27th November 2021


Dear Church Family,

Many people ask us around this time of year, "What is Advent - and what's it all about?"  Here's a short and reasonably concise answer: 

What is it?
Advent is the time between the fourth Sunday before Christmas up to Christmas Eve.

What does it mean?
It has a dual aspect, looking forward with anticipation to the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom, and it looks back in celebrationto the events leading up to Christ's first coming as a baby in a manger.

What are we meant to do?
Whilst it is not easy in the midst of holiday celebrations, shopping, lights and decorations, and joyful carols, Advent is intended to be a season of prayer and fasting, much like Lent. Reflection on the violence and evil in the world causes us to cry out to God to make things right—to put death’s dark shadows to flight. Our exile in the present makes us look forward to our future Exodus. And our own sinfulness and need for grace lead us to pray for the Holy Spirit to renew his work in conforming us into the image of Christ.

Amidst all of the glitz and lights and celebrations, we are called to the counter-cultural activity of praying and fasting as we pray O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

With love in Christ,
Pads


Link to the 10am News sheet
Link to the 11.45am Service Sheet
Link to Live Stream & Matts Musings
 



17th November 2021


DITCH DIGGERS - TRUSTING GOD'S WORD

Dear Church Family,

Ten days ago, one of my colleagues in church leadership in Reading brought a powerful prophetic word to our Wednesday morning prayer meeting from 2 Kings 3:16 which in the King James version is translated "Dig this valley full of ditches."  
 
God was challenging his people, who were dying of thirst in desert-like conditions, to dig ditches in the dry ground in faith that God would fill them up with water. But a big step of faith was required before He would send the rain. My colleague suggested that this was a call to the churches in Readingto plan boldly and to step out in faith in preparation for a move of the Spirit in our churches and in our town.

When the PCC met on Monday evening this week we agreed a bold plan and a bold budget for next year which will see St Matthew's investing in people and resources to dig those ditches in preparation for growth and the advancement of God's Kingdom in our communities. 

It will be challenging - and we're in a spiritual battle. This Sunday Dr Davidis going to be opening up God's word and helping us understand the divine power which we have to demolish the schemes of the enemy, and Louisa is going to show us what that looks like in a fun way in Family Time too.

I know they are looking forward to seeing you on Sunday,

With love in Christ,
Pads


Link to the 10am News sheet
Link to Live Stream & Matts Musings
Link to Community Safety Survey  (see news sheet)

 


Saturday 13th November 2021


WE WILL REMEMBER THEM...

Dear Church Family,

This week Kirstie and I watched the film “Journeys End” on iPlayer about a company of soldiers on the battlefield of St Quentin in the last year of the First World War, which portrays the changing relationships between an alcoholic company commander clearly suffering from PTSD, an older and wiser ex-schoolmaster, and a naive young officer fresh off the training fields of Salisbury plain in the days before a major German offensive wiped most of the company out.

Although only a 12 certificate, it is hard to watch the catalogue of human suffering, the breakdown of minds and hearts, and the sheer cruelty of war. And although it also captures the small acts of kindness and humanity and some of the selfless sacrifices made for one another, there is little mention of God, and as the credits scrolled at the end, we were informed that more than another million men were to lose their lives on the battlefields before the war concluded some seven months later.

This Remembrance Sunday a new film about CS Lewis, “The Most Reluctant Convert”, who also served in the trenches, is released in the cinemas and portrays his journey to faith despite all he had been through. We’ve got tickets for Sunday afternoon – and look forward to a happier ending.

Come and join us this Sunday as we worship the One who laid down his life for us all – at 10am, outside at the cross at 11am, and/or for Holy Communion at 11.45am.

It is really important that we remember them...
 
With love in Christ,
Pads

Link to the 10am News sheet
Link to 11.45 Service Sheet
Link to Live Stream & Matts Musings
Link to the Tearfund Big Quiz
Link to JustGiving page to sponsor Pads in the Half Marathon
Link to Community Safety Survey  (see news sheet)

 






 



Saturday 6th November


Dear Church Family,

Three things to mention this week:

A COP, a QUIZ, and a RUN!

1. A COP

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (from Genesis chapter 1)

I don't know about you, but when I listen to the news items, discussions and debates around COP26 as it addresses the urgent situation with regard to global warming,  I find it hard to link my own every day actions and activities to any solution which will make a real difference to the problem.

