In 1925 the land that we now know as Higginson Park was the privately-owned garden of Court Garden House. In that year, the house was put up for sale. A local group of residents organised an appeal, which raised the funds necessary to buy the land. The estate was passed to Sir George Higginson, who then presented it to the people of Marlow and it became known as Higginson Park. For nearly 100 years the residents of this town have had cause to give thanks for the foresight, sacrifice and generosity of that group of residents.
There is something very inspiring about people who make personal sacrifices for benefits they will not themselves enjoy. It is a glorious way to live. At the annual Remembrance Day ceremony, we gave thanks for those who sacrificed their lives for the benefit of a free society for us. On a smaller scale, we are inspired by school teachers who daily invest in the lives of children – most of whom they will never know as adults. Whenever we come to our church building, we may be grateful to those who first purchased a plot of land next to the river and all those who paid for the construction of our church building (and its predecessors), which has allowed a permanent Christian community to flourish here for a millennium. We should give thanks for the farsighted Victorians who set up and endowed our two church schools Holy Trinity and Sandygate, which still today are providing an outstanding education to hundreds of children. Strategic and sacrificial gifts secure a better future for generations to come.
A selfless gift for others’ tomorrows
The Christian faith gives us the pre-eminent example of a selfless gift for the sake of others’ tomorrows. In Jesus Christ, we see God giving himself – even to death on the cross – in order to secure for us peace with God and life in all its fullness. When we look at the cross of Christ we see the Son of God laying down his life for others. During the Advent season we prepare ourselves to respond to this gift of God Himself. When we grasp what this gift has bought for us, the only right response is gratitude.
There is no need for today’s Marlovians to raise funds to buy Higginson Park – it has already been given to us and our appropriate response is simply to be grateful and to put the gift of the park to good use. In the same way, it is unnecessary and pointless for us to try to gain God’s favour for what he has given us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The only right response is to put the gift of our lives to good use by turning to God and following in his way.
The adventure of living
When Jesus called the first of the disciples to follow him, they cannot have imagined what they were getting themselves into. Following Jesus became for them the most extraordinary adventure of their lives. The same can be true for us today. Over the last few years, we have been on an extraordinary journey as we follow Jesus together at All Saints Marlow. We have seen an explosion of new life in all kinds of different ways. God is building a community that will bless people across our town – and many others too.
Almost all of this new life has involved people giving sacrificially of their todays in order to give a better tomorrow to others. Here are just a few examples. We have just seen a team return from a week in Romania where they were serving communities of travellers. The Marlow Refugee Action Group exists to create a better tomorrow for today’s refugees. The rucksack appeal for Sierra Leone. The Maasai Warrior concert. The cardboard box sleep out for Wycombe Homeless Connection. The food deposited in the One Can Trust collection bin. Sponsoring children in Tanzania through Compassion UK. The Christingle Service in aid of The Children’s Society. Christian Aid Week. The London Run. Countless hidden acts of service and volunteering. Secret giving of money and prayers. Each of these is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others for years to come.
What should we invest in?
We have the chance to invest ourselves for the future generations here in Marlow. As regular members of the church will know, we are currently considering a big, new opportunity to bless future generations in Marlow. The old Holy Trinity Church building on Wethered Road is up for sale and we are considering whether to attempt to bring it back into church ownership. The building has been beautifully converted into modern offices and large meeting spaces. We consider that it might be a suitable base for the next phase of the growth of the church in Marlow.
Our vision is to bring God’s extraordinary love into the lives of more and more ordinary Marlow people. As I write this article, we are in the middle of a week of prayer and fasting to seek God’s guidance for the way ahead and specifically whether the Holy Trinity Church building should play a part in this vision.
Please join us in praying for the growth of God’s kingdom here in Marlow and beyond – and that we would continue to be a community overflowing with gratitude for God’s super-abundant gift to us in Jesus. Please play your part – committing whatever you can of your time, money and prayers to seeing this vision become a reality. May we live such generous lives today that, 100 years from now, people will give thanks for today’s church family at All Saints Marlow.
Rev Dave Bull
4U Team Rector
For this and many more stories about what is going on within our church, download your latest copy of The Bridge – the magazine of All Saints Marlow.