PASTORAL LETTER JANUARY – FEBRUARY 2017
When driving the car, I am usually tuned in to the Classic FM radio station. Since the beginning of December the music played was almost totally focussed on Christmas – with repeated renditions of The Messiah and other oratorios, well-known and not-so-well-known carols, other Christmas songs. Listeners were invited send in their nominations for the favourite carol of 2016: the “winner” to be announced at Christmas.
In his little booklet “The Christmas Stories in Faith and Preaching”, the URC General Secretary Rev’d John Proctor writes: “shepherds and a star, wise men at the manger, oxen and asses gazing at the child, and winter’s snow on the ground outside – the Christmas story has itself a kind of snowball capacity. It all gets gathered and squeezed together, and picks up a good deal of material that did not originally belong to it.”
So with the Christmas songs: we sing about, “holly and ivy” “in the bleak mid-winter” “silent night” “we three kings” “see amid the winter snow” in many well-loved and beautiful carols in which well-known poets and composers have tried to add their take on the wondrous story of the Incarnation.
On Christmas Eve, Classic FM included the carol “Good King Wenceslas”. It was a pleasant surprise! The first time I have heard it this year, and quite some time we sang it in church; a song that we used sing regularly at school and in times past. However, it is now no longer included in many hymn-books. The carol written by the English hymn writer John Mason Neale first appeared in Carols for Christmas-Tide, 1853.
Why has this former popular carol lost favour? Although not directly associated with Christmas, this carol that tells a story of a Bohemian king going on a journey and braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (the day after Christmas). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by following the king’s footprints, step for step, through the deep snow.
I understand that Wenceslas was believed to be a duke in Bohemia in the 10th century, and after his death was considered a martyr and a saint and as a ”righteous king” whose power stems from his great piety.
As we enter the New Year of 2017, let us continue to celebrate the Son of God coming into our world by striving to follow His example in acts of friendship and kindness to those we meet – as did Wenceslas so long ago.
In her Christmas message, the Queen that she continued to be inspired by the stories of ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things’, saying that though we cannot end injustice on our own, the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness is bigger than we can imagine.”
She concluded “At Christmas, our attention is drawn to the birth of a baby some two thousand years ago. It was the humblest of beginnings, and his parents, Joseph and Mary, did not think that they were important. Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled very far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me to see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them, and whatever they themselves believe.”
Wishing all our readers a Very Happy New Year.
Mac Dunsmore, Church Secretary
Lectionary Readings January & February 2017
1st First Sunday after Christmas – Isaiah 63: 7 – 9; Psalm 148; Hebrews 2: 10 – 18; St Matthew 2: 13 – 23
The Naming of Jesus – Numbers 6: 22 – 27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4: 4 – 7 or Philippians 2: 5 – 11; St Luke 2: 15 – 21
New Year’s Day – Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 13; Psalm 8; Revelation 21: 1 – 6a; St Matthew 25: 31 – 46
6th Epiphany of the Lord – Isaiah 60: 1 – 6; Psalm 72: 1 – 7, 10 – 14; Ephesians 3: 1 – 12; St Matthew 2: 1 – 12
8th Baptism of the Lord – Isaiah 42: 1 – 9; Psalm 29; Acts 10: 34 – 43; St Matthew 3: 13 – 17
15th Isaiah 49: 1 – 7; Psalm 40: 1 – 11; 1 Corinthians 1: 1 – 9; St John 1: 29 – 42
22nd Isaiah 9: 1 – 4; Psalm 27: 1, 4 – 9; 1 Corinthians 1: 10 – 18; St Matthew 4: 12 – 23
29th Micah 6: 1 – 8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 31; St Matthew 5: 1 – 12
5th Isaiah 58: 1 – 9a (9b – 12); Psalm 112: 1 – 9, (10); 1 Corinthians 2: 1 – 12, (13 – 16); St Matthew 5: 13 – 20
12th Deuteronomy 30: 15 – 20; Psalm 119: 1 – 8; 1 Corinthians 3: 1 – 9; St Matthew 5: 21 – 37
19th Leviticus 19: 1 – 2, 9 – 18; Psalm 119: 33 – 40; 1 Corinthians 3: 10 – 11, 16 – 23; St Matthew 5: 38 – 48
26th Transfiguration of the Lord – Exodus 24: 12 – 18; Psalm 2; 2 Peter 1: 16 – 21; St Matthew 17: 1 – 9
1st Ash Wednesday – Joel 2: 1 – 2, 12 – 17 or Isaiah 58: 1 – 12; Psalm 51: 1 – 17; 2 Corinthians 5: 20b – 6: 10; St Matthew 6: 1 – 6, 16 – 21
5th Genesis 2: 15 – 17; 3: 1 – 7; Psalm 32; Romans 5: 12 – 19; St Matthew 4: 1 – 11
