Grange Free Church
Rev’d ROGER J. HALL. B.A.
72 Gainsborough Road. Tel.: 54437.
Mr. RAYMOND J. MARTIN 5 Ashampstead Road.
Mr. PETER C. JENKINSON. B.A.
32 Kenilworth Avenue. Tel.: 51538.
Mr. EDWARD DENTON
2 Corwen Road, Tilehurst.
Mr. JOHN GREENAWAY
53 Silchester Road.
Mr. JACK KING
Mr. LEWIS SEXTON
40 Southcote Farm Lane.
Mr. GEORGE STEPHENSON 3 Fawley Road.
Organist and Choirmistress:
Mrs. ORPHIE STEPHENSON.
Sunday School Superintendent:
Mr. E. H. MOORE
22 Monks Way. Tel.: 50033.
Mrs. JOYCE HADDRELL
49 Kenilworth Avenue.
FROM THE VESTRY
My dear Friends,
During the last 10 years I have owned two machines to get me around from place to place. The first was a motor-assisted pedal cycle. An ordinary two-stroke, very little could go wrong with it, and it did not take much brain work to find out that only two things could go wrong with it. Either no petrol or no spark. I found I could service it myself. Later, I came to own a scooter. This was much more complicated and I found that to service it properly I needed to buy a manual. But even with the manual there are times when a mechanic is necessary, and sometimes even the maker has to be consulted.
Thus, the more complicated the machine, the greater the need for help to keep it running in good order. Now you and I possess the most complicated “machine” in the world. God has given us a body, and a mind, and a soul. But how many people are foolish enough to believe that you only need common sense to get the best results!
I don’t believe this. I think we need a lot of help in the running of the Christian life. and without this help. I am sure we shall grind to a standstill. The Maker’s instructions are, for the most part, neglected in these days. Comparatively few people read the Bible with any enthusiasm, and yet in this book are all the necessary instructions for life. Following the metaphor through, we need to consult the Maker if we would run our lives correctly. This is what the Church is for. It is the place where God meets and teaches those who ask I-Jim the way to live.
Why do we risk the breakdowns and the failures of life when right before us are the opportunities for receiving God’s help? I feel sure that there will be no moral re-awakening or spiritual progress until we become once again a People of the Book, and members of a worshipping company.
Has God His rightful place in your life? Yours sincerely,
ROGER J. HALL.
The Minister will be glad to discuss Full or Junior Membership with anyone who is desirous of making a Confession of Faith.
When Grange was built in 1958, we knew that this was only a part of the proposed building. Enough space was left on the site to hold a further extension when the time was ripe. There is also room there for a Manse (Minister’s house). This will become a necessity before many years are out, as it can be somewhat difficult interviewing callers in a house with only one room downstairs when there are two or more small children about the place. But it is the extension of the other premises that is now presenting the challenge to us. Those of you who know the Church well, will know exactly what facilities we have got, but for those who do not. I will explain.
At the back of the Church there is one room, measuring 24ft. by I 6ft. In this room everything that takes place happens! In a small Church with little activity, this need not present a problem, but in a Church like ours with a growing Sunday School and an expanding Youth Fellowship, the situation is getting critical.
The Sunday School meets in three different places. The Beginners are still holding their service in Grange Hall where we began our Church. The Primary Class meets in the Committee Room, and the Juniors use the Church. The school numbers about 200 and this presents teachers and leaders with a big problem.
The Youth Fellowship is the teenagers’ club, and numbers about 30. In the small room at the back, they play table-tennis, billiards, darts, and they dance, all at the same time. This does give them the opportunity of getting to know one another well, but it means a severe restriction on the type of activity for the club. Any increase in numbers will make the position impossible, but young people will continue to grow up and need a community like this.
The Christmas Fayre, which is so much fun, and means a great deal to the Church financially, cannot be held on our premises at all, and any concert has to be either in the Day School or in the Church.
Many of us feel that the time is ripe for action now, and that we ought to do our planning before the problem really becomes acute. We are, therefore, pushing ahead with the plans and an estimate of the cost, and when we know how much it will cost us, we shall b better able to see the future. This will obviously need a lot of money. We have made a good start to the Extension Fund but there is a long way to go.
How can you help? In certain obvious ways.
- You can make a gift, large or small, immediately.
- You can offer an interest-free loan.
- You can increase your regular giving to the Church, thus making it possible for us to divert more and more to the Fund.
- You can ask for an Extension Fund Box, and we will gladly provide one.
- You can pledge a regular gift each week, and we will arrange for a collector to call on you.
