Over The Wall Letter, October and November 2019 edition
Having just installed a dashboard camera in my car, I am reminded of the risks we take each day when out driving or cycling. Our roads are just so busy that a momentary lapse of concentration can lead to all sorts of problems, hence the installation of the camera. I can remember as a boy growing up in the 1960's we used to put snails on the road and wait for a car to come along and crush them. This could sometimes be up to five minutes on a weekend. Please note that this is not something that I would encourage any young people to attempt today - but things were different back then. Life seemed less complicated and less stressful and common sense was more prevalent than it seems to be today. Granted there weren't as many cars on the road so traffic was a lot lighter, but accidents could and still did happen.
I also remember playing in the hay stacks on farms during the summer months after we had spent the day potato picking and then carrying a bag full of potatoes home for Mum to make chips. I guess back then people never worried about eating chips for as children we were always so active - being chased by the Farmer was like a rite of passage in those days and another reason why we were so fit !!
Sadly, life today has become more stressful, more serious and more complicated than it used to be. Many young people, particularly in our towns and cities have no space to play or run around and teenagers feel that they have nowhere to go. Drugs are readily available for the inquisitive, so it is vitally important that we pray for our young people as they face so many pressures that my generation did not.
I am not saying that we had it easy - far from it and I know what it means to go without. But young people today live in a world which is constantly changing with their boundaries shifting and many of them are not allowed to simply be children. All children need the security of boundaries and parental guidance to help them navigate through life. But sadly for some, that does not happen.
One of the things that was reinforced into me as a teen were these two biblical concepts - "Treat other people like you would want to be treated yourself" and "Leave other people and other people's property alone." I have always tried to live my life abiding by these principles and I have always tried to teach all of my children and latterly my grandchildren that if they follow these principles, hopefully they won't go far wrong in life.
So, as Autumn progresses, will you consider joining me in praying for our young people, our nation and our communities, asking God to once again show us his favour and heal the divisions of hurt and failure that exist in our land.
"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9: v 9-10)"
Over The Wall Letter, August and September 2019 edition
We live in an uncertain world, ever changing and full of conflict, troubles and dangers, yet also, thank God, full of hope. There is so much uncertainty and division between nations and within our own nation. As I write this, at the closing date for this publication, we do not know who our next Prime Minister will be (though, by the time you are reading this, we will). The newspapers and internet media present us with confusing news reports and the internet is sometimes alleged to present ‘fake news’
In the midst of all this uncertainty, what solid thing can we hold on to?
What can be our rock?
Who can we depend upon?
Life can be tough. We all experience our ups and downs and sometimes circumstances bring us to the realisation that we are not nearly so independent and self-supporting as we think we are, or would hope to be. Those are the times when it is good to have someone to turn to for help, to depend upon. St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians tells us that three things last for ever – faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.
God’s love for us is amazing and an unending support for us in good times and bad. That we can depend upon.
I thank all of you whose thoughts and prayers have been with me this year, in and out of hospital. I was talking to one of the Hospital Chaplaincy Team and explaining how comforting, supporting and effective it is to have so many people’s thoughts and prayers in our parishes, and in parishes in the Deanery area.
She said, “Steve, you are lying on a bed of prayer.” It is a good analogy and I am glad of that “bed of prayer” – something I can depend upon. (Thank you, Linda).
We shall soon be celebrating harvest once again and giving thanks for the work of the farmers and fisherman and all involved in connecting the food chain to us. We thank them for their long term unwavering commitment to the harvest, which we do depend upon.
It is not only the farmers who are asked to plant seed. So are we all in our day to day dealings with family, friends, neighbours and all those we meet, whereby they may see and hear in our actions and words the love of God which we all can depend upon.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
We are thankful for the harvest of the earth and look forward in hope to the harvest of heaven.
Three things last forever, faith, hope and love. Depend upon it.
Reader, St Chads Farndon and St Mary’s Coddington
Over The Wall Letter, June and July 2019 edition
I am sure I am not alone in being utterly inspired watching the coverage of the London Marathon on television. Watching thousands of people push themselves to their physical limits, running over 26 miles across London was just inspirational. Knowing that each and every person was running with their own goals, own targets, and between them raising millions of pounds for charity. The team running for the mental health charity 'Mind' raised £1.4m from their team of runners. Staggeringly brilliant. BBC News reports that throughout the years the London Marathon has been running, over £1 billion has been raised for charity. We are often led to believe we are living in a more selfish, self-obsessed world. The London Marathon and countless other events like it show the goodness of people and their willingness to help others less fortunate than themselves. Certainly the faithfulness and loyalty of our congregations and supporters bears witness to that too.
