chaplain's log


    Ann & I want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for your loving & kind farewell on Sunday 16th June.  We felt truly blessed by God & his people (you) and everything about the final service & meal was wonderful.


    The music was beautifully chosen & led us into worship with a mix of solemnity & fun.  As always, Nathan led us easily into God’s presence – and managed to do the one thing I have been fearing all the 6 years I have been here!  If you missed it, one of the staging blocks broke causing Rutger to fall into the gap!  Now, he was upfront because he was sharing something about the journey of faith he has made these past years….and with Kristien doing so too, and Lucie giving testimony before she is baptised next week (in the river at the camping weekend)….it felt like a celebration of God at work amongst us.


    Some old friends were able to join us too and we were able to reflect on God’s love for us all – and the call for us to love, love, love, love one another (1 Corinthians 13).  Church life can be a challenge but we are the Body of Christ and each of us has a part to play.  And, wonderfully, no one is too small, shy, insignificant (or bold, brassy & confident) not to have a role.  The Church of Jesus Christ is wonderfully crafted and fits together.  We need each other!  It was appropriate that we could celebrate with Sharon as she told us that she had been selected for ordination training from September.  Well done, Sharon – we have been enriched by your time with us!


    After the service, this became clear as many people helped set up the canteen and transform it into a beautiful space in which we could say our farewells – not just to us but also Sharon & the Wirwilles.  Christine organised a delicious African lunch – thank you to all who contributed!  Great food – and then a special ‘retirement’ cake….a good start to the next phase of life, I felt!  What with Patrick Lambert’s speech (he knows me really quite well!) and some lovely gifts we felt truly spoilt.


    You gave me such a fabulous picture of the Kapucijnendreef in the woods near where we live; also a very generous cheque and Alison had obviously spent a long time putting a delightful memory book of pictures together.  Ann & I will indeed remember you all….with much affection & gratitude for all that we have shared during our journey together.


    I finish with my favourite poem, which was written by Raymond Carver….(see picture at the left).


    May you continue to journey with Jesus, knowing that God loves you deeply and experiencing that love through each other (both here in Tervuren & wherever life’s journey takes you).


    Thank you, thank you, thank you!


    So, we come to my final ‘Simon writes..’.  In truth, I started this regular piece to make sure that there was always something newly dated on the church website!  (It is terrible to visit websites which are full of out of date events & information!)


    I have no idea how many folk read these musings – or skim through them – or ignore them!  For me that is not really the issue!  I have had the opportunity to pass comment on things or share some relevant (or favourite) Scripture with you.  If you have read it, I hope it has helped your discipleship & following of the Lord Jesus Christ.


    At this time, Ann & I want to say a great big THANK YOU to you for all we have shared together.  It has been a joy & privilege to be with you at St Paul’s Tervuren and we will carry this church in our thoughts & prayers.  For those who are politically or historically minded, the past 6 years have been such an interesting time to be in Belgium.  It has been both interesting & challenging.


    I am sure you are aware that Ann & I have greatly appreciated living in Belgium.  It is a beautiful and fascinating country which we have had the leisure to explore.  We have felt at home here and our church community has been the most important aspect of it all.


    Thank you for being the BODY OF CHRIST in this place – for the joys & sorrows we have shared; for the love given & received and for the journey we have been on together.  It would not have been the same without YOU!

    I will leave you with these wonderful words from Scripture...….


    To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.   Jude 24-25  


    To me these are the core verses from these wonderful chapters of Holy Scripture in 1 Corinthians 12-13

    1Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

    12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

    27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

    31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. 1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails.

    13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.




    So, it is June! I can’t believe that we are now in the month when I will retire!  It all seems to have caught up so quickly with me!  I hope Ann & I will be ready when the time comes to move from Tervuren and settle back in the UK.  We have been very busy – there is so much to do (& to do in the correct order to leave Belgium properly).  Please keep us in your prayers.


    Over the final 3 Sundays here I will preach on one of my favourite passages of the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 12 & 13:  St Paul writing to the early church about who they are and how they should understand themselves.  It is an amazing insight into our Trinitarian God.


    This week we will consider chapter 12:1-11 which is all about the role of the HOLY SPIRIT & of spiritual gifts in the life of the church.  On 9th June it will be the rest of the chapter, which is a focus on CHRIST; his Body, which is the church!  Amazing!  And I will leave with the words of chapter 13 ringing in our ears…all about love which the Bible tells us means God (the Father).  John writes that that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8).


    We will understand the importance of the whole church living this life together in the light of the fact that our God reveals himself to his people as Father, Son & Holy Spirit.  As we sing ‘This is our God’ - it is a wonderful truth that we are called to share in his revelation to the world.


    St Pauls reminds each of us today ‘Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.’ (1 Corinthians 12:27)  I wonder, what part do you take?


