Paxtonvic’s Blog

Just another weblog

Holy Week and Easter in St James Church Little Paxton and The wider Benefice

  1. Tower in winter light

Tuesday March 26th  2pm-4pm  Church Open for Quiet Prayer with ” Prayer Points” – 6 prayer stations where there are images and words to help us pray.

Compline at 7pm.

Wednesday March 27th – Holy Communion at 10.00am

2pm – 4pm –  Church Open with Prayer Points.

Compline at 7pm.

Thursday March 28th – Maundy Thursday

7.30pm at Diddington Church. Remembering the Passover Meal and Holy Communion.

Friday March 29th – Good Friday

10.30am – 12 noon – Good Friday Workshop  for children in Little Paxton Church

1pm – Devotional service at Little Paxton

7pm Devotional service at Great Paxton.

Saturday March 30th – Easter Eve

7pm Easter  Vigil at  Little Paxton Church : homily by Rev Jesse Zink

Sunday March 31st – Easter Day

9.15am – Family Eucharist at Little Paxton

10.45am – Family Eucharist at Great Paxton

12 noon – Family Eucharist at Diddington.

March 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rev Jesse Zink preaching at St Neots Deanery Evensong March 17th 2013.

On March 17th Rev Jesse Zink, Assistant Chaplain at Emmanuel College Cambridge, preached at St Andrew’s Church Great Staughton on the theme of Faith at work.

The text of his sermon is as follows. Thank you to Jesse for letting me reproduce it on Paxtonvic blog

.Mark 6:7-13, 30-44

Romans 7:14-25.




Let us pray. The crowds gathered around and Jesus said to his disciples: “You give them something to eat.” But they answered him: “We can’t do that!”

            May I speak in the name of one God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

             The athletic company Nike used to have as its advertising slogan, “Just do it.” The slogan was usually emblazoned over a picture of finely-toned athlete about to perform some incredible feat: “Just do it.”

            It is a slogan that pretty well sums up the ethos of the time in which we live. The world we live in tells us that our worth is best measured by our accomplishments. In my work as a doctoral student, I know that in order to keep my supervisor happy, I need to keep reading more books, writing more words, and applying for more grants. Before I studied for ordination, I spent some time as a news reporter. In that job, I measured my success by how many stories I had written or how many interviews I had conducted. What we do defines who we are—this is why when we meet someone for the first time our first question is often, “So, what do you do?” And the lesson our world is teaching us is that the more we do, the better we are. This is why when I ask friends how they are doing, they say, “Oh… crazy busy!” In my experience, clergy and church leaders are especially prone to thinking this way. Ministry becomes about doing more stuff for more of the time we have available to us. This is the world of the Nike slogan—“just do it.” Every word is laden with meaning. Do: as in, get the job done. It: whatever the job is, do it already. And, most seductively: just: why can’t you just do it already? Everyone else is.

            If our reading this evening from the Gospel of Mark had a title, it might be that Nike slogan: just do it. Jesus sends out his disciples, commanding them to proclaim his good news and spread his message far and wide. And, indeed, that is exactly what the disciples do. The reading tells us that after being commanded by Jesus, they went out and proclaimed exactly as they had been instructed. As a result, they are able to cast out demons and cure the sick. Jesus said, “just do it” and they just did.

            Then they come back to Jesus. They are so excited about their success that they gather around him, eager to tell him all about what they have done. You can almost picture the scene, all these returned disciples gathered around Jesus shouting over one another, “You’ll never guess what I did: I cast out a demon!” “Oh yeah, I cured a sick woman!” “Oh yeah, I cast out a demon and cured a sick man!” They have accomplishments and they want to boast about them.

            Jesus invites his followers to come away with him to a quiet place for a little while. But as they try to draw away, a large crowd of people follows them and Jesus teaches them. As the day is coming to a close, his disciples say to him, “Send them away and tell them to find food for themselves somewhere.” Instead, Jesus says to his followers: “Send them away? You give them something to eat.” You can almost hear the incredulous tone in Jesus’ voice. You mean you who just told me all about your wonderful deeds of power and might cannot find a way to feed all these people who are here? Why not? Why can’t you just do it already?

            And this is the moment when the disciples come up short. They realize that they cannot feed the thousands of people. Instead of being able to “just do it,” they realize they just can’t.