So here's three simple things we might do.
- Pray for the outcomes of the talks in Glasgow, for real commitment to action.
- Be prepared to give up some things in order to bless future generations.
- Make a noise! Join the Reading Broad Street  march at 1pm tomorrow.

2. A QUIZ

Quiz fans - good news - Rachel Lewis is going to organise another Tearfund Big Quiz Night as she did last year, and it's on Saturday evening 20th November at 7.30pm via Zoom. Follow the link below for more information. 

3. A RUN - Yes, Pads is getting very excited about running the Reading Half Marathon this Sunday and raising money for Sue Ryder hospices. He's at 84% of his target so if you'd like to help him over the line, the link is below. And if you'd like to cheer him on (and pray for him!) past the Beefeater at about 11.50am after church, then please come along.

Kirstie and the team are looking forward to seeing you on Sunday morning in church or over the live stream.
 
With love in Christ,
Pads

Link to the News sheet
Link to Live Stream & Matts Musings
Link to the Tearfund Big Quiz
Link to JustGiving page to sponsor Pads in the Half Marathon


Friday 30th October


Dear Church Family,
 
Please would you be praying over the next 48 hours for three key things:

- That the (now over) 200 people attending the 'Light Trail', our largest outreach event since the pandemic began, will have a fantastic evening resulting in new relationships being established between church and community. 
- That the 'Bags of Hope' given out with a gospel interpretation of Halloween will sow seeds in the hearts of the families who come.
- That there would be peace (a real 'Shalom') on the streets of Southcote this weekend in response to the prayers of the faithful.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." Eph. 6:18

We look forward to sharing the answers to prayer at church at the 10am on Sunday morning. See you then!
 
With love in Christ,
Pads

Link to 10am News sheet
Link to Live Stream & Matts Musings
Link to JustGiving page to sponsor Pads in the Half Marathon


 



Some of the team of 12 who worked so hard on Saturday morning.

Sunday 24th October

Dear Church Family,
 
A big THANK YOU to everyone who came along this morning and did a fantastic job tidying up the church site. It hasn't looked this good for a long time!
We are very excited about the recently conceived, and very popular, idea to host a 'Light Trail' from St Matthew's next Saturday 30th October at 5pm. All 150 tickets 'sold out' within a few hours and we've had to issue more to accommodate the demand. I am so encouraged that over a Halloween weekend when so much darkness is celebrated, a counter-cultural 'light event' is met with such enthusiasm. 

As the apostle John wrote in the first paragraph of his gospel:

"In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." 

Please be praying in the coming week that this event will bring light, love and good news to the community of Southcote to the glory of God.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow, either in church or over the live stream!
 
With love in Christ,
Pads

Link to 10am News sheet
Link to 11.45 Service Sheet
Link to Live Stream & Matts Musings




15th October 2021

TORCH HELP HUBS  - BRINGING LIGHT INTO PEOPLE'S LIVES
Dear Church Family,
 
On Wednesday evening we had a fantastic turnout for the Torch Help Hubsevent at St Matthew's. Present were volunteers, would-be volunteers, co-ordinators, encouragers, and a lovely lady whom Torch had helped and made a huge difference in her life. She told the room:
"the Torch volunteers were responsive, reactive and such nice people - the whole experience has brought a bright light into my life." 

A leader from Reading Borough Council also told the gathering that the church-run help hubs were a hugely positive force for good in the town and that they hoped that this ministry would expand right across 'greater Reading'. In all, 13 new volunteers signed up for the help hub on the night and several church leaders expressed interest in encouraging their churches to get involved. If you'd like to apply to be a volunteer too, please follow the link below.
On Sunday we'll be thinking about how to live with an eternal perspective - by faith and not by sight. Children, if you like camping this could be your Sunday... I think I've spotted a tent in church! 

We very much hope that Live streaming will be back next Sunday, but not this one - so hope to see you in person on Sunday,
 
With love in Christ,
Pads

Torch Help Hub Volunteer Link
Link to 10am News sheet
Link to Matts Musings



Sunday 10th October


Dear Church Family,
 
Sorry to tell you that there will still be no live stream this Sunday. We are hoping to get it working in the next fortnight.