    A couple of things to bring to your attention, please!  We are holding our BE OUR GUEST service this week at the 10:30am service.  Have you someone you are praying for who you’d like to invite to a service at church, which we have intentionally made ‘easy access’ for the person who does not come regularly to church?  Please ask them to join us!


    Also, I have been asked about what is happening on the day we leave St Pauls.  Well, what I know is….on Sunday 16th June we will have our usual service at 10:30am (there will be no 9am service that day).  I will preach on St Paul’s call to LOVE, 1 Cor 13.


    Beside Ann & me, there are others who are also leaving around this time.  The church wants to give us all a ‘good send-off’ with God’s blessing and prayer for what lies ahead.  (For me, it’s retirement – naturally, I have some mixed feelings about this.)  And then there will be an AFRICAN LUNCH in the BSB canteen, which I do hope you will stay for; and give us a time to say ‘goodbye properly’.  My experience is that it is really important to end well; I want to be able to thank you for all we have shared together!


    And, good news!  You will remember that Sarah-Jane King recently attended a selection conference regarding her ministry.  Well, she has been accepted for ordination training and will start this in September.  Please keep her in your prayers as she tries to discern where the Lord is leading her through this exciting (but daunting) process.  Ask Sarah-Jane about her calling and what ministry direction is opening up for her!  As Mary said ‘With God all things are possible!’ Luke 1:37




    Once again Paul hits the nail bang on the head!  Although he was writing all those years ago to the church at Ephesus his words ring fresh & remarkably true for today.  Paul reminds his readers of the depth of the challenge we face in trying to live faithful Christ-filled lives.  Of course we want to live for Christ and his church, yet so many things pull us in opposite directions!  Or is this just my experience?


    Am I the only one who finds myself wanting to be more fully committed and engaged for Christ, his kingdom & his people but, so often, slipping into…..well, let’s be honest, temptation? And that comes in all shapes and sizes..…my own self-centredness, my desire for the easy life, the ‘quick fix’ (of any sort). In fact, every time I am enticed to eat forbidden fruit!


    Paul put it like this ‘for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’.  (Ephesians 6:12)  And his solution was very clear; putting on armour, God’s armour.  (Verses 10-20 give clear instructions about what sort of protection the Christ-follower needs.)


    Many years ago, as I started my ordination training, my friend Tony told me that he put on God’s armour each and every day in his personal quiet time.  This discipline is useful (that is rather a weak word, I feel, in this context!)  No, let’s try again, this discipline is vital!  Reflecting on this, as I retire from full time ministry, I realise that I wish I, too, been more disciplined in this throughout my walk with Jesus & his church.


    During this past year we have started regular ‘Be Our Guest’ services.  Our intention is to make it easy for all of us to invite others to join us for a Sunday morning church service.  To this end we produce high quality invitation cards – anticipating that we will take them and hand them out to friends & colleagues.


    Sunday 26th May at 10:30 sees the next of these services.  On the day of elections in Belgium, we are using the image of voting as our theme for the service.  The title is WHO GETS YOUR CROSS – which works particularly for people whose experience is of voting using a cross on paper - I realise that today other voting methods are used too!


    However, I like the play on words as it is about choice; who we decide to follow & how we let them lead us.  For the Christian the cross is the ultimate image of who we follow.  The cross is the symbol of all that Jesus has done for us (our rescue from the evil of sin) and also a reminder that the cross is empty.  Jesus has triumphed over the cross – he is alive & risen from the dead – and we, who put our trust in him, need have no fear.


    Each of the ‘Be Our Guest’ services is carefully crafted & aimed at those who do not come regularly to church.  We intend to make it as jargon free and easy to access as possible.  So, the music we sing, the words we use, the Bible readings we listen to…all are used with the thought behind them of ‘do these make sense to people who are not regulars at St Pauls?’


    Please can I encourage you to invite & help others to join us in worship on 26th May?


    I am writing this having just returned to Tervuren from the ICS Chaplains’ Conference.  It was at Drongen, near Gent, this year and my wife Ann joined me for it.  (Nathan came too but his family all had to be at school this week!)


    St Paul’s church is part of the Intercontinetal Church Society (ICS) mission family. We were planted with their support & encouragement and the Chaplain (ie me & my successors) are appointed through ICS working with our church.  In the English phrase, ICS is our Patron.  It is excellent to be part of this wider mission organisation which is responsible for church ministry in Europe and also diverse places such as Egypt, Tunis, the Falkland Islands & cities in South America – as well as being responsible for the setting up of ministry in the Australian Outback!


    Over the years ICS has had ministry in places popular with holiday makers but the focus is now changing and their main support is for the permanent churches that serve people’s everyday requirements.  The conference was a wonderful time of sharing and linking up with others who face similar challenges to the ones we have here in Tervuren.


    No church community is the same.  But what matters to ICS is seeing people encounter new life in Christ. ‘We are about mission! We value the Bible as our guide and authority, we value integrity and excellence in all that we do, we value partnership and seek to work with others whenever possible, we value ministering at the frontiers and we value volunteers.