

So how are you going to vote in the EU Referendum? Should we stay or should we go? Do you feel you know enough about the pros and cons to decide? This is an important decision, arguably more so even than a General Election. Fully informed or not, every British adult will get to express their choice on 23rd June, and a momentous decision will be made.

In or OutThere is another once-in-a-lifetime issue, potentially far more important, that we each need to decide about. What I am thinking about has significance not just for decades or even centuries, but for eternity. Jesus put the issue before his disciples 2000 years ago: “Who do you say that I am?” And this is something that we each need to decide for ourselves. The Christian faith claims that everything hangs on our personal response to that leading question. But how do we make an informed choice?

For a start we should look at what the Bible says; it contains eye-witness accounts of the life, death and – alleged – resurrection of Jesus, and of those who first believed that Jesus rose from the dead. St Luke is concerned that his readers consider the evidence and make an informed decision about Jesus. Right at the beginning of his contribution to the Bible he says,

“Since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I… decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:3-4)

The Bible must be our starting point. But alongside the Bible we should look at the evidence of history. We should also look at whether the Christian claims hang together and fit with what we know of the world, or whether other religions or worldviews make more sense. We should look critically at the difference that genuine adherence to the Christian faith makes in societies and in individuals. Does prayer make a difference? Does God heal today? Without investigating these sorts of things, we cannot make an informed decision.

The Alpha Course provides an opportunity to explore these crucial questions in a friendly, interactive setting. Alpha has been run in 169 countries and attended by over 22 million people who have wanted to make an informed decision about matters of eternal significance. We will be hosting Alpha at the Harwell Village Club (RBL) in April and May. For help with making an informed decision about an issue far more important even than the EU Referendum, why not commit over seven Thursday evenings to just 12 hours of stimulating conversation, good company and delicious food? (All for free). You may even get a choice of desserts! http://hcchurches.org/alpha

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
April 2016 


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What is Truth?

Easter Card Design 2016A recent survey found that only 38 percent of the average Easter egg box is actually Easter egg. The rest is paper and plastic.

What percentage of the Easter story do you think is actually true, and how much myth?

What about the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead? According to a survey last year 43 percent of people believe it to have happened. Christianity stands or falls on the Resurrection. The Apostle Paul himself said to the Corinthian Christians, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith" (1 Cor 15:14). But if the Resurrection is true, then it proves that Jesus was God's Son, that there is meaning to life, that we can be forgiven, and that death is not the end.

Truth, proof and evidence. "What is truth?" asked Pontius Pilate shortly before washing his hands of Jesus' blood (Jn 18:38). The Truth was staring him in the face. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life," Jesus had claimed, just the night before.

Why not cast aside the packaging and seek the Truth this Easter? There can be nothing more important.

With warm Easter greetings,

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
March 2016


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Love from Your Valentine 

We love because he lovedAround 250 AD there lived in Rome a priest by the name of Valentine. At that time, Claudius was the Emperor, and Claudius wanted to create a large Roman army. He thought men should volunteer to join, but many men just did not want to leave home and go off to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their girlfriends and wives, so very few joined up. This made Emperor Claudius both angry and determined to do something about this. He had the idea that if men were not married, they would be more inclined to join his army. So Claudius decreed that there would be no more marriages.

Young people thought his new law was really cruel. Valentine thought it was ridiculous! One of his favourite duties as a priest was to marry people. After Emperor Claudius passed his law, Valentine kept on performing marriage ceremonies – but secretly. He would whisper the words of the ceremony, whilst listening for soldiers on the steps outside.

One night, Valentine did hear footsteps at his door. The couple he was marrying escaped, but he was caught. He was thrown into jail and told that his punishment was death. Many young people came to the jail to visit him, and threw flowers and notes up to his window. They wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love.

One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit him in his cell. They often sat and talked for hours. She believed he did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and performing marriage ceremonies.

On the day Valentine was to die, he left her a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. He signed it, "Love from your Valentine." That note started the custom of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day. It was written on the day he died, February 14, 269 AD. Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. When they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh - because they know that love can’t be beaten!

Love fills our airwaves, literature, cinemas and screens. It has preoccupied people of all cultures and times and has motivated great acts of heroism and sacrifice. It cannot be banned, ignored, or forgotten. Love is stronger than death.
Christians believe “God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them” (1 Jn 4:16). And they see in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the ultimate example and expression of love.

Love is the supreme good and should be celebrated. Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to do just that. So this year we have a special service on Valentine’s Day afternoon for those who would like to give thanks to God for and seek his blessing on their relationship. All couples welcome – details of the service on the front cover. Let’s celebrate God’s wonderful gift of love!

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
February 2016


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Silent Night, Holy Night

Chilton Church final low-resSilence is not something many would associate with Christmas, with all its busyness and pressure. And for those who do, it can be a negative thing, when the silence of loneliness or despair can overwhelm.

But alongside the joyful (and no doubt noisy!) singing of an angelic choir, the Christmas story does have moments of stillness and calm. As in the eye of a storm, God’s entry into this world as a human being creates an oasis in the midst of enemy occupation, grinding poverty, and social strife. The silence of that Holy Night represents the possibility of resting in the love and peace that God makes available to all in Jesus.
Harwell Church final low res
You are warmly welcome to any of the services and events run by your local churches this Christmas, whether to join in with a ‘joyful noise’ or take some time out to reflect in quietness. Christ the Saviour is born!

May you know God’s joy and rest in his peace this Christmas and in the coming year.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
December 2015


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Access for All

In recent years there has been a big drive to make public buildings more widely accessible. Since the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, service providers have needed to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to premises to overcome physical barriers to access, whilst balancing cost and other practicalities. This has resulted in wheelchair ramps, hearing loops, large print publications, and many other innovations. The principle is one of natural justice; it is right that everyone should have opportunities to access the good things of life.

accessThis is a very biblical principle. The equality of all humans is asserted in the opening chapters of the Bible, which speak of God creating all humans ‘in his image’. All humans have the capacity to relate to God and all are called by God into relationship with him.

Throughout the Bible God ensures that special provision is made for vulnerable groups, for the diseased and disabled, the poor, and the ‘orphans and widows’. Jesus famously ministered amongst the sick and social outcasts, and the Church and individual Christians have continued that work of serving those in need, setting up schools, orphanages and hospitals, and pioneering work amongst the homeless, imprisoned, addicted, and dying.

Throughout history, the Church has sought to make the Gospel accessible to all, and has in the process translated the full Bible into 531 languages to date, and created myriad forms of worship for different cultures. Youth groups, lunch clubs, prison outreach, and countless other groups and activities have been set up to reach every segment of society with the life-transforming Gospel.

It is the vision of our churches in Harwell and Chilton to be accessible and relevant to everyone, serving the whole community in God’s name.

The new access path at All Saints’ is a concrete(!) expression of that – helping the infirm, elderly and very young to access the church building and all that goes on there. But there is much more to do.

St Matthew’s Church Council is actively thinking about how we can make our church building more accessible, comfortable and flexible – this includes thinking about the related issues of heating and seating. At All Saints’ we are thinking about how we might make our worship services accessible to a wider range of people – those who want something informal and contemporary, as well as those who love the formal, liturgical expressions of worship; an option being considered is moving to two differing services every Sunday morning.

And we would love to know what you think about all this. How do you think our churches could serve the villages of Harwell and Chilton better? How could our church buildings, worship services, and different groups and activities be made more relevant and accessible to 21st century men, women and children?

There are various ways you can let us know.

  1. You can respond online to the Chilton Services consultation at http://hcchurches.org/chiltonservices, and also at the November All Saints’ Charity Market; response slips are also available in church.

  2. St Matthew’s ‘Fit for the Future’ consultation is to be launched in late November, with a display and response slips in church. Further info and resources at http://hcchurches.org/fitforthefuture. Further publicity around the village to follow.

  3. Do please also let us know what you think of our new ‘mobile-friendly’ website: http://hcchurches.org. It is another way in which we are trying to become more accessible!

Or you could simply speak to or email me – my contact details are found here.


Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
November 2015


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Refugees Welcome

How many refugees in the Bible can you name? How about Adam, Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Esau, and Joseph? That’s just those in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. There are plenty more throughout the Old Testament, including Moses, Ruth, David, Elijah, Ezekiel and Daniel, and Mary, Joseph, Peter and many others in the New Testament. And the central character of the whole Bible, Jesus himself, fled as a refugee to Egypt as a child. The Bible is full of people displaced by natural disaster, war, famine and persecution.