            I wonder if you have ever experienced a just can’t moment in your life? Has there ever been a time when you realize that in fact you won’t be able to do everything you’ve committed yourself to? Have you ever looked at your to-do list and wondered how you will make it to the end of the day? The just can’t moment is the moment when our carefully-constructed ideas about the course of our day, our career, our personal life, all come crashing down around us. “Just do it”? I just can’t.

            The Apostle Paul knew something about both just do it and just can’t. He was raised as a strictly-observant Jewish person and so knew the Jewish law—which is contained in what we now call the Old Testament—backwards and forwards. The law is a very good thing.  It is a product of God’s love for us and it is a way God wants to show us to live with one another in a healthy, fruitful, and mutual way. The law is so good that much of what Jesus had to teach us, he borrowed from the law. Jesus’ two big commandments—to love God and to love our neighbour as ourself—first appear in the Old Testament. When Jesus tells us to care for the least among us, he is borrowing heavily from ideas that were already expressed in the law God gave. Paul was raised to follow this law closely and he did. He was told to “just do it” and he did his best. If everyone could “just do it” when it comes to the law, the world would be in much better shape than we are right now.

            But what Paul realizes is that he can’t always “just do it.” This is what we hear him explain in his letter to the Romans this evening. “I do not understand my own actions,” he writes. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…. When I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.” What Paul is learning is another twist on just do it. It’s not that he is overcommitted or has bragged too much about what he can do, like the apostles. Instead, he is realizing that no matter how much he wants to do the good things that are contained in the law, he cannot. He just can’t do good. Perhaps you have experienced this as well. You can see the right thing to do, but for whatever reason you find yourself being drawn away from it, unable to actually accomplish it. It’s like you can see the target you’re aiming for, and then at the last minute you swerve away from it and fail to do the thing you’ve tried to do. God says, “Here are all these great ideas about how you should live,” and Paul says—we say—I just can’t. That, more or less, is what Christians believe it means to be human. No matter how hard we try, when it comes to what God is expecting of us, we just can’t do it on our own.

            The good news about the Christian faith is that it honestly acknowledges this “just can’t” reality. To be a Christian, you don’t have to pretend to be super-human, completely capable, and uber-competent. You don’t have to have a list of accomplishments that stretches to the floor. You don’t need to measure yourself by what you can do. You can stop staying, “just do it” all the time. Instead, the Christian faith is a faith that takes our failures and inabilities and transforms them.

            We see this is a number of different ways, particularly during this Lenten season. For instance, on Ash Wednesday, we took ashes—the kind of thing we want to dump out and get rid of—and imposed them on our foreheads. In a sense, what we are saying is that God has a use for even our failings and imperfections, the times when we just can’t, the moments we want to forget and get rid of, just like we get rid of ashes. God is right there in those moments with us. When we imposed the ashes on our foreheads a few weeks ago, we did so in the shape of a cross. People who get executed are usually not remembered as great success stories in life, people who were able to “just do it.” The cross is, perhaps, the ultimate expression of “I just can’t.” When we see Jesus on a cross, we come to know more fully than ever before, that God knows deeply and intimately what it means to just not be able to do it. But of course the cross is not the final word. The great good news of the Christian faith is that saying “I just can’t” is not the end of the story. There is always a new beginning, a new start, a fresh way of looking at the world. In the cross and resurrection, God is saying to us two things: “I know what it’s like not to be able to just do it but here, let me show a path a new life.” God takes our failings, sweeps them together, redeems them in the cross, and makes us new. We say, “God, I just can’t.” And God says, “I know. Here, let me show you a path to a new and different life.”

            The challenge becomes sorting out just what that new and different life is and how we live it. After all, just because we can’t do the things God wants us to doesn’t mean they’re not still good. It actually is a hurting world that we live in and the Christian message of peace and reconciliation is as relevant today as it has ever been. There really are hungry people to be fed, prisoners to be visited, sick people to be cared for, and lonely people who need relationship. But the first thing that each individual Christian is called to is the recognition of our dependence on God, our inability to demonstrate our love for God in action, and our failure to always do what it is God desires for the world. Christians understand that in order to change the world, we need to change ourselves first. Only once we have said, “I just can’t” can we begin to move forward in the power of God’s love. Only once we have acknowledged the death of our beliefs about our abilities can we move forward into the resurrection life God is calling us to.