It is pertinent that, in the Bible, our life of faith is described as a race.
St Paul especially talks vividly about running a race and in the book of Hebrews we are also reminded that, as we run, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who inspire our faith. St Paul also talks about running towards the goal to win the prize. These images all suggest that our lives are a marathon not a sprint. Having competed in the Great North Run, I know that some parts of a run are easier than others, while some parts are a total nightmare. Some parts exhilarating and others you just want to stop and give up. And life can be exactly the same.But what inspires runners is the overwhelming conviction that they need to finish the race and get the prize. It is only as runners power through the more painful moments that they catch their second wind and can finish the race.
It's often thought that running a race is an individual thing and that we are all in competition with those around us. My experience running 10K and half marathon races could not be more different - I've always found that it is like a community who run together. The first time I ran the Famdon 10K, a man in front of me was struggling, so we, those around him encouraged him all the way to the finish line. One of the more iconic images from this year's London Marathon was the man running dressed as Big Ben. He made it all the way to the end only for his costume to get caught on the finish line banner. Other people, despite being exhausted at the end of their 26 miles, still took time to help him over the line.
We run the race together and if we live life as a community, it's my hope that we can pull together to overcome any challenges that may lie ahead for all of us.
Every good wish
Over The Wall Letter, April and May 2019 edition
Dear Friends, some of you reading this article know, I underwent a shoulder operation in January. This was to repair a torn tendon which had been troubling me for some time. I was unable to drive for several weeks and had to be reliant on my wife to do the simplest of tasks for me: tasks that in the past I have taken for granted. I have been resolute in doing the exercises that I need to do to get full use of my arm again. I must admit that this has not been easy as there is still pain when I move my arm - but with encouragement from the physio, I hope to be on track with full use of my arm in around three months.
Speaking of encouragement - I came across this little ditty the other day and found it wonderfully helpful.
Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a climbing competition.
The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on all the contestants. The race began.
But no one in the crowd really believed that such tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. They were saying; "It's way too difficult!", "They will never make it to the top," and "Not a chance that they will succeed, the tower is too high!"
The tiny frogs began collapsing, one by one. Those who were a bit stronger kept climbing higher and higher. The crowd continued to yell, "It is too difficult! No one will make it!" More tiny frogs got tired and gave up.
But one continued higher and higher and higher, long after all the others had given up and dropped back down to the bottom. After a big effort, he made it to the top! All the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it.
One contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach his goal? But he didn't hear him,. He shouted the question again, but he still didn't hear. So he shouted at the top of his voice, which was loud for such a tiny frog. But he still couldn't hear him, as the little frog had learned to turn a deaf ear!
So, how much more could we do if we, like the frog, turned a deaf ear to all the knockers who say things like 'Oh, you can't do this, or you'll never do that?
With the right encouragement and determination, who knows what we can achieve?
Revd David Scurr
Over The Wall Letter, February and March 2019 edition
During a recent visit to the dentist, I was informed that my gums were slowly receding but that my teeth were in good shape for my age. The dentist was slightly embarrassed trying to find a way to put that across gently, especially the "for my age" bit.
At 64,1 think that I am doing rather well and I am a realist when it comes to getting older and our human frailty. After all, getting older is nothing to be ashamed of and many people still have full and active lives well into their 90's. Someone once said that you are only as old as you feel and I quite agree. People are living longer, working longer and enjoying themselves in the process. And yet, there is still a lot of prejudice and discrimination around age. Pick up any magazine or newspaper and we still have the same old stereotypes of 'old people'. And yet, many so called retired people are doing far more now in retirement than they perhaps did when they were working. So I think we should keep an open mind when it comes to age as age is not the barrier it used to be - in spite of what society and the media tell us.
Fortunately, God does not have an age problem, nor does He discriminate when it come to age. We only need to look at the bible to see how God uses people of all ages. There's Noah who was still working for God at the age of 500. Abraham was 99 when his ministry really started to take off and Moses, who spent the first 30 years of his life as a somebody - 30 years as a nobody and the last 30 years of his life working for God in a powerful way.
In other words, when Moses was thinking of retirement, God had other plans for Moses and so he embarked on the greatest adventure of his life.
