Family Church – Change of venue

We have secured an indoor meeting place from this Sunday through til December 12th. Chidham Primary School have kindly agreed to allow us to use their school hall and grounds including their field and outdoor play equipment if the weather holds up.

This space has windows all the way round and two doors that lead outside so there is lots of ventilation. Bring a warm coat! We are seated on school lunch benches but we will bring some fold up chairs from church as well and space them out at the back to provide some distanced seating. Masks are optional but encouraged.

Open to all ages – please sign up HERE

The address is
Chidham Parochial Primary School, Chidham Lane, PO18 8TH


Park in the playground – the gates will be open

Have Your Say / Get Involved

As you have probably heard, the main church building at St. John’s is currently closed for some repair and refurbishment. This means that services are taking place in the hall next door, and are subject to the current COVID rules.

We would like to hear your views on booking places at services, wearing masks in the centre, wanting to have a separate ‘COVID secure’ area, and any other related points.

We would also love to have any pictures, news stories, or other content for the website – please only send us things we are allowed to share online!

If you feel you would like to join our volunteer team on a Sunday, please do get in touch. There is a role for everyone and most involve committing to one session a month.

Please send your thoughts and contributions to admin@stjohnssouthbourne.com

Daily Update – End of an era

After 365 editions of the daily update, we feel we have reached a good point to wrap them up for the time being. The news sheet will still be published each week, along with various other news, worship, image, and event content posts – watch this space!

Thank you for your continued support and every blessing for the coming season.

Daily Update #365

Pause: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore.”   Psalm 133

Reading: Colossians 4 : 7 – 18  “ Tychicus will tell you all the news about me.  He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.  I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.  He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you.  They will tell you everything that is happening here.  My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas.  (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)  Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings.  These are the only Jews among my fellow-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.  Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings.  He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.  I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.  Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.  Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.  After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.  Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’  I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.  Remember my chains. 
Grace be with you.”


Today we have reached the end of this wonderful letter of Paul, written to the church in Colossae, probably written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome.  The letter, as we have seen over the past few weeks, contains some words of encouragement, some necessary words of correction, and some wonderful teaching, all of which also has relevance for us today, in the 21st. century.  In these verses we see the loving, generous heart of Paul for those who share his ministry, and for those whom he loves from afar. 

In these verses Paul mentions eight fellow-workers who are with him in Rome, at least one of whom is in prison with him, and two who will be travelling to Colossae with this letter.  These two, Tychicus and Onesimus, are not only carrying the letter, they are specifically bringing words of encouragement.  Paul may be in prison, but the work of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ continues, and Paul wants his fellow-Christians to share in his joy at this.  When we look at the world in which we live, and see the persecution and problems that many Christians face today, we could perhaps become despondent, but our God is still on the throne, and the work of spreading the Gospel continues regardless. 

Another one of these eight who is worth thinking about for a few moments is Epaphras.  We know very little about this faithful servant of Jesus, other than that he had been instrumental in teaching the young church in Colossae the truths of the Gospel, as we see from verse 7 of chapter 1 of this letter, and also, as we see in Philemon verse 23, he too was in prison with Paul.  What is worth noting about Epaphras is that he was “always wrestling in prayer” for the Christians in Colossae; what an encouragement for them and a challenge for us!  I have never forgotten the meeting I had with the retired Minister of our little church in Gloucester, where we were very new Christians, and who had gone to be Vicar of some churches near Bristol.  We met one day, several months later, and he asked me how I was, to which I replied that I was very well.  “I am so pleased to hear that,” he said, “I pray for you every day.”  What an encouragement, and what a challenge.  We may not see those we pray for very often; we may not hear much from them; but as Alec Motyer once said, “I know the address of every Christian in the world; it is ‘In Christ’.”  Our Lord knows the needs of all those for whom we have concerns, our challenge is to be faithful in prayer.

A closing thought from these “final greetings” from Paul.  These towns and cities, in what is now Turkey, may not have been major players on the world stage, but they were places where the word of God was shared, lives were changed, and who knows how many Christians from there took that Good News further afield.  We live in a small village on the western edge of Sussex, but through faithfulness and prayer the Word of God has been shared in some far-flung areas of the world, and that continues today.  Distance is not a problem where our Lord is concerned; the example of these early Christians is both an encouragement and a challenge to us today.

Prayer:  Almighty God, we give thanks for those who have shared with us the riches of the kingdom, for those who have been examples to us, for those who have taught us the faith.  We pray for all who seek to pass on these riches in their homes and in the community.  AMEN.                (David Adam)

Daily Update #364

Today’s reading:

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4:2-6

Hands up everybody who thinks that their prayer life is satisfactory in all respects.  

How are you doing in making the most of every opportunity to share the gospel with those who don’t yet know the Lord Jesus?  

Hands up everybody who is satisfied that their responses to others are always completely gracious and appropriate, attractive and sharing our faith appropriately.  

