We wish all our members and friends a Happy and Prosperous 2018!
Last January, I wrote about the carol “Good King Wenceslas” which I had heard on the radio just once in the long build up to Christmas. It seemed quite some time since we last sung it. I suppose it is not directly associated with Christmas but the Christ-like social concern of a Bohemian king for a poor peasant most certainly is!
As you will have read in previous newsletters, URC Daily Devotions are available on request to those with e-mail. As I was starting to write this letter on the Thursday before Christmas, my usual Daily Devotion e-mail arrived.
The day’s devotion was based on St Luke 2: 8-19 and in complete contrast reflected on one of the most popular carols “O Come all ye Faithful” sung at almost all carol services.
The reflection was written by Lawrence Moore, the former Director of the Windermere Centre and now the URC Mission & Discipleship consultant and involved in the new URC “Walking the Way – Living the life of Jesus today” initiative. (Introductory leaflets were handed out at the last Church Meeting. Lawrence has kindly agreed for us to include his reflection in our Newsletter, and his powerful message is most appropriate for the Walking the Way initiative.
Lawrence reflects “How come we celebrate Christmas year after year, and miss the whole point time after time?” Why do we in the Church see it as some kind of temporary “time out” from the horrors of the world, like the German and British soldiers playing football in the trenches on Christmas Eve in 1914, only to resume killing each other the next day?
Jesus’ birth, with angels announcing to humble shepherds “Good News of great joy for all people” and proclaiming “peace on earth” isn’t about a temporary lull in hostilities. God is calling time on a world that works according to Roman diktat – that delivers joy and peace for a favoured few, but condemns the poor and unimportant people to the living hell of military occupation and slavery.
Caesar Augustus had established the Pax Romana – the “peace of Rome” that extended over the known world and would last for 200 years. For this, he was given the titles, “Saviour” and “Prince of Peace”. And he was worshipped as the Son of God.
The angel’s Good News is the announcement of regime change. Jesus is the true Saviour who will establish peace on earth by servant-hood, not conquest. The Kingdom of God will extend over the world and last forever, not Rome. And it comes to lowly shepherds in a field in Nowheresville first.
That is why God comes to earth in Jesus. O come all ye faithful says this more clearly than any other carol: the baby in the manger is not just a man of God, but God as a man. It’s a hymn that puts the Nicene Creed (R&S 760) into song. I love it. I believe it. But unless “coming and beholding the King of angels” means that the world can never go back to the way it was, and that we can never go back to our lives and politics and economics as we’ve always done, we’ve missed the point of Christmas
Glory to you, Christmas God!
O what a mystery – meekness and majesty:
Lord of eternity dwelling in humanity;
indestructible love, present in the frailty of a new-born baby.
And what glorious news: you are claiming this world as your own!
Deliver us from the despair that things cannot be different;
that power and military might, greed and money have the Last Word;
that brokenness and death triumph over forgiveness and Life.
Fill us with Christmas joy!
May we bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives,
sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and proclaim the year of God’s favour.
May we do it with our words and with our lives.
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord “
At the beginning of a New Year, we hope and pray that progress will soon be made in developing the proposed Missional Partnerships and in resolving the long-standing ministerial vacancies.
Replace your worry with hope.
And fulfil your hope with action.
Send positive thoughts to your most troubling situation.
Soon you will find yourself starting to act on those thoughts.
Instead of worrying about the worst that could happen, allow yourself to hope for the best that can happen.
In your mind make the most positive outcome real.
Hope for the best, with passion, conviction and faith.
For when you do, you’ll begin to see real workable ways to get there.
There is no situation so desperate that it cannot be turned around.
Always there is a place and a purpose for hope.
Hope for the best, and let that hope push you forward.
With hope in your heart, you’re well on your way.
