In the July-August Newsletter we included an appeal for volunteers help the teams that produce recordings of the URC Reform magazine each month for blind and partially-sighted people. The recordings are made at Galloway’s Society for the Blind, Penwortham, on the second Monday of each month starting at 12 noon. The commitment would be only 3 or 4 Mondays per year. I am pleased that Fulwood URC has produced three volunteers. There is still time for one or two others. If you are interested, please speak to Mac.
2011 AND ALL THE 11’s
This year we are experiencing four unusual dates – 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11.
That’s not all…. Take the last two digits of the year you were born, now add the age you will be, or have become this year and the result will be 111 for everyone over the age of 12.
The Bible is a letter God has sent to us;
prayer is a letter we send to him.
Prayer is more than asking God to run errands
BIG DAY OUT AT MORECAMBE
On Saturday 9th July – the NW Synod’s Big Day Out, Margery, Jean & I drove by car from Fulwood to Morecambe, relieved to find a bright sunny morning in great contrast to the last Area Day in Morecambe when the rain had been horizontal. We arrived on Morecambe promenade to find musicians playing in a huge marquee with a large banner proclaiming “The United Reformed Church”, several stalls being set up and lots of people assembling for opening worship and greeting old friends with plenty of smiles.
After the short act of worship we were taken by coach (some chose to walk) to the churches of Christ Church, Sefton Road and Bare Methodist were a great variety of activities had been arranged from which we had pre-booked our selections. What a choice there was ! There was : Art Workshops, Fresh Expressions, Shawl Ministry, Kid’s Praise, Puppets, Pottery, Flag Worship, Gospel Magic, Messy Church, Line Dancing, Christian Clowning, Pilots, Puppets, Hymn Writing, Hymn Singing, Visual Worship and keynote sessions with Bishop Graham Cray and the URC’s General Secretary the Rev’d Roberta Rominger. – and that’s not the whole list.!!
We had chosen to attend the morning hymn-singing at Sefton Road led by Rev Robert Canham who had selected some well known and some not-so-well known hymns from Rejoice & Sing and gave a most interesting background to each. Then by bus to Christ Church to a thought provoking overview of the URC by our own General Secretary After our packed lunches, we joined the other eight brave souls who had opted for the hymn-writing session led by Rev’d Peter Sharp – who appropriately challenged us to write hymn verses to the tune “Bring me Sunshine” immortalized by the late, great Mr. Eric Morecambe. Fortunately is was not possible to include our final effort in the closing worship or we could have been on the stage! Having enjoyed Robert’s morning hymn singing, we opted for the afternoon session having been assured that all the hymns were different.
Rev’d Helen and Colin had travelled by minibus with our friends from Christ Church Longridge and attended some of the many other events. Vivien, Elizabeth and Norman came in the afternoon You can ask them what they enjoyed. Others said how much they had thoroughly enjoyed the whole range of activities and it’s not easy to choose the most popular.
For me, the highlight was undoubtedly the closing worship. Held in the open-sided marquee, right alongside the promenade, with the United Reformed Church banner declaring who we were to the many people passing along the prom in the evening sunshine and the strains of “How Great Thou Art “clearly heard by all, it was memorable and an inspired choice of venue by the organizing committee to whom we are much indebted for an excellent Big Day Out.
BIG DAY OUT – HYMN WRITING WORKSHOP
Rev’d Peter Sharp (Minister at Penrith & Penruddock) who ran the workshop prepared verse 1 as a prompt – verses 2 and 3 were composed by the two teams of five, one verse each.
1 Poised for worship on the prom,
greet your neighbour with “Shalom!”
May the peace of the Lord
melt all bitterness and feud,
let the power of God’s word
leave your outlook all transfigured.
2 God empowers to be strong,
give us help in righting wrong;
where injustice prevails
may we not draw back in fear,
and where our courage fails
may we feel your presence near us:
3 When the Spirit’s close to us,
we will know then there’s no fuss;
for in Christ we depend
to support us to the end,
he’s my life,
he’s my Saviour,
Christ my Friend.
Sung to the tune “Bring Me Sunshine“ and with apologies to the late, great Mr Eric Morecambe
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
Mother Theresa once said: “we cannot go great deeds, but we can do small deeds with great love.” That’s something to remember in our daily life. What good are great public efforts if they are fuelled by personal ambition or a desire to rule? If you are not personally kind, what good does it do you?