In fact, according to the book of Ephesians, all human beings are refugees of a spiritual kind, strangers to God’s provision, wandering exiles, excluded from citizenship with God’s people. That is, until Jesus welcomed us in. That was a costly welcome, but through Jesus’ death we were granted not just asylum but a permanent home in the family of God.
Refugees Welcome
It is right, and a very Christian approach, to want to respond to the refugee crisis. The current European migrant crisis has already been named the worst of its kind since the Second World War. Thousands of people are risking their lives to escape war and persecution from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. Over 2,700 people have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea this year. Many others have died using other perilous modes of transport.

With conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa showing little sign of improvement, how can we respond to relieve the suffering of those affected?

We could use our people power to lobby the decision makers. We could write to or email our MP, Ed Vaizey, the Prime Minister, or sign a petition. We could give to any number of charities working with displaced people, including TearFund, whose work with asylum seekers our churches will be supporting this Harvest through our donations and sales of Harvest produce. We could support a grassroots group such as ‘Jungle Books’, or even consider providing accommodation for those in need, e.g. via Citizens UK. And we could pray.

The refugee crisis will not go away soon. Refugees will always exist, and we will constantly be called upon to respond to those in need. God has not ignored our plight, paying a great price to welcome us. Nor should we ignore the plight of those in desperate need.

‘For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ … “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:35-36,40 (NLT).

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
October 2015


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Festival Time

Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, Cornbury, Reading, Blackheath. Many thousands come from far and wide to be there. Are you planning to join them?

With the arrival of the summer come summer festivals. To gather in large numbers for a big celebration has long been and remains today a powerful urge. Even when the weather refuses to co-operate, revellers are prepared to brave fields that have become quagmires to soak up (sometimes literally) all that is on offer at these huge events. Of course some of what happens is not good, but many of those involved are motivated by an impulse that runs deep in humans. The festival is an important part of life.
Festival
The word festival comes for the Latin for ‘feast’, and festivals and feasts are a key feature in most religions. Well-known in Christianity are the joyful feasts of Christmas and Easter, but there are also lesser known feasts, such as that of the Ascension, when Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection from the dead.

Another key feast is Pentecost, or Whit Sunday, recently celebrated, which marks the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church 50 days after Easter. The Feast of Pentecost is the origin of the Harwell Feast held on Spring Bank Holiday in late May. And what a great event it was this year.

Feasts in the Bible are full of joyful voices, festive music, dancing, and abundant food. So not unlike festivals today. But unlike secular festivals, they are not simply parties, but celebrations together of God’s goodness towards his people. They also do not simply celebrate the past or present. They are also a foretaste of things to come.

Jesus spoke of God’s planned future for humanity – the kingdom of heaven – as a great feast to which people from around the world and throughout the epochs of history will come.

“I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven”
Matthew 8:11


At end of history God will resurrect all his people from every age to live with him forever. Every feast celebrated now is a small taste of what is to come. All are invited to the eternal feast. Will you be there?

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
July 2015


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VE Day - not there yet

Why is there still fighting when the battle is won? Why is there sickness and suffering if Jesus is Lord?

Advertised on the front page of this month’s Broadsheet is the annual D-Day memorial service held at the ‘Harwell Stone’. Harwell and Chilton have a strong historic connection to the events of D-Day, 6 June 1944, in which Allied forces invaded northern France. The beach landings in Normandy were a break through the German army’s defences, and the beginning of an attack that took them all the way to the German capital Berlin, to the bunker that was Adolf Hitler’s headquarters. D-Day was a decisive day that culminated in bringing World War Two to an end.
 VE70
But the War in Europe didn’t actually end until VE-Day, 8 May 1945, the 70th anniversary of which we have just celebrated. There was an 11-month gap between D-Day and VE-Day. The decisive battle had been won on D-Day, but it was not until VE-Day that hostilities ceased.

There is often a time lag between a decisive event and its conclusion. Cancer is a terrible disease and sometimes there is no cure. But sometimes an operation can remove the cancer which would otherwise kill the individual affected. The surgical ‘cure’ is instant, but it can take weeks or months for the person to make a full recovery.

On the Cross, Jesus won the decisive battle against the hostile forces set against humans. He defeated sin and death itself, proving his victory by rising from the dead. But that victory was won almost 2000 years ago, and still sin and death are very much a part of our world. How does that fit with talk of Jesus being ‘the victor’? There is much in the world that would seem to contradict such a notion.

But Jesus’ victory is similar to the victory of the Allies. The Cross marked a kind of cosmic ‘D-Day’ – a decisive win. But hostilities will continue until the appointed ‘VE-Day’ (‘Victory on Earth Day’) when Christ will return in glory, crush his enemies, and establish a new heaven and a new earth, when wars will cease and death shall be no more.

But why the delay? 2000 years seems an awfully long time to wait. God has his reasons. The Apostle Peter, brutally martyred for his faith in Jesus, understood and wrote:

“Dear friends, don’t forget that for the Lord one day is the same as a thousand years, and a thousand years is the same as one day. The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.”
(2 Peter 3:8-9)

The Lord is not unmerciful in delaying – quite the opposite. In this time between the First and Second Coming of Christ, God is giving all people an opportunity to join God’s side, the winning side. Have you joined the side of the divine victor?

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
June 2015


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The weakest link? 

“You are the weakest link – goodbye!”

Watching the seven-way leaders’ debate recently, I couldn't help but think it looked very much like an episode of ‘The Weakest Link’, the quick-fire general knowledge quiz hosted by the formidable Anne Robinson in which contestants decided at the end of each round which of their number should be eliminated.

In this contest, it is the public, however, who determine, at the ballot box, how well the candidates do. By the time you read this, the nation may already have decided who is the strongest and the weakest link, and who leaves the competition with the prize.
wwjd vote
Humans have experimented with a mind-boggling variety of forms of government, from royal succession, military coup, to the myriad versions of democracy. In an imperfect world, no system of government is perfect, but it is usually thought that democracy is the least bad option. But given that we, the people, then have to decide who governs, how should we choose where to place our cross?

We certainly shouldn’t go for the party leader or candidate who is the most photogenic, delivers the best speeches, or is able to turn on the charm. Many terrible leaders of the past have had oodles of charisma. Equally, we shouldn’t feel pressured to follow the crowd, or the expectations of family or friends. Many a bad decision is made as a result of peer pressure and not being true to oneself. We should instead – to the best of our ability – choose according to our consciences, informed by good sense, and concerned for the common good, and not our own vested interests.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others’ Philippians 2:3-4

That should characterise our approach to voting, but also characterise the individual or party that we choose.

Some Christians wear bracelets with the initials ‘WWJD’. It stands for ‘What Would Jesus Do?’, a good ethical guide in any situation. The passage I quoted from above goes on to say ‘what Jesus actually did’: ‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant’ Philippians 2:5-7

Jesus made himself a servant. The word ‘minister’ has the same meaning as ‘servant’, and a “Prime Minister” must surely therefore be one who is the foremost in serving others.
 

Jesus is the ultimate leader – at the same time a king, a military victor, and one chosen by individuals to be their Lord – and if we are wise we will choose as our ruler one who has the same servant “mindset”.

Whilst on the cross, Jesus was derided for weakness. Servants can sometimes seem weak, but Jesus in his life, death and resurrection demonstrated that seeming weakness can actually be the greatest and most loving demonstration of strength.

So this General Election, place your cross where Jesus placed his. Let your cross show your love.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
May 2015


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Easter traditions

Many of us have Easter traditions – hot cross buns, Easter egg hunts, family gatherings – good things that can help us to celebrate the high point of the Christian year. A flower that is traditional at Easter – and featured on our Easter card this year – is the lily.

Easter card 2015
Lilies are also popular at funerals; Good Friday marks the death of Jesus. Lilies also represent new life; Easter Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and the possibility of new life. Lilies – in their flawless white form – also represent purity; because of what Jesus has done at Easter, moral cleansing is available to each of us.

