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Rev Eric Foggitt elected as new minister

On Sunday 8 December 2019 Rev Eric Foggitt preached as Sole Nominee and was elected as new minister.

Rev Foggitt will be inducted to St Andrew’s in February 2020.

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Minister’s Letter November/December 2018

Dear Friends,

November is the season of Remembrance and this year at our service on 11 November, we remember the Armistice that took place exactly 100 years ago, marking the end of WWI. For many who lost loved ones, the end of the conflict would have been bittersweet. Countless young lives lost on both sides, never to return home to families or sweethearts left behind. The names of the bloodiest battles are not mere footnotes of history, their horrors have been well documented and the neatly arranged white grave stones tell the story of enormous loss. The Somme, Verdun, Gallipoli and Passchendaele saw carnage on a scale that the world had never seen. The area around Passchendaele was so churned up with shell holes that many men drowned in the mud and the mire.

There are many ironies of WW1: the Christmas truce that broke out along parts of the Western front in 1914, a single moment in those 4 years when the fighting stopped. For a few days, enemies recognised their common humanity, singing Christmas carols, exchanging rations and playing football before taking up arms against one another again. What do we make of those events?

During this time, there was a huge development in technology, motivated by a desire to gain the upper hand against the enemy. Poisonous gas, tanks, flamethrowers and aircraft were new tools of modern warfare; the advancement of science for negative rather than progressive purposes.

There is the irony of propaganda versus truth. What was told to the young men who signed up for battalions? What did they think they were going to face? Was it sold to them as a great adventure? War poets like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon paint enduring eyewitness pictures of a gruesome war as it really was.

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Minister’s Letter May 2017

Dear friends,

On Sunday mornings since the start of the year, we have been reflecting on the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth; his origins, his teaching (the Messiah-king teaching about the kingdom), his miracles and the events that took place around Jesus’ death and resurrection. In the coming weeks, we will turn our attention to the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He is the third person of the Holy Trinity, sent at Pentecost by God the Father and the ascended Christ, to work among those who had come to faith. In John’s gospel Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as the other Comforter (14:16)

The Holy Spirit is the least understood person of the Trinity, partly because we find him hard to visualise. Our mental pictures of God the Father and God the Son are no doubt flawed, but how do we create a picture of the Spirit as a person within the Trinity? It is probably best that we consider the work that the Holy Spirit does supporting and empowering the life of the Church.

When I use the word ’empower’, what I mean is that God gives spiritual gifts to believers. These gifts are given to the Christian for the purpose of building up the Church. The Apostle Paul identifies the gifts of the Spirit in some of his letters and include the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, teaching, discernment, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, administration, serving, encouraging and showing mercy (see Romans 12:6-8, Corinthians 12:4-11 and 12:28). These gifts enable the disciple of Christ to contribute positively to the life of the Church, thus allowing Christ’s body to bear faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ parable of the talents reminds us that the gifts that are given to us to be used and not to be squandered.

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Minister’s Letter April 2017

Dear friends,

I recently took the opportunity to visit a flower market in Amsterdam to purchase some summer flowering bulbs, tubers and corms to plant in our back garden.  I hope that from summer into autumn we will see the glorious colours of dahlias, begonias, gladioli and freesias.  Growing flowers gives me great pleasure, gardening gives me a satisfaction deep within my soul.  What gives you that sort of pleasure?  Many people in our congregation get satisfaction from singing or playing a musical instrument and music can bring pleasure deep within the inner vistas of any human being; the harmonies connect with us on the inside.  Such experiences remind us that what makes us human is much more than skin deep.

When I was young Christian, my minister at the time gave me a book that made a huge impact on my Christian life.  The book is called, ‘Inside Out’, by Dr Larry Crabb.  The main theme is that when a person becomes a Christian they experience inner change; their inner life of heart, soul, mind and strength is totally transformed by their encounter with Jesus Christ.  In other words, there is nothing superficial (or hypocritical) about genuine, authentic Christianity.

The cross of Good Friday cannot leave us untouched.  On the cross we come face to face with a Saviour who builds a bridge of forgiveness between ourselves and our Heavenly Father.  As he hangs forsaken, bruised and battered upon the wood and dies, he brings forgiveness to us.  He dies as our brother and our sin bearer.  The cross, changes at the heart, of how we look at our own lives (as sinners in need of help) and the way that we look at God as our Heavenly Father.

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Minister’s Letter November 2016

Dear friends,

When our friends from Adentan visited us in September, we made a visit to Ypres. The In Flanders Fields Museum highlighted for us different aspects of World War One, from the social history of the events leading up to the conflict to the appalling conditions endured by soldiers of the western front.  That evening, we were deeply moved by the wreath laying ceremony at the Menin Gate. As the Fire Brigade’s rendering of the last post echoed around the monument, onlookers listened respectfully and those laying the wreaths, young and old, carried out their duties with care and dignity.

2016 commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was commanded by Field Marshall Douglas Haig. Haig, along with other leading generals of the time, believed that the German Army would be overstretched by a new offensive, since they were already engaged with the French Army in the Battle of Verdun in NE France. As a result the French could not commit many divisions of their army to the Somme and so, even before the battle began, the expectation of success by Haig and his colleagues was lessened.