The Bible says: ”If I a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, and have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13: ,3 NIV)
Who can you show some love to, today?
During July Preston Muslim Forum held three workshops under the title of“Unveiling Islam”. One hundred and forty five people attended the three workshops including local councillors, police officers, council staff and members of Preston ’s diverse communities. The three workshops hosted by Christ Church, Fulwood and Emmanuel churches and the Harris Library explored the themes; “Islam in Britain ”, “Jesus in Islam” and “ Building Bridges : Our Shared Heritage” All workshops were led by Ali Amla, a freelance consultant and facilitator and each concluded with a lively Q&A session, discussing topics such as integration, citizenship, cohesion, shariah law and its compatibility with a liberal democracy, equality, interfaith and the roles of Muslims in Britain .
Rev’d Peter Hamborg said “Ali hosted a stimulating evening at Christ Church entitled “Islam in Britain.” He painted for us a very enlightening picture of Britain ‘s mixed history with Islam, one that was far more balanced than the largely negative portrayal we so often receive through the media. This led well into some further presentation regarding the diverse and complex reality of British Islam today, followed by some quite vigorous discussion which Ali handled with expertise, sensitivity, and nuance.”
The second workshop explored the subject of Jesus in Islam, Rev’d Stephen Johnson commented on the workshop by saying, “Tonight has been a real opportunity to see the human face of a world wide religion. Ali’s personal view of his faith opened up many areas of common interest between Christian’s and our Muslim friends. It showed how a meaningful discussion can be had – without ignoring our obvious differences. In the end communities can only thrive if people talk to people – and resist the temptation to fall back on misleading stereotypes.”
I was able to attend both the first and second workshops and was impressed by the common interest in learning and discussing in a safe and friendly atmosphere
The third and final workshop was titled “Building Bridges: Our shared Heritage” which explored the positive impact of Islam and Muslims upon civilisation and the common ground that exists between followers of the Abrahamic faiths. Ali Amla, said “Unveiling Islam was a great opportunity to demystify Islam by creating a safe space to speak about faith, practice, diversity and an opportunity to answer questions that naturally comes to ones mind in the modern society. All the workshops have been very well attended and I have been touched by the large numbers of people wanting more workshops. This has shown the appetite for dialogue that exists within Preston & Lancashire, which I plan to cater for in the future.”
More recently, Rev’d Helen and Colin have taken part in a Ramadan day of fasting which Helen describes in her Pastoral Letter.
If your family had a holiday home in a beautiful part of the country, wouldn’t you want to visit it regularly? Well, your church family does – so why don’t you take advantage?
The Windermere Centre is owned by the United Reformed Church and can be visited by anyone, whether they are a member of the URC or not. A range of courses are arranged by the Centre such as Spirituality, Mission & Evangelism, Bible & Theology but don’t be put off by these – you aren’t expected to know the Bible verse by verse or have a theology degree to go on these, they are an opportunity to find out more.
There are also less studious courses based around Arts & Crafts, Fellowship or Outdoor activities but whichever type of course you choose there is a friendly peaceful atmosphere but usually with plenty of laughter.
If none of the courses appeal to you can just go to the Centre for B&B, half board or full board if rooms are available. There are single or twin rooms (and a few family rooms) all of which are en-suite and the food is excellent (special diets can be accommodated). There is also free Wi-Fi if you have a wireless laptop etc. You can even book in for a Christmas lunch.
Some people think that those who go to a Church run centre must be a strange breed but the people who do go to the Windermere Centre are as normal as you. Well… as normal as Helen, Viv, Mac & me so you can make up your own mind on how normal that is!
If you want any more information, have a look at the programme on the notice board in the foyer, check the website at windermere.urc.org.uk, or ask Mac or me.
Go on, give it a try – it’s only an hour away!
In July, fifteen of our members and friends enjoyed a good lunch and excellent fellowship at Ferrari’s Restaurant, Longridge on a lovely day which showed the surrounding country –side at its best.
We resume our evening meetings on Thursday, 8th September when the speaker will be another of our friends from Fulwood Methodist Church, Mr Allan Clarke, who will tell us about his experiences as a Police Officer and a Sailor.
At our meeting on Thursday, 13th October, we have a Hot Pot Supper followed by a simple Table Top Games Evening.