The Cross of Christ stands at the centre of the Easter weekend. Jesus and his Cross stand at the centre of human civilisation, dividing history into BC and AD. And Jesus calls each of us to put him at the centre of our lives and the lives of our families, too.

Coming to one or more of the range of services and events listed on the church website is a good way to help us put Jesus and his Cross at the centre this Easter. Anything that helps us to do this would surely be the best Easter tradition of all.

With warm Easter greetings,
 
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
April 2015

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The bigger picture 

Love is in the air. The big focus at the time of writing, with the shops and cinemas full of the usual pink hearts and chubby cupids, is, of course, Valentine’s Day. But just one month later we are giving flowers once again as we celebrate another type of love on Mothering Sunday.

Romantic love is famous for being narrowly focussed, but parental love sees the bigger picture. Romantic love can come and go, but parental love is there for the long-haul. Parents are under great pressure to give in to demands for more junk food or screen time than is good for their children, but they have to take the long view – choosing what is ultimately best for their children, who often don’t appreciate the reasons.

We discipline our children for the same reason. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb 2:11). And this is the approach that our loving heavenly Father takes with us. Because of their love, parents need to see the bigger picture and take the longer view.
ICSI
Science, too, needs to take account of the bigger picture and take the longer view. Parliament has recently been debating and voting on so-called ‘Three Parent Families’ – the possibility of using ground-breaking IVF techniques to try to prevent the transmission of the terrible and currently incurable mitochondrial diseases that can afflict whole families. It is a technique that involves creating an embryo from material from either three or four individuals.

The prospect of preventing terrible diseases is exciting, but many concerns have been raised, including about the destruction of human embryos, potential identity confusion of any resulting children, and uncertainty about the long-term effects on children; some scientists believe that children born this way could have an increased risk of cancer or premature ageing. This proposal would also broach the internationally-agreed ban on ‘germ line’ modification (resulting in genetic changes that would be passed on down future generations, for good or ill).

A fundamental problem that I have is accepting the principle that we should be able to genetically modify our children. We might be wanting to consider doing this for the best of intentions, but need to stand back to see the bigger picture and take the longer view. We need to ask how this might affect our treatment of those with disabilities, our view of children as a gift, and our attitude to human life itself. Love requires us to do this.

So whether in good times or bad, in the intimacy of our families or the grandeur of public discourse, let us take account of the bigger picture and take the longer view in our loving. For “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Cor 13:7-8a).

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
March 2015


  


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Beautiful things 

An abridged version of the sermon preached at the funeral of Koreen Davis, Harwell School Secretary, who died on 6th January 2015.
beautiful tree
Koreen Jennifer Davis was one of life’s beautiful things.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.


Today we have been sharing our memories of Koreen and giving thanks to Him for her life. Koreen loved and was loved by so many, and that makes it so difficult to accept and to understand why she is no longer with us. Why did she have to go?

There is so much in this world that is beyond our understanding. Science can discover great things and philosophers can have amazing insights – but even the greatest can’t answer all our questions.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever”. We don’t know why Koreen had to go, but Jesus revealed something about God’s plans that should give us comfort.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled”, Jesus said to his disciples. He was at the time telling them about his own death. But what possible comfort can there be when faced with the death of a loved one? Jesus went on to explain: “My Father’s house has many rooms”.

Koreen made a lovely home for her family. She knew the importance of having somewhere where you can feel safe, where love can be shared, and where you truly belong. Our heavenly Father knows this too, and has space enough for all of us in his heavenly home. However unworthy we feel and however many things we have done – or not done – that we regret, there is still a place for us in the Father’s house.

Jesus goes on to say that he is going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for his friends. He does this by his death and resurrection. Jesus dies a horrible, untimely death, so that our greatest enemy – death itself – may be defeated. Jesus dies and rises again so that we can go to the Father’s house.

Jesus makes a journey through death and out the other side so that when we take that journey into death – which we all will one day – we, too, might arrive safely at the Father’s house, if only we hold tight to Jesus – the one who describes himself as “the way, the truth, and the life”.

Our final hymn is the Harwell School leavers’ song. It speaks of a journey:

One more step along the world I go,
One more step along the world I go…
And it's from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me travelling along with you.


Jesus alone can bring us safely to the Father’s house, because no one else has made that journey through death and defeated it for us.

Jesus offers to those who will join him to go on a journey. It is a journey from the old – a world in which we age, get ill and die; a world in which terrible, incomprehensible things happen. It is a journey to the new – a life in God’s new creation, where sickness, suffering, death and mourning will be no more. It is a journey to the Father’s house where there are many rooms. And it is a house that is full of beautiful things.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell and Chilton
February 2015

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Turning the tables

madonnaandchild
Looking at the news, it would be easy to conclude that God – if He exists – does not have a plan. Or that if He does, then it is going badly wrong. As ever, the poor and weak suffer at the hands of the rich and powerful.

But the story of Christmas tells us otherwise. God does have a plan.

It is a plan that focuses on a baby, born to a poor, young teenager. Even the rich and powerful King Herod is unable to thwart the arrival of this promised Saviour.

It is a plan that involves turning the tables. As Mary sang, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty”.

It is a plan that includes you. And you are cordially invited to celebrate at your local church this Advent or Christmas. Details of a variety of special services and events can be found here.

With warm greetings from All Saints’ Chilton and St Matthew’s Harwell.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
December 2014


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Fires and wires 

fire
Fire has long fascinated and enchanted. We love the magic and romance of candlelight, the homely warmth of an open fire, and the raw power of a raging, crackling bonfire. Fire also features prominently in our calendars. The unfortunate Guy Fawkes will once again be commemorated this month with a customary incineration, and the season will be marked with gunpowder in the skies as we ‘ahh’ and ‘ooh’ at firework displays.
 
But fire can of course be scary and destructive.
 
A few minutes of research on the BBC website revealed the following fire-related stories reported in the space of just 24 hours. Fires in a woodpile in Essex, straw bales in Lincolnshire, a hotel in Yorkshire, a car in Dartford, a church in Shetland, a laboratory in East Anglia, and a flat and an industrial estate in Wales. And of course there was our local claim to fame: the fire at Didcot B power station.
 
I have a vivid and abiding memory of a man being brought into A&E screaming in agony. He had extensive burns that resulted from throwing petrol onto his garden bonfire. Whilst terrible accidents still happen, as a result of building regulations, fire retardant materials, smoke alarms, and improved education, fatal fires are mercifully less common than they once were.
 
Preventing fires is always better than trying to extinguish them.
 
The Bible speaks often of fire. Fire is used to represent the presence of God, in all his awesome holiness. Think of Moses and the burning bush, the pillar of fire going before the Israelites, or the tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost. Fire is used to represent the destroying fire of judgement. Fire is also used to refer to the power of the tongue.
 
“Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
The tongue also is a fire…”   James 3:5-6.
 
Our words are powerful things and can be used both for great good or terrible evil. We don’t just have to be ‘preachers of hate’ to set a fire going. Passing on gossip about a neighbour or colleague, putting someone down with a stinging rebuke, or letting someone have both barrels of our unrighteous anger, can cause terrible harm.
 
But the cure is not simply to keep a tight rein on our tongues. The problem needs to be traced to and stopped at its source.
 
It has been suggested that the Didcot power station fire was caused by faulty wiring. What is the source of the ‘fire in our tongues’? The human heart. As Jesus said, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45). In other words, to prevent the destructive fires started by our words, we need new hearts. And that is just what God promises to his people, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (Ezekiel 36:26).
 
Preventing fires is always better than trying to extinguish them. A faulty junction box should be replaced or re-wired before any harm is done. God, in his grace and wisdom, offers divine re-wiring of hearts to all who turn to him.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
November 2014

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Harvest 

english apple harvest
A regular autumn fixture for our churches and community is a celebration of harvest. The first weekend in October sees various events including special All Age services in both churches, a cream tea in Chilton and a special lunch in Harwell – more information about these on the front page. We rightly celebrate and give thanks for the plentiful and varied food that we enjoy. But we also think about and seek to provide for those for whom food is not so bountiful, by collecting for those in need locally via Didcot Emergency Foodbank and further afield through the work of Tear Fund.
 
We have a great debt of gratitude to all those who work the land and are involved in that grand chain of events and processes that brings food to our tables. Our farmers work hard in soil preparation and enrichment, pest control, and helping to ensure just the right climate and mix of nutrients necessary for germination, growth, and the eventual harvesting, storage and effective transportation of the crop.
 
