In November we remember the saints, past and present, and our own call to live holy lives as God’s modern-day saints. The Greek word for saints is an interesting one. It is the word “hagios” and means “most holy thing” so a saint is a holy person. Not that any of us can claim to be holy in our own right! We are made holy by Christ’s dying for us. That is exactly what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:11 that “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
If I asked you who was a saint, you might answer Saint Nicolas, or Saint Birinus, but if we take seriously the teaching of the New Testament, we are all saints, made holy by God and set apart to live holy lives. Some people in our church community were interviewed and although the questions posed to them were identical, each story is very different – as it should be! Being holy is not about being perfect or trying to be someone we are not, but about offering who we are to God and letting God transform us and use the unique people we are and the gifts we have to his glory.
Phil Taylor, Church warden, St Nicolas: I’ve worshipped at St Nicolas for 22 years. I sing in the choir and have done two stints as church warden, covering 10½ years in total – not consecutive of course! I take a particular interest in the fabric as others don’t seem to want to do that.
My Christian faith became significant at senior school around confirmation time. It was a boarding school and I was impressed by the faith of the Headmaster, which seemed real.
Professionally I spent 35½ years “watching paint dry”! As part of the Research and Development team for Dulux Paint, I was involved in developing new paints such as the move from solvent borne paint to water borne paint. Now I’m enjoying retirement.
My faith had an impact on my work life because I see the world as God’s creation and chose to work on projects that benefitted the environment – such as the one described. I also tried to be an understanding manager to my staff.
To sum up in a few words what being a follower of Jesus Christ means to me, it is about trying to be faithful to Jesus’ teaching to “love one another as I have loved you” in actions and words.
Nicki Jeffries, St Nicolas: I’ve worshipped at St Nicolas for 20 years, and serve on PCC as well as being a sides person. In the past I was very involved with children’s work, and for the past couple of years I’ve been particularly involved with fund raising – especially the summer fete. I used to read the lesson but found it stressful!
My faith became more significant about 14 years ago. I work as a public health nurse, as part of a specialist programme called the Family Nurse Partnership, which works particularly with teenage mothers and their children. My faith is in every part of what I do with clients and colleagues. I want to lead my life as close as I can to what Jesus would do. That’s a big ask, but something worth striving for. Having a faith also makes my work manageable because it makes huge demands both emotionally and physically.
To sum up in a few words what being a follower of Jesus Christ means to me, it is about peace, following Jesus’ example, living as a disciple as best I can and using my gifts in God’s service.
Linda Beer, St Nicolas: I’ve worshipped at St Nicolas for 17 years since I moved back to this area from Bournemouth. I’m a sides person and welcomer. I put flowers in the lady chapel and help with flower arranging for festivals. You’ll often find me washing up in the kitchen, or giving lifts. And I try to encourage my nephew and godson in church.
My Christian faith has always been there. My Dad had a strong faith and I still have and use his “prayer a day” book.
Having left school at fifteen, I joined Satchwell Controls to work in the office and was fortunate to be sent to London to learn to operate the comptometer. I ended up doing accounts and wages for Miller, Morris and Booker, and then with my husband and other family members ran a hotel for five years. I also cared for my elderly parents and brought up two foster children.
Because my parents had such a strong faith in God, I always thought to myself that if it would upset Mum and Dad then it was better not to do it.
Being a follower of Jesus Christ is just part of my life. I say my prayers, count my blessings and pray for others.
Sue Blore, Church Warden, St Anne’s: I’ve been worshipping at St Anne’s for about 10 years and have been church warden for the past 4 or 5. With such a small congregation, as well as being church warden I act as treasurer, and help fund raise by serving Sunday cream teas through the summer months. I do whatever is needed!
My Christian faith has always been there. My family worshipped regularly and I can remember the special children’s service at the church at the end of the road and going to Sunday school.
Professionally I ran my own hairdressing business and then had a family, bringing up my two girls. I was very involved with the schools they attended, being Chair of Governors at Lent Rise, and on the governing body at Burnham Upper School. I served on the PTA in various schools, and also helped my husband, Howard, with the accounts for his business. Latterly I worked in the accounts branch of a perfume department.
The impact of my faith is that I’ve always tried to be helpful and understanding towards others and to live as a Christian. That’s my way, but I also respect and value those around me who have other faiths. I look for the points of contact.
To sum up what being a follower of Jesus Christ means to me, it means I’m thankful. When I pray I always start by saying thank you for all the blessings I’ve had. That isn’t always easy, but I do feel blessed.
Janet Appleton, St Nicolas: I’ve been worshipping at St Nicolas for almost two years now, and was confirmed a year ago. I’m on Deanery Synod and PCC, sometimes lead intercessions and help where I can. I come to Connections, and enjoy being with other Christians, having the opportunity to think about such a wide variety of topics and share thoughts and feelings.
Just over two years ago I did an Alpha course at St Margaret’s church in Penn close to where I work and that’s when I became a Christian.
I work in the toy industry as a quality assurance and compliance manager. I have to make sure the products we sell are legal, safe and fit for purpose as well as being sourced responsibly. My faith has made me less ambitious for professional success and made me realise that there are more important things in life than earning money and being promoted. It has also enabled me to support others more in the workplace, and is helping me create a better work/life balance.
Being a Christian makes me feel completely loved (by God) which in turn helps me love others more.