Rev’d Nigel Lemon will give an illustrated talk entitled “Building for Dissent” on Thursday 10th November – a talk about chapels from our own and other related denominations.
On Thursday, 8th December Pat Ascroft will speak to us – the subject is yet to be decided but you can be sure that whatever it is it will be interesting
We will take a collection on behalf of the speaker’s chosen charity.
“Vision without action is merely a dream.
Action without vision just passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world.”
THE GREEN THING
In the queue at the shop, the cashier told the older lady that she should bring her own bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.
The lady apologised to him and explained, “We didn’t have the GREEN thing in my day”.
The cashier responded, “That’s our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment!”
He was right, that generation didn’t have the GREEN thing in its day, back then, they returned their milk bottles, lemonade bottles, and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over, so they really were recycled.
But they didn’t have the GREEN thing back in that customer’s day.
In her day they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every shop and office building. They walked to the grocery shop and didn’t climb in to a 300 horsepower machine every time they had to go two miles.
But she was right. They didn’t have the GREEN thing in her day.
Back then, they washed the baby’s nappies because they didn’t have the throw away-kind. They dried clothes on a line not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 2000 watts – wind and solar power did dry the clothes.
Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers and sisters, not always brand new clothing.
But that old lady is right, they didn’t have the GREEN thing back in her day.
Back then they had one TV or radio in her house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief not a screen the size of Wales. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for them.
When they packaged a fragile item to send in the post, they used a screwed up old newspaper to cushion it, not polystyrene or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the grass. They used a push n puff mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she’s right, they didn’t have the GREEN thing back then.
They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor because the blade got dull.
But they didn’t have the GREEN thing back then.
Back then, people took the tram or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode in the school bus instead of turning their mums into a 24hr taxi service. They had one electric socket in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances, and they didn’t need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest Pizza Hut. But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks have been just because they didn’t have the green thing back then?
Here’s one they forgot:
We didn’t recycle newspapers by putting them in a GREEN BOX so a huge wagon could collect them – we hung them in the loo!!!
From the ASOC magazine. Thanks to Brian Fazackerley
After the fall in Garden of Eden, Adam was walking with his sons Cain and Abel. They passed by the ruins of the Garden of Eden. One of the boys asked, “What’s that?” Adam replied, “Boys, that’s where your mother ate us out of house and home
COFFEE DRINKERS TAKE NOTE !
As a coffee-drinker for pretty much every day of her adult life, actress Hayley Atwell thought she knew what coffee meant to her. A job at 18 for a coffee chain in west London helped finance a RADA Shakespeare course and a trip to find an agent in Los Angeles.
That investment has paid off as Hayley– who will appear on the big screen in the forthcoming summer blockbuster – Captain America – has since worked with Woody Allen, Ralph Fiennes, Keira Knightley, Colin Farrell and Emma Thompson in movies such as Brideshead Revisited and The Duchess, and been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in TV drama The Pillars of the Earth. She also starred in the BAFTA award-winning Any Human Heart.
Now a visit to Christian Aid partner Soppexcca in the northern Nicaraguan region of Jinotega has changed her perspective on coffee again. Soppexcca is a collective of coffee-farming cooperatives that previously struggled to access a fair price for their beans. Christian Aid has supported them since 2001. Some villages, for example in Los Alpes, have benefitted hugely with a school, which was built by parents on the back of proceeds from coffee. Other children, such as those in La Paz del Tuma, are currently educated in a storage unit once used to house chemicals. The community in La Paz have just started to work with Soppexcca four years ago, and plan to build a school of their own with proceeds from what they grow. Soppexcca also bought a coffee mill, which provides employment for thousands, including many women whose status has improved because of their employment.
Hayley did an afternoon’s work at the mill and returned to write an article for the BBC news website, discussed her trip on Radio 5 Live and was featured in Hello! during Christian Aid Week.
She said: ‘I never thought when I was working in a coffee shop in my late teens that I would see for myself how important coffee could be to poor communities in Nicaragua. I’ve seen how Christian Aid’s approach to helping people work their way out of poverty can make a dramatic difference to their lives. The people I met did not want handouts, just help to get their own business off the ground, the profits from which they have used to benefit the whole community.’ See www.caweek.org
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
The Message In a Bottle scheme, supported by many Lions Clubs, is a simple idea designed to encourage people to keep their personal and medical details on a standard form and in a common location – the Fridge. Whilst it is focused on the more vulnerable people in our community, anyone can have an accident at home, so this scheme can benefit anyone, including you. Fill in the form provided – put the bottle in the fridge – place one green sticker on the inside of the front door- place the other on the outside of the fridge. As a minimum it will save the Emergency Services valuable time identifying you and your emergency contacts. By telling whether you have special medication or allergies or not, it is a potential lifesaver and provides peace of mind to users and their friends and families. Bottles are available in the foyer.
