Dear Friends Since our last Newsletter in July 2020, we have had relaxations in the restrictions to combat the Covid-19 virus; but we are at present looking over our shoulders at parts of Lancashire not too far from Preston, where spikes of the virus have returned and some restrictions have been re-introduced. The Elders met at the end of June primarily to explore when it might be feasible to re-open Church for worship. Before the meeting they had been circulated with a copy of the latest NW Synod e-mail which refers to the current Government Covid-19 guidance. The Moderator’s advice highlights that the decision to reopen the buildings for public worship is not a simple decision. The Elders are advised to take full account of current Government guidance. Before any church may re-open for public worship and other activities, they must carry out a full Covid-19 Risk Assessment. The Elders discussed at length some of the relevant topics: cleanliness of the building; contamination of the water system; safety measures against fire; layout to maintain social distancing; clear evacuation routes; supervision to ensure Covid-19 compliance; risk of transmission in Communion; contamination from high-touch areas etc, etc. Once a risk assessment has been completed and agreed by the Elders, a copy must be sent to Synod. The response to the members questionnaire, included in the July Newsletter, was that the majority were in favour of the “I would prefer to wait a little longer before coming back to Church” option. The Elders agreed that re-opening would be at least no earlier than mid-September, probably later. Before hirers can be permitted to use the building, they must complete a new Letting Agreement (model supplied by Synod) which includes agreement on how they will ensure adequate cleaning of the premises as the Church does not have the manpower to attend to hirers. The Elders anticipated that it could be towards the end of the year before Letting Agreements could be completed depending on the Government rules for hirer’s activities. The Elders agreed that the first priority was to prepare and agree a Covid-19 Church Risk Assessment for approval. I know it seems a long time since we worshipped together, but hopefully we will be able to meet together in safety before too long!
Stay hopeful Stay safe
Mac Dunsmore, Church Secretary
HOPE Have you ever stayed at a hotel or guest-house where you have found a Bible on the bed-side table or in one of the drawers. More often than not the Bible will have been provided by the Gideons in response to Jesus’ command “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” in Matthew 28:19. The Gideons International is an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through associating together for service, sharing personal testimony, and by providing Bibles and New Testaments. While they are often recognized for our work with hotels, they also place and distribute Scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them. Gideons International have presented around 2 billion Scriptures since we started out in 1899, but their work is far from done. As a vibrant community of more than 300,000 members, they are as passionate as ever about sharing God’s message of hope and salvation. Our members, spread across 200 nations, support each other as they share their faith through conversations, friendship and by simply getting God’s Word into people’s hands.
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Recently I had a phone called from a lady who had not be able to find the letterbox at Church and asked if she could deliver a copy of their latest magazine at my house. What a splendid magazine it turned out to be! Good News for Everyone (formerly known as The GideonsUK) have produced John’s Gospel and readings from the Psalms in a A4 size quality magazine format, full of beautiful colour photographs with appropriate Bible verses. The HOPE MAGAZINES are available free of charge. To order single or multiple copies contact Charles or Diane Wall at 81 Gleneagles Drive Fulwood, Preston PR2 7EU, Tel. 01772 8633777. Though first printed in Autumn 2019, before the Covid –19 pandemic, the captions on the covers are amazingly relevant to our present situation. These magazines provide spiritual encouragement and make ideal gifts to distribute on pastoral visits. Mac Dunsmore Five-year-old Sally left the CD player running while she went off to do something else. Her mother asked why she had left it playing to itself. “But it isn’t,” replied Sally indignantly, “God’s dancing to it.”
