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February 1st - Corporate Communion 9.30 am
February 11th - Prayer Group 2.30 pm, 4, East Grove
February 16th St Chad's 2.30 pm

The Vicar
The joint service held in the Congregational Church on January 18th was a wonderful service, and the address given by Mrs. Gooseman gave us much food for thought. (This address is printed earlier in the magazine) M .G.


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"Wherefore we were made ministers, according to the gift of the grace of God."
When during the past few months I have thought about this meeting for prayer, and the coming together of the different women's organisations of the churches, these words of St. Paul, which he spoke to the Ephesians, have been in my mind.
By the grace of God we are ministers of the Christian Church. We are the women of the Christian Church of today. Each one of us during this week of prayer for Christian unity can ask ourself these questions:-

How can I serve the Church of today?
How can I, to the best of my ability, meet today's situation?
How can I be of use to the community in which God has placed me?
Is there a place for me in the purpose and plan of God?
The answer to these questions is that we are accepted by God, whoever or whatever we are. The Church needs us, because it has never had such a demanding task as today, that of renewing its life, and being an agent of renewal in the world.
How then can we, believing we are accepted by the grace of God, equip ourselves for this task? One of the most important things is that we need guidance. We can seek this in various ways: by reading the word of God and using the experience of many Christians as a pattern for our own service.
One we think of this afternoon is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She was an humble, devoted and dedicated Christian; her example changed the world; her courage has been spoken of throughout the history of the Christian Church. She accepted God's will - this was not easy. Her humble way of life would have been easier to follow, but she chose God's way and accepted the providential care of God. This can be our experience when the way God leads us is sometimes hard to understand. Yet if we accept God's way, His providential care makes the way plain.
We remember the women on the first Easter morning going to the garden: "Who will roll the stone away?' they said - When they arrived the stone was rolled away. This can be our experience. We worry, we plan, we are concerned about many things; but God takes care and we are given grace to overcome many difficulties, when we recognise the guiding hand of God in our lives.

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Mary understood the true meaning of worship. In the stable she saw worship at its very best: the shepherds and wise men, together in one place worshipping the newborn king. No pomp or ceremony was there. They were in ONE place, with ONE heart and ONE mind. Patience Strong wrote, 'It is not the time or the place, it is the people that matter.'
The Church is not a building. It is a body of people who believe in His Name. It is people who recognise that the fellowship of the Church is universal. Do we worship in this way? Are we ministers by the grace of God? Do we give something of ourselves when we go to Church to worship? Do we care and love those to whom the Church reaches out? In Mary's life we see she gave her love freely: love that was unselfish - love that makes things of self grow less and less, and in its place comes the, love of God. Our love of God is expressed in the things we do, the way we live. Very often we don't need to use words.
An example of this was when I went to the Willows and a young girl was helping at the evening service. One dear old lady who was blind couldn't join in the service. I noticed this young girl kneeling beside her, gently stroking her hand. No words, youth with age, a love that expressed itself by touching the hand. It is the way we try to share in the experiences of others that matters. That is why we have to discipline ourselves to the work that God has given us to do.
We read in the New Testament that Mary ministered to the needs of Jesus. No one but God knows how many times 'the sword pierced her heart', but on every occasion she accepted the discipline of the Christian way, even to the Cross itself.
This is our task today.
We have to be bound to God's work to be free in his grace and love. When we look back we can recognise many mistakes: we can see that many ambitions have not been realised. The fourth wise man set out to find the Saviour of the World, but he never reached the manger. On the way he was used by God to help people. He did not see Jesus, but God was revealed to him in the people he met.
We must accept discipline: a dedicated Christian is one who accepts this Way. Dr. Thomas Barnado's mother wrote to him on one occasion, 'Never be too occupied, that you leave God out.' It is God's Church not ours. We bring our different gifts into his service, however small and humble. Results will come, if we share together the work of God. It is when we recognise each others gifts and the contributions each makes to the Kingdom of God that results will come. In this way we can be partners together in his service. What a wonderful thing! The Church moving into the world, being the foundation of all that is best in a world that has been created by God. The Church moving out among the people and meeting the situation of the present day and its needs.
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(continued from page five)
"I'd like to teach the world to sing, and sing in harmony" the young people are singing today. They are sowing the seeds of Christian love: Let us learn this way and be determined to serve better.
(Address given by Mrs. Gooseman at the Barton Council of Churches Women's service, at the Congregational Church on January 18th)


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