This week in our 10am Family Service we would love you to bring something which will shine a light. 
- For adults we probably all have torches on our smart phones
- Please bring a torch for your children so that they can join in the Family Time 
 
"Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven"  (Matthew 5:16)
 
Kirstie and I and the team look forward to seeing you on Sunday morning,
 
With love in Christ,
Pads

Link to News Sheet
Link to Matts Musings
 

Abbie with Alison at Reading's foodbank - READIFOOD

1st October 2021


Dear Church Family,

Every time our box in the Welcome area fills up with food which you have kindly donated, Anne Bingham fills the boot of her car and drives it to the Readifood foodbank. Then Abbie, along with many other volunteers, packs it all up and out it goes to every corner of our town to feed those who really need it and can't afford it. 
Abbie has furnished us with a list of the kinds of food to donate. (below)

So this Sunday, don't forget:

1. Bring a Harvest Gift for the Readifood foodbank...and...

2. Bring a gift for the ‘Blessings Table’  -  we will have a table where we can all bring something to place on the table which might be a blessing to someone else – it can be something we’ve made, something we’ve purchased or something we already own and would like to give away. At the end everyone is invited to go and take a blessing from the table and take it home with them. 
 
"The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped."  (Proverbs 11:25 Msg)
 
See you at 10am Sunday for our Harvest Festival Service!
 
With love in Christ,
Pads

St Matthew's links:
Link to Matt's Musings and Live Stream

 Abbie's List

- Tinned Vegetables

- Tinned Potatoes

- Tinned Ready meals.

- Baked Beans

-Savoury Crackers/Savoury biscuits

- Tinned meat (i.e. Corned beef, ham, chicken etc..)

- Baby food and baby snacks.

- Toilet rolls

- Tinned fish

- Toothbrushes

- Shower gels/Bubble bath

- Shampoo/Conditioner 

- Hand Soap

- Baby toiletries (Baby bath, baby wash, moisturising cream etc..)

- Nappies (Size 3 particularly)

- Childrens toiletries and toothbrushes/toothpastes.

- Long life cartons of milk

- Bottles of Squash

- Cartons of drink

-Biscuits






9th September 2021

Dear Church Family,

Today is the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, now known universally as 9/11. Both the human cost of that day and the repercussions which continue to affect global politics will remain long after this 20th anniversary day of remembrance. The recent events in Afghanistan only serve to make today even more poignant. We hardly know how to pray.

The good news which Jesus communicates to his disciples in John chapter 17 is that while we, his followers, continue to live and work and pray for his Kingdom to come, Jesus prays for us, saying, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

So while we know that we fight against ‘the Spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Eph 6:12), we also know that a power far mightier – The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us, and fills us with God’s love in our hearts – a love that can overcome any evil that Satan chooses to throw at us.

As we pray for all who still grieve and have lost so much, let’s also be praying with assurance, that Jesus will help us to proclaim Him with our lives as we love and serve in this beautiful but broken world.
 
With love in Christ,

Pads
 
St Matthew's links:
Link to Matt's Musings and Live Stream
Link to News Sheet


Other Links:
Music for Healing

 

Friday 3rd September


THE WEARING OF MASKS IN CHURCH SERVICES IS NOW OPTIONAL
Dear Church Family,In line with government guidelines and following a similar move by many other churches, the wardens and I have taken the decision to make the wearing of masks in church optional starting this Sunday. You are, of course, very welcome to keep wearing a mask if you feel safer doing so. 

The main reason for this change to our practice is that the country is now entering a time of 'learning to live with the virus' whilst resuming many of the activities we did prior to the pandemic. And whilst there is a finite chance of catching the virus almost anywhere, St Matthew's is a building with lots of space for a relatively small number of people. I calculated that with the kind of numbers attending, on average we all have a large sittingroom's volume of air each. (Now you know how I spend my time!) 

Over the last eighteen months it has been impossible not to feel that the church has been literally muzzled (albeit for good reasons!). This next step feels like a real liberation and so I hope and pray that it will release the church in worship in a whole new way. 

"Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!" (psalm 147)

I look forward to joining with you in singing praises to our God!With love in Christ,

Pads

St Matthew's links:
Link to Matt's Musings and Live Stream
Link to News Sheet

Other Links:

Music for Healing
Health on the Move

 


Friday 28th August 2021

FIRST OUTREACH EVENT SINCE COVID - SENIOR'S CREAM TEA!

Dear Church Family,

This week has been a week of contrasts. On the one hand, church life has been exciting, thriving and encouraging with an outreach planning meeting on Monday, the wonderful Cream Tea on Tuesday, a lovely Youth reunion supper hosted by the Everett's on Thursday, the Breakfast Club on Friday as well as the prayer and worship taking place through the week. So I thank God for the many wonderful ways we see him at work through the church family at St Matthew's. 

