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Rev. David Blandford
Senior Pastor, USBC

From the 'Christmas Star' community newsletter 2008:

Jack and Grace were the most popular names for babies in 2007! For boys the top five were: Jack, Thomas, Joshua, Oliver and Harry. For girls it was Grace, Ruby, Olivia, Emily and Jessica Many things influence our choice of names, such as fashion, celebrities, famous people, heroes, family members, association with a person by that name and the meaning of the name.

Of course, other factors can often be involved Ė perhaps the place where the baby was conceived or born - India, Paris, etc. Having said that Iíve not yet come across a baby called Bognor Regis (a place of personal family connections). There is also the season of conception or birth. Summer has proved to be popular. Then there are names related to times of the year. Around Christmas, Holly, Ivy, Mary and Nicholas have to be possibilities. Joshua as well as being popular is also an interesting name, in that it means Salvation, and the name Jesus has a similar meaning. Christmas is a time when the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated. (Christ is a title which means Ďanointed oneí). Joseph was told what name to give to the baby that Mary was carrying, for as well as being Maryís Son he was the Son of God. For me that is a name that should go up in lights. This was a baby who was born with the very purpose of transforming and making this world a better place. It is a name which I love and has become more than a name because it describes a person who I believe is alive today.

I was tempted to use the title ĎBig Name Comes to Swindon,í but in reality Jesus is already here. Jesus has another name which is Immanuel, which means God with us. So as well as Christmas being a time for gifts, family reunions and parties itís a time when I particularly enjoy celebrating the fact that because of that first Christmas we can enjoy the presence of Jesus 24/7. For me, Jesus is the Top Name! Maybe youíd like to enjoy celebrating His presence this Christmas.

We have special Childrenís Carols at Roves Farm and our own Christmas services at our Church in Green Road. There are also other Christmas services within Upper Stratton at St Philips and the Church of God of Prophecy both of which are in Beechcroft Road. See the back page of the magazine for dates & times. Weíd all love to see you.

Merry Christmas, and May God bless you with peace, love and joy.

David

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Pastorís Pen Page - October/November 2008

LIVING FOR TODAY & TOMORROW

Recently an old but good film ďThe Dead Poet's SocietyĒ was shown again on television. In it the phrase "Carpe Diem" (seize the day) is used. The film itself shows a Professor played by Robin Williams who helps the boys to discover a love for poetry and for life.

Itís a good motto Ė Jesus said that he came in order that we as human beings may discover life in its fullness. The apostle Paul writes of redeeming the time. As we enter another year in the life of USBC. I truly believe that God wants us to have a life thatís worth living. What do these next 12 months hold for us? Are there things that you believe that God has spoken to you about for this year. Please do share them.

As I look back even over the summer it has been so encouraging. The Prowseís homegroup decorating the front hall, Mary Anderson arranging the Art Exhibition, Anne Wang and team running the Kidz Club on Wednesdays, John with the help of family and Neil constructing Chrisís office, a number of us attending Soul Survivor, thatís not mentioning regular Sunday services and other activities that took place. Then there has already been Scones and Songs, and the Week of Prayer.

Hopefully many of you also managed to get a break over the summer. This summer has reminded me that USBC is a group of people all created uniquely with different gifts but when employed what great results emerge. I am currently reading a book written by David Beer called ď50 Ways to help Your Church GrowĒ. Itís an interesting read. What struck me today was not only what we might hope to do in the next 12 months but also what is God looking forward to in that time frame. Having something to look forward provides great motivation.

I am delighted that we have Chris & Rosie Priddy now with us. Already Chris has taken an assembly and will be regularly providing two alternative styles of Sunday Evening worship. I am hoping to go with the BMS to Kolkata in November on a ministerís Mission trip. It will be exciting to see how God is at work there. In these next 12 months who is God going to bring into his family? We will have opportunities to grow more like Jesus. Are there perhaps new things God is calling us to, or existing ones that God wants to strengthen.

One of the powerful truths of God becoming human is that everyday life matters. So can I encourage you to pray, to seek God, to recognize that the God who wants us to seize the day, is the very one who created it and as our Heavenly Father journeys with us throughout each moment.

