From the Minister’s desk:
 Dear Friends,
Before his death Jesus said: “these things I have spoken to you, that my joy many remain in you and your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Curious words in the context of his imminent death on the cross.
Years later, Paul, from his prison cell in Rome wrote to the church in Philippi a letter (Philippians) where he expresses his deep joy that this church community were continuing to spread the good news of the risen Christ. Even though he is in a dirty prison and in chains he rejoices because he sees God is at work in the world.
I am writing during a week where I have reflected on the difference between happiness and joy with the children of Shaftesbury School. Happiness relies on the circumstances around us. When things are going our way, when the weather is just perfect, when we have the opportunity to take in the beauty of our world, then we can experience happiness. We all know that life isn’t always like that; we experience pain and suffering and our happiness ‘bubble’ bursts.
Joy is different, it is a gift from God, a fruit of the Spirit that allows us to see the blessings of God no matter what our circumstances may be.
 One way of looking at is it to think of two boats on a sea. A small boat meeting a three-foot wave will be battered about and might even overturn. Whereas a cruise ship might barely even notice it! When God’s gift of joy grows within us our perspective on life changes. Our foundation is that we are the beloved children of God, who loved us so much that he sent Jesus Christ into this world to be our saviour. We understand that this life is not the end and that a new heaven and earth is available to all who believe. Such joy acts as an anchor in the storms of life – it keeps us afloat.
My prayer for us all is that we will be blessed with much happiness in life but more importantly that God’s gift of joy will grow within us and remain with us no matter what life throws at us.
We were delighted to welcome Janet and Peter Hardiman and Linda Hopkins into membership on the 27th August and we look forward to deepening our friendship with them over the next few months. We congratulate Kate and Len, who have been attending our Bereavement Drop In, on their engagement. The Drop In has been growing in numbers and we thank Ruth and Sarah and the whole team for their hard work.
Our plans for a Children and Young People’s Worker has received the blessing of Circuit and we will be advertising soon; please pray for wisdom and guidance as we seek the right person for the post.
Your friend, Rev Denise Binks