The Craft Group have already started preparing for Christmas by making cards which will be on sale at the Coffee & Craft afternoon on 22nd October as well as at the Advent Fair. We have also been making other items which will be ideal for Christmas gifts. Another project will be to make some decorations to put up in church during advent so why not come and join us at one of our regular meetings or to the Coffee & Craft afternoon. Don’t forget that cards are on sale in foyer weekly, but if you need one for a special event, why not ask if we can produce a customised card?
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
The Annual Songs of Praise service will be held at St Cuthbert’s on Sunday 16th October at 3.00 Please note CTFB are planning an Ecumenical Service at the Guild Hall at 3.00pm on 22 January 2012 to mark Unity Week and the start of Preston Guild Year
Heavenly Father, we remember before you in prayer all the members and friends of our Church fellowship. We ask you to be especially near to those who are in ill-health, those who are anxious or worried, those awaiting hospital results or preparing for hospital treatment, those who are missing their loved ones. Bless those who live alone and those no longer able to come to Church and assure them of your love and nearness.
Help all of us to me more aware of the needs of our friends and neighbours and to do whatever we can to show your love and care to all whom we meet.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
A teenager had just passed his driving test. He asked his father, who was a minister, if they could discuss the use of the car. His father took him into the study and said to him, “I’ll make a deal with you. If you pass your exams, study your Bible and get your hair cut, we’ll talk about it”.
After a month the boy came back to his father and asked his father again to discuss the use of the car. His father said, “I’m very proud of you. You’ve passed your exams, studied your Bible but you didn’t get your hair cut.
The boy waited a moment and then replied, “Well Dad, I’ve been thinking about that. You know Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, even Jesus had long hair”.
To which his father replied, “Yes and they walked everywhere!”
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE… (MUCH!)
GOD AND NOAH
One day God calls down to Noah and says “Noah me old china, I wants you to make me a new Ark”.
Noah replies, “No probs God, me old Supreme Being, anything you want after all you’re the boss”.
God then adds – “Ah but there’s a catch this time Noah, I want not just a couple of decks, I want 20 decks one on top of the other”.
“TWENTY DECKS!” screams Noah, “TWENTY DECKS! … Well, OK Big Man, whatever you say, should I fill it up with animals just like last time?”
“Yep, that’s right, well ….. sort of right…….this time I want you to fill it up with fish” God answers.
“Fish?” Queries Noah, stunned. “FISH?”
“Yep, fish … well, to make it more specific Noah, I want wall to wall, floor to ceiling – CARP!”
Noah looks to the skies, “OK God my old mucker, let me get this right. You want a New Ark?”
“With 20 decks, one on top of the other?”
“And you want it full of Carp?”
“But why?” asks the perplexed Noah, who was slowly but surely getting to the end of his tether.
“Dunno” says God. “I just fancied a …. Multi-Storey Carp Ark!!!”
Thanks to Andover URC
A woman went to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards. “What denomination?” asked the clerk. “Oh, good heavens! Have we come to this?” said the woman. “Well, give me 50 Catholic and 50 Baptist ones.”
Whenever we make one of our regular visits to the URC Windermere Centre, we always make sure we pick up a copy of the latest Carver Calendar – the bi-monthly magazine shared by the Centre and Carver Church. In addition to learning about the recent developments at Windermere, and catching up on current and forthcoming courses, the regular thought-provoking articles written by Lawrence Moore, the Director of the Windermere Centre and one of the URC 2012 Moderators elect, are always worth reading and usually very challenging – we have on odd occasions included some extracts in past Newsletters with Lawrence’s permission.
Lawrence has recently agreed that his past articles can be downloaded and used in other church newsletters – either in part or in full. We include in full his article entitled “Forgiveness” with grateful thanks.
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. It wasn’t a question about how to say prayers, but rather one of what to pray for. They knew something important about prayer: among other things, prayer is aligning our will and heart and thoughts with those of God. What they were asking, therefore, was ‘What does God want for us and of us?’