God bless and donít forget ĎCarpe diem.í

With Christian love
DAVE

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Pastorís Pen Page - July/August 2008

Being Kind

I love this picture that I came across; itís painted by the Chinese artist Dr He Qi. Do you recognize this famous story of Jesus? Itís of the Good Samaritan; a story that shows how someone perceived as an enemy or certainly viewed with prejudice, demonstrates an amazing act of kindness in caring for a mugged Jewish person. The reality that this painting shows is that such acts of kindness take place all around the world.

I have previously written about Hope 2008 which is a national Christian initiative to promote Christian hope across the UK. As Christians our hope is not a maybe but a definite, being built upon all the promises of God which find fulfilment in the person of Jesus.

One of the ideas that Hope 2008 is keen to promote is 1 million hours of kindness. I am confident that Christians across the UK, along with many others demonstrate many million of hours of kindness throughout any given year. However it is an idea to promote the ways in which we could serve our communities and is intended to supplement what is already taken place.

There may be ways that God has spoken to you about in which we could go about this. Please do let me know of any inspired ideas. Itís impossible to read the stories of Jesus without being amazed at so many acts of kindness which Jesus did which culminated in his sacrificial death for us all. Thatís the sort of God we have, one who is love and kindness personified.

Just a thought about the story of the Good Samaritan. (You can read about in Luke10.30-37.) The story gets us to think about who our neighbour is, and how we can show Godís love to them. Itís also a story about a random act of kindness that was not planned by the Jewish man or indeed by the Samaritan who rescued him.

Over the summer opportunities will present themselves for us to show acts of kindness, random or otherwise. Maybe your act of kindness could be what others are hoping for.

God Bless and enjoy the summer

Love David

 

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Pastorís Pen Page - May/June 2008

Being in good health is something that can easily be taken for granted. As a Chaplain within the NHS, working with patients and staff within a mental health setting is a great privilege. I initially got involved with mental health chaplaincy when I attended a chaplaincy course at St Jamesís Portsmouth in 1980. At that time this was a large hospital with some community involvement. The initial attraction was that as well as learning there was the opportunity to work as a nursing auxiliary and being a student that appealed to me! That course, alongside a growing involvement in Christian counselling over the years made me think that, should an opportunity present itself within mental health chaplaincy I would be interested. It moved from that to being a part time mental health chaplain within Swindon. This means most Thursday mornings I am based at the Victoria Centre on the GWH site where my primary work is with older people and in the afternoon I am based at Sandalwood and Windswept which is for adults. This is now my eighth year of working in the mental health setting and I thought it would be good to write a little about it.

It is a staggering statistic that according to a World Health Organization report in 2001 one in four people in the world will suffer with some mental health problem at some point in their life. It has also been stated that 1 in 6 people will suffer from depression in their lifetime. What is evident is that mental illness is more common than perhaps we imagine. It is far easier to recognise physical pain as opposed to that which impacts the mind or the spirit. I am grateful to our Church for releasing me from church responsibilities to work within this setting on Thursdays.

Much of what I do is pastoral, establishing relationships with both patients and staff. As a chaplain I have a responsibility for the spiritual care that is provided. That is not to say I do all the providing rather it is about ensuring its provision. Often individuals simply want someone to listen to them. At other times there is a more obvious spiritual need. I hold services in each of the locations where I am based. Attendance can vary greatly according to what is happening that day, how patients are, and whether they feel well enough to attend. As you can imagine a flexible approach can be helpful.

At the Victoria Centre we hold special festival services along with a concert and itís great that other staff members help to facilitate this. Bill Eteson often comes in on these occasions and his musical talent and singing is much appreciated. I would value your prayers for those who suffer with mental illness. Most weeks I meet individuals who are suffering acutely, some have a strong faith but battle against the illnesses, for some the pain is so great at times that not waking up in the morning sounds attractive. There are also those who suffer with acute memory loss and this can be painful for them and their loved ones.

As Christians we believe in a God who can heal. I thank God for many dedicated healthcare workers, that people are no longer shut away in remote areas, and that we do see Improvement in health. Please remember in your prayers those who suffer with mental illness and those who work for their healing and wellbeing and provide care for them whether in hospital or in their homes.

Lets pray that they would not lose hope and that the God of hope would indeed touch their lives. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 15.13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Could you use this verse as a basis for your prayers for those who suffer with mental illness? I personally would value your prayers that I may bring Godís hope to those I meet week by week.

WITH CHRISTIAN LOVE Ė DAVE

 

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