So age is really just a number and God can call us and uses us at any age and in many different ways. I know people who used to be on the mission field who, now that they are older and unable to get around, spend their time as intercessors, praying for others, especially missionaries and people in Ministry.
In fact intercessors are the life blood of the church - it's a hugely important ministry. There are others who now are retired who offer hospitality - opening up their homes to lead bible studies, coffee mornings and offering friendship and fellowship to any who require help. The truth is, there are so many ways that we can serve God and each other.
Proverbs 12 verse 25 says, " An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up" and it seems to me that kind words are in very short supply today. And yet, spreading kindness and encouragement is something that we can all do, any time, in every situation that we find ourselves in.
Being nice does not cost anything and imagine how better our world would be if we all encouraged one another?
May I wish you all a very Happy New Year
Revd David Scurr
Over The Wall Letter, December 2018 and January 2019 edition
I have just finished reading a book by the author Robert Laidlaw entitled 'The Reason Why'. In it, he tells the story of two friends who went to law school. One became a judge, but the other, after failing to make the grade, squandered his life, broke the law, and finished up in court. Sitting in the judge's seat was his old friend. Everyone there wondered what sentence the judge would pass. To their surprise, the judge demanded the full penalty of the law. And no sooner than he had pronounced the sentence, he stepped from his seat of judgement, took off his robes, walked over to the dock where his friend stood, put his arm around him and gently said, "Let it be recorded today, not only have I passed sentence upon this man, but I will stand chargeable with all his debts." In that moment, his judge became his redeemer. Christmas is the time we celebrate the day God took off the robes of deity and put on the garments of humanity. He left a palace to come to a stable because he loved you, me and everyone who has ever lived.
The following poem sums this up in just four lines:
The maker of the universe,
as man for man was made a curse.
The claims of law that he had made,
unto the utmost He has paid
The most important words in this poem are "He has paid". Had you been the only person who ever lived, He would still have come, He would still have died, and He would still have paid the price just for you.
This message is the 'Good News' of the Christmas story. God, in Christ, redeemed the world in a place called Bethlehem to free humankind from all that binds us and in doing so, sets us free. So let us rejoice with the shepherds this Christmas and give thanks with the Magi at what God has done for each and every one of us.
May I wish you and all those you love a very peaceful Christmas and a truly blessed New Year.
Revd David Scurr
Over The Wall Letter, October and November 2018 edition
The arrival of our latest grandchild, Noah, has brought much delight to the Scurr household. Noah makes it grandchild number four for me and something tells me that this number will only increase with time. It is so nice having grandchildren, especially when they live close by, as we are able to watch them progress and grow. Sadly I only see two of my grandchildren regularly as the other two live in the North East. I still keep in frequent contact with them and they come to stay with us a number of times every year.
It is true when they say: “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Sadly, that’s part of the price that families pay when they move away. Be it for work, retirement or just for a change, moving to a new area can be very challenging and costly.
Recently, I have been getting to know lots of people who have moved into our village. These good people have moved from many different parts of the country to be part of our community and are looking forward to all that the village has to offer. Some are doctors, some are lawyers, some mechanics, some housewives or house-husbands and we should offer them all the hand of friendship and fellowship.
The villages that make up the benefice are good places for families to grow and the churches of St Chad & St Mary are there to offer help and support when needed. We are not here just for Weddings, Funerals or Christenings, but for every occasion.
Sadly, other demands on my time mean that I have not been able to meet everyone, but if anyone would like a visit from me, then please give me a call at the Vicarage on 270270 or send a message via the church email www.stchadschurchfarndon.org.uk and I will be more than happy to come and see you.
Speaking of support - one of the functions of the Church is to teach the Christian faith, so we will be starting a Christian enquirers’ course for anyone who would like to learn more about the Christian faith and God. The course will be held every Monday for 5 weeks starting on 15th October at 7pm in St Chad’s, Farndon. It will be a very relaxed look at the basics of Christianity and we will explore what it means to be Christian in today’s society. Each session lasts about 1 hour and refreshments will be available. If you would like to be part of the group, then please let me know by ringing me on 270270. The course is open to everyone, both young and old.
All good wishes
Over The Wall Letter, August and September 2018 edition
A few weeks ago, I purchased a bottle of Brut Aftershave which I saw on the shelf at Morrison's. Don't ask me why, but I did.
This caused some amusement at the checkout because the product used to be very popular in the 1970s!
For those of us of a certain age, you may remember Henry Cooper and Kevin Keegan "splashing it all over" on the TV advert and it was very trendy at the time.