(Prayers taken from Roots on the Web) August 2nd Genesis 32: 22 – 31; Psalm 17: 1 – 7, 15 or Isaiah 55: 1 – 5; Psalm 145: 8 – 9, 14 – 21; Romans 9: 1 – 5; St Matthew 14: 13 – 21 Prayer: Dear God, you look deep inside us, seeing not only our outer but our inner needs. Have compassion on us, we pray. Feed us today from your holy word, and we will be filled. Amen. 9th Genesis 32: 22 – 31; Psalm 17: 1 – 7, 15 or Isaiah 55: 1 – 5; Psalm 145: 8 – 9, 14 – 21; Romans 9: 1 – 5; St Matthew 14: 13 – 21 Prayer: God of the earth and the waves, we praise you that you more than meet all our needs. You call us out from our security to experience your adventures and blessings. You don’t want us to be like a becalmed ship, or stuck in the harbour. You want us out in deep water – and you’ll be with us. We praise you, Lord. Amen. 16th Genesis 45: 1 – 15; Psalm 133 or Isaiah 56: 1, 6 – 8; Psalm 67; Romans 11: 1 – 2a, 29 – 32; St Matthew 15: (10 – 20), 21 – 28 Prayer: Living Lord, we praise you that you are a God who loves. You have given us a marvellous world, to live in and to share with all your people. You, O God, love everyone equally, and we thank you that we are each unique. We thank you that each one of us has so much to give – and to receive – from each other. Thank you for each new experience that you give us. Amen. 23rd Exodus 1: 8 – 2: 10; Psalm 124 or Isaiah 51: 1 – 6; Psalm 138; Romans 12: 1 – 8; St Matthew 16: 13 – 20 Prayer: Lord God, we come before you in humble adoration. How blessed are we that the one who holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven is the one who has the key to our hearts. Thank you, God, for the privilege of being part of the amazing story of faith that sustained our ancestors. Thank you, God, that we know our future is safe with you. Amen. 30th Exodus 3: 1 – 15; Psalm 105: 1 – 6, 23 – 26, 45c or Jeremiah 15: 15 – 21; Psalm 26: 1 – 8; Romans 12: 9 – 21; St Matthew 16: 21 – 28 Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that you do not call us to anything without also giving us the resources to cope. You do not ask us to go anywhere you haven’t been. You call us to take up our cross, and we come to you with fear and trembling, but knowing that ultimately your way is the best. Be with us, Lord, and help us to understand. Amen September 6th Exodus 12: 1 – 14; Psalm 149 or Ezekiel 33: 7 – 11; Psalm 119: 33 – 40; Romans 13: 8 – 14; St Matthew 18: 15 – 20 Prayer: God of the vastness of all that is, of all peoples and communities, here we are, marvelling at your love and care and your persistence with us. You are beyond our imagining. Again and again, we are engulfed in your vastness and love. How can we do anything but praise you, again and again? Amen. 13th Exodus 14: 19 – 31; Psalm 114 or Exodus 15: 1b – 11, 20 – 21 or Genesis 50: 15 – 21; Psalm 103: (1 – 7), 8 – 13; Romans 14: 1 – 12; St Matthew 18: 21 – 35 Prayer: Jesus’ parables inspire us to pray for those who forgive us, for big things and small; for those who do not forgive, no matter what; for those who do not know how to forgive; for those who do not want to forgive; for those who have not been forgiven. God of forgiveness, for them all, we pray. Amen 20th Exodus 16: 2 – 15; Psalm 105: 1 – 6, 37 – 45 or Jonah 3: 10 – 4: 11; Psalm 145: 1 – 8; Philippians 1: 21 – 30; St Matthew 20: 1 – 16 Prayer: In trial and tribulation, God of comfort, be near me. In loss and devastation, God of grief, grieve with me. In uncertainty and confusion, God of the way, show me a path. In want and in need, God of provision, provide for me. In times of sluggishness and laziness, God of patience, wait for me. In comfort and in joy, God of love, let me not forget you. Amen. 27th Exodus 17: 1 – 7; Psalm 78: 1 – 4, 12 – 16 or Ezekiel 18: 1 – 4, 25 – 32; Psalm 25: 1 – 9; Philippians 2: 1 – 13; St Matthew 21: 23 – 32 Prayer: So often we want to pray for others, but sometimes, God, we don’t know how. We can’t remember names or numbers; other issues weigh heavily on our hearts. Thank goodness, God, that you know what we mean when we pray. So, we bring in this moment those names and faces, images and desires for others that pop in and out of our minds throughout the day. You know by name all those for whom we care so, God, for all these people and countless others, we offer our prayers. We know you do not need reminding, but you do need willing workers – even us – to help them know your love and have their needs met. Amen. October 4th Exodus 20: 1 – 4, 7 – 9, 12 – 20; Psalm 19 or Isaiah 5: 1 – 7; Psalm 80: 7 – 15; Philippians 3: 4b – 14; St Matthew 21: 33 – 46 Prayer: I am me, Lord, and I know I get things wrong. I also know I get some things right. I am me and I know you love me. Help me to follow the way you would have me travel. Amen. 11th Exodus 32: 1 – 14; Psalm 106: 1 – 6, 19 – 23 or Isaiah 25: 1 – 9; Psalm 23; Philippians 4: 1 – 9; St Matthew 22: 1 – 4 Prayer: Lord God, we never know what the future holds or where life will take us next. We never know what is just around the corner and what the outcomes of things will be. But we know that whatever follows on from this moment, you are here with us, by our side, above and beneath us, entwining your life with ours, surpassing all human understanding. In this moment, bless us and awaken us to your abiding presence. Amen. CHURCH LIGHTING The pastor of a small country chapel asked his deacons if they would consider installing a chandelier in the chapel. They met at length to discuss the issue, and reported back to him that they had decided against the idea for three reasons:
- The Secretary didn’t know how to spell it in the minutes.
- If they bought one, they had nobody who could play it.
- They thought that the money could be better used improving the lighting in church.
(NB – This is not the reason why our Elders opted for LED lighting in our church last year!) Bible Trivia Quiz Answers at the end
- In Jesus’ parable of the talents, how many talents were earned by the man who had received five?
