Reflections on a Chaotic Election (with thanks to LICC)
Were you a bit bleary eyed after a late night watching the election results? How do you feel about a hung Parliament? About the ‘deals’ trying to be made to secure power?
Sadly, it seems the prevailing emotion amongst the majority of the electorate seems to be disillusionment; a kind of settled cynicism about both politicians and the political process. Some of that is because not everyone believes the system works well.
Churchill once said, ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others’.
But is there a deeper root of disenchantment. We know how imperfect our own human nature is, and how prone we all are at times to selfishness and compromise. So, we know that is also true for our leaders. Underneath it all, we know the core system that is broken is the system of the human heart.
Yet, as another Prime Minister said, ‘If politics is, on occasion, the place of low skulduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes.’
Despite our brokenness, there is an undeniably higher side to humanity. Within us all, including politicians, there is a genuine desire to do good – an aspect of God in whose image we have all been created. And that is what inspires us to keep going.
As the ancient battle between good and bad in human nature is played out through our leaders on the national and international stage, who can we trust?
Psalm 146 offers us an answer:
‘Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day, their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob; whose hope is in the Lord their God.’
So now, as our nation seeks direction, let’s turn to God in prayer and ask him to inspire and direct the hearts and minds of our leaders, to help them rise above selfishness and pursuit of power, and find a way to govern and serve well for the good of all:

Father God,
Have mercy upon our country and upon our leaders.
We pray for wisdom for parliament.
We pray for integrity, truth, and compassion throughout government and for righteous laws.
We pray for God’s people in government to be a positive influence for the good of all. And we pray that our government will be a force for good in the world and a means of bringing relief to those suffering today.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

With love in Christ,
Nick

Did you know you were designed to thrive in community with other Christians and that we grow better together? Life Groups are the friends you grow, laugh, and serve with. The Christian faith is a life designed to be lived in community. Jesus called many to follow Him, from a large group, to the 12 disciples He spent more time with, to three in particular; Peter, James and John. Growing as Christians has a lot to do with relationships and walking with God through life with the support of other followers of Jesus. We believe that Jesus wants us to learn from Him and in some ways pattern our lives after Him. Jesus lived his life in 3 dimensions, investing in: Up: relationship with God In: relationships with His followers Out: Connecting with and making a difference in a hurting world Why Life Groups? For many years Christians have found that Home Groups have helped them grow in faith and get to know others much better. These often met weekly or fortnightly at a regular time. However, people’s lives have changed a great deal over the last 10 or 20 years and people find it very difficult to commit to a regular group which meets at a set time. Finding a space in 10 people’s diaries is often impossible. While Home Groups will continue for those who benefit from them, we feel something new is needed: Life Groups What is a Life Group? A Life Group is a much smaller group of people, of 3 or 4 who agree to meet on a reasonably regular basis (many meet monthly) but at a time and place which is convenient to them. They may be made up of 2 couples, 2 families or of individuals who think they could find time to be together. How are groups formed? 1. Sign up on the ‘interested‘ list and groups will be carefully put together by church leadership Or 2. Get together with others and let us know that you would like to be a group together How will the groups be resourced? The church will produce resources to be used in the Life Groups with a degree of flexibility built in. Where do we meet and how often? Convenience is the key word here. You may choose to meet over a meal, over a coffee or over a drink in the pub; wherever works for you! A group will only work effectively if it meets at least once per month, but can meet more regularly if the group members want to. What next? Have a chat with some other people in the church family, would they like to form a Life Group with you? If so let Nick know and he will talk you through getting started. Many people will not know who they could be in a Life Group with. No problem—just put your name on the list at the back of church and we’ll come back to you with a suggested group as soon as we can. With love in Christ Nick