Like most things, commodities have a shelf- life, and new products come onto the market, making the old items obsolete or out-dated.
That's not to say that the new things are any better than the old - but time moves on and so must we.
In the Bible, the Ancient Jews were always on the move, not able to settle down until God brought them into the Promised Land.
Once they crossed the Red Sea, they would spend 40 years" in the wilderness" but, during that time, they witnessed God performing miracles,
such as sending them bread to eat (known as "manna from Heaven"), seeing water gushing out of a rock and many more besides.
They never forgot who brought them into that land - passing on stories to their children all about what God had done for His people - and this continues to this day.
My own father often told us stories of how things were "back in his day".Tales about my grandfather and great grandfather, where they originally came from and their faithfulness to God.
I also knew that my grandmother (who was 98 when she died) had a faith because, although unspoken, it was evident by the way she lived her life.
My own journey would take me down many roads before finally answering God's call which I accepted on the 1st January 1993.
I can still remember it as if it were yesterday and it's what keeps me going when I go through the difficult and trying time that comes with being in ministry.
Knowing that God is real and that He still speaks today is comforting, to say the least.The Bible tells us that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.
Did you know that there are 365 promises in the Bible, one for every day of the year? The thing about God is that He keeps His promises. If you read Psalm 112, it tells what God will do for the people who do what is right in His eyes. It's a lovely Psalm, well worth a read and is one of my particular favourites.
Revd David Scurr
Over The Wall Letter, June and July 2018 edition
The arrival of summer seems to have happened at last with all the glorious sunshine that we have been experiencing of late (at least at the time of writing) and it makes such a difference.
People are happier - they smile more and are just generally nicer. I was even allowed to pass a group of cyclists who were strung out along the road and they pulled in to let me pass - that's the kind of stuff dreams are made of...... and then I woke up!!!
But seriously, people are genuinely happier when the sun shines.
Many years ago, when I was at college, I had two friends from Africa, William from Uganda and M 'pierre from Nigeria - and these two men brought sunshine to everyone that they met.
Their happiness was infectious and they were always smiling, even when the sun wasn't shining. I remember being out with them in a cafe once and someone asked them why they were so happy?
I would need a lot more space to tell you the full answer that they responded with but - in short, they replied by saying that it was "their love that they had for Jesus and the love that He had for them" that made them so happy.
They firmly believed that they were God's children and they wanted to share that fact with anyone that would listen.
Now I am not saying that we should all have to be happy all the time, as circumstances can dictate how we feel, and there are times when we feel genuinely sad. But I think that William and M 'pierre chose not to let anything dampen their joy.
They would wake each day, thanking God for the new opportunities he gave them.
And although I have not seen them for a long time, I believe that they are still smiling and giving thanks to God for His awesome love.
So the next time that you feel sad - remember that God loves you very much.
Every one of us is important and special to Him and He cares deeply for all of us and He longs to have a relationship with you.
Have a look at psalm 139 and you may just discover that love for yourself - and won't that bring a smile to your face!!
Every good wish
Revd David Scurr
Over The Wall Letter, April and May 2018 edition
Let me begin this letter by wishing you all a very happy Easter and I hope that you all find the Easter season truly wonderful.
Easter, like Christmas reminds us of the central importance of our Christian faith and also reminds us of the terrible sacrifice that Jesus made on behalf of mankind. For as a Christian, I believe that Jesus is the key - the bridge that connects us to God and offers us something that the world cannot give - freedom and hope.
Sadly, many see the Christian faith as something akin to a complex rule book. The Church, they believe, demands assent to a multitude of dogmas and doctrines, which is vital before one can gain entry. But this could not be further from the truth. If you read about the ministry of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, do we see such narrowness of outlook or rigid criteria for acceptance into God's kingdom? Not as I read it, we don't. In Jesus we see one who proclaimed, above all, God's love and mercy and He shows us, through word and deed, how much he values us all. We see someone who cut through all the religious rules and regulations of his time, summarising the Gospel in the simple command to love God and one another. We see someone who happily mixed with those rejected by society, seeing them as individuals whom God counted as of inestimable worth.
No wonder the English theologian, Herbert Butterfield, in his classic book 'Christianity and History' urged - "hold fast to Christ, and the rest be uncommitted. For the call of Christ, first and foremost, was not to believe this or that but simply to follow, and those who did so glimpsed God and experienced life in a new and wonderful light."