But of course there would be no harvest without sowing. No crop without seed.
 
Seeds, though humble in appearance, are quite amazing if you stop to think about them. Packed into a tiny space is all the genetic information and machinery necessary to grow a mature, food-bearing plant, which itself produces more seeds. Seeds, when supplied with the right environment, spring into life in a way that can seem almost miraculous.
 
Jesus spoke of God’s Word as being like a seed that is sown – with the potential to grow and produce a great crop. We know that the success of any seed depends on the environment into which it is sown, and that is true of the seed of God’s Word. The growth of seeds can – amongst other things – be thwarted by stony ground or choked by weeds. Each of us provides a different environment in which the Word of God is sown and there are many things that can impede its growth and fruitfulness, such as a superficial understanding, or distraction by other concerns.
 
The Bible is God’s Word for us, and it should therefore have pride of place not just on the shelf, but in our lives, as we ‘read, mark, learn and inwardly digest’ the deep truths, promises and encouragements we find. Christians hear the Bible read and explained in Sunday services, they meet together to study it, and they read and reflect on it individually. And there are many resources for those who wish to grow in faith through studying the Bible. The Mission Focus this month is the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) which produces material to assist those who want to be ‘fertile soil’ for the seed of God’s Word – check the back page for more information about BRF.
 
The universe was created by the Word of God when God spoke the universe into being. The Word of God continues to speak life into being when it finds the fertile soil of hearts that are open to God and ready to produce a harvest of righteousness.
 
“The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (Luke 8:15).

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
October 2014

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Loving and giving 

“You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” So said Victor Hugo in Les Misérables, that epic tale of love and sacrifice which recently hit the big screen.
 
If you had to choose one word to sum up the Christian faith, you couldn’t do much better than to choose ‘love’. God is love... God so loved the world that he gave his only Son... As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you... Let us love one another, for love comes from God...
 
Love of God and love of neighbour are – according to Jesus – the summary of God’s law. And to love our neighbour means to seek their wellbeing. Christian Aid, whose work is highlighted in May every year, seeks to do just that amongst the poor of the world.
 
christian aid week envelope
Christian Aid was founded in the aftermath of World War II when British and Irish church leaders were determined to do everything possible to help European refugees who had lost everything. These days the work to bring an end to poverty has extended beyond Europe to around 50 countries around the world. Christian Aid tackles the root causes as well as the effects of poverty, through relief, development and advocacy, acting to change an unjust world through practical love and care for those in need, regardless of religion, ethnicity or nationality.
 
Harwell and Chilton have been supporters of the work of Christian Aid for many years and continue to be so. In Harwell, the door-to-door collections will cease for various reasons, but door-to-door collections continue in Chilton, along with other fundraising initiatives, such as the popular Plant Sale and Coffee Morning. For Harwell residents wishing to donate to Christian Aid, envelopes can be found in St Matthew’s Church and returned via the wall safe near the door. Alternatively, it is possible to give online via http://www.christianaid.org.uk/give.

The eradication of poverty is a very Christian activity and a large portion of God's Word is dedicated to the topic of poverty. Obviously, the poor are very close to God's heart. The ministry of Jesus could be even described as poverty eradication – when considered in its widest sense. Humans can be impoverished in their relationship with God and with their fellow humans, oppressed by unjust structures and selfishness, and weighed down by disease and anxiety.
 
Jesus’ made clear at the beginning of his ministry that he had a clear manifesto: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
 
We should care about poverty, because God cares about poverty. To support the work of Christian Aid is one way to engage with a great act of practical love in which we don’t just love our neighbour, but join in with the very activity of the God of love. As Victor Hugo also said, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” There can surely be no greater act.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
May 2014

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Growing 

Over the past few months our family has developed a keen interest in growth charts. Our baby son, born 3 months prematurely, has at last begun to climb into the right zone, the fruit of my wife’s patient dedication to his well-being, aided in various ways by kind friends, relatives and experts. Growth often needs to be nurtured.
growth chart
Failure to grow at the expected rate is a sign of poor health, and not just in children. Many people are – albeit cautiously – breathing sighs of relief as the British economy at last appears to be growing (1); economic health is vital to the flourishing of a nation. It is no less true of the Church, either. A healthy church is a growing church.

Jesus told his followers to ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19-20), and the biblical book of Acts describes the early church growing dramatically over a short period of time. Even under the persecution of the Roman Empire, the Church continued to grow, and there are now over two billion Christians around the world, the number having nearly quadrupled in the last 100 years (2).
 
Whilst Christianity has grown enormously in some parts of the world in recent years, notably in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, amongst some groups it is apparently in decline. The Church of England, for example, has in general not done well in keeping young people. But there are significant exceptions to this and many areas of healthy growth.
 
Recent research has identified a number of factors in the churches which are growing (3). These include consciously prioritising growth, being prepared to change and experiment, sharing leadership, and emphasising welcome and nurture. But another key factor is a focus on and investment in outreach to children and young people – the ‘missing generation’ – and youth and children’s workers are particularly effective. The Christian faith is for all ages, and it provides, amongst other things, identity, purpose and values. A large body of research shows that it is correlated with greater happiness and a reduced risk of mental health problems, substance abuse, delinquency and marital instability (4). The Christian faith is good news for young people and for wider society.
 
Our churches have just embarked on raising funds to employ someone to work with children and families across Harwell and Chilton, giving leadership to the work, and providing groups, activities and support to the children and families of our villages. This is a significant investment, but one that we are confident will be worthwhile. It is vital that our children grow – it is a sign of good health – but we know that growth often needs to be nurtured; it is our prayer that this initiative will enable that to happen. Further information about this project can be found here.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
March 2014


Sources quoted:
(1) Economy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10613201
(2) World church growth: http://abt.cm/1o43lHE
(3) Factors in growing churches: http://www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk/
(4) Benefits of faith: Koenig, H G, McCullough, M E, & Larson, D B Handbook of Religion and Health (OUP, 2001)

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Floods and rescue

And still it rains! I write this during a gap in the clouds and a welcome break in the recent downpour, but I see the forecast is for yet more rain. Where does it all come from?!

Having recently had our fair share of dry summers, I suspect we all appreciate the value of rain. Many parts of the world suffer regular and repeated droughts and famines, and I am sure we are grateful to have a rather different climate. But it is of course possible to have ‘too much of a good thing’, and many in our country have recently experienced disruption, damage and even deaths associated with excessive rainfall and widespread flooding.
ark
But all this is nothing new, and the Bible is full of ‘watery stories’, including migrant people forced to cross dangerous waters, perilous sea voyages, fearsome storms, and – of course – dramatic floods.

The story of Noah and the Ark is probably one of the best known stories. It is a story of God’s judgement and grace, of God’s plan to rescue his creation from destruction, and to provide his people with a new start. The story famously ends with a rainbow and a promise, but God’s rescue plan was never actually completed in these ancient events. It is fairly obvious that the world and its inhabitants still need rescuing. Noah was not the Saviour, but he did point forward to one.

The story of the Ark is in fact the story of the Church, and it is no coincidence that many church buildings have been designed to look like boats and arks. There is an interesting example near the Headington roundabout on the Oxford ring road.

Noah in his day was mocked for his faith. It seemed ridiculous to be building an enormous boat in the middle of a desert. But in time it became obvious to all that Noah’s faith was well placed, and he and his family were saved from the destruction. Many today mock those within the Church who put their faith in a God to save them.

But we surely do need to be saved – not just from dangerous waters, but from everything that results from humanity’s rebellion against God and our inhumanity to one another. The Church brings the good news of the possibility of rescue and a new start, of safety and safe passage through this life.

God has not abandoned us. He says to his people, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (Psalm 43:2a).

Noah was not the Saviour, Jesus – the one who walks on water and calms storms – is. As we face storms both about and within, let us each put our faith and trust in him.
 
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
February 2014

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Following a star

kings Christmas card 2014
Do you follow a football team, the twists and turns of celebrity lives, or the latest tweets by politicians or commentators? Like newly-hatched ducks, we all seem to want to follow someone or something.