- You can aim at giving a certain sum over a period of several years. This will help us in the matter of loan-repayment.
- You can support those activities designed to raise money for the building.
Finally, it may be that there is some way in which we can have the Extension partially built, and then finish it ourselves. In which case there will be plenty for willing hands to do, especially carpenters, plasterers, electricians and all.
I believe that we must pursue this aim of further premises in the near future, if we are to fulfil our task of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ in this area, and if we are to play our part in shaping the moral and spiritual life of the coming generation.
Pray that the way may be made clear for us, and add your support to this venture.
Great and Precious Promises
More than a century ago an aged Red Indian wandered into a white men’s settlement in U.S.A. Ragged and half- starved, he asked for bread. As he ate the food given to him, a bystander asked the old man what was in the leather pouch on the end of a chain round his neck. The old man replied that the pouch contained a very precious charm. Opening the pouch he extracted a grubby, yellow, faded piece of paper. The bystander straightened it out, and found to his amazement, that is was a discharge from the United States Army, signed by George Washington himself. Most important of all it entitled the old redskin to a pension which would keep him in modest comfort for the rest of his days. And with that on his person, the poor fellow had been begging for bread to keep body and soul together? Yet all he needed to do was to claim the fulfilment of the promise set out on the paper.
That old redskin has many modern counterparts. In the Bible we constantly come across what Peter called “exceeding great and precious promises” (1 Peter, 1 : 4), which wait for us to claim their fulfilment. Through the medium of the Holy Scriptures God makes known His promises to the needy, both in a material and a spiritual sense, in the world to-day. Let us look at some of God’s promises waiting for us to claim their fulfilment.
ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.’ (Matt. vi: 33).
“All these things”—all what things? A reading of the Sermon on the Mount shows that Jesus was here talking about our material wants—food, drink and clothing. Here He makes a definite promise that if we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” God will see that our material needs are met.
Those words were originally spoken to •the poverty-stricken peasants of Galilee, whose standards of living we, to-day, would think deplorably low. Jesus was speaking of the folly and uselessness of worry—to people who were often worried about such practical matters as food and clothes for themselves and their children. The first to prove how true these startling words really were was His own disciples, who, at His bidding, left their homes and their jobs to train as missionaries. That, for them, was “seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” To seek first the Kingdom of God means to acknowledge God as our King and Ruler, and to seek to obey His rule in everyday life. It is the desire to do, not what is the fashionable, conventional or expedient thing, but what, deep down in our minds, we know to be the right thing. And that first gallant band of disciples made this venture—and found His promise fulfilled.
In our modern world of rising prices, food shortages, and increasing population, here is a pointer. More than half the world’s people are insufficiently fed. This pressing human problem will never be solved until mankind learns to put into operation, on the grand scale, the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount and the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It has been said that there is enough food in the world for man’s need, but not for man’s greed. But God’s will and man’s greed are absolute opposites, arid only when man learns to fulfil Gods conditions will the peoples of the world find “all these things” — their material necessities—added to them. But the promise is there—sufficient food for all—if the conditions are fulfilled.
I WILL GIVE YOU REST
Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me . . . and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matt. xi. :28-9).
Man does not live by bread alone, though, as Jesus frankly acknowledges. he needs bread to keep body and soul together. But when man’s material needs are fully supplied he may still be unhappy, restless, “nervy” and neurotic, for man has a soul, as well as a body, to feed. A full stomach is no guarantee of a happy man. For full happiness man needs to be at peace with himself, his neighbours and his God. Medical authorities have pointed out that, alongside the decline in church-going during the past half century, there has been a steep rise in the numbers of cases of nervous troubles. The rising standard of living has left many people still restless and dissatisfied, seeking they hardly know what, to make life complete.
As Augustine told us many centuries ago, God made us for Himself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Him. A restless person is an unhappy person, often a “nervy,” neurotic man or woman, too. God never made us that we might be as happy as we could be if we go through life wrapped up in our own affairs and ignoring Him. To restless people Jesus made this promise, I will give you rest.” This rest is certainly not inactivity. From the earliest days of Christianity until now, disciples of Christ have been active, busy people in His service. Rather is the rest, of which He speaks, the opposite of restlessness. It is that happy state of mind and soul where our inward tensions have ceased. We have ceased to fight against God, our will contending with His will. Having, so to speak, laid down our arms against Him, we are now fighting with and for Him, instead of against Him. We know deep peace of mind and soul that sets us free, not to rest in the sense of doing nothing, hut to work and fight for Him all the days of our lives.