Have you grasped that fundamental and wonderful truth? Have you understood that God's love reaches out to you with no strings attached? Or, although accepting that "God is love", have you decided that he cannot possibly love you, for that is where many people come unstuck. They can accept well enough that God is generally loving, but are convinced that they personally are outside of his love - not good enough, not believing enough, not religious enough to warrant it.
"He cannot be interested in me", they say - but the Gospels say otherwise, declaring, "Yes, you"! However little value we may place on ourselves, or however little we think others value us - we matter to God, each of us have "infinite worth" in his eyes.
You may think that you're different, that you have nothing to offer and that he can never love you - but the message of Easter tells us to think again.
For, if I may borrow a popular phrase, "at the end of the day" - it's not what you do for him - it's what you mean to him that counts.
Every good wish
Over The Wall Letter, February and March 2018 edition
Revd David Scurr
Now that the Christmas Season is behind us, we can look forward to the arrival of the season of Lent - which this year begins on the 14th February, St Valentine’s day. This year, like last, we will prepare ourselves with our annual Pancake morning on Tuesday 13th February from 10am - 12noon when I will attempt to flip some pancakes with my left arm. This is because I am having an operation on my right shoulder on the 26th January and will still be recovering on Shrove Tuesday, so it will be interesting to see how things go? We will probably end up with pancakes everywhere -still, the show must go on!!
For those who wish to start their Lenten observation in the traditional way, our Ash Wednesday service will be on 14th February at 10am at St Chad’s.
I like Lent: It’s an opportunity for us to “get right with God” and draw near to Him through prayer and sometimes giving up something meaningful, as a way of an offering to God. In Biblical times, the early Christians would very often fast (give up food) from sunrise to sunset (6am to 6pm) throughout Lent - only breaking their fast on a Sunday, which is a feast day or the Lord’s day. That is a discipline very few people follow today as it would be difficult to go more than six hours without a meal, so there are other ways that we can get closer to God. Some people give up alcohol or chocolate and give the money saved to charity. Some people decide to read an extra chapter in their bibles throughout Lent or spend a little more time in prayer.
I always like to re-read the gospel according to St Luke during Lent and also the book of Acts. It’s surprising how much detail Luke gives us about Jesus in his writings and also how the early Church came about. Personally, I read three chapters a day very slowly, taking in what’s written - while asking God to reveal something that He wants to show me. For concealed within the bible’s pages lies a treasure trove of hidden pearls of wisdom. And the surprising thing about this method of reading is that God does actually begin to reveal Himself to those who earnestly seek after Him.
I was taught this way of reading by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, when he was at Reading and I have to say that it works for me. And if it works for me, it could work for you also. So, as we head into Lent, let me encourage you to journey with me on a road of discovery that only God knows where it could lead.
May I wish you all a blessed Lenten Season
Revd David Scurr
Over The Wall Letter, December 2017 and January 2018 edition
As the time of writing this letter, I am waiting for the Sky Engineer to arrive and fix our phone line. I mention this because we have been without a phone for three days and have been unable to make or receive calls. Needless to say that this has caused us some problems!! Thankfully, we have our mobiles (what would we ever do without them) so have still been able to keep in touch with the outside world. But it makes one wonder how people managed when there were no phones or mobiles? How did people communicate quickly, especially in an emergency?
I can remember as a boy using a phone box and having to make the choice of pressing button A or B to make a call. And it was not until my parents got their own phone (after a three month wait) that we had the “luxury" of our own phone. Mind you, we may have had our own phone - but not our own line, as back then you could only have a shared line. And if you needed to make an urgent call you hoped that whoever you shared the line with was not on the phone when you wanted to use it!
How times have changed. We have become so used to all the new technology and instant messaging that we become impatient if we have to wait a few seconds for the computer or phone to come on now that we live in an "instant" world. It's strange really, times may have changed and our aspirations may have exceeded all expectations but the truth is that, as People of a Certain Age - we still long for that time when things seemed so much simpler, so less pressured. A time when everything was somehow happier and calmer than today.
Some of you may not know that I met my wife Claire on holiday in Tenerife. So, on our return home because we lived over 200 miles apart, we used to communicate by phone and by letter -and it was the letters that I used to look forward to the most. I say this, because a letter lasts so much longer than a phone call.
I still have those letters and every so often re-read them to remind myself of the love we shared and still share today. And in some ways, the bible is like a love letter from God to us. Inside its pages, we learn of God's great love for us and everything that he has done. From the Creation stories to the Nativity - we learn who God is and, when we take the time to read those stories, we catch a glimpse of not only the past, but also the future.