The wise men followed a star, but not for its own sake. The star showed the way to one far greater than any graduate of The X-Factor, the cleverest public intellectual, or sporting talent. They found the one in whom ‘all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell’. It was he who said ‘follow me’ to fishermen and tax collectors 2000 years ago, and still seeks followers today.

Why not follow the shepherds, wise men and angels to the newborn child as we celebrate together with a variety of special services and events this Advent and Christmas? Many are suitable for families with young children, and range from traditional candlelit services to modern, interactive events – details are provided in this card.

May you know God’s blessing this Christmas and in the coming year.

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Enjoyed Holiday Club?

Did your child enjoy attending Holiday Club?

Are you now wondering what's next? We are hoping to run another Holiday Club next year, but between now and then there are a number of activities and events that might be of interest.

'Hands Free'

The band that played for Holiday Club play every month on a Sunday afternoon at St Matthew's Church, and include some of the songs that we sang at Holiday Club. 'Hands Free' is every second Sunday of the month, starts at 4.30pm with drinks and snacks, is informal, interactive and family-friendly, and we use projection technology throughout. Do come along.

Special events

Around the last week in October we have a 'Light Party' which includes crafts, games, singing and food. All the family are welcome. We also have an activity morning planned for the the last Saturday in November. This 'Advent Special' helps us to help to gear up for Christmas and give parents some much-appreciated child-free time! More information on both of these proposed events to follow - please check the website and the Ridgeway Broadsheet.

All Age Worship

Every first Sunday of the month at 9.30am in Chilton and 11.00am in Harwell we have 'All Age Worship', a family service lasting 40 minutes. (On other Sundays children are equally welcome and we also offer a programme for children and young people that runs alongside the service: click here for more details).

Easter

Family-friendly activities usually happen on Good Friday morning in Harwell and Easter Sunday afternoon in Chilton. More information available here. For information about Easter services click here.

'Y-Club'

'Y-Club' is a free club for children from F1 to year 6 at which the children learn about God through Bible stories, prayer, craft activities and have lots of fun doing so! It meets every Thursday after school at Chilton School. 

Holiday Club

We are hoping to run Holiday Club again next summer but have not yet confirmed dates. Information about the Club will be made available on posters, fliers and on the website in the summer and the dates posted on the website as soon as they are set.

Harwell Young Singers

HYS is for boys and girls aged 7-18 who love to sing. It meets every Thursday at 6.15pm at St Matthew's Church. More information available here.

1st Harwell Scouts

Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers meet on various evenings in St Matthew's Church Hall as well as going on camps, night hikes, sailing, moutain biking, and loads more. 1st Harwell Scouts is sponsored by St Matthew's and further information about the Group can be found here.
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North Korea

At the time of writing, summer holidays are drawing close and many people will be planning to get away for rest and relaxation and perhaps to explore new places. But I suspect that not many people will be planning a trip to North Korea. Often referred to as a ‘rogue state’, North Korea has technically been at war with South Korea since the 1950s, but tensions have been rising since it tested a missile late last year. It is the world’s most militarised country but it is also a world-leader on another scale: the ‘Open Doors’ World Watch List. North Korea is the most difficult place on earth to be a Christian.

north korea
North Korea is vehemently opposed to religion of any kind, requiring instead that its people worship founder Kim Il-Sung. It's true that the whole population of North Korea is suffering, but Christians are definitely singled out. Despite performing many outward duties, they do not worship Kim Il-Sung – they worship Jesus Christ. Their mind is not filled with North Korea's ideology of self-reliance. They care for the sick, the orphans and the hungry when no one else does. These criminal acts of 'loving your neighbour' – of 'not fitting in' – make them political enemies. And so Christians are classified as hostile and face arrest, detention, torture, even public execution. Even the possession of a Bible is reason enough to be killed or locked up with your family for the remainder of your life. Tens of thousands live and (ultimately) die in concentration camps. But despite severe oppression, there is a growing underground church movement of an estimated 400,000 Christians.

The North Korean treatment of Christians is not historically unusual. The Christian church was born in the fires of persecution, and a whole series of Roman emperors – Nero, Domitian, Marcus Aurelius, Decius and Diocletian – tried hard to destroy the Christian faith. And the Christian church has continued to be persecuted ever since. Over 300,000 Christians every year are killed for their faith. For a Christian, the worldwide statistical chance of becoming a martyr in your lifetime is approximately one in 200. But still the church grows. The church may be in decline in parts of the West, but Christianity is growing fast elsewhere, with the greatest growth most often happening in places where persecution is the strongest.

But why would anyone take the risk? People throughout history and across the world come to faith in Jesus Christ because the heavenly reward far outweighs the earthly suffering. Like those hundreds of thousands of North Korean Christians, they entrust everything to God, because they are convinced that his love is stronger than anything else.

The Apostle Paul, no stranger to persecution himself, expressed it as follows: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
 
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
July 2013

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A city on a hilltop

Mark Twain is often misquoted as saying: "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." In fact he said something rather more prosaic. But even a casual look at recent stories in the news proves that the same might aptly be said of religious faith. The rumours of its demise have been greatly exaggerated, probably to the chagrin of its most ardent ill-wishers. Why else would the media and politicians make such a fuss when a bunch of unelected jumped-up vicars write a letter to The Sunday Telegraph about benefit cuts? Why else would 5,000 journalists assemble in Rome – complete with 'chimney-cam' – to witness dirty or white smoke emerging from a tin chimney on a church roof?
cityonhill
It is clear that people are interested in matters of faith, and its outworkings do make news. Christians are – as Jesus said we would be – "a city built on a hilltop" that cannot be hidden. This is why it's so important that the Church gets it right. So we should be grateful that the first headline-grabbing comments of Justin Welby since being sworn in as Archbishop of Canterbury, were "on the side of the poor", because in that he was surely being faithful to Jesus's Kingdom manifesto: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor" (Luke 4:18); and also to the apostolic demand "they asked us to remember the poor" (Galatians 2.10). It's an anachronistic anomaly that Justin Welby was enthroned with the paraphernalia of medieval power, an apparent disconnect with the simplicity of the Church's Lord and his message to the poor.

He of course has little choice in the matter – as neither has Pope Francis whose ministry has been to the poor and whose choice of name restates that commitment. Bullet-proof buggies will replace public buses. Church leaders' only hope is to lead lives of transparent holiness, marked by Christ-like simplicity and prayer. However heavy the outer trappings, it is the inner man who is revealed by his words and actions and is watched by the world. And we shouldn't kid ourselves that onlookers are interested only in those with high profiles.

The Church has recently celebrated Pentecost, recalling the time when the Holy Spirit was sent to the church to empower it for mission. Every Christian believer is inhabited by the Holy Spirit in order to reveal the love of Christ in the community. C S Lewis wrote that the Church that "exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose." To be a disciple is this radical calling to be "little Christs"; in us others hope for a glimpse of Jesus, full of passionate care for the poor, the marginalised, the imprisoned, the deluded and the dying – and for themselves. Not only must we pray that our leaders should be shining examples, but Jesus reminds us all: "You are the light of the world."

Adapted from an article by Michael Wenham writing for Evangelical Alliance

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A life transformed

I heard recently about a group of teenagers chatting and laughing on a pavement when a lady, probably in her 80’s, tried to get past. The group wouldn’t move, however, blocking the path and forcing her walk on the road. As she passed they jeered at her and made disparaging comments about her age and appearance.
respect
When I heard of this, my first reaction was one of anger. How dare they treat someone like that? But these feelings were soon followed by feelings of sadness and despair, even. I thought about our society which increasingly worships youth and celebrity, and where one’s worth is measured in terms of one’s bank balance, looks or abilities. Being raised in that environment, perhaps these young people have not been given the moral grounding that many take for granted.

The Bible speaks of honouring the one’s parents and the elderly and of caring for the weak and vulnerable, but when you don’t know or don’t respect biblical authority then it is hard to justify why you should do these things. The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), but when society tells you that God is dead and ‘if it feels good do it’, life can easily become a moral free-for-all.

But then I started to feel hopeful as I thought of dramatic stories of God’s intervention in the lives of apparently hopeless cases. People like Nicky Cruz.

