It was that time of year again - the Lenham family festival was upon us, and this year Pathways took up the exciting challenge of providing Western Style burgers for hungry festival goers.
After some lively planning sessions we came up with the idea of 'Len Valley Ranch'. A huge amount of skill and creativity went into the design of the stall. A big thank you goes to the Brookchild family and to Dee for all their hard work in making it become a reality. Everyone agreed that it looked lovely and welcoming.
When the weekend arrived we put up marquees, flipped burgers, took orders and many other things. People ate 'The Good', 'The Bad' and 'The Ugly' burgers, accompanied by 'The Magnificent Seven' sauces. All in all it was an exhausting time but great fun. It was great to see so many families enjoying time together, and it was a privilege to be able to help make that happen.
.Jenny and Holly opened up the afternoon's entertainment by singing on the outside stage. Other people from Pathways manned the information desk and gave out balloons. The electrical team was headed up by Dave. They struggled to find enough power for the stage and all the stallholders, but succeeded in the end after some perseverance and teamwork.
Sometime in the middle of all of this you could be forgiven for wondering what this is all about. Is this part of the abundant life Jesus spoke about? Should we always serve like this? I guess it is about attitude and motive: do all things without complaining and love your neighbour as you love yourself.
We showed that the Church can have fun, do things well and care for people. Yes, we took some flack along the way and our relationships were somewhat tested. After all the preparation, the setting up, the serving and putting away, it felt like we all needed a week's holiday!
But at the end of the day we are still:
A loving family
Keeping Christ at the centre
As we care for our community.
Sunday 29th April was a significant day for the churches in Lenham. Over 80 people joined together in Lenham community centre for a combined act of worship. This included people from the four churches in the Len Valley benefice together with members of Pathways church who hosted the event. There were all ages present, from young children and families to older folk.
We started the morning with coffee and catching up with each other, leading into a fun time of writing poems in small groups. This proved to be very popular and we discovered some enthusiastic poets among us as we considered the beauty of the area that we have the privilege of living in. Musicians from the various churches joined together to form a combined worship band, leading us in an uplifting time of singing, focusing our attention and worship onto the greatness of the God that we all serve.
Rev John Huggins from the Benefice led us into communion, and it was wonderful to have leaders from Pathways serving alongside leaders from the Benefice, and to see everyone receiving communion together. Then Johnny McCabe from Pathways spoke, and brought a clear message encouraging us all to express the love of Jesus by serving our community.
A collection of over £300 was taken which will go to the Katie Piper Foundation. Thank you everyone for your generosity.
We finished with drinks, and wonderful cakes provided by the ladies of Pathways. The mood was upbeat, and the comments were positive. For some the style was different to what they were used to, but all agreed that it had been a good morning, and that we should do it again in the future!
We take it in turns to serve at the breakfast service in our local parish church, St Mary's, twice a month.
This service encourages young families to come for breakfast and activities around a theme taken from the bible. For example a recent service was about the story in Genesis when the Lord called Abram and how He provided for Abram, and we finished by praying for different people around the world.
It is a small, fairly simple affair but never the less vital for some families who do not feel they could attend a full meeting with their precious little ones. Toast is munched, tea is drunk and words of encouragement are shared. What a privilege it is for us to go and share in this work, to encourage another part of the body of Christ in our community.
Psalm 133:1-2 expresses this so well - "how good it is for brothers to dwell together in unity, it is like precious oil on the head...".
We are side by side unified by our shared love for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Agreeing that he was born of a virgin, died on the cross and was raised back to life on the third day. We may have different ideas about how a celebration should run, prefer different songs or use different words when we pray, but we know that the same God is listening and our praises are heard in the same place.
At Pathways we often have visitors, and we realised recently that many people do not know that the cross on our logo is actually a real place which is a significant landmark for our community.
The 58m high chalk cross is situated on the Pilgrim's Way, on the slopes of the ridge above the A20. It is an eye-catching design cut into the hillside, forming a striking image against the green fields surrounding it.
In 1922 a collection was held to build a memorial for the 42 men who died during the first world war. The cross was designed by Mr C.H.Groom, headmaster of the village school. There was also a granite stone with the names of the men, which was moved to the churchyard in 1977. The eye catching cross was a problem during the second world war, and was filled in during that time to prevent the Luftwafte using it to navigate.
The cross now serves as a memorial to those who died in both the first and second world wars.
For us as a church, it is wonderful to have such a striking reminder of Jesus directly above the community centre where we meet. It makes for great photos, and is a fantastic place to meet and pray over the community. On a clear day, from the top of the cross, it is possible to see across Kent as far as the south downs.
As well as remembering those who died in the war, we look to the cross to remind ourselves that Jesus Himself died for our community.
Jesus gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice so that we could all have lives filled with freedom and purpose. Jesus is the head of the church, and we would not exist if He hadn't called us to be here. It is His life and presence with us that gives us hope for our community.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Recently a few of us joined with others from our community to clean the cross and pull out the weeds that constantly attempt to grow on it. It was hard work in the hot sun, but it seems a small sacrifice for us compared to everything it stands for. Afterwards it was gleaming white in the summer sun. This is a reminder that 'weeds' can so easily creep into our lives and we can forget what is really important.
Let us look to the chalk cross as a reminder to always keep Jesus at the centre of our church and our lives. Let us regularly allow Him to search our hearts and remove the weeds of sin and distractions from our life so that we can shine brightly for Him.
By Jenny Needham