These are really challenging themes, aren’t they?  The apostle Paul puts his finger on many vital issues where we need to apply ourselves diligently and seek the Holy Spirit’s intervention, if we are to live out our calling.  

Our approach to prayer should be watchful and thankful.  We need to devote ourselves to prayer.  Far from squeezing prayer time into the edges of our day (if at all), we need to devote ourselves, spending quality time in prayer before our Lord.  We need to be resolute and persistent in prayer, recognising God’s blessings and giving him thanks for them.  

Note that the apostle also urges the Colossians to pray for him.  We all need to be supported in prayer by our fellow Christians.  Notice the focus of Paul’s request for prayer.  He asks for opportunities to share the gospel.  He asks that he may do this clearly.  Recall that he is in prison and his life is at risk.  He does not ask for relief from his difficulties and restrictions, just for opportunities to be effective as he shares the gospel where God has placed him.  

Finally in our passage for today Paul urges the Colossians to be wise in their actions towards those who don’t know Jesus.  They need to seize every opportunity to make him known.  They need to do this in ways which are gracious and full of flavour.  If they do this correctly their answers will be the right ones, the answers which will lead people to Christ.  

So what should we do?  Here are a few suggestions:  

Let’s introduce some structure to our day, so we can be devoted to prayer.  Let’s start modest, but make some time.  Let’s start with thanks and don’t forget to open with God’s word.  

Let’s pray for others, and particularly our church leaders at St. John’s, as well as national church leaders.  Let’s pray for gospel focus, that they will proclaim him faithfully and clearly, as they should.  

Let’s pray for more opportunities to share the Lord Jesus with others, and for boldness for ourselves in seizing them.  

Let’s work on our conversations, focusing on grace.  Let’s pique people’s attention with the surprising and attractive aspects of our Lord, so that people will be curious and will want to follow up.  

Maybe we could talk with a trusted brother or sister in Christ and share how we’re doing in developing these disciplines?  They are tough and it’s easy to feel we are not making progress.  Stick at them, the Lord’s well done is more than worth it!  

Prayer:  

Lord Jesus, 

Thank you for the precious gift of prayer, through which we can come to you in thanks and praise.  Thanks also for the glorious gospel, which is the word of salvation and life to all who will receive it and respond to it in repentance and faith.  

Give us grace to share the gospel as we should, send your Holy Spirit so that our discussions will be seasoned with salt.  Help us to answer those who ask us to give the reason for the hope which is in us and to do this clearly and faithfully.  

We ask this for your honour and glory.  

Amen

Tomorrow’s passage:  Colossians 4:7-18

Daily Update #363

Colossians 3:22-4:1

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything;  and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.   It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favouritism.
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”

We have been thinking about the challenges and qualities needed for living  our New Life in Christ…..the sin that we need to put off and the graces to put on.   Nowhere is this more evident than in our relationships with those in our immediate everyday orbit.    If our Christianity is to mean anything it has to show in the way we live.   Not that we are saved through our works, but that the way we live expresses our salvation.    Lives that have been changed by Christ ought to shine through in everyday relationships.    The biggest test of what we believe is the way we behave with those we are closest to.    

On Monday Martin spoke about the way Christian husbands and wives should treat one another.     In a similar vein, yesterday Mike addressed the issue of parents and children.   At the time when Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians, slaves were regular members of some of the wealthier households.     In the context of a passage about Christian behaviour in the household it was natural to include them in what he said.  Paul may also have been thinking of the runaway slave, Onesimus, referred to in his letter to Philemon, as he wrote this.

I don’t intend to talk about modern-day slavery!    While the N.I.V. and some other Bible versions use the word “slave”, several others refer to “servants”.    In the context of today’s study we may want to use the word “employees”.   

Many volumes have been written about how Christians should behave in the work situation.    Is the God being worshipped on Sunday the same as the One revealed by people’s lives on Monday?

Immediate questions arise about the use of one’s employer’s time – persistent lateness, over-extended coffee breaks, time spent talking on a mobile phone to friends, the use and abuse of the firm’s resources, the quality of work delivered etc. etc.   Christians need to work with integrity whether someone is watching or not.  

On the other hand, difficult questions arise for employees who are required by their boss to do things which are immoral, illegal or just plain unfair, even amounting on occasions to bullying.   Work situations can be quite challenging  and sometimes much heart-searching is required when Christians find themselves in tough situations to which there aren’t easy answers.   

Equally, Christian employers need to consider their responsibilities carefully and treat staff fairly.    Not only do they have greater authority and usually more power, they also need to remember that they are accountable to a higher authority.  Christians are reminded that their real Master is God Himself and He sees all.   This applies whatever one’s position in the work-force.   Before Him everyone stands equal and needs to retain integrity by giving of their best.    
There are many challenges for Christians in 21st Century employment situations.     Keeping one’s eyes fixed on the Lord as ultimate Master gives an anchor and a reference point.    If hearts have been truly changed by Him Christians are likely to be more sensitive to issues that arise.      It is important to remember that His grace, strength and wisdom are available to help deal with situations.      God rewards those who are diligent even if employers don’t, but He also expects high standards from employees!   