All this has been against the backdrop of the terrible scenes playing out on the news this week from Afghanistan. It reminds me of the lyrics from Mark Knoffler's song, Brothers in Arms, "we have just one world, but we live in different ones". Those who are left behind in Kabul are living in a very different world from the one they inhabited just a few weeks ago, and we need to pray for them. Here is a prayer request from Bishop Humphrey Peters, of the Diocese of Peshawar, which extends to Kabul.

"We are praying that the Holy Spirit touches the Taliban and they remain softhearted and recognize the human rights of all the people. The global body of Christ needs to express Christian love and compassion to the Taliban and share the blessing and joy that God has given us. If prior to the withdrawal we were praying once a day for Afghanistan, now we should pray 10 times."

Let's be praying with him.
With love in Christ,

Pads
 
St Matthew's links:
Link to Matt's Musings and Live Stream
Link to News Sheet


Friday 20th August 2021

Dear Church Family,

This week our town will almost double in population size as the Reading Festival gets underway. At the festival there will be plenty of worship - although it will be chiefly of music gods and not the living God. But it will also be a site of mission, mercy and hospitality as the amazing Street Pastor team, headed up by our Sally Leonard, literally pour themselves out over the four days on site.

What few of the festival goers will ever know is that the first act on the main stage is not a rock band or a rap artist, but a group of Jesus followerswho gather on the platform a few days before to worship, pray and share communion together as they bless the site and ask God to protect it from all evil. The organisers consider this an essential part of the preparation for the week.

This is not a naive action intended to consecrate the widespread drunkenness and drug taking that will inevitably take place, but a surprising act of humility by the organisers of what is a gigantic commercial operation as well as a festival to music and fun. It is perhaps an acknowledgement that the gods on stage are subject to, and not equal to, the God of heaven and earth. 

Please be praying for all of the Christians on site over the coming 10 days who will play a part in bringing and being good news to those seeking compassionate help and a listening ear. Let's be praying that the Holy Spirit will tell them what to say.

With love in Christ,

Pads
 
St Matthew's links:

Link to Matt's Musings and Live Stream
Link to News Sheet
Link to 11.45 Service Sheet

Links to RBC summer activities:

Link to Youth Team poster
Link to Southcote GrowAllot poster


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Saturday 14th August

Dear Church Family,

One of my favourite clips from the series, The Chosen, is when Jesus calls Matthew, the tax collector to follow him. (click on the image above to watch). It takes one glance between Matthew and Jesus to initiate the relationship - and that is the theme of our service this Sunday. 
So many people today suffer from a low opinion of themselves, with feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt, comparing themselves with others and concluding that they don't match up. Interestingly, many surveys both secular and Christian have shown that attending weekly worship is a strong counter-measure to low self-esteem.

This next in our series from the Song of Songs shows us that, like Matthew, we are loved just as we are, that we are priceless in the eyes of Jesus, and that all it takes is a glance to transform our understanding of how God sees us.

This is exceedingly good news and a route to confidence in our faith, in our worth and in God's good purposes for our lives. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, in person, or if you are unable to join us, over the live stream.

With love in Christ,

Pads 
 
Links:

Link to Matt's Musings and Live Stream
Link to News Sheet

Link to Parish Administrator Job Description
Link to Parish Administrator Person Profile


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Friday 6th August 2021

Dear Church Family,

Today is the traditional day that the church remembers the extraordinary encounter on the mount of transfiguration, when Jesus' appearance turns dazzling white, Moses and Elijah appear (representing the Law and the Prophets), and the voice of God booms out of the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I have chosen, listen to Him."
Luke recalls that the disciples had been half asleep, but as they gaze on Jesus they become 'fully awake'. 

