We are a group of four Anglican parish churches who enjoy working collaboratively in serving the people and communities of Beech Hill, Farley Hill, Grazeley, Riseley, Shinfield, Spencers Wood, Swallowfield and Three Mile Cross. Our four parish churches are delightfully different in history and character, each offering a different take on what it means to be active, forward-looking, community-focussed churches of the 21st century. Each church also has its own style of worship, weekly activities and pattern of services that continue to evolve. You should find all you need to know about us as you engage with our website, but if you’d like to meet and talk something through in person… don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Come As You Are
“Come as you are” is the simple but powerful invitation made by Emmanuel Church in nearby Woodley on its website. This reminds me of a favourite bible text which reads “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5 v8 NLT)
Everything that Jesus did for us, he did out of love. The bible says that God made us to love us. God wants us alive so he can love us and so we can love him back. God didn’t just say that he loved us; he showed it. This verse in Romans says that, while we were still sinners. Before I even knew God or knew that I needed God in my life, Jesus died for me. There is a myth that says we’ve got to clean up our act before we can come to God. No! We come to God with our problems, with our struggles, bad habits, mistakes and selfishness, the good the bad and the ugly. God says ‘Come as you are’ and I will help you with those other issues in your life if you will let me.
The ministry of Jesus shows us that God is both inclusive and exclusive. On the one hand he said “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11 v28 NIV) and on the other he says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14 v6 NIV) to realise that both are true is essential in our understanding of who God is and helps us understand the depths of his love. God is completely just and yet at the same time he is full of mercy. Sadly, at the moment, due to the pressure of the culture we live in, many in the church are tying themselves up in knots over issues around inclusivity. God calls us to come as we are but not to stay as we are. This simple Facebook post sums it up well.
A liberal church says you are welcome here and you do not have to clean up your life,
A legalistic church says you are not welcome here until you clean up your life,
Jusus says you are welcome here and I will help you change your life from the inside out. John 8:11
Inner change I know is what I need, but I also know that I do not possess the resources to achieve this by my own efforts, I need the help and power that come from the Holy Spirit. So, the simple invitation might more fully read ‘Come as you are, and be transformed into who you really are in Christ Jesus.’ A Christians’ true identity comes from what God says about us and not what we say about ourselves. We are both and at the same time more sinful than we realise and yet more loved than we could possibly dream or imagine. Come as you are and join us on the journey!
Revd David Little