The battle was preceded by eight days of artillery bombardment of the German lines. Huge numbers of British shells were fired, but many of them were dud, badly constructed and ineffective. The German trenches, built in three successive lines, were dug deep and well-fortified. As a result, the German lines remained intact and so, when the British and French armies advanced on July 1st, the German army was not weakened as had been hoped. While the French army saw some success on the first day of the conflict for the BEF it was a catastrophe. When the men went over the top, they failed to break through the German barbed wire, thus allowing the Germans to use their machine guns to deadly effect. The British troops’ problems were compounded by the fact they had expected to meet little resistance in no man’s land and were heavy-laden with supplies.

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Minister’s Letter Summer 2016

Dear friends,

Our girls are counting down the days until the end of their school career (if career is the right term). Some other young people in the congregation are at the same stage – there is a lot resting on these exams.  Time passes much more quickly than you think it will.  None of us have all the time in the world.

The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes writes about different times and seasons of life in chapter 3 of the book.  He says:

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

 a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

 a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance.

In between one season and another there is usually a period of transition or transitions.  The time in between birth and death is called ‘life’.  The ‘planting’ of the crop might happen in the spring time, while the ‘uprooting’ might occur at harvest. The transitions in between ‘planting’ and ‘uprooting’ could be considered growth, development and ripening.

We face transitions in life all of the time – suddenly you are 50 or 60 or 70 – it doesn’t happen over night but it creeps up on you.  But there are different stages in life that we might be more aware of; each of them comes with a different set of challenges.

Life’s transitions can be smoother if we have time to think and reflect before they happen; but we don’t have the foreknowledge of sudden events that catch us off guard.

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Minister’s Letter April

Dear friends,

As I write this letter, I am travelling from Brussels to Paris on the Thalys.  It is the first time that I have travelled this way since an attack on the Thalys was foiled last August.  Yesterday, was the first time I travelled on the Metro since Brussels was attacked by terrorists on the morning of the 22nd March.  Some of the stations are blacked out; there is an eeriness around Brussels Metro at the moment.  I have not had the courage to revisit the departure hall at Zaventem airport.  When I do I am not sure how I will feel.  When I arrived at Gare du Nord in Paris, the police presence was  significant.

There were a number of people in our congregation caught up in the attacks one way or another; some people escaped, others sustained minor injuries, others knew some of those who died in the Metro attack.  We hear stories of people who escaped harm by, what seems like, the skin of their teeth.

Acts of terror are not a new phenomenon.  When I was young people in certain parts of the UK were directly affected by the ‘troubles’ of Ireland. There remain dissident groups of republicans that cause problems.  When civilians are targeted and are deliberately killed and injured it is the ultimate act of cowardice.

So what changed in Brussels on 22nd March.  The word that has come to my mind time and again is ‘violated’.  People no longer feel safe making their way through the city.  Journeys that we once took for granted, that were part of the regular routine, are not the same.  We feel afraid.  We look at some people with a culture of suspicion- does that person have malicious intent?  Does the diversity of our cosmopolitan city have it’s drawbacks?  How effective are those who are supposed to protect us from acts of terror?

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Minister’s Letter December 2015/January 2016

Dear friends,

As I write this letter from the Manse, these are strange and tense times in Brussels. Brussels continues to face a level 4 security alert which means a high presence of armed police and military personnel outside schools, around Metro stations, within the main train stations and guarding important buildings. We often pray about the impact of terrorism upon people’s lives; it has been far reaching this year. Tourists on beach holidays, publishers, museum visitors, aircraft passengers and more recently a busy fun-filled Friday night in Paris turned into a bloodbath. For most of us, to think that some of the people who live in the city are at the heart of this kind of activity, is beyond belief. It makes us question what kind of world we live in. Perhaps, when you heard about the Paris attacks on 13th November, your faith was shaken?

What was the world like in Jesus day? It was no less brutal than it is now. Think of the Roman Empire expanding its borders ever wider and they cruel way they dealt with insurgents by crucifixion or some other grisly form of execution. Life was hard for many people and those who were in power in Jerusalem were corrupt and compromised. Two things strike me about the New Testament world: firstly that the Roman Empire made it easier for people to travel (the Romans were accomplished road builders) and secondly, they gathered information on people in the empire by organising regular censuses.

It is clear as we reflect upon Paul’s missionary journeys that there were open borders. The passport hadn’t been invented either and if people had the financial means they could easily move from one place to another, usually for the purposes of trade. It is clear that many of the places that Paul visited had settled Jewish communities as there were established synagogues. Then, as now, ethnically mixed communities brought cultural enrichment and diversity to urban centres. However it is likely that in these centres people of particular ethnicities occupied certain areas of the city, just as they do today. How well different ethnic groups mixed in the Roman Empire is difficult to tell. There may have been tensions, just as there are to today when groups of people stick together and don’t integrate much with an indigenous community. A culture of ‘them and us’ develops. This is a huge challenge to Western Europe at present and if we are not careful, has the potential to worsen, as we try to resettle migrants who have fled their homeland. How should the Church reach out to migrants? Creatively and generously I believe. We have the potential as Christians to lead the way and show Christ’s kindness. At some stage most of our diverse congregation left our homes to come and live in a place that was strange to us.

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