- Who was told to wash in the Jordan seven times?
- What did Eve expect to happen if she ate the forbidden fruit?
- Where did Abram live when God called him and first made His promise to Abram?
- Who made a new robe for her son each year and took it to him when she and her husband went to Shiloh to make their yearly sacrifice?
- Who was King David’s father, and what was his home town?
- Which king of Israel had a fleet of ships?
- Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?
- When Cain was driven into exile after killing Abel, where did he settle?
- To whom did Joseph’s brothers sell him, and for what price?
A YORKSHIRE TREAT A Yorkshireman and his wife walked past a swanky new restaurant. “Did you smell that food?” she asked, “Wonderful.” Being the ‘Kind-hearted Yorkshireman’, he thought, “What the heck, I’ll treat her!” … so they walked past it again … (This was found in a church magazine in Yorkshire, we should be safe repeating it on the other side of the Pennines.) A BIKER’S TALE A man on his Harley-Davidson motorbike was riding along a Californian beach when suddenly the sky clouded over above his head and in a booming voice, God said, “ Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish.” The biker pulled over and said,” Build a bridge to Hawaii then I can ride over any time I want.” God replied, “Your request is materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. Look at the supports required reaching the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete, asphalt and steel it would take! I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly thing. Take a little more time and think of something that could possibly help mankind.” The biker thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, “God, I wish that I, and all men, could understand women. I want to know how she feel inside, what she’s thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing’s wrong, why she snaps and complains when I try to help, and how I can make a woman truly happy.” God replied, “Do you want two lanes, or four, on that bridge?”
Thanks to Penwortham URC Newsletter
HYMNS FOR CORONATIME During one of my many Zoom meetings, a new hymn was used in the devotions. The original text was written by a Norwegian but has been adapted by John Bell and set to music – if you have access to the internet you can hear a recording on the Mersey Synod website but you could just read the words as a prayer. We will meet when the danger is over, Original Norwegian text and English translation by Hans-Olav Moerk, translation adapted by John L. Bell John L Bell © Wild Goose Resource Group, The Iona Community We will meet when the danger is over, we will meet when the sad days are over; we will meet sitting closely together and be glad our tomorrow has come. We will join to give thanks and sing gladly, we will join to break bread and share wine; and the peace that we pass to each other will be more than a casual sign. So let’s make with each other a promise that what we’ve all come through is behind, we will share what we missed and find meaning in the things that once troubled our mind. Until then may we always discover faith and love to determine our way. That’s our hope and God’s will and our calling for our lives and for every new day. While looking on the internet for the words of John Bell’s hymn, I found another on the same website. This was written by John Campbell and he says: “Here’s a song about prayer. It was written for a ZOOM service where we were looking at Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew 5. Jesus says that God already knows what we need. So why pray? We looked at Jesus in Gethsemane. Praying didn’t change God’s mind, but it changed Jesus’ ability to overcome his fears and do what he had to do. Prayer changed him. That’s what the song is trying to pick up.” Prayer may not halt the pestilence Tune: Finlandia, (I cannot tell how he whom angels worship). John Campbell 17/4/20 Prayer may not halt the pestilence around us; it did not save our Saviour from his fate. Harsh famine’s curse defied the prayers of many, time after time, exacting grievous hurt. Yet, if we pray, and share life’s pain with Jesus, we will be changed and strengthened while we wait. Prayer may not bring an end to all injustice; too many died whilst Naaman found his cure. Yet, prayer by prayer, we and our world are changing, if by prayer’s power our hearts grow strong to care; if we reach out, empow’red by prayer, in action, then hope may help the fearful to endure. And if the cup of suffering set before us proves deep and bitter ev’rywhere, for all, our prayers must help us work within the wasteland, give strength to rise up, even when we fall; that help and care and kindliness and sharing, may build anew a better world for all.
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A north-country choir master was rehearsing the hymns for Sunday, telling the choir the hymns they were to sing, and the tunes to which they were to sing them. He said, “Now then, ‘Come ye that love the Lord’ to Southport!” A voice called out, “Where are you tekking t’rest of us?”
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A minister was showing his two grandsons around a parish church while on holiday. There happened to be a knight and his lady in two separate vaults, one over the other. The boys were at different ends of the church when one shouted to the other: “Come and see what I’ve found – Bunk beds!” Bible Trivia Answers
- Five (Matt 25: 14-30)
- Naaman (2 Kings 5: 1-19)
- She would become wise like God (Gen 3: 1-6)
- Haran (Gen 11: 31 – 12:4)
- Hannah (1 Sam 2: 18-20)
- Jesse, Bethlehem (1 Sam 16: 1-13)
- Solomon (1 Kings 9: 26-18)
- It was bearing no fruit (Matt 21: 18-22)
- In the land of Nod (Gen 1: 8-16)
- Midianite traders for 20 pieces of silver (Gen 37: 28)