From the Minister

March 2018

Words of Jesus

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

Luke 4:18-19

This morning is the 21st of February I am at the EBA (Eastern Baptist Association) conference and I have sat down to eat a full English breakfast when Alastair Love (HMP High Point Chaplain above with the glasses) sits down next to me. He smiles, begins to talk to me, in a Glaswegian accent. My mind is filled with images, words that I have listened to on radio 4, today programme, and the national and local news as I hear his voice.

Alastair is the father of Lauri Love, who recently has escaped extradition to the United states. Washington wanted him to face trial on charges of cyber hacking, which could mean a sentence of 99 years in Jail. He is alleged to have hacked into US agencies including the federal reserve. Us army, defence department, Nasa and the FBI in 2012 and 2013.

Lauri has Asperger syndrome, depression, eczema and asthma, which his lawyers argue would have been exacerbated if he had been sent to the U.S. These lawyers claiming that he would be at serious risk of suicide. The lawyers argued that as the crime took place in Britain, he needed to be tried in Britain. Two judges ruled that his extradition would be “Oppressive by reason of his physical and mental state.”

Lauri is to be tried in Britain and may face an 18-month prison sentence.

Lauri has described how in escaping extradition, he is relieved and looking forward to his degree and security work. Lauri lives with his parents in Newmarket. Alastair described to us, how his son at the meal table, the night of him receiving this news, thanked God for his meal and the outcome of the trial.

Alastair has described how this is the first stirrings of faith in his son.

As I tuck further, into my eggs and bacon, I listened, to the story of a loving father, desperate still to save his son. I hear the loving Father, who lives with his son’s mental health issues.

I hear the anguish, the strain in his voice, as he talks about the next stage. I hear the gracious nature, of a loving Father, who stands with his son, facing prison, who knows how hard the prison system can be, as he is a prison chaplain. I hear the love in his voice, as he describes how Lauri is being turned from poacher to game keeper.

As I finish my breakfast, I am reminded, that in the sharing of stories, we can see our heavenly Fathers, loving gracious nature at work. As a Father cares for his son in the midst of difficult circumstance. Alastair commends those of us at the table to pray for Lauri, that he might continue to recognise Jesus gracious nature.

Blessings Stuart

February 2018

The Sovereignty of the LORD.

“Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, for praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the harp; make music to Him with an instrument of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play an instrument skillfully with a joyful shout.”

Psalm 33

When we reflect on the psalms, it is amazing how many times it refers to singing and playing instruments. Every so often in life we have defining moments when God brings opportunities. One of these opportunities was when Martin Fulford, asked Emily and I to accompany him to a singing lesson with Philippa Hannah. Philippa Hannah who has produced a number of albums, is a professional Christian singer, is a regular singer, at the Big Church day out, and has sung with some amazing people including Little mix, Lionel Richey and was on X factor. The location was near Finsbury Park, in London. Monday was a wet day, as we made our way through the busy flow of traffic, memories of living in London came flooding back.

The fast paced, excitement of frenetic life. The pace, the hubbub, and the sirens of emergency services, and the difficulty of finding unrestricted parking. Finally, we found parking on top of a hill, we entered the diversity of urban life.

We arrived in London at 1.00-ish for a 2.00 start for our singing lesson with Philippa Hannah. After walking up the main high street, with the amazing diversity of food restaurants we settled on an artful looking café. The ambient sound of cool jazz filled our ears, as we ate salad and pannis together, the contemporary artwork filling the atmosphere with style and panache.

Suddenly the moment was upon us, we had already located the recording studio, as we had walked past. The studio was a rather uninspiring looking building with its black walls and small white lettering to let you know it was a recording studio. We stood at the heavy black door, with its silver intercom, pressed the buzzer. The door opened to a plush, light, airy room, full of people ready to meet us.

Hannah and Joel (her husband) welcomed us, we walked through to the recording studio, we were offered tea and coffee and we just took in the atmosphere of this amazing place.

We spent some time on introductions, and then moved on to understanding various singing techniques, that Hannah had picked up through her professional career. Hannah explained, then demonstrated various warm ups, scales, producing a range of sounds to develop a voice. Hannah went on to challenge Martin to sing we will rock you, Emily and I joined in on the chorus. Moments when we were reminded of our talent evening last year.

Martin had written an arrangement to accompany one of Philippa songs “Cherry coloured coat.” Phillipa talked to us about how she was inspired to write about this song, including details of how Jesus can find a person in the fog of depression.

Blessings Stuart

January 2018

Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from the Eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the new born king of the Jews?”

Matthew 2:1-2

As we study this passage we discover the wise men searching for knowledge. In life the relationship between knowledge and wisdom is an interesting one. Wisdom being the intrinsic unveiling of God’s divine nature in circumstance. Wisdom found in knowing what to do, with what we know. Wisdom found in wise thoughts, that can create words. Wisdom of words, that become actions; that develop good habits, that make character and reputation that shape destiny. Wisdom found in the wise men who searched for a Messiah. Wisdom that followed a star with an astrological God given conviction. Wisdom that gave gifts with symbolic meaning that foretold a God given future. Wisdom that travelled for miles of devotion to worship King Jesus. Wisdom that often moves beyond knowledge, rationalism, and moves us to miraculous faith. Wisdom that seeks for knowledge of the Messiah by placing themselves in the hands of power- hungry King Herod. Herod’s power-hungry nature fuelled

by his meteoric career. Herod’s powerful reputation drawing the wise men. Herod rose from being a governor of Galilee, to being King of Galilee, Judea, and Samaria. Herod’s career marked by loyalty to Rome, magnificent buildings, enterprises (Renovation of the temple), family hostility, suspicion, and ruthless murder of his own family. Herod in his all-powerful tyrannical move commissions the wise men to find the child for him.

The wisdom of the Magi leads them to follow the star with a joyful conviction of the Holy Spirit. A wisdom found in the discovery of the Christ. A wisdom found in interpreting a dream that warned them not to go back to Herod. Herod assumed he had been outwitted by the Magi, when actually it was God’s wisdom through a dream that brought a warning of the evil intent of Herod. Horrifically Herod responds with a jealous genocide of the children under two.

The greatest moment of wisdom for me is found as the wise men discover wisdom itself. God’s wisdom is found intrinsically in Jesus. The wise response to this wisdom is worship.

As we make our resolutions for 2018 my hope is that we ask for God’s wisdom. A wisdom found in reflecting on Jesus otherness. We are going to spend the next few months leading up to Easter continuing to focus on God’s wisdom found in Jesus otherness. My hope for 2018 is that we are going to ask for God’s wisdom together in worship. In seeking God’s wisdom together, we will learn to take God’s wisdom into our local community making Jesus visible.

Blessings Stuart

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.