The Festival of Faith is growing ever closer so I wanted to give you an update on everything which is planned. It’s shaping up to be a great week!
The Festival will run from 1st to 7th July with events across the valley including:
Gareth Davies-Jones: This acclaimed singer-songwriter will be performing at Holmbridge hall on Saturday 1st July at 7.30pm. Tickets will be on sale soon, see our website for details in early May. In addition, Gareth will be running a free song writing workshop upstairs in Brambles, Holmfirth on Friday 30th at 7.30pm. He’s aiming to write a song about the valley with local people to premier on Saturday evening. He’ll also be inviting anyone who would like to sing a few songs with him to a choir workshop on the Saturday in the hall.
John Pritchard: Retired Bishop, prolific author and sought after speaker will be headlining 2 events with us. On the late afternoon of Sunday 2nd he’ll be helping us think about what being a Christian means today. Alongside this event, Betty Pedley, former advisor on children’s work in churches will be running a children’s workshop where there’s sure to be lots of fun! John will be returning on Thursday 6th to head up another event, the details we’re holding back just for now (there has to be a few surprises!)
One of the most loved visitors from the Festival 2015 was children’s poet and performer, Paul Cookson. Most of the primary schools in the valley welcomed Paul to perform during the school day and the children still talk about him now. Paul will be performing a show for all the family, early evening on Wednesday 5th – I can’t wait!
There are many, many more events planned for the week with a whole range of themes. Here at Holmbridge for example we’ll be holding a session practically exploring the Christian understanding of body, mind and spirit, with physical, emotional and spiritual fitness on the menu. We’ll also be looking at a ‘Rhythm of Life’ – how can we live balanced lives as followers of Jesus in the time poor and stressful society we live in? We hope people will leave both these events with something practical which can make a difference to their daily lives.
There’ll be plenty of food and hospitality, discussion and opportunities to explore the Christian faith. We’re also hoping to hold our 10am service on 2nd July outdoors at Digley Reservoir! We’re currently finalising the details with Yorkshire Water and will then get confirmation out to everyone.
The full programme and brochure will be released at the very beginning of June, but in the meantime the Festival website is a good source of updates. (www.holmevalleyfestivaloffaith.org)
Two years ago, the Team ran a very successful festival. Having learned much from that experience, we are in a position to deliver something which is of high quality and which you can be confident of inviting friends, family and colleagues along to. Please do get the dates in the diary and be thinking and praying about who you could invite to a particular event. Our prayer is that everyone will be drawn closer to Jesus in a whole myriad of ways, during the first week in July and in follow up events which are currently being planned
With love in Christ
Nick


Has there ever been a more attractive life than the life Jesus lived? God incarnate, here on earth for 30 some years. God with us, God for us, God dying and rising again for us. Looking at his life as recorded in the 4 Gospels, here we see someone who is more fully alive than anyone has ever been. Is there a way of life we can follow which can open up this abundant life (John 10:10) Jesus said he came to bring?
Jesus lived His life in 3 Dimensions and it’s the pattern He taught His first followers. This diagram points us in the right direction:

This triangular diagram is based on an understanding of the rhythm of Jesus’ life. His ‘3 dimensional’ life was spent facing Up, In, or Out.
One example comes in Luke 6:12-19 (NIV)
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
The 3 dimensions are therefore:
Up - time alone with the Father, seeking Him
In - time spent with His closest followers and friends
Out - time spent engaging with the needs and pain of the world.
A healthy life as a follower of Jesus will involve all three of these dimensions and reflecting on them regularly.
How can we, as a church and as individuals learn to pattern our lives after the life of Jesus, living Up, In and Out?
1. Developing a rhythm/way of life which includes time for God, work, ourselves and others.
2.Gathered worship: Meeting together, as the Bible tells us, is essential to our lives as Christians. Following Jesus can only be done with others. Developing spiritual disciplines such as regularly gathering together (often on Sundays) encouraging each other, offering ourselves to God, learning and receiving from God and being ready for the week ahead.
3. In Community: In addition to gathered worship it’s important we develop our relationships with one another in other contexts where we can find support and a chance to learn and grow together.
For some this will be in our Home Groups which consist of 6 to 10 people meeting fortnightly during the day time.
We recognise that a regular group on an evening is very difficult for many people to fit into lives which are already extremely busy. Something more convenient is needed and comes in the form of our Life Groups to be launched after Easter this year. These groups of 3 or 4 people will meet once a month at a time which is convenient to them all. These groups may be made up of 2 couples or 3 or 4 individuals and may meet over a meal, over coffee or at the pub.
All these groups are resourced by the church with materials and a suggested structure which enables members to think about their lives as followers of Jesus.
Following Jesus is not something we can do on autopilot and as this year goes on we’ll be helping people find a way of life which works for them (for you!) as a follower of Jesus in your context and in the context of community. There will be lots of opportunities to come, but for now could a Home Group or Life Group make a difference to you – if so, look out for more information soon. And for all of us – where are we with the Up, In and Out three-dimensional life Jesus encourages us to live? Where are you strong and where do you need some help?
With love in Christ
Nick