April-May 2021 Newsletter

APRIL – MAY 2021

Dear Friends 

We seem to be in the middle of a period of anniversaries – some usual, others not so usual.

At the Mission Partnership Zoom Coffee Morning last Friday, Revd Daleen led a short service of remembrance for the first anniversary of lockdown.  We were invited to light a candle to remember those who have died during the pandemic, those who are still suffering from long-covid, and to stand with those who grieve.  I was pleased to be able to find my candle – given to me by the URC in 2012 to commemorate “40 years of inspiration” since the formation of the United Reformed Church.  So next year, 2022, will be another anniversary – 50 years of the URC.

On mid-Lent Sunday, we were of course unable to celebrate Mothering Sunday in the usual way. We are very grateful to Margery for delivering bunches of daffodils to those she was able to safely reach. (You’ll have to ask Margery herself about the disaster which befell the usual simnel cake this year!)

Palm Sunday is the anniversary of the last service conducted in our own church by our own minister in 2013 – eight years of vacancy.  The pastoral profile for the second minister to the South Lancashire Missional Partnership is now of the Moderators’ Vacancy list, as it has been for some time. We hope and pray, along with our partner churches, that the vacancy can be suitably filled in the not too distant future.

As the Prime Minister’s Road Map for lifting Covid-19 restrictions proceeds, we have been looking for a date to safely re-open Church for worship, bearing in mind it is the data and not the dates that are critical.

We have recently received an e-mail from the Synod Moderators of the URC giving guidance on the re-opening of churches for public worship and other activities. They want to urge continued caution in making such plans, taking into consideration relevant Government guidance, local variants of the virus and updated risk assessment etc.  The Elders’ have already agreed that Easter Sunday is too soon to safely re-open and are currently have targeted Pentecost Sunday (23rd May) as a possible date for the resumption of in-person worship – this still requires confirmation.  After all, Pentecost is “the Church’s Birthday” when we celebrate how the Holy Spirit brought new life into the Church and drove the message of the Good News about Jesus into the world. The Church’s birthday – another anniversary!

With Easter Blessings!   

In the meantime     Stay hopeful     Stay safe      

                                           Mac Dunsmore, Church Secretary

 

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URC DAILY DEVOTIONS

Every morning URC Daily Devotions offers a short Bible reading,
reflection, and prayer to help shine Christ’s light in our daily lives.
These are written by a team of over one hundred writers of
different places and perspectives from around the United Reformed Church.

You can receive Daily Devotion by email by signing at  devotions.urc.org.uk

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Remember the poor and the dispossessed:

think – give – love

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Solidarity with the people of Gaza during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown

Gaza’s healthcare system does not have the capacity to deal with an outbreak of the virus.  Healthcare facilities are already on the verge of collapse due to long-term closure and Israeli-blockade on the Gaza Strip.  There are shortages of medical resources such as intensive care unit beds, ventilators, medical oxygen and testing kits.  Living conditions in the Gaza Strip contribute to the spread of the virus.  Gaza has one of the highest population densities in the world and isolation is therefore not always a real option for many Gazans.

Community outreach by Christian Aid’s partners during the pandemic
Christian Aid’s partners have been adapting their work in Gaza since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.  As community centres closed, children and youth were kept engaged at home through online lessons and activities.  Women have been able to access remote support to cope with added pressures and the rise in gender-based violence.  With funding through Irish Aid, our partner The Agricultural Development Association (PARC) is meeting both short and longer-term needs.

On the 5th and 19th August, 400 vulnerable households in Gaza received two rounds of food parcels, delivered to their door, with fresh produce and dried goods.  The products were purchased from small-scale farmers and women-led cooperatives, to support them through the economic consequences of the pandemic. 

This activity has become even more important, as Gaza’s fear of community spread of c19 has come true.  As positive cases were identified in different parts of Gaza at the end of August, a state of emergency and full lockdown have been imposed.

