The weather had kept us guessing all day with intermittent bouts of rain and sunshine, however, come 6.00 pm we were ready to thank God for His abundance and…
Raise a Hallelujah!
I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!
What a great start to the evening, raising a Hallelujah to remind us of the power behind praise and worship as we lift up our God. (There is a powerful testimony behind this song of Bettel – worth a read). This is our record of what was said and felt…
Isaiah’s words for the church
Several years ago All Saints was given two prophecies by two different visiting speakers: (in the bold type)…
54 ‘Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord. 2 ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.
43 This is what the Lord says – …
18 ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah is the Prophet l most admire, for he foretold pretty well all that the Gospel proclaimed in the New Testament. Prophecy is multifaceted. It speaks to the situation of the prophet’s lifetime (otherwise he would not be a true prophet). It has a fulfilment later, perhaps much later. Thus, when King Ahaz refuses to hear Isaiah’s word for Judah, Isaiah foretells the birth of Immanuel to a virgin, which happened some 700 years later. Prophecy also has partial fulfilment later only to be completely revealed at the end of the age. Thus, on the cross, Jesus partially fulfilled the foretelling in Genesis 3 whereby Satan’s head was crushed as he struck the second Adam’s heel. Nevertheless, one of the 7 heads of the beast which appeared to have a fatal wound in Revelation 13 was apparently healed. So, the final fulfilment awaits Jesus’ second coming.
However, prophecy from sources such as Isaiah can apply to us now. So, what must we enlarge and spread out into and what is the new thing requiring us to disregard the past?
At Muddy Boots/Broadway Enterprise we see God fulfilling these promises.
Covid 19 has shown us new things. None of us can recall a time like this. It is a time when fear and anxiety are added to isolation, robbing the church of its ability to fulfil Jesus’ call to go into all the world and make disciples. More than any other instruction he gave, fear was the one thing Jesus warned his disciples against, because it represents a failure of trust. Isolation is the complete opposite of the building of communion among disciples. How have we responded?
We have learned to do online church over the internet. For some of us the curve has been so steep as to almost derail us. Kelly looks like she is speaking to each one listening as if they were in the room. It is wonderful. For me the sight of my own face on screen is so off-putting as to make it hard to concentrate on what l am trying to say.
But at Muddy Boots we have maintained contact with one another in person and expanded our activity. God has undoubtedly blessed the garden enterprise which reached out to so many vulnerable and hurting people. It looks good and it produces ample physical growth of the seeds we sow. We have been blessed with as much funding as we can handle. It is a place of peace: visitors often comment on this quality.
Moreover, we have expanded our activity. At the heart of the lock down we initiated a produce sale at the front of Mind’s building, selling vegetables (a new thing) grown or sourced by our invaluable Jim Haston, (a man with a lifetime’s experience in horticulture).
At first this was more readily available than supermarket produce. It is also cheaper to the customer. We also sell our own Muddy grown produce. Maintaining social distancing we give opportunity for people to get together and talk face to (2m apart) face. The result is a very friendly atmosphere.
We have also launched a web design service. www.bluequarter.co/
We have invited you here today to worship in the garden because we have had a word to come to the Lord just as the Israelites were called to celebrate a festival to Him three times a year (Exodus 23:14). This is the first such service. Has it not been wonderful to sing praise to the Lord accompanied by the excellent worship leading of Kelly and Graham?
We believe this is where the church is going in fulfilment of the Isaiah’s words to us. Will you join in supporting this outreach?
Now we will hear where we believe God is leading us next…
Vision and Reality
Over 40 years ago we know that God began a new thing in this community, a new work of the Holy Spirit, many people readily believed God’s promises and took steps of faith. By faith they trusted God’s voice and there are still some people around today to tell the stories. The stories of life that are woven with darkness and light with joy and sorrow. The building of the church hall at All Saints was such a step of faith that enabled mission and ministry to the community to grow.
Work with families, especially the under 5’s, fellowship groups were established, youth events, relationships with the wider church and celebrations of a new style of praise and worship were a regular event on the calendar. Over the years the work continued but with a longing in some people to be working more in the community. Other ministries began such as craft groups and drop-in clubs as well as feeding the homeless at Christmas.
In later years, the parishes of Branston and All Saints with Christ Church were amalgamated and again different styles of mission were established, such as Splat, Aslan and Café Church and Walking Nativity.
Life goes on, people come and go. God gives us a vision and then He has to take us into the valley, it’s here that many of us faint and grow weary. God has to take us into the valley and put us through fire and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality. Ever since this new work began God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal.
In 2012 about 20 people met in All Saints Youth Lounge, from different churches but not all of a faith background. From this meeting an unincorporated business was set up.
It took another 5 years before the Broadway Social Enterprise was registered as a business, then initial funding was secured and work on clearing the garden began, followed by the greenhouse and then ‘more than a shed’. People from all walks of life have helped develop this vision, many individuals and organisations, a seed sown here, a nail hammered there – all that’s needed for growth is encased in this tiny seed, and all that is needed is this nail to continue the building.
It would be good to say that we’ve made it: We are here, let’s settle for what we have, but this is not our vision it is God’s and try as we might we will not be satisfied settling and God will not let us.
Despite the weariness of some of the people who have been working very hard during the lock-down, there is an air of excitement that God is still doing a new thing, those of you who have been involved in the Broadway Enterprise, Muddy Boots, the allotment, the market, Broadway Broccoli and veg box deliveries, the website design and the books are just holding the vision, it’s not ours to keep, it’s time to pass It on and as Isaiah 54.2 says and John has reminded us “enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes”. So, our eyes have been turned to leasing this little beauty…
More than a shop!
….the property known as 46 Branston Road as a greengrocer to sell locally-sourced free from pesticides fruit and vegetables as well as items produced by the Muddy Boots garden and allotment. But it could be much ‘more than a shop’. A place of social interaction, a place to encounter someone broken-hearted or hungry and engage with their needs that’s where we find Christ. This is not a request for volunteers out of necessity or guilt, it is an invitation to join a work where the transforming hope of the gospel is already at work.
Before we took another step, we were intentional in creating this space to give God all the glory, and to honour Him with our worship.
The times we find ourselves in now, and all in-between times are times of tension like that moment when you have been strapped into a roller coaster, and its creeping up before the first drop, you can’t get off but you know it’s not really started yet.
There are times when you can’t see very much happening there are times when have the urge to shout ‘stop’ I want to get off or just get on with it. The hardest thing to do is to stay in the moment. This in-between time is valuable, this time is not simply a time when nothing is happening. There is much value in the in-between times like all times these times matter to God.
From the first yearnings for a Saviour’s birth to the full joy of knowing sins forgiven we gather as His church on God’s good earth to share an echo of choirs of heaven, so let us pray.
Oh God we praise you for the time that has been, thank you for all that you have done in our lives and in the life of your world. Oh God we ask for your help in this moment in time, enable us starting with today, to neither idolise the past or idealise the future. Keep us alert and responsive to you in the present. Oh God, we offer you what is yet to be, send Your Spirit to guide and reveal to us again in this generation Your vision for a future where the whole of creation will find healing, reconciliation and peace.
Oh God who was and is and is to come we praise you for the gift of time embracing all things under heaven, thank you for sharing our joys and our sorrows our triumphs and our failures our beginnings and our endings. Set your love in our hearts and give us a glimpse of Eternity through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.
For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us of different kinds of time but all fall under and all matter to God.
Creator God maker of time and space hold us in your Eternity, Lord Jesus ever present, travel with us the life of faith, Holy Spirit herald of tomorrow draws us into your future and the blessing of the Triune God be with us all this day and always.