In our Song of Songs passage this Sunday, the speaker implores the reader to 'come out and look' at the magnificence of Solomon, (the Christ figure), who rides by in his resplendent carriage. As we spend some of this holiday time resting and recuperating, this is no bad time to gaze on Jesus, because when we behold his beauty, his love, his mercy, his compassion, we too can become spiritually fully awake to the extraordinary grace which we have received. 
If you're not away, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday morning,
 
With love in Christ,
Pads

Links:

Link to Matt's Musings and Live Stream
Link to News Sheet
Link to 11.45 Service Sheet
Link to Parish Administrator Job Description
Link to Parish Administrator Person Profile



Friday 30th July 2021


Dear Church Family,

I was really struck again when I reviewed last Sunday's 10am Service, by Lynn's Family Time and particularly her encouragement to us, "to keep going and going and going", as we look out for each other, do good for one another, and demonstrate God's love to each other.
It reminds me of the words of Paul the Apostle to the church in Galatia when he said: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
I am so proud of the way that the church family at St Matthew's has cared for one another over the last eighteen months and continues to do so. I am also aware that in between the hard work of ministry, Jesus bade his disciples to "Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while."
So my encouragement to you this week, in this Summer holiday season, as we seek to continue to love one another, is to make sure you find the time to 'Come away...find a quiet place...and rest."
I pray that everyone will find some opportunity to do just that over the next five weeks.

Links:

Link to Matt's Musings and Live Stream
Link to News Sheet
Link to Parish Administrator Job Description
Link to Parish Administrator Person Profile


With love in Christ,

Pads

Saturday 17 July 2021

Dear Church Family, 

The Summer Holidays are nearly upon us. The weather is fantastic. We are one day away from Step 4 which means the end of Covid restrictions, and yet what we have known as 'normality' in the past seems extremely elusive. It's no use pretending. Covid has not gone away and many of us know someone who is currently ill and fighting the disease - let's not grow weary of praying for them. 

Whilst many aspects of life have now opened up, including the permission to sing in church after 19th July (so not tomorrow), the practical considerations of what we do, and where and how we do it are still complex, whether that's going on holiday, mixing with other people, or how we worship God in church. (see more in the newsletter attached)
More than ever, as Christians, we are blessed to have a God of love who in the psalmist's words, is our Shepherd in whom we can put our trust in his goodness and mercy which will follow us for all the days of our lives. (Psalm 23) In such uncertain and confusing times that is a powerful message to take to our hearts and live out in our everyday lives. 
I look forward to joining you for our 10am Family Service in the morning, and in case you are taking off on holiday, and therefore I won't see you, have a very blessed, restful and refreshing time away.

Link to Matt's Musings and Live Stream
Link to News Sheet

With love in Christ,

Pads

Monday 18 January 2021

Screenshot 2021-01-19 at 12.36Dear Church Family,
I so enjoyed the first instalment of Matt's Musings this morning that I wanted to encourage you, if you haven't watched it to do so. It's the brainchild of Dr David Horne, which is a weekly (Mon-Fri) 5-minute 'Vlog', hosted on our Youtube channel and published to our Facebook page, applying the Bible to our lives as we follow Jesus. So do watch it, on YouTube or Facebook, enjoy it, join in the discussion, comment in any way, and offer your thoughts. 
Can't wait for tomorrow as David brings the Ten Commandments into our 21st century lives!
 


Sunday  17 January 2021

Dear Church Family,

'Following Jesus' is our particular theme for the first half of this Lent term and, for many people, it has never been a greater challenge than during this pandemic, when so much of the communal aspect of Christian life is shut off from us or restricted in many different ways. 

The good news is, we all know there's light at the end of the tunnel - the bad news is that there's still a long way to go! And that's why we need as many different ways of nurturing our spiritual life as possible. And that's why I'm delighted to tell you about a new resource being launched this week within St Matthew's in the form of Matt's Musings, the brainchild of Dr David Horne, which is a weekly (Mon-Fri) 5-minute 'Vlog', hosted on our Youtube channel and published to our Facebook page, applying the Bible to our lives as we follow Jesus. 

I highly recommend that you watch the first one - and then the rest - being published on Monday morning and we invite you to comment and join in the discussion. So let's make the most of this lockdown, as we learn together on Sundays and through the week, how we can better love God, love one another and walk the path of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

We are also meeting up after the service for a Zoom tea/coffee chat on the link below, so I hope to see you then.

Link to Livestream
Link to Service Sheet with scriptures, prayer needs, news, and resources
Link to After Church tea/coffee Zoom chat

I look forward to joining you tomorrow morning,
With love in Christ,
Pads



CALENDAR OF SERVICES

SUNDAY | 10:00 AM Family Service
Livestream

SUNDAY | 11:45 AM Holy Communion
In-Person, 2nd and 4th Sundays every month

WEDNESDAY | 10:30 AM Holy Communion
In-Person