Thursday, December 19, 2019

New Year's Eve

I guess many of you will be in the process of deciding what to do on New Year's Eve with the possibility of parties to go to, family to visit, a trip to London to see the fireworks or maybe just an early night! Well I want to add to your options by letting you know we're going to be doing something new as a community to see in the New Year, which we'll be hosting in the Kerith Centre on our Bracknell site.

The evening will start at 9.30pm with food and games. We're inviting everyone to bring some food and drink to share (no alcohol please), although if for some reason you can't bring anything then please come anyway as I'm sure we'll have enough (if not Domino's Pizza is only a phone call away!).

Then from 10.30pm through till midnight we're going to have space to worship, thank God for 2019 and commit 2020 to him. I'm going to be hosting the evening and Sola Osinoiki will be back from Berlin to bring God's word to us.

Just before midnight we'll listen to Big Ben chime in the New Year, watch the fireworks from London and welcome in the New Year in style.

You can find all the details here. If you could also sign up for as many tickets as you need then that would be incredibly helpful, as at the moment we really have no idea how many people will want to come and we want to set the auditorium out in a way appropriate to the number coming. However, if you forget to sign up or decide to come at the last minute please come anyway!

In the meantime I hope all your Christmas celebrations are going well.



Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Kerith Carols reflections and plans for Sunday 22nd December

First of all I wanted to thank everyone who invited guests to last weekends Kerith Carols. We had an amazing time with eight meetings across our four sites. Including the 100 people who watched the live stream over 2,000 people experienced the Carols and the feedback has been hugely encouraging. I was incredibly proud of our teams who worked so hard to make it all happen, but even more proud of how so many of us had stepped out and invited friends, relatives, neighbours and workmates. Without guests these events are just a bunch of us singing some carols, but with guests they are an amazing opportunity to share the good news of Jesus. I know some will have had the disappointment of people turning down an invite or saying yes but not then making it, but that bit isn't our responsibility. Our responsibility is to have enough love and courage to give an invite and create a space where people can hear the gospel message. The rest is then up to them and the Holy Spirit. So well done!

This coming Sunday (22nd December) Blackwater Valley, Windsor and West Wight are meeting at 10.30 am as normal, but there are some changes for Bracknell where instead of the normal three meetings we have two.

The first will be at 10.30 am where we there will be farm animals for the children to look at before they go into kids work. We would also love it if children could come dressed as a nativity character or in a Christmas jumper, but there is no pressure if for any reason they can't or don't want to. For the adults we have hot drinks, mince pies and biscuits served in the Kerith Centre reception area. As on the other sites we will be singing carols and hearing a great message on the angels' song as recorded in Luke 2.

The second Sunday meeting in Bracknell is at 3.30 pm and will be a much more reflective gathering. Perhaps 2019 has been a tough year and you would like time to reflect on that, or maybe you just need some space to slow down in the middle of all the mayhem of Christmas. There will be readings, music, prayers and space to reflect on the hope of the Christmas story.

Wherever you are this Sunday please do all you can to either make it to one of our gatherings, or to another expression of the body of Christ near where you are.

I'll leave you with some more photos from our Kerith Carols. All but the second one from West Wight are taken by the brilliant Stuart Bailey. I'm very happy to acknowledge the West Wight photographer too (who I'm sure is also brilliant) if somebody can let me know who took it!



Wednesday, December 11, 2019

General Election Thoughts

This Thursday our nation votes to elect a new set of MPs, and through that a new Government. I have no idea what the outcome is going to be, or indeed what God wants the outcome to be. I'm very wary of those who declare with confidence that there is a particular party Christians should vote for, or that God is pro remain or pro brexit. However, I do know that there are some issues which God cares about deeply, and which we should therefore be passionate about too. In the light of that I have two encouragements for us.

The first is to vote (if you are eligible) and to use your vote wisely, even if you are in a constituency where the result seems inevitable. The Evangelical Alliance have a helpful page summarising the main policies of each of the main parties, along with an analysis of various policy areas and how Christians should engage with them. I'd encourage you as you consider the options to think not only about who will do us good as a nation, but in particular who will do the most good for those facing poverty and injustice. As a people called by God to 'act justly and love mercy' (Micah 6:8) this should be a priority for us as we decide how to vote.

Secondly and even more importantly let us pray, both on election day and in the months and years that follow, for our MPs, our Government and our Prime Minister. The Apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son Timothy to say:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we
may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved
and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

Paul is writing to Timothy in Ephesus, which at this time was under Roman rule. Those in authority, from Caesar down, were deeply ungodly and at times extremely hostile to Christianity. But Paul knew that through prayer God could still use those rulers to bring peace, godliness and holiness, as well as creating the environment where the gospel would flourish. By praying we declare that our hope is in God, not in our politicians, that only he can bring the change we long for in our nation, and that he will do that as we pray and act to see his kingdom come and his will being done.



Monday, December 2, 2019

Thanksgiving Service for Mike Barnett

Many of us will remember Mike Barnett who was a part of Kerith for a number of years. I wanted to let you know the sad news that Mike passed away on Thursday 7th November. Mike was a great servant to our church community over the years he was with us, amongst other things leading a small group and being one of our Sunday building administrators.

There will be a Thanksgiving Service for Mike's life on Friday 13th December at 1.30pm at Easthampstead Park Crematorium which I'll be taking. Everyone is warmly invited.

Please be praying for Mike's children George, Dominic and Amy and all those will be missing Mike. That they would know God's love, comfort and strength at what is a tough time for them all.