Our monthly magazine
If you come along to either of the churches in our Walmersley Road Benefice you can pick up a copy of our latest magazine. We would love to see you! The Benefice is in the north of Bury covering Christ Church Walmersley and St John with St Mark’s.
For those who can only get to us online, the digital version is available if you follow this link: October Magazine
Inside the Harvest edition of the magazine you’ll see prayers, Bible readings and meditations plus details on activities and services.
There’s also a farewell ‘Letter’ from Gill Barnett as she moves to take up her new role in Rochdale.
Farewell message from Gill
This is not a particularly Anglican hymn, but do you know this one from its chorus?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll.
Fastened to the rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.
I’ve no idea when or where I heard and learned this, but I’ve just typed it out from memory!
Anchors are strange things. They promise security but don’t stop you from being buffeted about on the surface. On holiday, last month in Torbay, my son and I dared each other to swim out to the 5k buoy (speed marker, not distance!) and when we got there, we grabbed hold of the bright yellow buoy anchored securely to the sea bed but could we climb on it? Try as we might we were thrown about and tossed back into the water even though this was Torbay and the calmest of seas imaginable. The buoy was secure; it was anchored; we knew exactly where we were but we were still not having an ‘easy’ time of it.
I often think our Christian life is like this – we know where we’re going. Our salvation is assured but the journey through it is sometimes tough and wild, sometimes placid or even boring… Our journey may be either easy or challenging at different times. We may rebel against what God wants us to do – like Jonah – and actually go off in the opposite direction. At times we may stubbornly refuse to do what is necessary to glorify God and build up his church, sitting brooding under our very own broom tree instead of recognising God’s hand in wanting to bless us.
Jesus is the anchor for our souls – the hymn actually talks about the billows and waves rocking us about but it’s our souls that are kept steadfast and sure.
Our journey this side of eternity may well be rocky, with inclines and steep descents, twists and turns that can’t be predicted. I thought I was set for life as a Maths teacher (a job I thoroughly enjoyed) but God had other plans for me. I didn’t quite do a Jonah but I did have a bit of a laugh going through the process.
We are all called to be active members of the body of Christ – our anchor – but in that calling we will be gifted and prepared to do things that sometimes make us uncomfortable and which we find challenging. Both inside and outside the church we will cross paths with people who may not be like us. They may dress differently, talk differently, vote differently, hold different things in high (or low) esteem. There are people who are not like us. There are people who we don’t like and there are people who don’t like us! But there is no-one to whom we shouldn’t show the love of Christ. We really are fearfully and wonderfully made and ‘God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.’
Rise to the challenge
I am now embarking on a new chapter in my ministry – I am not sure exactly what I will find. It will be a new journey with only the scantest of maps.
The two churches here are also facing new challenges. The journey may be smooth or it may be choppy. I pray that we will all always keep our eyes on the anchor of our faith and rise to the challenge of abundant and exciting life as Christ’s body both here in Walmersley and to the ends of the earth (well, Rochdale, at least).
With love and prayers
Rev’d Gill x