Nicky Cruz was raised in Puerto Rico and was the victim of repeated physical abuse and rejection at the hands of his parents. In an attempt to escape his violent upbringing, Cruz fled to New York City in the mid 1950s where he soon got caught up in the gang violence that was sweeping the city. Fearless and seemingly immune to physical pain, Cruz rose through the ranks of the notorious Mau Mau gang in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to become their War Lord. Cruz’ life was a downward spiral of violence and dysfunction. A psychiatrist once told the court and Nicky that he was “doomed… finished… on a one-way trip to jail, the electric chair and hell.”

Then one day a skinny preacher, David Wilkerson, came to the war-torn streets of Brooklyn delivering a message to Nicky – “Jesus loves you, Nicky.” Cruz threatened to kill the preacher, but several weeks later at a rally in New York City, Cruz surrendered his life to God and exchanged his weapons for a Bible. For the past 50 years, Nicky has been travelling around the world reaching tens of millions of people with his miraculous testimony and continues to minister in inner cities and prisons. His life story has been told in the best-selling book, ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’, and in the movie by the same title. I read that book and saw that film when I was a teenager, and they had a significant impact on my fledgling Christian faith.

There are many others like Nicky Cruz, radically transformed by the power of God through the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Many stories of God’s work in the lives of individuals are less dramatic, but no less significant, and some of those will be shared at the Songs of Praise event on Harwell Recreation Ground on Sunday 26th May. If you are tempted to despair and need to be encouraged, please come along. If you just want to join in with a good old sing then you are equally welcome. And if you would like to share your story of how God has been at work in your life, then be in touch!

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
May 2013

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What sort of king?

The history books have been re-opened with the recent discovery under a car park in Leicester of the remains of King Richard III. Many people have in their minds a picture of Richard III heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s version of events. But this discovery is important in casting light on the question of what sort of a king he really was.
Easter 2013
This Easter we have an opportunity to look again at the questions around King Jesus. ‘Christ’ means king, but Jesus is a king famous for having a crown not of gold, but of thorns. He was a king who came ‘not to be served, but to serve’ and who, on Maundy Thursday, took the role of the lowliest servant washing his disciples’ feet. He was a king who, on Good Friday, despite being innocent of any crime, experienced the most brutal form of Roman execution – that usually reserved for the very worst of criminals. He was a king for whose people the confusion and waiting of Easter Saturday was dramatically transformed by the earth-shattering events and discoveries of Easter Sunday.
 
King Jesus surprised then and continues to surprise today. Why not discover the King and celebrate with us this Holy Week in our services in Chilton and Harwell? Everyone is welcome.
 
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
April 2013

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A little lie

Most of us will admit that we have at times told a little lie to avoid embarrassment. It was to save face that former Cabinet minister Chris Huhne asked his wife to carry the can for his speeding offence. A decade later the chickens have come home to roost, with the misdemeanour revealed and a political career in tatters. From chickens to horses, the European food industry is another casualty of dishonesty and the horsemeat scandal has opened a window on a murky European food industry seemingly riddled with dishonest practices driven by pressure to cut costs. 
lies
We read stories of government ministers in Europe embarrassed by discoveries of past plagiarism, and of the same syndrome on the other side of the Atlantic. Recently Harvard University accused 125 undergraduates of sharing and plagiarising answers for a final take-home exam, and a study found that an astonishing 85% of high school students cheat in tests. But it is hardly surprising that young people cheat when the most successful people in society cheat all the time – bankers pocket billions by rigging the interest rates they charge each other, pharmaceutical companies fake their trial results, famous singers lip-sync at concerts, and elite athletes such as Lance Armstrong illegally use drugs to get to the top.
 
It is shocking how even very young children find it so easy to deal in half-truths and spin. Deceiving others comes shamefully easily to us. It is very tempting to be economical with the truth, or to lie outright, when it is apparently rewarding to do so. But lies and deception are ultimately damaging – not just to those around us, but to us too – as Chris Huhne and Lance Armstrong have discovered. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave… when first we practice to deceive” observed Walter Scott.
 
So what is the solution? It starts with naming the problem – not to do so is another form of deception. The Apostle John tells us that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us”. Mark Twain – that shrewd observer of the human condition – was also aware of the universality of this particular blight: “There’s one way to find out if a man is honest”, suggests Twain, “ask him; if he says yes, you know he’s crooked.” But having the honesty to answer ‘no’ is the approach that John advocates: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
 
Our food chain is contaminated and in need of purification, but the only chance of that is to identify the source of the problem. For ourselves, we need to name the problem and be prepared to be embarrassed in order to be purified. To deny the problem is self-deception. But to admit it is the way to life and freedom.
 
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton

March 2013


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Pairing up

Be mine, Valentine. No sooner, it seems, are the shops clear of tinsel and baubles than they restock with heart-shaped chocolates and soft toys bearing romantic messages. But interest in romance is not just around Valentine’s Day. Throughout the year the pop charts are full of love songs and the cinemas with films which have a love story at their heart.
 couple
Teenagers are particularly sensitive to the biological imperative to pair up and often expend a great deal of time and money trying to look just right for that special someone who might come along. It is not out of fashion: according to a recent survey, 89% of young people want to get married.
 
Deep in our wiring, most human beings seem to desire to find a mate and ‘live happily ever after’. Though we often fall short of the ideal, there is a deep yearning for relationships that are lifelong and exclusive. Divorce is a sad reality, but two thirds of first marriages do in fact last ‘until death us do part’. And research suggests that marriage is good both for adults and children. Whilst it is not always possible for various reasons, we know that children generally do best when brought up by married parents.
 
From the earliest times human societies have recognised, regulated and organised themselves around lifelong ’pair-bonds’ of a man and woman in which children are born and raised. Marriage has not been invented by any government or religion, nor can it be redefined. Marriage arises from our nature.
 
It is one of the joys and privileges of ministry that I get to meet couples wanting to get married and then officiate at their weddings. The Church of England wedding service is well-known and speaks of marriage as reflecting the union of Christ with his bride, the Church. Marriage is God’s idea and the love and commitment expressed in marriage is one of the ways humans are designed to reflect God.
 
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:2-3).
 
Marriage is a precious thing which we should celebrate and protect, and we should support those who are married or aspiring to relationships of love and commitment. Perhaps every day should be Valentine’s Day.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
February 2013


References for research quoted can be found here


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Good news

What would be the best news you could hear this Christmas? An all-clear on your health, a promotion or exciting new job, or news of a new baby? Our TVs and newspapers have been full of plenty of bad news in 2012, so some decent good news would be welcome as the year draws to a close.
gloria
Just over 2000 years ago, angels – God’s messengers – came from heaven. They brought good news – earth-shattering, mind-blowing good news – for all people. We continue to announce and celebrate those ‘great glad tidings’ in our churches this Christmas. There are a variety of special services, including those suitable for families with young children, traditional candlelit services, and others besides – details are provided in this card. Do join us to celebrate the good news of this special season.

Warm greetings from All Saints’ Chilton and St Matthew’s Harwell. May you know God’s blessing this Christmas and in the coming year.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
December 2012


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Autumn days

To my mind, autumn starts when we first decide to put on the central heating at home. Officially it started on 22nd September – the equinox when day and night each last 12 hours. We may yet get a burst of heat before winter is upon us, but the signs of autumn are certainly all around.
 

For many of us, the annual turning of the seasons simply adds interest to life, giving an opportunity to wear a different wardrobe, or engage in an alternative set of leisure activities. For others, particularly those who work outdoors or close to the land, the seasons make a huge difference to daily life. For some, particularly the frail or very poor, the change of seasons can lead to illness or even death.
autumn

However much we are aware of them, the seasons are a fixed part of life in the natural world. They also point towards the seasons in our own lives.
 

Over the last few months I have been involved with quite a number of funerals. A popular reading at such services includes the following verses: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).
 

This ancient book from the biblical wisdom literature reminds us that we are as subject to seasons as the rest of the world. And faced with the inevitable change and seasonality that is built into the natural world, we could become fatalistic, resigned to being trapped in these unavoidable cycles. Or we could try to look beyond them.
 