For the truth is, even though we may change, the Bible tells us that God does not change.
He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and His love for us all is constant. And when God sent Jesus, over two thousand years ago, to be born in a manger, into a world of violence and suspicion, He did it with one purpose.
To redeem the world and offer us New Life in Him. God does not promise us an easy ride - but he does promise to be with us always, in good times and in bad.
And if we look hard enough, we may catch a glimpse of God either in the stranger or the manger, depending on where we happen to be.
So, as I come to the end of my letter, the engineer has just arrived and things will slowly start getting back to normal. The phone will start to ring again. The internet will start to work and I will once again be connected to the outside world - a world full of hope, which is longing for a better future, not only for us, but for everyone.
On that note, may I end this letter by wishing you and all those you love a blessed and peaceful Christmas, and a very Happy New Year.
Every good wish
Revd David Scurr
Over The Wall Letter, October and November 2017 edition
If you had the choice between a dictionary and a novel, which one would you prefer to read?
A dictionary has good words; in fact, it has all the good words. A dictionary is a book with an excellent vocabulary, but it is not a story.
A novel is different. In a novel, words are carefully selected and arranged to tell a story.
Are our lives like dictionaries or novels?
Life can be like a dictionary with each event, each phase of life, standing on its own, like a word in a dictionary. That may have its interest, but most of us want life to be more than just a collection of random experiences.
Life can be like a novel. That is when our lives seem to have a plot, to be moving toward a goal that is bigger than us and when we understand how our stories fit into the grand scheme of life. I suspect most of us would want our lives to be more like a novel than like a dictionary.
The words of a dictionary need an author to fashion them into a novel, to give them a purpose, a plot. In the same way, the experiences of life need an author if they are going to be more than a jumble of loosely connected events.
For centuries the Bible, the world’s best-selling book, has been changing the lives of people who encounter it. Bible Sunday, which falls this year on October 29th, is a day on which churches celebrate the continuing impact the Bible has on individuals and communities.
Some people say the Bible is just a loose jumble of events and stories. But we people of faith say that God is the Author of this book. God shapes these stories and events into a story of redemption and life.
It is the Holy Spirit who brings God’s Son, Jesus, into our hearts and minds today. Because of the Holy Spirit, Jesus becomes a part of us, inside us. The word of God is not static, but dynamic. It is not locked away in the bible. And the Holy Spirit makes our lives a novel, not a dictionary. The Holy Spirit shows us how we have a part in the story of the whole creation, keeps us from thinking that our own individual stories are disconnected from the story of God, keeps reminding us that we are part of the whole story of God's creative work in the world.
So let’s read our bibles, whichever version you prefer, for there are many different translations; the King James Version (KJV), the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the New International Version (NIV), the Good News bible and so on and on…..
Sadly, the most common version is probably the “SSV”; the “Stays on the Shelf” Version, whose pages might as well be blank if the bible stays on the shelf and is never read.
The Holy Spirit is the author who can write the novel of our lives.
So which one do we want our lives to be like - a dictionary or a novel? If we will let God be the One who writes and directs our lives, we will find them to be stories with meaning and purpose. Our lives can become a compelling kind of novel in the hands of God. Our stories can be a part of His story.
Make sure your Bible is well thumbed, not an SSV!
Reader St Chad’s Farndon and St Mary’s Coddington
Over The Wall Letter, August and September 2017 edition
I came across this prayer the other day in a book entitled " Asking God" by Oliver Tomkins, who was the Bishop of Bristol and I was very surprised by its frankness. "Father, I often get impatient with those who are slower and more stupid that I am. I listen with difficulty to those who say only what I have heard a thousand times. Help me to remember always how you could be utterly bored by me, who am slow to hear what you are saying and so quick to whine about the same old things: but, mercifully, you are not, because you are long suffering. Teach me to be so, too." I am not sure that I would ever say a prayer like that, but it does show us that we need to be honest in our prayers and let God know exactly how we are feeling.
The little book of prayers has some delightful and helpful prayers for all occasions and can be a tremendous help when we cannot find the words to say and can even help us to get into "prayer mode", so to speak. I know that many people, myself included, can sometimes have trouble praying. Even Jesus' disciples found prayer difficult, so they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. And so he taught them the Lord's Prayer (or the Disciple's Prayer as it is sometimes known).
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.
