Christ the Lord, Broadfield
Church of England
Broadfield Barton, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 9BA
It is Tuesday morning I am in Stafford at a Church Army conference and I have been asked to lead midday prayers and so I am pulling together my thoughts. Two thoughts came to my mind. One was with a gentleman I met in Crawley who was asking what it is like to follow Jesus Christ in 2019. The question led me to reflect on how as Christians we are in the world, but not of it. Our faith sharing has to be culturally relevant and yet to follow the Kingdom of God values today we need to be counter cultural. The other is the word ‘Dare’ which has come up a lot in Church Army circles recently. The title I have come up with is, ‘Dare to be different’ The set text for midday is Hebrews 12.
Over thousands of years, God inspired people to record and write what we now know as the Bible. God revealed himself to them and God was revealed to others in their lives as they followed him and focused their lives on him.
In the Bible, God has commanded us to keep our focus fixed upon him, on his will and purpose for our lives. For us to really honour God, we need to follow his direction in every aspect of our lives. It’s not about our opinion or preferences, if we are disciples of Jesus then we must follow all of God’s commandments, precepts and ways.
At times that will mean that we are very different from some of the people around us. Honouring God, following him, keeping God at the centre of our lives, requires us to keep our focus on Him.
God, His Word and his commandments must be the centre of our attention. We must both love and obey our Lord.
There is nothing better to fix our eyes upon than Jesus. Jesus, who lived a life without sin, yet sacrificed himself for us to pay the price for our sin. Jesus who is the lover of your soul and who is the Saviour of humanity. Together we must dare to fix the focus of our hearts, our minds, our gaze, our thoughts and our eyes constantly upon God and his Word. We must fix our focus on God’s kingdom, his direction, most of all we must fix our eyes on Jesus and never take them off him. We must fix our focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
I am reminded of a hymn which starts:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace”
There once was a strongman in a circus sideshow who demonstrated his strength before large audiences every night. Towards the end of one performance, he squeezed all the juice from a lemon by just using his hands, he then offered £200 to anyone who could get another drop of juice from the lemon. A frail little lady picked up the lemon, she squeezed, and out came a teaspoon of lemon juice. The strongman was amazed and duly paid the £200 but asked the lady what the secret of her strength was. “Practice,” she replied, “I have been the treasurer of my church for forty-two years!”
I have not been the treasurer of CtL for quite that long, but I do at times rather feel like the lady in the story!
For example, our income during the year 2018 was £22050 but our expenditure was £24300, a shortfall of £2250. “A bit of squeezing had to be done!”
For those not familiar with the church finances it may be useful to tell you a bit about our regular costs and our sources of income to cover these. Our biggest items of expenditure are our Ministry Costs, which is our contribution to the Diocese amounting to £15000 for 2018, plus the Council Tax and water rates of the vicarage, and £3575 per annum for heating and lighting the church. Then there is the cost of insurance, copyright licence, telephone and broadband and maintenance costs.
The source of income? This cost is met solely by you our congregation for which we are continually grateful.
If you feel you can contribute to these costs, do please come and see me.
We are very fortunate to have Juliette as our Parish Nurse. She does an excellent job signposting, educating, and listening. She is very dedicated and gives more than the hours she is paid for.
If you feel that you would like to support this project on a regular basis, please see Neil Stewart (Church Warden), Peter Stroud (Treasurer) or Howard (Vicar).
As a church, I know that we have all been praying for funding to allow Parish Nursing to continue at CtL and I now think that we can move forward and look to a positive future
Prisoner 16770 – Executed! The evil death camp Auschwitz, known many to us today because of the killings during WWII and the horror of the gas chambers where the largest numbers of European Jews were killed by the Nazis. Here Prisoner 16770 who was executed. His name Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan Polish priest, who died on August 14, 1941.
When a prisoner escaped from the camp, the Nazis selected 10 others to be killed by starvation in reprisal. One of the 10 selected to die, Franciszek Gajowniczek, began to cry: “My wife! My children! I will never see them again!” At this Kolbe stepped forward and asked to die in his place. This substitution surprised many, but his request was indeed granted. Observers believed in horror that the commandant would be angered and would refuse the request, or would order the death of both men. The commandant remained silent for a moment. What his thoughts were on being confronted by this brave priest we have no idea. Amazingly, however, he agreed to the request. Apparently, the Nazis had more use for a young worker than for an old one. Gajowniczek was returned to the ranks, and the priest took his place
Kolbe was sent to the death camp for offering shelter to 3,000 Polish refugees, among whom were 2,000 Jews. The friars shared everything they had with the refugees. They housed, fed and clothed them in line with Jesus’ teaching and the early Church.
One day an SS officer abused him terribly and when he collapsed he was thrown him in the mud and left him for dead. His companions managed to smuggle him to the camp infirmary where he recovered. The doctor, Rudolph Diem, recalled, “I can say with certainty that during my four years in Auschwitz, I never saw such a sublime example of the love of God and one's neighbour.”
Gajowniczek later recalled, 'I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it: I, the condemned, am to live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me - a stranger. Is this some dream?
I was put back into my place without having had time to say anything to Maximilian Kolbe. I was saved. And I owe to him the fact that I could tell you all this. The news quickly spread all round the camp. It was the first and the last time that such an incident happened in the whole history of Auschwitz.
For a long time I felt remorse when I thought of Maximilian. By allowing myself to be saved, I had signed his death warrant. But now, on reflection, I understood that a man like him could not have done otherwise. Perhaps he thought that as a priest his place was beside the condemned men to help them keep hope. In fact he was with them to the last.'‘
Kolbe's body was removed to the crematorium and without ceremony was disposed of with no dignity.
I read that Gajowniczek died in 1995 in Poland, aged 93.
As I heard about this account at school for the first time it was instrumental for me coming to faith as Kolbe offered me such an example of Jesus Christ who took our punishment and our place on the cross at Calvary, died a criminals death that we might be free and have a relationship with out heavenly Father.