Through humanitarian access, PARC continues to support more families, including those who have recently lost their daily wage because of the curfew.  Farmers are supported to reach markets to sell their produce, to use their right to access further funding and help them plant for the next agricultural season, to fee the food-insecure.

The people of Gaza are used to tough times and remain unbelievably hopeful and resilient.  Commitment for Life continues to value your prayers and support, showing solidarity with our Palestinian partners and the people of Gaza.  This is particularly crucial given how fragile life is right now.

This article is based on Commitment for Life’s update on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories:  Moving Stories Nov/Dec 2020.  Pat Harman (link person for Commitment for Life at Trinity URC)

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 LECTIONARY READINGS – APRIL & MAY 2021

April

4th Easter Day  Acts 10: 34 – 43 or Isaiah 25: 6 – 9; Psalm 118: 1 – 2, 14 – 24; 1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 11 or Acts 10: 34 – 43; St John 20: 1 – 18 or St Mark 16: 1 – 8
     Easter Evening  Isaiah 25: 6 – 9; Psalm 114; 1 Corinthians 5: 6b – 8; St Luke   24: 13 – 49

God of resurrection, ever renewing, ever reviving, we adore you for your life-giving presence. Son of Man, newly risen, sorrow made joy, we adore you for your sacrificial living and dying. Holy Spirit, breezing among us this Easter morn, we adore you for breathing new life into us. Amen.

 

11th Second Sunday of Easter  Acts 4: 32 – 35; Psalm 133 or Isaiah 65: 17 – 25; Psalm 3; 1 John 1: 1 – 2: 2; St John 20: 19 – 31

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the example of Thomas who had the courage to test the truth of what he’d been told, even if it meant he had to stand alone. We thank you for the example of the other disciples and Jesus, who did not reject Thomas but helped him find what he needed to believe. Amen

 

18th Third Sunday of Easter  Acts 3: 12 – 19; Psalm 4 or Isaiah 6: 1 – 9a; Psalm 40: 1 – 5; 1 John 3: 1 – 7; St Luke 24: 36b – 48

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Peace be with you’ – they responded with turmoil.  Jesus said, ‘Have you anything to eat?’ – they served him fish.  Jesus opened their minds – they became his witnesses.  So, Lord, may we too find peace in your service,
with opened minds and hearts on fire.  Amen.

 

25th Fourth Sunday of Easter  Acts 4: 5 – 12; Psalm 23 or Zechariah 10; Psalm 80: 1 – 7; 1 John 3: 16 – 24; St John 10: 11 – 18

 Lord, we adore you, our Good Shepherd; always there, always watchful.  Your fold is the space you hold for us, where we know we are loved.  Although dangers surround us, and in foolishness we may stray, you have our back.  So many sheep, yet you know us all by name.  Lord, we adore you, our Good Shepherd.  Amen

 

May

2nd Fifth Sunday of Easter  Acts 8: 26 – 40; Psalm 22: 25 – 31 or Exodus 19: 1 – 6; Psalm 118: 19 – 25; 1 John 4: 7 – 21; St John 15: 1 – 8

Lord, we thank you that when our faith becomes straggly, you prune it with your wisdom; when it becomes malnourished, you nurture it with your grace; when it becomes brittle, you strengthen it with your truth; when it becomes barren, you restore it with your life-giving energy, forgiveness and love. Amen.

 

9th Sixth Sunday of Easter  Acts 10: 44 – 48; Psalm 98 or Genesis 35: 9 – 15; Psalm 101; 1 John 1: 1 – 6; St John 15: 9 – 17

God of all, we give you thanks for the gift of friendship: for the giving and the receiving; for the opportunities and the challenges; for the laughter and the tears; for the conversations and the silence; for the moments and the memories. Draw us deeper into your love, and bless us with the confidence to proclaim Jesus as our dearest friend, teacher and Saviour. We ask this in his name.  Amen.