            This is more or less what happened to those disciples of Jesus. Although they seemed pretty capable when Jesus sent them out this time, in just a few chapters, Jesus is going to tell his good friend, Peter, “get behind me Satan.” Peter will deny Jesus at his trial. And when Jesus is crucified, the majority of his closest friends and followers will be nowhere to be found. They will have run away in fear, a fear that only deepens when they hide in an upper room together and worry that the same people who killed Jesus will be coming after them as well. Forget about just doing it; these guys just can’t.

            But, of course, we wouldn’t be here this evening were it not for those early followers of Christ, people like Peter who came to understand the depth of God’s merciful and forgiving love for him and became a critical figure in the building of the early church or people like Paul who realized that no matter that he just couldn’t do it, God still had a use for him in spreading the teachings of the gospel around the Roman Empire. The church is not made up of perfect people who can always do everything exactly right and on time the first time. It’s made up of people who just can’t, but who also know that just not doing it is not the core part of their identity and that God’s transforming love is always drawing us into a newer, deeper, and fuller way of living.

            When I was growing up, a lot of people wore Nike gear emblazoned with the logo “just do it.” Christians have a different logo, the cross. The cross is a logo that says we are not measured by our ability and our actions. It is a logo that acknowledges the truth that sometimes we just can’t. When we see a cross, we are turning to God and saying, “I just can’t.” And we hear God say in reply, “I love you anyway. Let me show you a new life.”






March 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Faith at Work: St Neots’ Deanery Evensong Sunday March 3rd 2013. A sermon preached by Richard Noble.


I am pleased to be able to post the third of our Lent St Neots’  Deanery Evensong sermons on paxtonvic blog. Richard Noble, ALM at Buckden kindly preached for us and the following is the text of his sermon.

Our last Evensong for the series is at Great Staughton Church on March 17th at 6pm and the preacher will be Rev Jesse Zinc, assistant chaplain at Emmanuel College Cambridge.