In another book of biblical wisdom, Job recognises that the seasons are not directed by an impersonal power, but that there is a person behind them. In a time of personal crisis, Job, with prophetic insight, declares that it is the Lord who gives and takes away (Job 1:21). Years later Jesus further explains that because of his love, the heavenly Father “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
 

Whilst they may be outside our control, the seasons are part of God’s good plan for his world. So as autumn arrives, whether around us or in our lives, let’s give thanks to God for the seasons, trust his loving wisdom, and seek to make the most of the differing opportunities that each brings.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
October 2012


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Holidays

This month I'm writing from the middle of a field. Our whole family are joining in with the 1st Harwell Scout Group summer camp - and we're having a great time! At this time of year people in their thousands take to the fields for their holidays - living life very differently for a week or two, enjoying being close to the natural world. Such activity is all the more enjoyable when the sun is shining, as at last it is (at least, at the time of writing!). For others, the concepts of holiday and camping most certainly do not go together, and a proper bed, running water and solid walls are strictly non-negotiable.
camping
We are different in the things we find restful and refreshing. But we all need to take time out of our normal routines to rest, reflect, and recharge. It is easy to get ground down by what can sometimes seem to be a treadmill of daily life, and building in relaxation and recreation into our lives is essential if we want to stay healthy and fresh. This is not only good sense, it is commanded in the Bible.

God's people were instructed to have one day free from work every seven - the so called Sabbath day - and this was taken so seriously that it even made it into the Ten Commandments.

"Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day

is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work"

(Exodus 20:9-10a).

In addition to the weekly Sabbath day were a cycle of special annual celebrations that also enforced rest, and this important concept has made it into our culture. The English word ‘holiday' comes from ‘Holy Day' - a day set aside for a special purpose - time to rest, reflect and recharge.

We should not feel guilty about carving out time for these things. We need them, and God commands them. We can keep going for a while without a break, but like a vehicle that is not regularly serviced, we risk inefficiency and even breakdown. As pit stops are important for racing cars, so breaks are for humans. So whether it is time in a field under canvas or in more civilised surroundings, do take a holiday if you can.

With best wishes,

 

Jonathan.

 

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
August 2012


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Only one gets the prize...

rings
“Send her victorious, happy and glorious!” The Diamond Jubilee celebrations are only just over, and the country finds itself gearing up for another major event. Again, the National Anthem will be played, but now to urge Team GB to victory in the London Olympics. This year is a gift for schools, who are able to link their Sports Days to this global celebration of sporting excellence to encourage their pupils to athletic endeavour.

Sport and athletics can be very valuable, not only in promoting physical health, but also for encouraging teamwork, building self-esteem and developing perseverance. A number of pioneering projects in poor communities use sport to great effect, and sports teams and events have great potential to bring together people from diverse backgrounds.

But not everyone is sporty. Some people have been scarred by bad experiences at school, not being picked for the team, or coming last in the race despite trying hard. Some people would love to be good at sport, but it just doesn’t happen for them. What does the Olympics have for them? Well, one thing the Olympics offers is a chance to cheer on the national team that is representing us. Although we may not be up to competing, in a way they are doing it for us. They go through the gruelling training and the pressure of competing, paying a great personal cost, in order to win the prize on our behalf. We can cheer them on, and if they win medals, we can celebrate with them. Winning gold in the Olympics is out of the question for most of us, but they can do it for us.

The Christian faith sees Jesus representing us in a similar way; the champion athlete representing his nation and winning the prize on their behalf. And as there is only one gold medal or crown of laurels to be won in each race, only Jesus is able to win the prize. As the Apostle Paul says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” He goes on to say that the prize that Christians are really interested in is one of supreme value, of even greater worth than an Olympic Gold; it is “a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24,25).

Jesus is the one who is truly victorious, happy and glorious. He wins the prize that we are incapable of winning, but he wins it on our behalf. As we cheer on our team at the Olympics this summer, urging them on to win the prizes that are far beyond our reach, we can know that, however many they win, the ultimate prize of eternal life is already won for those who cheer for Jesus.

 

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
July 2012


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The Jubilee

Will you be celebrating the Jubilee? The souvenir mugs have arrived in the shops, the TV documentaries are ready to air, and bunting will soon be going up. Many people will be marking the Jubilee with street parties and, of course, an extra Bank Holiday, a free day’s pay symbolising the Sovereign’s favour on her subjects.

jubilee
But in these tough economic times many will not feel like celebrating. Our economy continues to bump along the bottom, vulnerable to the debt-fuelled crisis in the Eurozone. Personal and national debt is pervasive and damaging, a significant factor in mental illness. Celebrating the Jubilee amongst mounting debt would seem to be incongruous. But it shouldn’t be. Jubilee is all about debt.

Jubilee is an ancient term used of a biblical celebration held every 50 years in which debts were cancelled, lands returned to their original owners and slaves freed (see Leviticus 25). Jubilee literally means ‘release’ or ‘liberty’. Jubilee was built into the heart of the life of God’s people to reflect that both the land and the people belonged to God, and needed protection.

But Jubilee was not simply an economically levelling piece of Jewish legislation. It set the scene for and pre-figured the Christian gospel.

When Jesus launched his ministry in his hometown synagogue, quoting from the prophet Isaiah, he declared that he had come to proclaim and bring about liberty, literally ‘Jubilee’, saying

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim Jubilee [liberty] to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at Jubilee [liberty] those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:18–19).


The Christian faith is all about the good news of liberty; the pardoning of debts – especially our moral debt to God – and of release from oppression. So as we celebrate the Jubilee year of Queen Elizabeth, let us remember also to celebrate the Jubilee of the King of Heaven, the year of the Lord’s favour.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton
June 2012


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The rising of the Son

he is risen
It’s wonderful to see the signs of spring around us and enjoy the warmth of the sun. The sun has been in the news recently, with stories about stellar storms, solar power, and impending drought. 93 million miles may seem like a long way away, and on a cloudy day we may even forget that it’s there, but the importance of the sun’s presence at the centre of the solar system can’t be overstated. Without the sun there would be no life on this planet.

With the reappearance of the sun and the new life of spring, comes Easter. Easter is the central festival of the Christian year and the importance of the Easter events can’t be overstated. Easter is about life and death – or rather the death and life – of Jesus Christ and of every human that has ever lived. It recalls events a long way off that can be ignored or taken for granted, but if true are of universal importance. Whether the sun shines affects us all. Whether God’s Son rose from the dead is even more significant.

This Son is very much in the news at our churches this Easter. Whatever your age or outlook you are very welcome to join us to investigate, reflect on, and celebrate the rising of God’s Son and the life that He brings.

 

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey

Rector of Harwell with Chilton

April 2012


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Appreciation

March the 18th this year provides an opportunity for celebration. And I don’t just mean for hard-pressed florists and chocolatiers hoping for a boost in their cash-flow. Mother’s Day has become an international phenomenon, in part because of commercial interests, but also, I believe, because we recognise that it is a good thing to appreciate and celebrate those who gave us life.
daffodils
In Britain, mothers are traditionally celebrated on Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, a welcome half-way break in a season of austerity. But what of the fathers? Hard as the men might try to be supportive and ‘hands-on’ with their families, much of the burden, especially in those exhausting early years, falls on the mother. Much of mothering is hard grind, a 24-7 commitment to putting the needs of a small, dependent human being before your own, and bearing the toll, physically and emotionally.

Of course, there are rewards to be had along the way, and the joy of witnessing landmark achievements such as baby's first words. It was not very diplomatic of my children that the first word each of them uttered was not the deserved and deeply rewarding ‘ma-ma’ but the rather galling ‘da-da’! Of course, it was probably nothing to do with expressing a preference for one parent, but simply making an easier sound.

Whatever the significance of our first words, it is universally true that we are not very good at appreciating those who have given so much to us, in particular our parents. Mothering Sunday and the fathers’ counterpart in June are an opportunity, in a small way, to address this oversight.

But there is a greater oversight that needs to be addressed. The love and sacrifice of our human parents directs us to an even greater, even more loving Parent, the one ‘from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named’ (according to Ephesians 3:15). And like our earthly parents, we often take the heavenly Father for granted and neglect to express our gratitude to Him for His goodness to us.