As well as keeping one’s eyes on Jesus, it also highlights the need for us to stand together as Christians, ready to support each other when the going is tough. 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.   It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  (verses 23 and 24)

“Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go,
My daily labour to pursue,
Thee, only Thee, resolved to know
In all I think, or speak, or do.  

The task thy wisdom has assigned
O let me cheerfully fulfil;
In all my works Thy presence find,
And prove Thy good and perfect will.

Thee may I set at my right hand,
Whose eyes my inmost secrets see;
And labour on at Thy command,
And offer all my works to Thee.”

(Charles Wesley, 1707-88)  

Daily Update #362

Today’s Reading: Colossians 3:20-21                                                             

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

We are in the middle of Paul’s teaching to the Christians in Colossae about the mutual obligations of those who belong to a Christian family. Yesterday we looked at wives and husbands. Today we are looking at the way in which parents and their children should behave towards each other. Along with spouses (if we are married), for better or for worse these are usually, the closest, most important and most character-forming relationships of our lives. What happens in the family home matters to God as much as our attitudes and actions elsewhere! Paul’s teaching here is still highly relevant in today’s complicated society with its diverse range of definitions, expectations and experiences of family life.

There is no guarantee, of course, that Christian parents and children will treat each other better than do those who are yet to trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord. However, verse 20 says that the obedience of respectful children to their parents “pleases the Lord”. In fact pleasing the Lord should always be our primary motive in all of our relationships and activities. In verse 21 Paul warns fathers not to annoy and discourage their children. As a father, I regret how I have failed, and still fail, in this area. We can all be exasperating to our children in minor ways. However, we are not to treat them so unfairly or unkindly that they feel bitterness and are discouraged in their lives. Such a damaging failure hurts our loving Lord- as well as our children and ourselves. In examining how much we have been a blessing or a hindrance to our children and/or our parents, we need to remember that:

i)      God the Father, is the perfect example of a loving father who always seeks the very best for us as His children. Sadly, human fathers are not so reliable and supportive.

ii)     Jesus respected and cared for His earthly parents. He was obedient to His heavenly Father – even when that meant giving up His life on the cross to save us from our sins.

Anyone who struggles with all this, whether as a wife, husband, parent or child, will find wise advice in a best-selling book first published in the UK some 50 years ago. ‘The Christian Family’ was written by the late Larry Christenson, a Lutheran pastor from San Pedro, California. New, reprinted copies are still available online for under £9. I bought this book in the early 1970s and have always enjoyed its gentle wisdom, especially its three chapters on ‘Practicing the Presence of Jesus.’ But the last word must go to St Paul:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” -which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

Today’s Prayer: Thank you Father that as your children whatever our family relationships have been like, you never let us down. Please help us to grow in our reliance upon you, and in our understanding and obedience. May we enjoy your presence with us in our homes, and in all our relationships, so that we might please you day by day. Amen. (MW)

Daily Update #361

Colossians 3:18-19

Mr & Mrs

O what joy to be given this passage! I must tread very carefully here!
1Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.


Paul recognised that there are many things on earth which are a foretaste of heaven. The pattern of obedience such as children to parents and wives to husbands are a mere shadow of the church’s subjugation to the head, Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. However, the standard set by Jesus as the preeminent leader suggests to me there is an awesome responsibility if you are given a position of authority, in a God-given role. The small print in this verse is the phrase ‘in the Lord’, and suggests that this principle is to be applied to those who accept the divine order of things.

Perhaps it is also worth mentioning the context of Paul’s writing. The gospel possibly caused an explosive change to the rights of women in that Roman age, the truth had set everyone free. However, there was still a holy order to maintain. The authority of a husband is a God-given responsibility and not an acknowledgement of any form of abusive superiority.

This is not one-sided, as the husband is to love his wife, and as you are probably aware there a several words of love in Greek. It will be no surprise that this version of the word ‘love’ is agape – the highest form of love sourced from God himself which is the sacrificial love, fully demonstrated in Jesus. This is far removed from any form of tyranny or negative domination. Paul makes it more explicit in Ephesians 5:25. That love of his wife should be “…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” A high standard indeed.

Also, there is the small print in verse 19, husbands are not to be harsh. The word used is literally ‘not to make bitter’. Bitterness would be a result of uninspiring leadership or hollow love. A high standard to maintain.

We won’t get it right all of the time, but Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth said, “A good marriage is the union of two forgivers”.
 
Prayer
Dear Lord,
We thank you for Christian marriage which is a holy triangle of love and union. We pray for the protection of those marriages in our church, to be a true witness to the love of the church as the bride of Christ. We pray for husbands to be wise leaders in their marriage and to learn to love as you loved. Also for the wives too, to attain true fulfilment in their marriage, as they submit to their husbands and both in turn submit to the Lord.
Amen