In essence, prayer is basically having conversation with God. It can be like talking to a friend because although God is Almighty, he still wants to have a relationship with us. So, prayer is an opportunity for us to let God know what's going on in us and around us. And the Lord's prayer says it all - help us, protect us, forgive us, deliver us. This is the model that Jesus taught his disciples and it's the perfect model for us to use today. For using this prayer is a good way to begin to build a relationship with God.
So the next time you feel you might want to pray but are struggling to find the words, remember the Lord's prayer and also the words of Jesus in Matthew's gospel chapter 7: verses 7 -8: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened".
Revd Captain David Scurr CA
Over The Wall Letter, June and July 2017 edition
I have recently been reading a book about the life of Mother Teresa - not our prime minister, but Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Apparently when she was still living in Macedonia as a young girl, God spoke to her and told her to leave her home and go tell other people about Jesus. So she left her home and began work as a teacher and later as a head teacher of a Catholic School in India. It was while travelling on a train in India that God said to her," Go and serve me among the poorest of the poor."
And that was on the 10th of September 1946 and she knew exactly what God meant. In India she taught the children of the rich, but now she knew that God wanted her to teach the poorest of the poor - the street children of Calcutta. So the very next year, Mother Teresa left her school and set up a new school in the poorest slum in the poorest city of India - Calcutta. And it would be here that she would live out the rest of her life serving the poorest people of the world. During her time there many people from around the world came to help Mother Teresa with her work and in the years that followed, she began helping the poor of Calcutta in other ways. She opened an orphanage, a soup kitchen, a hospital, a youth centre and a hospice where dying people were cared for.
Over her lifetime she won many awards and prizes for her work, but she gave every penny of her prize money to help the world's poor. When she died on September 5th 1997, her only personal possessions were a metal bucket for washing herself and two cotton saris -
Obviously, I have only touched on a few highlights of the book, but it's a book I would recommend to anyone who would like to read about faith in action - to be challenged at Mother Teresa's willingness to serve God in the most difficult of circumstances.
Because God had spoken to her in a kind and gentle voice, Mother Teresa believed in speaking to everyone she met in the same way and encouraged the people who worked with her to do the same. She said that you should "speak tenderly to people. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don't just give them care, give them your heart as well."
Throughout history, many people have believed that they have heard the voice of God. However, in reality, only very few like Mother Teresa have heard it and acted upon it and, if more of us spoke to each other in the way that she suggested, perhaps more people really would hear the voice of God.
Revd Captain David Scurr CA
Over The Wall Letter, April and May 2017 edition
Over the last few months, I seem to have been overcoming one bout of illness after the other and started to wonder if I would ever feel well again. From the conversations that I have had, it would seem that many of you have also been feeling this way, particularly with the effects of the last flu bug - which in some cases have been lasting for weeks and months after the event. These lasting effects can so easily make us feel very low and have a negative impact on our well-being. So it was a wonderful tonic for me when one of my old friends sent me an email after hearing of my last illness and said that now I am in my 60's I should expect things to go downhill. He then sent me a list of signs that are signs that one is getting older. So I share this with you in the hope that if you are feeling under the weather, they will make you smile.
20 Signs You're Getting Older:
1. Everything hurts and what doesn't hurt doesn't work.
The gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals.
You feel like the morning after and you haven't been anywhere.
Your little black book contains only names that end in M.D.
Your children begin to look middle aged.
You finally reach the top of the ladder and find it leaning against the wrong wall.
Your mind makes contracts your body can't meet.
You look forward to a dull evening.
Your favourite part of the newspaper is "20 Years Ago Today."
10. You turn out the lights for economic rather than romantic reasons.
You sit in a rocking chair and can't get it going.
Your knees buckle, and your belt won't.
You're 17 around the neck, 42 around the waist, and 95 around the golf course.
Your back goes out more than you do.
Your pacemaker makes the garage doors go up when you see a pretty girl.
The little old grey haired lady you helped across the street is your wife.
You sink your teeth into a steak, and they stay there.
You have too much room in the house and not enough in the medicine cabinet.
Your arms are almost too short to read the newspaper.
You sing along with the music in the lift.
Here's wishing you all an ailment free Easter and that the risen Christ may bring His healing love into all of our homes and lives. And may the good news of the resurrection fill us all with eternal hope and gladness - this Easter and always.
Every good wish
Revd Captain David Scurr CA
Over The Wall Letter, February and March 2017 edition
Now that the Christmas season is well behind us, we turn our attention to the coming of Lent, which this year begins on Wednesday the 1st March.