12th Genesis 12: 1 – 4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4: 1 – 5, 13 – 17; St John 3: 1 – 17
THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH VISION STATEMENT
Called to be God’s people, transformed by the Gospel,
making a difference in the world for Christ’s sake”
Your Roving Reporter is very used to visiting the Windermere Centre, both as a guest and as a volunteer, but I had a very different (and interesting) experience at the beginning of November. When someone feels the call to be a Minister they have to go through a series of interviews before they can be accepted for training. The people who are on the interview panels also have to be trained on how to conduct the interviews, what kind of things they should ask and what to look out for in the candidates, so ‘guinea pigs’ are needed for them to practice on and I was asked if I would be willing to be a guinea pig… Not really knowing what I was letting myself in for, I agreed.
I was told that I should create a character that was applying to train as a Non-Stipendiary Minister and to give myself an alias (so that I wouldn’t take it personally if I wasn’t accepted for training). I could invent a whole new background if I wanted to, as long as I could remember what I had put in the application form when I was being interviewed. On that basis, and the fact that I only had 2 or 3 days to complete the application form (which was quite long), write a report about myself of a local interview and a review of a service which I had taken (the last two would normally be written by someone else), I decided to keep to the truth as much as possible but changed my name to Margaret Croft and lied about my age so that I was young enough to enter training!
A couple of weeks later I arrived at the Windermere Centre and was given a double-sided name badge – my own name on the front to use most of the time, and Margaret Croft on the back for when I was being interviewed. After evening meal on the first evening, the trainees had a session on what kind of people are needed to be ordained Ministers, after all the attributes had been listed I think only St Peter & the Archangel Gabriel need apply! (And considering St Peter’s hasty reactions in some situations I’m not sure he would be accepted.) They had all been supplied with the paperwork for each of the candidates. The following day the trainees went through interview techniques & what questions they should ask and were split into 4 teams of 4 people to plan their first two interviews which would represent the Synod level. The guinea pigs then each had two interviews, the other three had all done it before so knew roughly what to expect. Although I had anticipated some of the questions there were others that I hadn’t thought about eg ‘How did you come to faith?’ or ‘Could you describe your personal faith in one sentence?’ I was really glad that I had kept mostly to the truth in my application form. After our evening meal, the interview panels discussed the interviews and wrote their reports, deciding whether or not the candidate should be passed on to the next stage. In some cases, they might suggest that the candidate needs a little more experience outside their own church before re-applying or that they are definitely not suitable for training.
In the morning the candidates had the opportunity to feed back on how they felt the interviewers had done, such as, had they all been introduced, were the questions clear etc. After that the trainees prepared for the Assessment Board interviews which would normally be done at a residential event where the candidates would be watched throughout to see how they interacted with other people etc – eg, someone who sat in a corner and didn’t speak to anyone probably wouldn’t make a good minister no matter how well they did in an interview. The guinea pigs then had two more interviews which probed more deeply into their experience & knowledge of the URC and included some questions which started ‘What would you do/say if…’ Luckily I could use some experience from being a manager at work for some of those and I have been to Area & Synod meetings so I know something about URC structures. The panels then had to produce the final report on each of the candidates which were read out in the final evening session. One of the course leaders had already told us the reports from the first stage interviews. Apparently in my first interview I seemed very nervous and as they didn’t feel they had got to know the ‘real’ Margaret Croft they didn’t recommend me for training (Yes – I was nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect and haven’t had a proper interview for years).
