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Mark's Blog

A few reflections, thoughts and comments from Mark as leader at All Saints. 


Hope for the future?

HopeThe Brexit roller coaster might be coming into land sometime soon. The rattle of pressured negotiations goes in fits and starts. However you voted and where-ever you stand now, we can’t escape that we are all in this together. Excited, heart broken, determined or maybe even fearful as we step into the unknown. Some are stock piling, others preparing to move out of the country (at least until the dust has settled). As I write this the draft proposals are on the table. In a few weeks, we could be moving forward towards Brexit or even getting ready for a general election.

Each day we get bombarded with another opinion about whether the direction is right or wrong. A lot is ill informed or based on little more than rumours. Whatever angle you view it from the other perspective is often portrayed as one to be feared.

As a Christian community we have something that goes beyond the political divide. Beyond borders and class, beyond passing ideologies and even beyond history. When Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God he says it is both “here” and “near”. He describes it almost as a wind that can blow where it wants. Beyond the confines of a church building, an hour on a Sunday or any man made boundary. Interestingly the Holy Spirit is described in a similar way. In the Old Testament the “Ruach” is the breath or life of God and is translated as “Spirit”. In the New Testament the “Pneuma” is the Holy Spirit of God, the one who Jesus promises. As followers of Jesus we are both filled with the Holy Spirit, and we follow the Holy Spirit’s lead in the world as we seek first the kingdom.

So how as Christians are we suppose to respond to the prevailing winds of fear and factionalism? The answer is that we should not respond! It is not a question of changing our response, but changing who we are are looking at.

In 2 Cor 3:17 it says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Jesus also declares his peace to us in John 20:21. We get there by changing our focus, by fixing our eyes on him, we gaze upon Jesus and we are transformed into his likeness. Fear is displaced by peace and oppression pushed out by freedom.

As we draw closer to Christmas, think again about the wonder of God with us. Don’t be overwhelmed by that which causes fear and divides us. Instead let us gather again around the history shaper, Jesus, who fills us with his Holy Spirit. Going into the world as carriers of his peace. Whatever happens with Brexit, I pray for you that, “the peace of Christ, that passes all understanding would guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Mark Searle, 14/11/2018


One Step Along The Way

At the start of this autumn term I outlined a fresh vision for All Saints. To be a church on the way. I have invited you to imagine a community of people from every generation and every background following Jesus. Committed to growing and being transformed by him. Continually being filled by God’s Holy Spirit, going into their communities and lovingly sharing Jesus in actions and words. This is the kind of church family that we want to become. We have not arrived yet, but we are a church on the way. Over the rest of the month I have called us back to five simple habits. Pray, Read, Join, Commit and Give.

The vision is simple and purposeful. At its heart we are called to be the people that God has made us to be. Invited to follow Jesus, growing as his disciples and going into the world. Jesus is for all and died for all, so the vision is also very big. There are about 7000 people that live in Weston and we are sent out to be good news to everyone. It’s helpful to imagine a church that is larger than we are now, about 750 people, that’s just over ten percent of Weston. How do we step into a vision that is bigger than we can achieve in our own strength? One step at a time and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

One StepThe reason for calling us back to five simple habits is that big vision is achieved one step at a time. As we faithfully bring ourselves before God, choosing to be part of community and living generously. So we make space for the Holy Spirit to lead us. Many have walked this way before us. There will be things to let go of on the way, but the daily call is to run the race by fixing our eyes on Jesus, one step at a time.

Hebrews put it like this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

What will be your next step as you follow Jesus?

Useful Links:
The Vision - A Church On The Way
The Five Habits of the Way
Additional Data Form - Commit - Help us to become a church on the way.


Sleeping with Bread, Living With Hope

A few years ago I was booking a family holiday to this fantastic place in Wales

I had paid a 50% deposit via my bank. We were all really looking forward to it. But a few days later the owners of the venue said that the money had not arrived. I checked everything, finally I realised that I had switched the numbers of the bank sort code and sent the money to a random person in Portsmouth. I had lost the money, I felt so stupid, and where was I going to get the money so I could pay the deposit.... I went from hope to despair in a moment.

Have you ever had a time like that? When it seems like more is going wrong than right? Or when things are changing too fast, or when you get news that you did not want to hear?

There is a wonderful book that I have had for many years called 'Sleeping with Bread'. The book opens with this story...

Sleeping with BreadDuring the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, "Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow."

Life is full of highs and lows, joy and pain. Things that bring us life and things that drag us down. How we respond to those things is really important.

In the book, 'Sleeping with Bread', the authors suggests a way of living well each day, no matter what the circumstances. The idea is simple, you end the day with two questions:

What am I most grateful for?

What am I least grateful for?