Lent is a time when the church and its people prepare themselves for the coming of Easter, through fasting and prayer, or by simply making time for God in our very busy lives. One way of doing this is by spending a few minutes each day reading a portion of scripture from the Bible or by reading one of the many daily reading booklets that are readily available in Christian bookshops.
We at St Chad's and St Mary's use the New Daylight daily reading booklets which helps us to journey though Lent together.
These booklets help us to reconnect with and/or discover more about God by encouraging us to read a recommended piece of scripture every day.
I find that spending a small amount of time every day with some bible reading notes helps us, not only on our spiritual journey but also on our life's journey as well.
Even Jesus himself needed to spend time in prayer to connect with His Father and to hear His Fathers voice. He also encouraged his disciples to follow his example and even taught them the Lord's Prayer as a way to pray when they struggled to find anything to say. As prayer can be hard - even for the most devout. This is one of the reasons why bible notes are helpful, as they can get us started on the right path to beginning a daily time of prayer and bible reading.
Did you know that when we read the bible, we discover about God's great love for us and that He has a plan for each one of us. We discover how God longs to be part of our lives and how He wants to be with us on our life's journey.
One of the great psalms, psalm 139, tells us that God made each one of us and that He knew us even before we were born. It's a psalm that has helped many people over the years and a psalm that is still relevant for each one of us today.
In fact, many of the psalms can speak to us in many of life's situations, if only we but make the time and read them.
So, this Lent, why not try starting the day with a bible reading booklet instead of the TV Guide or newspaper?
Because if we do, we might just discover that this can have a very positive effect, not only on our spiritual - but also on our physical and emotional wellbeing as well.
If you would like to subscribe to the New Daylight bible reading notes via the church, then please contact me for more information.
May I wish you all every blessing this Lent.
Revd David Scurr
Over The Wall Letter, December 2016 and January 2017 edition
I have always loved Christmas. Perhaps you are now expecting me to say that this year is no different, but I have to say that it is different, because I love it even more.
My faith in the most important Christmas gift of all, the gift of God’s Son Jesus Christ, has been deepened and strengthened by the Christian love and support I have been privileged to receive in my battle against cancer this year. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers which have been truly tangible and wonderfully effective.
Advent is a season of waiting, of preparation for the gift of our Saviour.
For my family and I, the last nine months have been a season of waiting – waiting for results and outcomes of many months of chemotherapy treatment, wonderful NHS medical care and months of prayer by so many caring people, may God bless them all.
My early Christmas gift is that I am now in remission and I still have the tremendous celebration to come on Christmas Day when we give thanks that 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.
What a gift to prepare ourselves for in this Advent season! To pray, to wait, to be still and know that He is God!
Of course, it is difficult to make space to pray, to wait, to be still in our busy lives. We live at such a pace. Everything must be done quickly. All the space is taken up with important jobs and commitments.
We might even think that stopping just to think and reflect is time wasted, but nothing that helps us to align ourselves with God’s direction for us is ever wasted. If we expect God to make time for us we should make time for Him. For as we search for God’s presence around and within us we can find in God’s love the full meaning and purpose of our lives. Over time and with patience we can come to know God more and more as we glimpse the divine, glimpse the extraordinary in the midst of our everyday ordinary lives.
Maybe we could do no better than look again at Jesus and his whole method of working. Did he not take the ordinary and invite people to see beyond the carpenter, beyond the shepherd, beyond the farmer, the housewife, the leper, the wise and foolish girls, to wider and deeper truths? His invitation to the early disciples was to ‘come and see.’
Why would he change now? His invitation is the same to us today: ‘come and see.’ Look in the Bible. See how he lived his life. Understand why he lived it as he did and for whom: … for us.
An ability to see beyond the ordinariness, to see beyond the immediate, is at the heart of our faith, to sense that, behind anything that can be experienced, there is something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty reaches us only indirectly and as a faint reflection.
Christianity began with a man who allowed others to glimpse God in his life, and he told them that God would one day be glimpsed in them.
The first disciples met a mere carpenter from Nazareth but they saw in him something more; they saw the height and the depth and the breadth of God’s love, and they caught a fleeting glance of what their lives might become.
Many families come together at Christmas, come home.
Let us make sure we invite Jesus to be right there at home with us.
May God bless you and all those you love this Christmas and always.
Reader, St Chad’s Farndon and St Mary’s Coddington