But conditions are attached to His promise of rest. If we would enjoy the peace of mind and soul, without which all the material wealth and comfort of the world cannot satisfy, He asks three things of us We are to come to Him—in prayer, in worship, in Bible study, and so get to know Him as a real Person and Friend. We are to take His yoke upon us. The yoke was the wooden collar worn by the oxen of Palestine as they ploughed the fields. The yoke is the symbol of work, not of rest in the sense of inactivity. He expects us to work with and for him. We are also to “learn of Him.” The word disciple means “a learner,” and without the humble spirit of the learner, about, for instance, the implications of following Him in this complex world, we shall make no progress in the Christian way of life. Fulfil these three conditions. and He will fulfil his promise, ‘ I will give you rest.”
I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE NOR FORSAKE THEE
Those words, from the fifth verse of the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, are an especially precious promise to Christians passing through a time of loneliness, doubt or despair. Readers of “ Pilgrim’s Progress “ will remember that when Christian and his companion were imprisoned in Doubting Castle, in the custody of Giant Despair, it was their finding of the key called Promise that led to their escape. Doubting Castle and Giant Despair are still all too real in modern times. Twentieth century pilgrims need the assurance that, however lonely and despairing they seem to be, when even their nearest and dearest seems unable to understand them fully, they are never totally forsaken. There is One who is always present, and who always understands.
When the missionary-explorer, David Livingstone, was in the heart of Africa, many hundreds of miles away from the nearest white man, he said that he found his greatest comfort in the realisation that Christ’s words, “Lo, I am with you always,” were indeed a reality.
Closely linked, too, with these two sayings, are the words from the Old Testament, “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee.” Isaiah xliii . 2. The waters, in that text, are a symbol of suffering, both mental and physical, and of death itself.
With forsake Saying, this promise never to leave or us we may link Our Lord’s IM, I am with you always.”
HE THAT COMETH TO ME I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT
Here is a promise, recorded in St. John’s Gospel chapter six, and verse thirty-seven, of particular concern to those who are still on the fringe of the Church. They are interested in the things of the spirit. They toy with the idea of coming further, and definitely committing themselves to the Christian way of life. But they hesitate. Perhaps they are conscious that for years they have ignored God. They have not so much wilfully disobeyed Him, but they have just crowded Him out of their lives with a multiplicity of quite legitimate interests like business, family. friends, hobbies and amusements.
But now they are feeling a sense of need, a sense of something somewhere lacking, in their lives. Yet, they still hesitate. Will God want them, after all these years they have managed without Him? After all, it seems a little mean to ignore Him for so long, and then, when you feel you need help, to remember He’s there and make your claim on Him!
The Bible answer to all these doubts, fears and hesitations is quite clear, and this text is reinforced by several others. The Parables of the Prodigal Son tells of the Father, 4ho far from driving away ttie son who had treated him so shabbily welcomed him home with open arms. The Sermon on the Mount assures us:
“Ask and ye shall have, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt. vii. :7).
In face of these repeated assurances the man or woman who is almost persuaded to committal to the Chastain way need hesitate no longer in the fear that God may not want such as him or her, for the promise is that “he that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’ To act on that promise means that we also enter into the benefits of other Promises of Christ’s life, ‘ I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where 1 ant there ye may be also,” (John xiv. : 3). a reference to what awaits the Christian on the other side of death.
THE PURPOSE OF THE PROMISES
You will have noticed that several of the promises we have considered are conditional. Christ promises that He will look after our material wants—but on condition that we put the intention to find out and do His will in the forefront of our lives. He promises to take away our restlessness and the neurotic symptoms that often accompany it—but on condition that we deliberately come to Him, work for Him and learn of Him just how He wants us to live. In the tenth verse of the second chapter of the Book of Revelation He promises to give us a crown of life “—but only on the condition that we are faithful unto death to Him.
Wise parents know that to give their children all they ask for, and to expect nothing at all, not even what the child is well able to give, in return, is to spoil the child. So God, our Heavenly Father, asks of us the obedience we are well able to give, if He is to fulfil His great and precious promises. God is like wise parents in this—His purpose is not first and foremost our comfort but our character. These “exceeding great and precious promises” of His are given to us, according to 2 Peter i. : 4, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Through these promises He has made available to us, we can escape inward moral decay, and, instead, grow more like Christ. That is the wise purpose lying behind His promises, and the conditions He has attached to them for us to fulfil. May we be followers of those who have gone before, and even now, inherit these exceeding great and precious promises!