Thanks to Helensburgh Parish Magazine
LECTIONARY READINGS FOR JAN – FEB 2018
1st The Naming of Jesus Numbers 6: 22 – 27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4: 4 – 7 or Philippians 2: 5 – 11; St Luke 2: 15 – 21
6th Epiphany of the Lord Isaiah 60: 1 – 6; Psalm 72: 1 – 7, 10 – 14; Ephesians 3: 1 – 12; St Matthew 2: 1 – 12
7th First Sunday after the Epiphany (Baptism of the Lord) Genesis 1: 1 – 5; Psalm 29; Acts 19: 1 – 7; St Mark 1: 4 – 11
14th Second Sunday after the Epiphany 1 Samuel 3: 1 – 10, (11 – 20); Psalm 139: 1 – 6, 13 – 18; 1 Corinthians 6: 12 – 20; St John 1: 43 – 51
21st Third Sunday after the Epiphany Jonah 3: 1 – 5, 10; Psalm 62: 5 – 12; 1 Corinthians 7: 29 – 31; St Mark 1: 14 – 20
28th Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8: 1 – 13; St Mark 1: 21 – 28
4th Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany Isaiah 40: 21 – 31; Psalm 147: 1 – 11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9: 16 – 23; St Mark 1: 29 – 39
11th Last Sunday after the Epiphany (Transfiguration of the Lord) 2 Kings 2: 1 – 12; Psalm 50: 1 – 6; 2 Corinthians 4: 3 – 6; St Mark 9: 2 – 9
14th 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
18th First Sunday in Lent Genesis 9: 8 – 17; Psalm 25: 1 – 10; 1 Peter 3: 18 – 22; St Mark 1: 9 – 15
25th Second Sunday in Lent Genesis 17: 1 – 7, 15 – 16; Psalm 22: 23 – 31; Romans 4: 13 – 25; St Mark 8: 31 – 38
4th Third Sunday in Lent Exodus 20: 1 – 17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 25; St John 2: 13 – 22
11th Fourth Sunday in Lent (Mothering Sunday) Numbers 21: 4 – 9; Psalm 107: 1 – 3, 17 – 22; Ephesians 2: 1 – 10; St John 3: 14 – 2
AN INTRODUCTION TO WALKING THE WAY
You may already have heard of ‘Walking the Way: Living the life of Jesus today’. It’s the umbrella term for the United Reformed Church’s focus on lifelong Christian discipleship and mission. Put simply, walking the Way seeks to deepen our understanding of what being a Christian disciple truly means – how can we live as disciples when we are in church and, perhaps more importantly, when we are not . The Greek word for ‘disciple’ is mathetes, Andrew Roberts, author of Holy Habits, says, ‘It is often said to mean either a follower or a learner. The literal meaning is “one who learns as they follow”.
Walking the Way explores what it means to actively follow and learn from – and to be eventually transformed by – Christ, It’s for everyone at any stage of the Christian journey – whoever you are, whatever your existing relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church is, whatever your personal circumstances. It’s for you whether you have been following Christ for five days or five decades.
And while there is nothing new about being a disciple of Christ, we’re confident that there is something new about Walking the Way in its accessible approach and wide range of supporting resources produced and planned.
The people of God have walked, stumbled and sometimes skipped this patch throughout the centuries. The way we’re walking may be familiar, but the landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Advances in technology, evolving work patterns and rapidly changing politics have all had an impact on life and communities.
We are called to proclaim and embody God’s Kingdom, yet sometimes it seems as if the Church has been side-tracked, over-concerned about maintaining our buildings and institutions, or organising a coffee rota, rather than focusing on the teachings of Jesus and working out what they mean for each of us as we try to live the Jesus way of extravagant love, steadfast grace and radical action.
It’s time for change It’s time to walk the way.
Since September, the first resources for Walking the Way have started to become available. We used the candle- lighting liturgy for the first Four Sundays of Advent. Early in 2018, a ten-module resource based on Andrew Robert’s book, looking at the ten holy habits of discipleship, will be available, as will Lent resources. But Walking the Way is not about picking up yet another book, it’s about being Christ-centred and seeing our discipleship lived out every day.
A prayer for Walking the Way
God of all, as Jesus walked this earth sharing love, grace and mercy, he fed the hungry with the bread of life and brought healing and hope to those he met.
Renew us through the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we may do likewise. As we step out on this exciting, yet daunting, journey of discipleship we pray that we will place our footsteps in yours and walk where you lead as we live out your life in our daily living for Jesus’ sake. Amen
ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES UPDATE
New Homes bring new hope in Gaza
Over the last two years, some of Christian Aid’s work in Gaza has transitioned from humanitarian aid following the 2014 Israeli military offensive to house construction and supporting people to earn an income. Our partners have provided health and psychosocial support for trauma experienced by so many. Over 18,000 homes were heavily damaged or destroyed in the 2014 offensive, leaving 500,000 people internally displaced.
In 2014 Bassam Abu Said’s home, olive and date trees were completely destroyed. His 12 family members were left homeless and without an income. Bassam and his family had no safety or stability. They had to live in a temporary shelter made of rusty pipes and nylon sheets with no power or running water. They had to ask relatives if they could stay with them for periods when the rain and cold were too severe in the shelter. The children struggled at school, suffering from continuous illnesses caused by the conditions.
After two long years, Bassam and his family finally have a new home, constructed with support from Christian Aid’s partners and the Disasters Emergency Committee. The house has provided the family with the safety and protection they need.
Bassam said, ‘Finally, I have a house! For more than two years I have wished I could feel safe, surrounded by walls that protect my family from the weather changes and people’s stares. This house has brought my family together again.
Thank you for your support for families in Gaza through Commitment for Life, which has enabled many to have safe homes
MINISTRY OF FLOWERS
14th Jan Lindsay Heaton
28th Jan Margery Pitcher
4th Feb Brian Fazackerley
18th Feb Mac Dunsmore
25th Feb Gill Gilmer
4th Mar Lindsay Heaton
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
Arrangements are in hand for the usual series of services during Week of Prayer Week 18th– 25th January. 2018
There will also be a special service to celebrate 30 years of Churches Together in Fulwood & Broughton. Details will be published as soon as received.
We’ve all seen load-limit signs on roadways, over bridges, and in public lifts. Knowing that too much strain can cause severe damage or complete collapse, engineers determine the exact amount of stress that various materials can safely endure. The posted warnings tell us not to exceed the maximum load.
Human beings also have their load limits, which vary from person to person. Some people, for example, can bear the pressure of a demanding job better than others; yet everyone has a breaking point and can take only so much.
At times, circumstances and people seem to be pushing us beyond what we can bear. But the Lord will not do that. He will never ask us to do something beyond the abilities and resources he has given us. He knows our limitations and never allows any difficulties to enter our lives that exceed our strength and ability to endure.
So when life’s problems are pressing down on you, take courage. Remember, your heavenly Father knows your ‘load limits’, the limits of your ability to stand up under life’s pressures. He will grant you strength to cope, the resilience to endure.
PRAYER FOR MYSELF
Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will some day be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody: helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and the love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.
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 Devotion by email by signing at http://devotions.urc.org.uk/
THE STORY BEHIND THE HYMN
“What a friend we have in Jesus” has been a popular hymn for many years. It takes on an even deeper meaning when you learn the story behind the words. It was penned by an Irishman, Joseph Scriven, who seemed to have been born to every worldly blessing until, on the eve of his wedding, his fiancée was tragically drowned.
Finding that only his Christian faith gave him the strength to carry on, he started to live a different kind of life, donating freely both his time and possessions to help those in need. He wrote his well-loved hymn as a poem for his mother, to comfort her during illness, and the words plainly expresses the faith and thankfulness of which he never lost sight.
What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
A cat dies and goes to heaven, God meets him at the gate and says, “You have been a good cat all of these years. Anything you desire is yours, all you have to do is ask.”
The cat says, “Well, I lived all my life with a poor family on a farm and had to sleep on hardwood floors.” God says to the cat, “Say no more.” And instantly, a fluffy pillow appears.
A few days later, 6 mice are killed in a tragic accident and they go to heaven. God meets them at the gate with the same offer he made to the cat.
The mice said, “All of our lives we have had to run. Cats, dogs and even women with brooms have chased us. If we could only have a pair of roller skates, we wouldn’t have to run anymore.
God said, “Say no more,” And instantly, each mouse was fitted with a beautiful pair of tiny roller skates.
About a week later, God decides to check and see how the cat is doing. The cat is sound asleep on his new pillow. God gently wakes him up and asks, “How are you doing? Are you happy here?”
The cat yawns and stretches and says, “Oh, I’ve never been happier in my life. And those Meals on Wheels you’ve been sending me are the best!”
Sorting out books for the local fete, a parishioner came across some well-worn and dusty illustrated encyclopaedias, treasured from his childhood. Unwilling to part with them, he put them on a shelf in the garage where his small grandchildren found them and spent many happy hours looking at the pictures.
These books, however, caused him great embarrassment the day the minister came to visit. One of his grandchildren suddenly said: “Grandad, can we go and look at those dirty books you keep in the garage?”
ROTAS FOR JANUARY – FEBRUARY 2018
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll
|Mavis Orrell & Greta Temperley
|Richard & Frances Fraser
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll
|Mavis Orrell & Jean Dunsmore
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll
|Mavis Orrell & Greta Temperley
|Jean Dunsmore & Margery Pitcher
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll
|Jean & Brian Fazackerley
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.