Then you bring those things before God. You ask him to help you with what was difficult and thank him for what was good.

Jesus says “I am the bread of life”. Ultimately he is the one who sustains and provides for us. We can ask him to help us with the difficult things and thank him for the things that were good and that sustained us. In doing this simple thing, even when life is tough we can be people of hope. There was bread today, there will be bread tomorrow. There was something good today, there will be something good tomorrow.

This was originally given as a talk at the Connect 3TL as part of it first 'thought for the day' slot. It is a very gentle introduction to a simple way of praying called the Examin.


Let’s get going

Great start to the new term with a fantastic church family and a wonderful team.
+ Children and Youth team

    Arrived together for Monday morning prayer and worship.

Children And Youth Team 2


+ Three new websites launched

    Well done and thanks Gary and Naomi for making it happen.

New website

+ New vision launched

    Catch up here if you missed it.

+ Ruben arrived with his drone

    Can't wait to see what else he captures
Church from above

+ Rock team

    Hard at work prepping for feedback to church, consultation with community and an application for planning.

+ Party For Pam

    Planned - come and join us.

        It's going to be a good term - let's get going on the way!


Slow Down

Slow Down

“Slow. If there is dust behind you, you’re going too fast”

This is the sign that is often out during the summer at my favour campsite. Placed in the middle of the road so you have to drive round it as you come in. I don’t expect that Martin, the campsite owner, has any idea how significant it has become for me.

The drive down takes a couple of hours and the roads get narrower and bumper the closer you get. There are some silly traditions that we have developed for the journey. Like the joke about the wind farm, who can spot the sea first or the threatened day trip we have never taken to the bee centre. But as we come over the brow of the last hill everything in me is getting ready to slow down. Quite often the sign is out at the entrance to remind me.

Changing pace is so important. Over this summer I hope that you get the chance to take life at a different speed. That you have some moments when you can get away from the crowd and the day to day, rest up and reflect. 

Jesus knows the importance of slowing down. He would often escape the expectations of the crowds and walk the hills. Spending time with the Father in prayer.

Whether you have a staycation, fly abroad to escape the heat or even if you have to work all the way through. I hope you find some moments to reduce your speed this summer. Kick off your shoes, lie down in the grass and allow Jesus to refresh your soul.

Mark Searle, 27/07/2018


Love Weston Cafe

Every Friday Love Weston Cafe is open to the community for coffee, cakes and lunches. This week I had the opportunity to visit. Kathleen Paley and Shirley Ward who co-run the cafe hosted me for the morning.

Love Weston Cafe Team

As I arrived the place was buzzing. Parents and toddlers catching their breath after the school run. There was lively and welcoming conversation around larger shared tables. The coffee and homemade cakes were delicious. As the parents started to drift out the lunch crowd started to drift in.

Shirley and Kathleen oversee the volunteers from the local churches and the community. They were all enthusiastic and friendly. It was good to hear some stories about the cafe’s history and the way that it has impacted the community.

Love Weston CafeLove Weston Cafe is a good example of the church being there for people. If you are looking for a place to volunteer and be a blessing to your community than this is a great place to start. If you need to connect with others then you will find a warm welcome and generous hearts at Love Weston Cafe.

Mark Searle, 13/07/2018


Growing You 

Over this term we are thinking about growing community. As part of that I would like you to start thinking about something. How do you grow?

We can probably all remember back to school biology lessons. When we learnt about the essential things that living things need to grow. Dependant on the era that you went to school you may have been taught the acronym MRS GREN. It is used to help remember all the necessary features of living organisms. Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion and Nutrition.

The Church is alive and it needs all these things so that as a community we can be healthy and grow. I will unpack how each of them translates to community life another time, but I am sure you could work it out. 

MRS GREN is also applicable to us in our personal christian journey. We need to breathe deeply the Holy Spirit, to keep a short account and we need a nutritious diet. 

Jesus often uses plants as a picture of our spiritual life. The seeds on the path, the harvest in the field and the vine that is pruned so that it can be fruitful. Growing You

So what helps you to grow in your Christian life? It could be reading the bible, worshiping with other people, thanksgiving, being part of a homegroup or listening to teaching. I hope you are aware of what is helpful for you. Then you can be intentional about doing these things. Growth is rarely quick. Like the ROCK project, it happens one step at a time and over many years. (BTY There is lots going on in the background as we get ready to take the designs to the relevant planning bodies)

Sometimes it is also helpful to ask the question the other way round. What stops you growing? Disappointment, missing church, doubt? I don’t know what’s on your list. But I am very aware that for me there are a few things that really get in the way.

Take some time today and give the question a bit of thought. What helps you grow? Then ask, what am I going to do about it? 

Mark Searle, 05/07/2018

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