 

13th Ascension Day  Acts 1: 1 – 11; Psalm 47 or 93 or Daniel 7: 9 – 14; Psalm 68: 15 – 20, 32 – 35; Ephesians 1: 15 – 23; St Luke 24: 44 – 53

God of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask for a spirit of revelation as we come to know you; open our eyes to the hope you have called us to, and the greatness of your power for we who believe, so that with you at the centre of our lives we may live and die for you and bring others into the circle of your love. Amen.

 

16th Seventh Sunday of Easter  Acts 1: 15 – 17, 21 – 26; Psalm 1 or Jeremiah 10: 1 – 10a; Psalm 108; 1 John 5: 9 – 13; St John 17: 6 -19

Lord Jesus, as your disciples in the world today, we thank you that your word of truth, your prayer of power and your heart of love, continue to protect, inspire and unite us as we live out our faith, build up our relationships, and hold the world before you in prayer. Amen.

 

23rd Pentecost Sunday  Acts 2: 1 – 21 or Ezekiel 37: 1 – 14; Psalm 104: 24 – 34, 35b; Romans 8: 22 – 27 or Acts 2: 1 – 21; St John 15: 26 – 27; 16: 4b – 15

We praise you, God of all time, for speaking to us through the tongues of Pentecost, for stirring our longings with the excitement of Pentecost, for uniting our communities with the inclusiveness of Pentecost.  Fill our lives, we pray, with the enormity of Pentecost, until they overflow with compassion and commitment to care for and celebrate all creation to the glory of your name. Amen.

 

30th Trinity Sunday    Isaiah 6: 1 – 8; Psalm 29; Romans 8: 12 – 17; St John 3: 1 – 17

God of the Living Word, we praise you for the gift of Scripture – for the truths it invites us to embrace; for the questions that echo our own; for the conversations that puzzle and enlighten us; for the encounters that inspire and inform us; for the certainty, the mystery, the grace. We praise you, today and always.  Amen.

 

June

6th 1 Samuel 8: 4 – 11, (12 – 15), 16 – 20, (11: 14 – 15); Psalm 138 or Genesis 3: 8 – 15; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 4: 13 – 5: 1; St Mark 3: 20 – 35

God of all the world, we praise you for calling us into your family, for choosing us even though we are imperfect, for trusting us even though we make mistakes, for not giving up on us even when we give up on ourselves, for offering so much more – even when we would settle for less. God of all the world, for drawing us into a deeper relationship with you and with one another, we praise you – individually and together, we praise you. Amen.

 

13th  1 Samuel 15: 34 – 16: 13; Psalm 20 or Ezekiel 17: 22 – 24; Psalm 92: 1 – 4, 12 – 15; 2 Corinthians 5: 6 – 10, (11 – 13), 14 – 17; St Mark 4: 26 – 34

God of mystery, Sower, Saviour, Spirit, we worship you; and we ask you to give us: eyes to notice where the seeds of your kingdom are growing, courage to show them to others, faith enough to help nurture them, and a heart that delights in their harvest. Amen.

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Back to Church

Although Covid lockdown is gradually easing, there are still restrictions for church services which includes a limit on the numbers attending and that there should still be social distancing.  While this wouldn’t be a problem for our usual congregation, we still wouldn’t be able to mix with each other and chat before or after the service and congregational singing isn’t allowed… and we couldn’t have an Easter Sunday service without singing Alleluia a few times!

The Elders agreed that it would be better to wait until at least Pentecost Sunday before we resume services and this is in line with the advice sent out by the URC Moderators.  By that time most of us will have been offered our first vaccination and many of us will have had both.  We pray that we will be able to meet again soon but our primary concern is for the safety of all our members and realise that some people will be very cautious initially.

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Free Will Offering envelopes

The envelopes for 2021 have been prepared so if you would like your set, please contact Mac or Margery and we can deliver or send your set.  Alternatively you can save up your collections and collect the envelopes once we are back at church.

