chaplain's log

  • AUGUST: NATHAN WRITES... A CHANGE OF PACE...


    I hope you are having a good summer so far, whether that is life as usual or whether you have managed to take advantage of some time off. I am aware that for some people season is not so much a welcome change but painful, long and lonely. As a community perhaps we can look out for one another in this way and let us take opportunities of the Bring and Share lunches through August.


    I’d also like to urge us to double our effort in prayer. I have this fanciful idea that the change of pace means greater time to ‘sit at the feet of Jesus’. The reality often is that the change in routine makes it harder, so I have to be more intentional, it doesn’t just happen. 


    Whilst you are praying please could you be praying for VBS coming up later this month. We will have 120 children, plus pre-schoolers of the team and about 30 junior helpers all coming from different places on their faith journey. For some this week will be life transforming as their eyes and hearts are opened to the good news of the gospel, let us pray for that to be true. Others will be hearing this for the first time and seeds will be sown and others the week will be another opportunity to build on what they know already.  


    Of course, please be praying for us as a church, particularly through the vacancy. If you did not see the notice on the July notice sheet from the wardens then you can see it on our website under chaplains log (a dropdown from the welcome page). When there is something new Ann, JF and council will let us know. 


    I have no concerns for us as a church during the vacancy because we are a church full of wonderful people, we are a great team. I am already encouraged by people taking on new challenges and stepping in to help here and there. Thank you. If you are around on 1st September I’d love it if you could be at church so we can kick off the year well and say thank you to you all during the service and hopefully a few extra treats at the bring and share lunch following. 


    Despite us being an awesome team let us not be complacent, always be on our guard, praying without ceasing and fix our eyes on Jesus.


  • JULY: WARDEN WRITE: … FORTHCOMING CHAPLAIN RECRUITMENT, INPUT REQUESTED.

    "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.’ 2 Timothy 2:15


    Dear friends,

    Following Simon’s retirement, the Wardens have the responsibility to lead the church and initiate the recruitment process for a St Paul’s chaplain. We are currently blessed with an assistant chaplain, Nathan Gregory who continues in post. The Council, with the Archdeacon, Paul Vrolijk and Richard Bromley, Mission Director of our patron, the Intercontinental Church Society, met last night to formally launch the process. At every stage we take the opportunity to pray - during Council meetings, First Wednesday and during Sunday services.


    Initial meetings were held on April 29th, with Paul and Richard to inform us of the details of the process and a proposed timeline. ICS as our patron is a choice made 30 years ago. In support of a chaplaincy vacancy, that means they take the responsibility for the design of the process, advertising, shortlisting, interviewing - along with us and the Archdeacon, taking up references, presenting a nomination to the bishop and taking up safeguarding checks. 


    Of real importance to note is that they work on the basis of the following three principles:

    a. The post is open to men and women

    b. The person recruited must be Bible believing and evangelical by conviction

    c. The person recruited must be orthodox in their faith (C of E).

     

    The Archdeacon advised of the benefits of taking our time for prayer, discernment and reflection. We invite all congregation members to present their views to either of the wardens or to individual Council members on the following three points:

    - Chaplaincy profile: who do you see we are as a congregation, who do we serve and what do we see as our mission?

    - Job Description: what do you feel the chaplain’s role is?

    - Person Specification: how do you wish she/he carries out that role?              

    At our next meeting in September, the Council will complete the documents, reach consensus on who will be the two recruitment panel chaplaincy representatives and the process observer. At that point we will then work on final drafts with the input from Paul and Richard for their feedback. After advertising, a shortlist of up to 3 candidates is interviewed. Once a consensus is made on who the best nominee is, a nomination is sent to the Bishop for approval. This process may take until Christmas at least. Note: candidates may have to serve a three-month notice period and safeguarding checks will only be carried out after the Bishop has agreed the nomination and that he will license them.

    In a recent sermon Sarah - Jane King challenged us to reflect on:

    • Are we here just for us? Or are we here for others?
    • Jesus wants us to share God’s self with others.
    • We are invited to join a journey of spiritual transformation

     

    Please join with us in supporting the process to find a chaplain for St Paul’s who will minister to us, support our Christian journey and lead, in order that we can  reach out to the many thousands of international members of our wider community who do not know Jesus.

    Yours, in His Service,
    JF Sourdoire and Ann Start.


  • 30 JUNE: NATHAN WRITES:.... THIS SUMMER

    The school summer break is upon us and life, whether you are connected to the school system or not, takes a different pace through July and August and it is an opportunity to breathe.


    Through the summer on Sunday mornings we will be looking at people who encountered Jesus, how he impacted and transformed their lives which should lead us to think how is he impacting my life or the lives of those around me. I came across this quote, which I don’t 100% agree with but it has truth in it. “If you find yourself a bit irritated or overwhelmed, it’s a sign that you are spending less time with God and more time with this world”. I would urge you this summer to spend time this summer breathing in God.

     

    In the New Testament, there is the thought that we can breathe God in. For example, in 2 Timothy 3:16 where Paul says that the Bible is God-breathed. This indicates that when we are reading God’s word, God is breathing out toward us; he breathes out and we breathe in. God breathed life into Adam (Gen 2.7) and in John 20, after Jesus’ death and resurrected, he appeared to the disciples and breathed into them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.


    Be intentional and make time to breathe deeply, spend time with God, deepen your relationship and encounter him.


     


  • 20 JUNE: SIMON WRITES: … THANK YOU SO MUCH! 

    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!


  • 16 JUNE: SIMON WRITES... BODY OF CHRIST

    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  


  • 9 JUNE: SIMON WRITES...ONE BODY, MANY PARTS

    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.

     

     


  • 2 JUNE: SIMON WRITES … SPIRITUAL GIFTS

    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?


  • 26 MAY: SIMON WRITES...: WHO GETS YOUR CROSS?

    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

     

     


  • 19 MAY: SIMON WRITES...  GOD'S ARMOUR

    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.


  • 12 May: SIMON WRITES...WHO GETS YOUR CROSS?

    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?