St Neots Deanery Evensong, St Mary the Virgin, Eynesbury
Theme of series: Faith in everyday life, 3rd Sunday in Lent
3 March 2013 (Richard Noble ALM, Buckden, St Mary’s )
When Annette, our Rural Dean, asked me to fill this Lent slot I was quick to
make my excuses, explaining: I don’t do sermons. It’s not my thing. I simply
try to be a faithful Christian working out my faith in the outside world, rather
than inside churches. So when she explained the theme was to be, ‘faith in
everyday life’, I was somewhat hoist into this pulpit by my own petard!
And so here I am. In the words of the psalmist (Ps 19:14), I pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be pleasing
in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen
Many years ago I met an ordained non-stipendiary minister whose day job
took him all over eastern England, talking to business people. We were at
a seminar on Christianity at work. Somewhat innocently I asked: In your
work, how visible are you as a Christian? When he replied, hardly at all, I
was quietly staggered by his explanation. His energies were fully taken up in
church at weekends, preaching and leading worship. His work was just
something he got on with. What an opportunity missed! I never saw him
again but let’s hope the seminar opened his eyes. The effect on me was
profound because it led to a new take on ministry. As church people we are
part of a repeating process of gathering and dispersal:
We can bring to our worship in church all the cares of the past week. There,
in the strength of a Christian community we can confess our failures, give
thanks for good things, and find renewal through worship of our God and
Saviour. Then, we go out, into the week ahead with the strength and
assurance of his blessing, to serve as Christian witnesses out in the world.
As soon as we see our church based faith as an activity in everyday life we
become deacon like. One or two long standing deanery reps among you,
may remember a motion being sent all the way up from this deanery,
through the Diocesan Synod, and General Synod to the House of Bishops of
the Church of England. The resulting report fleshed out a gathering and
sending church, characterised by distinctive deacons with their ministries in
the everyday world.
General Synod took little notice. But in fact, a number of lay people entered
training as distinctive deacons, imagining their main ministry out in the
working world with jobs in things like health, social work and education. Due
to the general shortage of clergy it seems most of them have ended up as
parish priests instead. In contrast, the concept of distinctive, vocational or
permanent deacons is well developed in several Anglican provinces.
My point in mentioning distinctive deacons is that ordained deacons working
in the everyday world, but sustained by their parish church, can make a very
visible point: Contrary to what some secularists would like to think, the
church has a recognisable place in the world beyond the parish church. We
all spend most of our waking, weekday hours earning our keep, doing
voluntary work, bringing up our families and in leisure activities. But so does
everyone else. Deacons would be role models training and encouraging lay
people to follow their lead. Our objective as Christians is specific. We follow
in the wake of the first apostles with the great commission, in this evening’s
Gospel reading (Matt 28 16-20), to go and make disciples of all nations. Our
own nation is under the intense pressures of secularism, worldly spirituality
and other faiths. So what can we do about it?
Basically, we need to stand up, take risks and be recognised as Christians.
This requires a real sense of being a living disciple of Jesus, the Son of
Man; seizing the moments where our choices can make a difference; getting
involved in the local community and secular activities; serving the needs of
people in a way that shows we are serving Jesus; showing our love and
fellowship with other Christians. Besides the Great Commission there is
only one direct commandment that Jesus gave to his disciples: that they
should love one another as he loved them. He gave it as a New
Commandment, explaining that by doing so others would see that they were
his disciples. Some of the greatest damage we do as individual Christians
and churches is when we fall out with one another.
There are lots of resources available to help with faith in everyday life. A
really helpful little booklet is Out of hours faith for everyone. It comes from
one of the groups in Buckden & the Offords. I have it on my mobile phone,
which I find a useful place for storing prayers and texts for daily sustenance.
It can be down-loaded from the church website:
The Bible is an inexhaustible resource. Inexhaustible because, guided by
God’s Holy Spirit in prayerful study, it continues to reveal its relevance today.
Besides all the guidance Jesus gives in his teaching, the stories of men and
women, both in the Old and New Testaments, make powerful role models.
Have you ever noticed how most of the parables describe secular rather
than faith situations? When faced with dilemmas and difficult situations in life
I find it helpful to ask myself: ‘What would Jesus do?’
Last Lent, just a year ago, I started putting together a little booklet to fill a
gap: a really short and readable, contemporary guide to the Bible. It has a
single page for each of the 66 books, headed by a secular phrase from the
Bible that has become part of our everyday language. It has an intriguing
title: by the skin of its teeth which originates in the book of Job. It has been
checked over and commended by theologians in Cambridge and was
launched on Bible Sunday in St Mary’s, Buckden last October.
The launch copies went quickly, and the PCC had 200 more printed. It’s
useful for giving to friends who, encouraged by its enticing contents, might
get their Bibles out again. It’s the sort of book you can read while travelling.
It might even be noticed by a stranger beside you and spark off a
conversation. Why not give this a try yourself? I have brought a few copies
with me and it is available from the church website.
Being a visible Christian is not easy. Sharing faith with secular friends and
neighbours can be anything but easy. Its actually much less of a problem to
share what Jesus means to us with strangers. To live out our faith in
everyday life we need more support than just going to church. Such support
can be found by meeting in small groups during the week. At different times
during my own years of secular employment I used to find support in a
midweek Christian Aid lunch, in a prayer triplet, in my church’s one day a