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Charity donations

We normally support various charities through our Communion Sunday retiring collections and our Coffee mornings/Bring & Buys.  Obviously we only managed 3 collections last year but we were able to match the previous year’s donations from these collections and room rental.  We have received letters of thanks from Commitment for Life; The Poppy Appeal; Christian Aid; UNICEF (Mites appeal); Bible Society; St Catherine’s hospice; Derian House children’s hospice; Embrace the Middle East.

We will miss several months of collections this year too, so if you would like to make a contribution, please contact Viv or save it until we are back in church. Once we are back to worshipping in church, rather than having a retiring collection for a specific charity at Communion services it will just be a ‘charity collection’ and at the end of the year the donations will be shared between our usual recipients.

                        On behalf of these charities, Thank you.

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Just Vaccine Appeal

Dear Friends,

We wonder how many of us have been fortunate enough to be offered the COVID vaccine – whether or not we have decided to accept.

Many voices have been highlighting the inequalities exposed by COVID. The COVID vaccine rollout is one latest example, with many poorer nations and vulnerable communities having no access to the vaccine or being charged up to four times the price paid by European countries.

Christian Aid has invited the URC to partner with them in addressing this disparity. The just vaccine appeal encourages us to appreciate our own opportunity to receive the vaccine by making a donation enabling others to receive the vaccine too. Please see the link below. Support if you can… and encourage others to do the same.

https://events.tapsimple.org/page/christian-aid/united-reformed-church-supporting-a-just-vaccine-rollout 

Blessings, Global & Intercultural Ministries

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 Ten Wise Sayings

  1.   Prayer is not a “spare wheel” that you pull out when in trouble: it is a “steering wheel” that directs us in the right path throughout life.
  2.   Do you know why a car’s windshield is so large and the rear view mirror is so small? Because our past is not as important our future. So, look ahead and move on.
  3.   Friendship is like a book – it takes a few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.
  4.   All things in life are temporary. If going well – enjoy it – they will not last forever.  If going wrong, don’t worry, they won’t last forever either. 
  5.   Old friends are like gold! New friends are Diamonds! If you get a Diamond, don’t forget the Gold. Because to hold a Diamond, you always need a base of Gold.
  6.   Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, “Relax, it’s just a bend in the road, not the end!”
  7.   When God solves your problems, you have faith in his abilities; when God doesn’t solve your problems He has faith in your abilities.
  8.   A blind person asked St. Anthony: “Can there be anything worse than losing your sight?” He replied: “Yes, losing your vision.”
  9.   When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them; and sometimes, when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.
  10.   Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles: it takes away today’s peace.

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God’s plan for aging!

Most seniors never get enough exercise.

In His Wisdom God decreed that seniors become forgetful so they would have to search for their glasses, keys and other things thus doing more walking.  And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God saw there was another need.  In His Wisdom He made seniors lose coordination so they would drop things requiring them to bend, reach & stretch.  And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God considered the function of bladders and decided seniors would have additional calls of nature requiring more trips to the bathroom, thus providing more exercise.  And God looked down and saw that it was good.

So if you find as you age, you are getting up and down more, remember its God’s will.  It is all in your best interest even though you mutter under your breath.

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Word Search – Books of the Bible

There are 20 books of the Bible hidden in the grid – can you find them all?  The words can go in any direction and some letters are used for more than one word.

 

H I S B A I J S O K E
D H D D J O B S R M C
J O N A H A I A S I R
R P A N E O M B W C E
O S S G S G R F E A S
M A T T H E W O R H T
A L E Y V N S S B L I
N M Z O R E F T E U T
S S R B U S T C H K U
O P A I T I J A M E S
E I A U H S O J M F R

 

 

 

ACTS               ESTHER             EZRA              GENESIS

HEBREWS       ISAIAH               JAMES            JOB

JOHN               JONAH               JOSHUA         LUKE

MARK               MATTHEW         MICAH            PROVERBS

PSALMS           ROMANS            RUTH             TITUS

 

 

 

 

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