If you would like to give to the ministry of the Anlaby Churches, there are a variety of ways in which you can do so. Many people give by standing order; others choose to give each Sunday by Gift aid envelope (although until we are meeting physically this has been difficult). We are now launching an online giving facility which you can access here: https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/anlabychurches/
|More details can be found on our giving forms:|
Thank you to all who give so generously to the ongoing ministry of St Peter's and St Mark's!
by Steve Wilcox
Treasure. It's a wonderful word isn't it. It conjures up images of all that we desire and long for. And Jesus says “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44). Picture the scene. You're walking through a field and you stumble over something hard. And after holding in a curse and a comment about sueing someone you wonder – what is it? So you look down and see the corner of what looks like an old box. Now you're really intrigued. You start to dig – and out comes this large chest. You open it with excitement and – yes you've guessed it, it's filled with gold coins and diamonds – worth more than you could ever imagine. What would you do? Well in the story the man is filled with joy and excitement - “I can't believe this has happened! With this I can do everything I've ever dreamed...” There's no question he must have the treasure – nothing is as valuable to him as this treasure. So he sells everything he has and buys the field, so the treasure is his.
And the obvious question is - “what is the treasure?” Jesus says “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure...” But I think we can get even more specific than that. The treasure is Jesus. He's the king of the kingdom after all. He's the one who above all things is supremely valuable – and who gives us everything in the kingdom.
How is Jesus the greatest treasure? Here's what we've discovered about Jesus so far in Matthew's gospel (and I suggest you sit back and enjoy these glorious realities – gaze on Jesus with your mind's eye, as you might gaze on a treasure chest or a beautiful view from the top of a mountain). Jesus is:
The one who brings blessing / happiness (5:3-10);
The one who fulfils and obeys the law perfectly - something we cannot do (5:17);
The one who brings great reward in heaven (5:12);
The one who brings treasure in heaven (6:20-21);
The one who provides for his people (6:25-34);
The one whose words give a firm foundation to life and a gate to heaven (ch 7);
The one who brings life and healing, who controls nature and raises the dead (ch 8-9);
The one with authority to call people (9:9);
The one who forgives sins (9:2);
The one who brings in a new age (9:14-17);
The one who keeps his suffering people going, and cares for them (10:26-30);
The one who was fun to be with (11:19);
The one who spent time with sinners (11:19);
The one who brings rest for the weary and burdened (11:28-30);
The one who will not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smouldering wick (12:20);
The judge of all (ch 10-12);
The one whose words bring life and bring us to the Father, and who will cause us to shine like the sun (ch 13);
And at Easter we will see – he died on a cross in our place, as the perfect law keeper taking the punishment we deserve for our lawbreaking, so that God can view us as law keepers – as righteous.
And three days later he rose again, he is Lord of all, he gives life, and he will return to judge.
Jesus wonderful? Jesus is the greatest Treasure. He is the treasure
in the field who is worth giving up absolutely everything else for.
And the more we treasure him, the more we will
know that to be true.
by Steve Wilcox
Jesus has been invited to dine at the house of a Pharisee named Simon. As he reclines at the table, a woman comes in to the room and stands behind him. We're told that she “was a sinner in the town” - though we're given no more detail than that. She begins to cry – floods of tears, as she is overwhelmed with emotion at the gratitude she feels towards Jesus. Her tears fall on his feet, so she loosens her hair and wipes his feet with her hair before anointing them with perfume.
Jesus's host is not impressed – he cannot get beyond the fact that this woman is a sinner and Jesus shouldn't be relating to her. So Jesus tells him a story.
“Two people owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii (two years' wages today); the other fifty (two months wages today). Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave them both.” (Luke 7:42). It's easy to miss how remarkable this is. When was the last time you heard of a high street bank, let alone a loan shark, willingly and voluntarily cancelling a person's debts? And Jesus is using this as a picture of God's generosity towards sinners like you and me, in forgiving our sins.
Jesus goes on by showing that the woman's overflowing emotional response to Jesus is a result of her overflowing gratitude to him for the forgiveness she has found through him. (Luke 7:47).
We are left with a question, and a lesson. The question is – have we appreciated the forgiveness that is available to us in Jesus? Have we appreciated the depth of our sinfulness – the amount that we have been forgiven? Why not write down all the ways in which you have sinned “in thought, word and deed” over the past day – week – year – 20 years – and then give thanks that through trusting in Jesus it is all forgiven.
The lesson is – as we reflect on how much we've been forgiven by our generous God, we cannot help but respond to him (like the woman) with overflowing gratitude, love, and service. How will you respond?
by Steve Wilcox
“And now brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity...” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2).
Amongst other things, Paul is wanting in his second surviving letter to the Corinthians to encourage the Corinthian Christians to give generously to needy Christians in Jerusalem as a response to the generosity that Christ has shown to them. First of all he tells them how the Macedonian Christians – though poor and in need – have responded generously. Then he reminds them of the generosity of Christ himself: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
I am in a position to be able to inform the church family about another act of generosity I have recently witnessed. Most of us will know that the frontage of the St Mark's hall has been wonderfully restored in the last couple of months. Most of the funding has been raised through grant-funding and individual donations. However, there is still a shortfall. The PCC of St Peter's church has some reserves available, and it had been proposed that a loan be made from St Peter's to St Mark's to cover the shortfall (expected to be in the region of £15,000). However, at a recent meeting of the St Peter's PCC they decided unanimously that the money would be gifted to St Mark's rather than loaned. I personally was blown away by this generosity, and I trust that others will be as well.
Unfortunately, the present situation at St Peter's is that monthly expenditure is exceeding monthly income – which is never a good situation to be in. I am therefore praying that just as the St Peter's PCC have shown “rich generosity” in response to what Christ has done, individual members of St Peter's (and St Mark's) will also show rich generosity to meet the needs of the Anlaby Churches.
Many of us do already give extremely sacrificially – and I thank God for that. But I'm also aware that there are new people amongst us who might be considering whether to start giving financially; and there may also be others who are aware that they could give more. The Old Testament talks about the tithe – each member of God's family contributing 10% of gross personal income towards God's work. The New Testament doesn't give a precise amount, but it does talk about giving generously in response to God's grace. In my experience, most of us can give at least 10% of our gross personal income; some are able to give more than that. As we do that, we find that God's generosity overflows all the more to us in response.
So in the light of the recent generosity from St Peter's to St Mark's, can I urge each of us to prayerfully consider whether we might also give more? If you'd like to start or change your planned giving (standing order or envelope) then do ask for a form which is available at the back of the church building.
I'll leave the final words to the apostle Paul:
“Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).