Jesus answered, ‘Pray in this way: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us”’. Isn’t it interesting that, of the whole Lord’s Prayer, Jesus feels the need to comment only on this one petition about mutual forgiveness? When he has finished the Lord’s Prayer, he adds the comment, ‘’For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ (Matthew 6: 14-15).
That’s because forgiveness is hard. It is costly. It requires letting go of the hurt and offence that has been caused to us by someone else. It means letting go of our right to hold them to account and demand that they make right what they have done. It means saying that restoring relationship is more important to us than feeling offended and demanding justice. There’s something unnatural about forgiveness – something that goes against human nature. And that is because, as Jesus reminds us, it is about God’s nature rather than our own. It’s about love and grace and vulnerability.
Forgiveness is all about relationship. To be in relationship to someone else is to expose ourselves to risk, because we allow what the other person says and does to us to matter. We can’t be indifferent. We are vulnerable to the other person; what they do affects us.
What happens when people ‘trespass against us’ (as the old English so poetically puts it) is that relationship is spoiled and interrupted. In serious cases, it is destroyed. We’ve all heard and probably said ourselves; ‘I can’t forgive them for that!’ There’s a piece of scar tissue there – a hurt that will never go away, and which prevents us from having the same close relationship we used to enjoy with them. We can’t look at them or converse with them without being aware of that offence eating away at us. We talk about ‘never being able to look at them in the same way again’. Something has altered irrevocably. Something good and lovely has died.
Forgiveness makes possible new relationship beyond this death of the old that has been caused by the actions of someone else. If the ruining of a relationship is its crucifixion, then forgiveness is its Easter Sunday.
Forgiveness is at the heart of the cross. At the Last Supper, Jesus calls the cup ‘The New Covenant sealed in my blood, shed for many for the forgiveness of sin’. And on the cross, in Luke’s Easter story, Jesus prays, ‘Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing!’
On the cross, Jesus becomes the victim of our sin. What that means is that somehow, the whole sorry human history of rebellion against God culminates in our cry, ‘Crucify him!’ This is our Last Word to God when God comes visiting in Jesus. All of our godlessness and refusal of love and grace and Life is focussed against Jesus. And, as the ultimate victim of human sin, with every right to hold it against us, Jesus chooses to forgive – and ask God, too, to forgive us.
That is Amazing Grace! And, in the words of the song, it saves wretches like you and me who would otherwise be left trying to exist in the ashes of our relationship with God and one another. Instead, a new power is unleashed: the power of Resurrection. New Life is possible when the old has been utterly and unalterably trashed.
It is the cross that interprets Jesus’ teaching about forgiveness. There are two possible ‘laws’ to live by: the law of justice and just deserts, where we have to bear the consequences of all our destructive actions and spoiled relationships, or the law of grace and forgiveness, where we offer and receive forgiveness and Life freely. We choose which one to live by, in relation both to God and to other people.
Under what conditions ought we to forgive others? None, says Jesus. Forgiveness is unconditional! It is dependent on the other person being sorry, or asking for forgiveness. That’s the point about Jesus praying for our forgiveness on the cross: it is offered freely, whether or not it is asked for or even wanted. It’s a conscious choice we make neither to hold something against someone, nor to ask God to hold it against them either. It’s pure grace.
Remember, though: forgiveness is about relationship. It is something that ‘happens’ between two people or two parties. That means that for forgiveness to become effective, it needs to be received. Forgiveness unleashes its healing, creating power when the other person responds in repentance. That involves remorse and restitution – making things right. It involves changing the destructive behaviour, and covenanting not to repeat it. That’s when reconciliation can take place.
Forgiveness isn’t dependent upon repentance; rather, repentance is a response to forgiveness and encountering grace. Until then, forgiveness is caught in the ‘gap’ between being offered and received. Forgiveness makes new relationship possible, but new relationship ‘happens’ when forgiveness issues in repentance and reconciliation.
We can’t legislate how people will respond to forgiveness. All we can do is to offer it freely. That isn’t easy. It opens us to rebuff and abuse. It makes us vulnerable to fresh hurt. But then, the cross wasn’t easy – and we are followers of the One who walked the Way of the Cross. We know one thing, though: it is the Way to Life! May God grant us the grace to walk it too.