Whilst our mothers give birth to us, feed, clothe, educate, and comfort us, God is the ultimate source of all those things. Whilst our mothers have made and make great sacrifices out of their love for us, all that is a pointer towards the much greater love of the God who became one of us in his Son, and the unimaginable sacrifice made so that the beloved children of the heavenly Father might have life.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey

Rector of Harwell with Chilton
March 2012


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New Beginnings

exercise book
As a child at school I used to love getting a new exercise book. With every new school year came a new set of books and a new opportunity—the possibly of a flawless book without any mistakes! I am by nature an optimist. It is said that a pessimist can never be disappointed but whether expected or not, every one of us is inevitably and regularly brought face to face with the reality of imperfection, the disappointment of falling short, the shame of missing the mark. However hard we try, it is a sad certainty that we cannot keep our exercise books free of mistakes, our relationships free of selfishness, or our world free of suffering. New Year’s Resolutions, however sincere, are simply not enough. There are forces at work stronger than our good intentions.

But the Christian message is one of hope and good news, of good overcoming evil, and of the perfect vanquishing imperfection. It is a message of fresh starts, forgiveness for past failure, and new beginnings. Jesus spoke of those who put their faith in him even of being ‘born again’, of being a new creation, even.

 

As we reach a new year and a new school term, accompanied no doubt by hopes of self-improvement and of doing better than before, we have before us a genuine opportunity to start afresh. With Christmas behind us, we look forward to Easter when Jesus was raised from the dead to new life, defeating the dark powers that work against all of us, thwarting our best efforts. 2012 gives us the opportunity to meet the Lord of life, the giver of opportunities. If you have not already done so, why not make a resolution this year to investigate his claims, perhaps by coming to church on a Sunday or by joining the Alpha Course running on Wednesday evenings, and discover whether a new beginning really is possible?

 

‘He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” ’ Revelation 21:5


Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey

Rector of Harwell with Chilton

January 2012


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Celebrate with us

ChristmasCard
Christmas is coming! For many people, the run-up to Christmas is a time of stress and worry. The pressure of buying presents, preparing meals and hosting visitors can be overwhelming. In amongst the busyness and commercialism it is good to slow down, to take time to reorientate ourselves, and to remember the miracle of that first Christmas, when God became a human baby.

This Advent, the season of preparation, and at Christmas itself, there are a number of opportunities to prepare for and celebrate that wonderful event, and this card contains details of the variety of special services that will be happening in Harwell and Chilton. There are services suitable for families with young children, traditional candlelit services, and services for those wanting to celebrate communion on one of the most important ‘feast days’ of Christianity. Jesus came for all people, and all are welcome at our services in this special season.

Warm greetings from All Saints’ Chilton and St Matthew’s Harwell. May you know God’s blessing this Christmas and in the coming year.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey

Rector of Harwell with Chilton

December 2011


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Lest we forget

How is your memory? Probably not as good as that of the actress Marilu Henner who has the rare condition ‘hyperthymesia’. Marilu is able to remember every day of her life as if it were yesterday. “When someone asks me about a particular day, it’s like I’m looking for a scene on a DVD playing before me,” she told the Sunday Times. “In a second I’m back there, looking at the scene as I saw it. I can focus in on details, like the title of a book.”remember

 

Memory is an essential ingredient of our humanity – it is vital to be able to remember how to look after ourselves, to remember who our friends are, and, indeed, who we ourselves are. Much of what we remember is automatic, but some things we need intentionally to remember by, for example, setting alarms, leaving notes on the fridge, and holding special events.

 

November is a month of remembrance. The 5th is when we remember Guy Fawkes and the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. That key time in our national history has been formative for our sense of national identity. The 11th is another day when we remember those involved in events whose importance is not just national but global. We remember with gratitude those in the armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedom. And for us as a family, the 16th is a day when we remember and celebrate the birth of one of our four children – a rather dramatic delivery as it turned out – and the blessing and wonder of that new life.

 

Each of these events is marked symbolically and regularly and strengthens our sense of identity and unity. The Christian faith similarly celebrates symbolically and regularly an event which determines our identity and unites us. In the Lord’s Supper, also known as Holy Communion or the Eucharist, we look to three key events.

 

Firstly we look back to its precursor – the Jewish Passover meal. This key event marked the beginnings of the Jewish nation when they were rescued from slavery in Egypt, and defined the nation as God’s chosen people. Secondly, we remember the Last Supper before the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection secured for us freedom from sin and death. Thirdly, we look forward to the future time of celebration, likened in the Bible to a feast in God’s glorious presence. This wonderful prospect inspires and motivates us in our Christian lives.

Identity, sacrifice and celebration. To remember is an essential part of life and that which roots, orientates and sustains us. To remember is part of what it is to be human. This November let’s take time to remember, and be thankful.

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey

Rector of Harwell with Chilton

November 2011


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Listen Up

I would like share this joke with you. The picture is of a wife addressing her husband, who is somewhat pre-occupied. “You never listen to me,” she says in frustration, “you only hear what you want to hear.” “Sure,” he replies, “I’ll have a beer.” The sad truth is that we are not always very good at listening to one another. It is all too easy to get locked into our own little world, and pay too little attention to the views and feelings of others. But that is not the way it should be. It has been suggested that since humans have two ears and one mouth they should listen at least twice as much as they speak.


stethoscopeListening skills are a key part of the curriculum at good medical schools. Such skills are taught for at least two reasons. Not only is good listening therapeutic in itself, it is also essential to the process of making a diagnosis. It is said that 90% of all diagnoses can be made simply from listening to what a patient says. Listening is also a key part of the next stage in making a diagnosis – the examination – hence the importance of the stethoscope. Another reason for listening is to expand one’s own resources by gaining from the wisdom and experience of others.

 

I and my family are new to Harwell and Chilton, and since arriving we have been listening hard, trying to learn who’s who, what’s what, and where’s where. I have decided, particularly during my first 70 days in post, intentionally and carefully to listen in order to discern the future direction for the churches of Harwell and Chilton. This decision is partly informed by common sense but also by Christian theology. You see, Christians believe that God is a God who cares for his people and speaks to them in order to guide them.

 

A familiar biblical image of God is that of a shepherd. In the ancient near-east and in many parts of the world today, shepherds guide their flocks to places of safety and good pasture by calling to them. The sheep learn to recognise and trust the voice of the shepherd and so follow. Jesus says “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
 

God speaks to and guides us in all sorts of ways. Christians believe that the primary way is through his Son, Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Bible, but that God also speaks to us indirectly through other people, our circumstances and our consciences. It can be difficult to hear the ‘still small voice’ of God (cf 1 Kings 19:11-13) and it can be all too easy to hear what we want to hear. But if we genuinely want to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd guiding us, we can.
 

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey

Rector of Harwell with Chilton

October 2011


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The Next Generation

Journalists sometimes complain that there is little of interest to report in August. Not so this year when, around the time that my family were moving into Harwell Rectory, our screens were inundated with distressing scenes in English cities of violence, looting and arson and its awful aftermath.

 

Why has this happened? The post-mortem is still ongoing and much ink has been spilt in the struggle to make sense of these shocking events. Many people accept that whilst the perpetrators were a relatively small minority, this 'Lord of the Flies' nightmare represents the terrifying tip of the iceberg of a generation that has grown up in a society that has drifted a long way from its Christian moorings.
 

youthstudy

What is to be done? Justice must be done, the debris cleared up, and the victims cared for. But if we are going to heed this wake-up call, we also need to engage in 'preventative medicine'. We have done it before and can do it again. The 1820's was a time in which, like today, many young people in the cities were out of control. A series of movements for social reform resulted, including the creation of Sunday Schools and YMCA buildings along with the teaching of morality and self-control. Within a generation, the rot was reversed and social order restored.

 

We all have a moral duty to invest in our young people and support families in what is arguably the most difficult and important job of all, raising the next generation. As father of four young children, I know it is not an easy task! The Church, in particular, is charged with passing on to the next generation the life-transforming Christian story. Psalm 78 speaks of this imperative:

 

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds
of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done...
he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them...
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would
not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

 

The Church has its work cut out. Ageing congregations around the country support the notion that there has been a failure in transmission, rather like a radio that has lost its tuning. The challenge to connect with and nurture the next generation is great, but the need, as evidenced by the scenes in early August, is inescapable.


It is sometimes said that 'it takes a village to raise a child.' We in the villages of Harwell and Chilton, and the churches at their heart, face a great challenge. But if we are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to invest in the future and make young people and families a priority, they and the society they will come to lead will benefit immeasurably.
 

Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey

Rector of Harwell with Chilton

September 2011


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