week prayers before breakfast and in Bible study groups. There are many
other possibilities such as a workplace Christian Union or just spending
some lunch times as quiet times for reflection and prayer.
Something Annette particularly asked me to tell you about is my work in
prison. This started about nine years ago when the word ‘prisons’ jumped at
me, out of the blue, in the middle of a quiet time. I ignored it at first but it kept
coming back and eventually I found myself being escorted by Richard
Bunyan into Littlehey prison through security checks and slamming steel
gates. At first I helped with some chapel services and a lifers discussion
group. It was rather lack lustre work, an inauspicious start and ceased when
the Prison changed their policy, putting the lifers together on a wing instead
of using them as a calming influence on each separate wing. During this
time I discovered how prisoners, rejected by society, really value the many
volunteers who come into prisons. The fact that time, concern and attention
are freely given, without pay, has a real impact on restoring their self worth.
Since those days the chaplaincy has expanded and I have become involved
with an organisation called Prison Fellowship. It is some of the most
worthwhile and stimulating work I’ve ever done. This experience has helped
me realise that to be a purposeful disciple, I need to pray, to discern, to keep
faith and not to be put off, either by shortcomings in myself, or by
circumstances that frustrate the way ahead.
Tomorrow I shall be in the Category C prison at Littlehey, helping to facilitate
the Sycamore Tree course. This is a restorative justice course which puts
the process of restoring victims and offenders ahead of penal justice. The
course is based on the Bible story of Zacchaeus, or Zac for short, the
extortionate tax collector who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. When
confronted by him, Zac promises to repay those he cheated.
As a secular course, open to any or no faith, we are not allowed to talk about
Christianity as such, but the underlying message of Zac’s story is clear.
Participants meet a real life victim, learn about the ripple effect of their
actions, saying and feeling sorry and moving on with a real heartfelt change.
The final session is always an emotion-filled occasion. They make what we
call a symbolic act of restitution in front of everyone there, plus a few
representatives of the outside community and, more crucially, one of the
prison governors. The course has been shown statistically to reduce
reoffending and is being taken up by more and more prisons.
Prison Fellowship was founded in America in 1976 by one of the Watergate
criminals. It brings together men and women from various Christian
churches to share the love of God with prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their
families. The organisation has been instrumental in promoting the concept of
restorative justice. The Sycamore Tree course is one of these initiatives and
there is a pressing need locally for more facilitators. I’m part of their new
prayer group which meets once a month in Brampton. There are a few
leaflets at the back, and our next meeting is tomorrow evening. If any of you
are interested or know someone who might like to know more you will be
very welcome.
Tuesday sees me and another Prison Fellowship volunteer in the Littlehey
YOI, the Young Offenders Institute, working with a group of 18-21 year olds.
These men tend to come from violent and very different backgrounds. Some
time ago, when I was asked to help take the Sycamore Tree course into the
YOI, it was a pretty daunting prospect. But then someone reassured me that
although this age group have little respect for their parents, they tend to
respect their grandparents! … We will be working with a group learning
about the Christian faith. This is real cutting edge stuff because our Bible is a
closed book to most of these young men. We loosely follow the layout and
content of the Alpha course and aim to present Jesus, as a palpable
personality and the Holy Spirit, as an active fact in our lives. It quickly
became apparent that the most effective teaching is when we give testimony
to our own personal experience of God’s intervention and guidance in our
everyday lives. On alternate weeks we are joined by a third person who is
an ordinand, not training as a vicar, but as a distinctive deacon. Thus, would
you believe it? Here, within our Deanery and Diocese is a product of that
initiative from this deanery all those years ago.
One of the things we cover is particularly relevant to everyday life. Offenders
who are trying to turn their lives around are assailed by all kinds of issues.
We explain that the same applies to all of us Christians, and that Paul’s
specification of the Christian’s body armour described in this evening’s
reading (Eph 6: 10-20) is a graphic picture of how to protect our integrity,
especially when we explain that God’s spirit fills our whole being, body and
soul, not just our thinking brains. Roman soldiers were all around at the time
of Jesus: the soldier whose servant Jesus healed, the soldier who stood at
the cross watching Jesus die, declaring ‘Surely this man was the Son of
God!’, and the soldier in Acts 10, where all in his household were filled with
the Holy Spirit, before they had even been baptised. Roman soldiers and
their body armour make vivid illustrations for sharing Christian faith with
these young men.
With my colleagues we have found that as soon as things start going really
well and there is a real sense of achieving God’s purposes, something jumps
in the way as if to send everything hay wire. It seems the Devil really is alive
and well. So we pray together before and after each session. We prepare
ourselves and debrief ourselves. Keeping faith, one can often see these
upsets coming …… face them, and find the way through.
It can be precisely the same with everyday life, but in prison things are more
sharply defined. Here are some ways I’ve found helpful for living my
faith in everyday life:
• Seek God’s particular calling….
• Live life to the full, enjoy it and keep looking forward….
• Spend regular time in prayer and Bible study, especially in company with
• Watch for God’s promptings and opportunities for sharing faith
• Remember, as visible Christians, others may be following our example.
A closing prayer: Eternal God, whose son is the way, the truth and the life:
Grant us to walk in his way, to rejoice in his truth,
and to share his risen life. Amen

March 9, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment