Faithlife Sermons

The Vision of the Saints

Notes & Transcripts

tospace:none'>I speak to you in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit –Amen  

Today as you know by now we are celebrating All Saints Day – The actual day is November 1st which this year is Tuesday, however it is a day to be celebrated and not to be missed.

I say not to be missed because it is a wonderful opportunity in this harvest season, this thanksgiving season, to make claim to the Saints that have gone before and ministered in the Lord

So I want to start off this time by briefly retelling our story

And I want you to specifically imagine the cloud of saints around us all, those that have gone before to specifically partake in Farringdon’s history

Benjamin Ingham, who is consider the founder of Farringdon – as a seminary student was a member of the Oxford Holy Club – alongside John and Charles Wesley and George Whitfield

Each of them, in their own right, greatly laid the foundations on which thousands upon thousands of people have come to faith and grown in discipleship in our Lord

The Oxford Holy Club was known to hold deep and earnest discussions daily on various matters pertaining to religion and doctrine and devised for themselves a rigid plan or ‘method’ for conducting their lives

A definite schedule allotting a specific amount of time for prayer, for reading, and for teaching was their pattern

This gave birth to the term “Methodist” so closely associated with the work of the Wesleys.[1]

Post seminary, Ingham accompanied John Wesley to Georgia as missionaries to the Indians.

En route, amid a fierce storm, where most of the passengers feared for their life, they met a party of Moravians whose simplicity of faith and trust in God greatly influenced them

Our patron saint’s faith was lead to greater depth by those Moravian saints

Upon returning to England, Ingham was ordained into the Church of England in 1735 and his posting was in London in the parish of Farringdon.

However, it was not long after taking up his ministry that Ingham began to feel an interest in the people in the outlying districts who were without adequate opportunities for hearing the Word of God…

Ingham’s ministry became directed chiefly to his native Yorkshire and to Lancashire.[2]

This move in ministry began in what we would call today, a home church, and many became established

Ingham initially called the groups “societies”, and there developed some eighty or ninety of these groups

Involving many thousands of people, and eventually chapels were erected in many locations

In England, at the time, by an act of Parliament, only the ‘Church of England’ could be called a church, and all other similar establishments were considered “chapels”

Following the Battle of Waterloo, in the 1830’s, there was a severe trade depression in England.

The textile trade in Yorkshire and Lancashire, where the Inghamite chapels were chiefly located, was especially hard hit, with the result that many people immigrated to Canada.

Many of these people settled in the vicinity of Brantford.

These people "deemed that Divine permission under the New Testament was given to any sincere group of believers to meet and organize a Church of God,

If led by the Spirit of God, and without the sanction of any Church Court or other ecclesiastical authority, and in this belief they founded this Church".

Thus Farringdon Church was founded in 1833.

The first church building, a simple clapboard building, was erected in 1839 upon land that was part of the farm of Mr. Richard Brooks and his wife.

He was given the opportunity of naming the church, which he called Farringdon after his native town in Berkshire, England, and also Ingham's first parish.

The terms of an agreement between Richard Brooks and his wife in the sale of the land for the church stated the following…

Land, for the sole use of the church of Jesus Christ… (While) maintaining the scriptures of the old and new testament (as) their only rule of faith and doctrine…

Acknowledging Jesus as their only Lord and Law-Giver every first day of the week…

Continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and Fellowship and in breaking of Bread and in Prayers...

Acknowledging themselves and their infants subjects of King Jesus…

Their form of church government being congregational or independent, that is the church has the right of transacting its own business, in choosing Elders and Deacons from amongst themselves only, and deciding in cases of discipline and all other matters…

Making contribution every first day of the week chiefly for the relief to the poor

It would appear that their services of worship continued in much the same manner as was practised in England with emphasis being placed on simplicity of worship and doctrine. 

They held firmly to the doctrine of the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments…”

And consequently the Scriptures stand for everything as the supreme authority to govern the life of the Church, as well as of the individual Christian”

Particular emphasis was placed on the principles laid down in the Ten Commandments.[3]

The saints that have gone before us in founding ‘this church on the hill’ had a clear straightforward rule of life which carried with it a vision for life

The first minute book of Farringdon Church describes its founding in this way:

“In 1833 (July) Miles Coleman and his family emigrated from the Peartree Church at Kendal to Brantford and there on the first Lord’s Day after their arrival they assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and attended to the Apostles doctrine

In company with James Cockshutt and his wife who were on a visit to their son Ignatius Cockshutt

And this was the commencement of the Church of Christ now assembling Farringdon nr. Brantford. 

First they assembled at James Cockshutt’s house at Brantford for a few weeks,

Then at Miles Coleman’s house at Farringdon and afterwards in the house of Isaac Poole, residents at the same place until the year 1839

In 1939 the Meeting House being built, they began to assemble in it.”

The church was without a central body but organized as a Church of Christ after that of apostolic times. 

The members believed in justification and redemption only through the sacrifice of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit;

All were expected and deemed duty-bound to use their talents and ability without remuneration for the work of the church and for the good of their fellows. 

The congregations selected Elders and Deacons and informed their own members on the basis of those best qualified to carry out the gospel both within the church and in the community.[4]

One of the outstanding characteristics of the leaders at Farringdon was their concern, interest, support and encouragement of one another - those at home, those working in other lands, and those who were continuing the work in England. 

In personal letters we find such counsel as:

“I was sorry to hear that some others have left your church.  But this is and always has been the case even in our Lord’s sojourn in this world.

They did not like his doctrine and walked no more with him….

Our churches seem to be nearly run out….our order and doctrine seem to be unpopular. 

A learned preacher and a stylish congregation seem to have more to attract the people.

Associations and worldly influence have far too much to do in the church, and God’s Work far too little.”[5]

Upon reading this passage from over 150 years ago – I was struck at how this could have been written today – I was at a conference this past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

It was a conference lead by the United Church, in the Halton Presbytery and was specifically for pastors, priests and ministers

And I can tell you that the lament of ministers today shared this past week, is aligned with the saints of Farringdon’s history

During the early history of our church, the importance of missionary work in the spread of the gospel was stressed, as was also a concern for the poor and the helpless in the community. 

Some results of these concerns can be seen in the fact that members of this church were instrumental in the founding of such community services and organizations as:

Widows’ Home (now Sheridan Place), The Orphans’ Home, The House of Refuge (on the property now occupied by the John Noble Home),

The Jane Laycock Children’s Home,

The Brantford Branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society

and the Farringdon Debating Society.[6]

Consider again those saints – consider what they valued – consider what they did for our community of Brantford

Consider that all that was done in the name of our Lord Jesus, was done with a vision in mind 

It is a vision that is aligned with Christ’s teaching, especially in the betterment of society with the prayer that we most commonly know as the ‘Lord’s Prayer’

And the ideal and vision for the present and future that we pray for and want to take part in the Kingdom of God – on earth as in heaven

Our reading from Revelations speaks of the vision of St John

It is of the point where the heavens and the earth touch each other

            It is principally a vision of the Kingdom of God

And our Gospel passage today is from the beginning of The Sermon on the Mount

And we hear the Beattitudes – Blessed are you when…

And for today – this All Saints Day – we are again given this vision of the Kingdom of God

We are given it both the realities of the earth, and contrasted with how God in the heavenly realm views life of His people

It is our Lord’s way of presenting a vision of the world as seen with God’s eyes

It calls us to a deeper understanding of the reality we see

It written to us as descriptive – to declare those described by the attributes as blessed by God

For us, still on our journey of faith, these are a call to action – these attributes are more than God declaring blessed - they are Be-Attitudes

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, We are "poor in spirit" or "meek" or "hunger and thirst for righteousness" - when we walk humbly with God.

We see our need for Jesus Christ and a longing to be filled with His Word.

We are blessed – we are given that vision of the Kingdom of God on earth

We are "merciful" or "pure in heart" when we love kindness.

When we show compassion and mercy, putting others before ourselves

We are "peacemakers" or "mourners" or "accept persecution for righteousness' sake" - when we do justice.

When we stand with the oppressed, when we strengthen the weak and mediate for peace

The Beatitudes invite us to be instruments of God in the world.

They represent the diversity of our response as he calls us to walk with him in justice and kindness

They are a clear, straightforward message of “God’s heart and desire” for His people

            It is a vision of the Kingdom of God

We, present day Farringdonians, developed a vision statement almost three years ago

And I believe it too carries with it a vision of the Kingdom of God on earth

It goes as follows:

By 2012, we will build a more inclusive committed and caring church

That engages our intergenerational communities, shares our story,

Demonstrates a Christ-like way of living and facilitates spiritual growth

The past 2 & 3/4 years have been a busy time

            And maybe we picked an optimistic time frame

However, we have begun on many important areas and we are taking strides towards our collective vision

And don’t let the date be a stumbling block, we continue towards the vision

I would like to also tell you that when I was being beginning here at Farringdon – I believe God granted me a vision of what Curch,and specially Farringdon Church could be

It came in the form of a book that I read titled “The Living Church” and the main essence of it was first delivered in a sermon by The Reverend John Stott

I have shared this with you before… but on this All Saints Day – when we consider the saints that have gone before us

When we imagine that great cloud of saints present and all around us – when we consider their hopes, their dreams and their vision for Farringdon church

It is fitting that we reconsider again this vision for our church

It intentionally shares style with The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s – “I have a dream” speech in Washington D.C.

Here is a vision of the church for us to strive together, going forward – and of what Farringdon is to mean to its community

I have a Vision of a Church which is a biblical church

–        Which is loyal in every particular way to the revelation of God in scripture,

–        Whose people love the word of God, and adorn it with an obedient and Christ-like life,

–        Which is preserved from all unbiblical emphases,

–        Whose whole life manifests the health and beauty of biblical balance.

I have Vision of a biblical church

I have Vision of a church which is a worshipping church

–        Whose people come together to meet God and worship him,

–        Who know God is always in their midst

–        Who bow down before Him in great humility,

–        Who enrich the worship with their musical skills,

–        Who believe in prayer and lay hold of God in prayer,

–        Whose worship is expressed not in Sunday services and prayer gatherings only – but also in their homes, their weekday work and the common things of life.

I have Vision of a worshipping church

I have a Vision of a church which is a caring church

–        Whose congregation is drawn from many races, nations, ages and social backgrounds, and exhibits the unity and diversity of the family of God,

–        Whose fellowship is warm and welcoming, and never marred by anger, selfishness, jealousy or pride,

–        Which offers friendship to the lonely, support to the weak, and acceptance to those who are despised and rejected by society,

–        Whose love spills over to the world outside

I have a Vision of a caring church

I have a Vision of a church which is a serving church

–        Which has seen Christ as the Servant and has heard His call to be a servant too,

–        Whose members obey Christ’s command to live in the world, to permeate society, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world,

–        Whose people share the good news of Jesus simply, naturally and enthusiastically with their friends,

–        Which diligently serves its own community, residents and workers, families and single people, nationals and immigrants, old folk and little children,

I have a Vision of a serving church

I have a Vision of a church which is an expectant church

–        Which is all the more faithful and active because it is waiting and looking for its Lord to return,

–        Which keeps the flame of the Christian hope burning brightly in a dark, despairing world,

–        Which on the day of Christ will not shrink from Him in shame, but rise up joyfully to greet him

I have a Vision of a church which is an expectant church

Such is John Stott’s Vision of a living church

–        such is my Vision of Farringdon as a living church

–        and I hope and pray that such is your vision for Farringdon Independent Church as church alive with the Holy Spirit

                                    May all of us share this Vision, and under God –May the Vision come true!

If you believe in this vision will join with me in closing this sermon as God’s people united people and say:

“We will with God’s help! Amen” - “We will with God’s help! Amen”


[1] Farringdon Church – Its History and background from 1833 to 1977; compiled by Mary B. Stedman

[2] Farringdon Church – Its History and background from 1833 to 1977; compiled by Mary B. Stedman

[3] Farringdon Church – Its History and background from 1833 to 1977; compiled by Mary B. Stedman

[4] Farringdon Church – Its History and background from 1833 to 1977; compiled by Mary B. Stedman

[5] Farringdon Church – Its History and background from 1833 to 1977; compiled by Mary B. Stedman

[6] Farringdon Church – Its History and background from 1833 to 1977; compiled by Mary B. Stedman

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