…and the final result? Well, Margery Pitcher knows a lot more about what people have to do before they are accepted for training as a minister and had to think about things that she had never put into words before, and Margaret Croft was accepted for training as a Non-Stipendiary Minister.
My challenge to you is ‘How would you describe your personal faith in one sentence?’
UPDATE NOV 2016 – ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY
NEW HOPE FOR ESMAT
Two years after war devastated large parts of the Gaza Strip, claiming more than 1,500 civilian lives, many farmers, herders and fishermen are still struggling to recover from the damage to their land and livelihoods. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, some 19,000 households dependent on farming, fishing or herding needed help right after the conflict to restore their means of earning a living. Israel’s illegal blockade also continues to stifle recovery for
1.8 million Palestinians in the region. Due to restrictions on the movement
of people and goods into Gaza, including essential items such as fuel and building materials, only 10% of homes destroyed in the conflict have been rebuilt and more than 80% of the population still depend heavily on aid.
Esmat Abu Quader’s farmland was badly damaged during the last offensive, and the irrigation network to his fields and protective fence bordering his lands were both destroyed. This damage prevented Esmat from working, and so he
struggled to provide for his family, including a disabled relative.
Christian Aid partner PARC has helped Esmat to restore his farm and resume farming by installing a new fence and irrigation network.
The rehabilitated farm has provided a livelihood for Esmat and a brighter future for his family. PARC is continuing to help farmers like Esmat and their families to repair damaged lands and livelihoods .In addition, it’s also helping to rehabilitate the farming sector by supporting people displaced by conflict to find short-term agricultural work, such as restoring fences, agricultural perimeters and irrigation channels.
Thank you so much for your support of partners like PARC through Commitment for Life, which gives families like Esmat’s a chance to recover and rebuild their lives.
The stories we hear and retell are important. They help us shape our thoughts, form our opinions and set the agenda. So when refugees are portrayed negatively in the media, their dignity is challenged. Today, more than 65 million people have been forced from their homes by violence, fear or desperation – each is deserving of safety, freedom and hope.
In times of political uncertainty at home, telling our message of shared humanity is more important than ever. Join us in changing the story about refugees: write to your newspaper and tell them that refugees deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion.
To help us change the story, go to: caid.org.uk/changethestory.
MESSAGES ON CHURCH SIGN BOARDS
The best vitamin for a Christian is B1
Under same management for over 2000 years
iPod? iPad? iPray.
Weather forecast – God reigns, Son shines.
Forbidden fruit creates many jams.
Maths lesson – 3 Nails + 1 Cross = 4 given.
Google can’t satisfy every search.
Thanks to Brampton Churches Newsletter
THE ALTO’S LAMENT
It’s tough to be an alto when you’re singing in the choir,
The sopranos get the twiddly bits that people all admire,
The basses boom like loud trombones, the tenors shout with glee,
But the alto part is on two notes (or, if you’re lucky, three).
And when we sing an anthem and we lift our hearts in praises,
The men get all the juicy bits and telling little phrases.
Of course the trebles sing the tune – they always come off best;
The altos only got three notes and twenty-two bars’ rest.
We practice very hard each week from hymn book and the Psalter,
But when the conductor looks at us our voices start to falter;
“Too high! Too low! Too fast – you hold that note too long”!
It doesn’t matter what we do – it’s certain to be wrong!
Oh! Shed a tear for altos, they’re the Martyrs and they know,
In the ranks of choral singers they’re considered very low.
They are so very ‘umble that a lot of folk forgot ’em;
How they’d love to be sopranos, but their vocal cords won’t let them!
And when the final trumpet sounds and we are wafted higher,
Sopranos, bases, tenors – they’ll be In the Heavenly choir.
While they sing “Alleluia” to celestial flats and sharps,
The altos will be occupied with polishing the harps
Our grateful thanks to all who supported our Autumn Fair on 12th November in any way. Cheques for £ 345.60 have been sent to both St Catherine’s and Derian House Hospices to support their most valuable work.
THE SMALLER BEATITUDES
Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves: they will have no end of fun.
Blessed are those who can tell a mountain from a molehill: they will be saved a lot of bother.
Blessed are those who know how to relax without looking for excuses: they are on the way to becoming wise.
Blessed are those who know when to be quiet and listen: they will learn a lot of new things.
Blessed are those who are sane enough not to take themselves too seriously: they will be valued by those about them.
Happy are you if you can take small things seriously and face serious things calmly: you will go far in life.
Happy are you if you can appreciate a smile and forget a frown: you will walk on the sunny side of the street.
Happy are you if you can be kind in understanding the attitudes of others: you may be taken for a fool, but this is the price of charity.
Happy are you if you know when to hold your tongue and smile: the Gospel has begun to seep into your heart.
Blessed are they who think before acting and pray before thinking: they will avoid may blunders.
Blessed are those you recognise the Lord in all whom they meet: the light of truth shines in their lives. They have found true wisdom.
MINISTRY OF FLOWERS
15th Jan Lindsay Heaton
22nd Jan ——
29th Jan Margery Pitcher
5th Feb Brian Fazackerley
12th Feb ——-
19th Feb Mac Dunsmore
26th Feb ——
5th Mar Lindsay Heaton
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Thy way, not mine, O Lord, however dark it be.
Lead me by thine own hand, choose out the path for me.
Smooth let it be or rough, it will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads right onward to thy rest.
Choose Thou for me my friends, my sickness or my health;
Choose thou my cares for me, my poverty or wealth.
Not mine, not mine the choice in things of great or small;
Be thou my guide, my strength, my wisdom, and my all.
SHIRLEY AND MARCY
A mother was concerned about her son walking to primary school. He didn’t want his mother to walk with him. She wanted to give him the feeling that he had some independence but yet know that he was safe. So she had an idea of how to handle it. She asked a neighbour if she would please follow him to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, so he probably wouldn’t notice her.
The neighbour said that since she was up early with her toddler anyway, it would be a good way for them to get some exercise as well, so she agreed.
The next school day, the neighbour and her little girl set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with another neighbour’s girl he knew. She did this for the whole week. As the two walked and chatted, kicking stones and twigs, Timmy’s little friend noticed the same lady was following them as she seemed to do every day all week. Finally she said to Timmy,’ Have you noticed that lady following us to school all week? Do you know her?’
Timmy nonchalantly replied, ‘Yeah, I know who she is.’
The little girl said, ‘Well, who is she?’
‘That’s just Shirley Goodnest,’ Timmy replied, ‘and her daughter Marcy.’
‘Shirley Goodnest?’ Who the heck is she and why is she following us?
‘Well,’ Timmy explained, ‘every night my Mum makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers, ‘cuz she worries about me so much. And in the Psalm, it says, ‘Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life’, so I guess I’ll just have to get used to it!’
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY 2017
THE 5 MARKS OF MISSION
- PROCLAIM the Good News of the Kingdom.
- To TEACH, baptise and nurture new believers.
- To RESPOND to human need by loving service.
- To TRANSFORM unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.
- To strive to SAFEGUARD the integrity of creation, and sustain the life of the Earth.
Thursday 19th January: St Anthony’s
Friday 20th January: St Clare’s
Monday 23rd January: Christ Church
Tuesday 24th January: St John’s Broughton
Wednesday 25th January: Fulwood Methodist
ALL SERVICES START AT 7.30pm
ROYAL PRESTON HOSPITAL INFORMATION DESK
More volunteers are still urgently needed to staff the Information Desk at the Hospital as for various reasons, a number of existing volunteers have been lost. Please consider and pray about the possibility of helping and speak to Vivien, Jean, or Mavis to learn more.
ROTAS FOR JANUARY – FEBRUARY 2017
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll
|Mavis Orrell & Greta Temperley
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll
|Richard & Frances Fraser
|Jean Dunsmore & Margery Pitcher
|Jean & Brian Fazackerley
|Mavis Orrell & Greta Temperley
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll
|Jean Dunsmore & Margery Pitcher
|Jean & Brian Fazackerley
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll
Tea, coffee, biscuits etc are supplied by the Church
If you are unable to attend when you are on duty,
please arrange a swap with someone and notify
Mac Dunsmore or Margery Pitcher.