January / February newsletter

A NEW YEAR RESOLUTION – PRAYER

Following in His footsteps

Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God, grant

us the desire to do only what pleases you, and

the strength to do only what you command.

Cleanse our souls, enlighten our minds, and

inflame our hearts with your Holy Spirit, that we

may follow in the footsteps of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

St Francis of Assisi 1182 – 1226

 

Lectionary Readings January & February 2013

January

6th         Epiphany of the Lord Isaiah 60: 1 – 6; Psalm 72: 1 – 7, 10 – 14; Ephesians 3: 1 – 12; St Matthew 2: 1 – 12

13th       Baptism of the Lord Isaiah 43: 1 – 7; Psalm 29; Acts 8: 14 – 17; St Luke 3: 15 – 17, 21 – 22

20th     Isaiah 62: 1 – 5; Psalm 36: 5 – 10; 1 Corinthians 12: 1 – 11; St John 2: 1 – 11

27th    Nehemiah 8: 1 – 3, 5 – 6, 8 – 10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12: 12 – 31a; St Luke 4: 14 – 21

 

February

3rd        Jeremiah 1: 4 – 10; Psalm 71: 1 – 6; 1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 13; St Luke 4: 21 – 30

10th     Exodus 34: 29 – 35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3: 12 – 4: 2; St Luke 9: 28 – 36, (37 – 43)

13th      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

17th     Deuteronomy 26: 1 – 11; Psalm 91: 1 – 2, 9 – 16; Romans 10: 8b – 13; St Luke 4: 1 – 13

24th     Genesis 15: 1 – 12, 17 – 18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3: 17 – 4: 1; St Luke 13: 31 – 35

 

March

3rd        Isaiah 55: 1 – 9; Psalm 63: 1 – 8; 1 Corinthians 10: 1 – 13; St Luke 13: 1 – 9

 

COMMENT

Those who read the Lancashire Evening Post may have seen the following from our NW Moderator on 27 December:

 

GIFTS WE’VE RECEIVED

The events of the Christmas story often get mixed up. Nativity plays will have kings in cardboard crowns jostling with shepherds and assorted animals. In the original text it was some time before the Magi arrived on the scene as the Christian year recognises by marking it at Epiphany (January 6)

Have you received a gift that you weren’t expecting, from a distant relative or a casual acquaintance?

Our instinct might be to rush out and buy something in return, to assuage our guilt. Christmas is about giving.  We are influenced by Dickens’ Christmas Carol in which Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation took place after he learnt to give.  Everyone conspires with this upsurge of giving, including charities.

Yet Christmas is firstly about Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, and only later about the wise men and their offerings.  The main players had to receive a strange gift in the form of a new-born child. The BBC has scheduled a special edition of Call the Midwife for Christmas and has previewed it by referring to birth as an everyday miracle.  Christians believe this miraculous birth to a couple in Judea was the solution, a gift of the Prince of Peace which we all need yet fail to recognise.

A Christian writer William Willimon says: “This strange story teaches us how to be receivers.  The first word of the Church, a people born out of so odd a nativity, is we are receivers before we are givers.  We learn to see our lives as receiving a succession of gifts and ourselves as dependent, empty-handed”.

So if you give food to a homeless shelter or give an extra amount to charity, don’t be in any doubt that it warms the heart of Jesus, but think first not of gifts you have given but  of the countless gifts that you have received.

Rev Richard Church

United Reformed Church

Thanks to Lancashire Evening Post (27 Dec 2012)

 

 

MEA CULPA……..

A group of lads took a trip to France and decided to attend Mass in a small town, even though none of them understood French.. They managed to stand, kneel and sit when the rest of the congregation did, so as not to make it obvious they were tourists. At one point, the priest spoke and the man sitting next to them stood up, so they got up too.

The entire congregation broke into heart laughter.

After the service they approached the priest, who spoke English, and asked what had been so funny. The priest said he had announced a birth in the parish and had asked the father to stand up.

Thanks to St Leonard’s  (via Penwortham URC)

 


FORTY THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE URC

Rev’d Roberta Rominger, the URC general secretary, wrote the following article for the October 2012 REFORM – forty things to

celebrate as the URC marked its 40th Anniversary.

1 I encounter God in the lives of our churches and councils everywhere I go.

2 Fantastic people including many of my closest friends.

3 Openness to change, arising from a strong commitment to following where the Spirit leads. (In the 2001 Church Life Profile, the URC topped the league table in the category of “ ready to try something new “ – I believe it!)

4 We are an inclusive community. In many places the doors are genuinely open.

5 We are growing in diversity through people of many cultures.

6 We are a church in three nations, each with a proud history and culture for us to embody.

7 We are theologically diverse. It is a gift, though not an easy one.

8 We are free to craft worship as we feel led. Across the theological spectrum, our worship is regularly uplifting and challenging.

9  Our little church has produced a wealth of fantastic hymn writers.

10  I love our particular mixture of dignity and informality

11  We are committed to conciliar decision-making. It’s about the Spirit and the people, not hierarchical leadership.

12  You don’t have to leave your brain at the door – the URC welcomes intellectual enquiry and wants faith to be intellectually rigorous..

13  We are good at Bible study – regularly the best part of our meetings.

14 Our historical roots are inspiring. Lots of amazing stories to challenge us to be courageous and faithful.

15 We believe in the ministry of the whole people of God.

16 The church thrives thanks to a legion of faithful volunteers.

17 That means women are well represented in our leadership.

18 Young people make a real contribution, especially at General Assembly.

19 The “Charter for Children” is still the bravest affirmation of any of the churches.

20 Other churches are jealous of our Children’s Assembly.

21 Elders offer spiritual and practical leadership.

22 Ministers are called to churches.  Very different than being appointed.

23 Equality of stipend means that we give equal value to a wide range of callings.

24 Resources Centres for Learning open their doors to all of us, offering dynamic, creative learning opportunities.

25 Training for Learning and Service is the best.

26 Our two moderators of Assembly, a minister and an elder, are equals, not senior and junior. We sent Val (ed: Val Morrison our lay Moderator)   to meet the Pope !

27 We’ve been ordaining women for 90 years now.

28 Special category ministers show are commitment to mission beyond our local churches.

29  Local churches also serve their communities with energy and vision.

30 Church-related community workers, a URC invention, combine professional community work skills with theological insight.

31 The community awards are a thrilling highlight of Assembly.

32  We still hold ecumenical vision in our three nations.

33 We offer ecumenical leadership locally out of proportion to our size.

34 Internationally, our passion is for genuine mutuality. Belonging to the World Church embodies this.

35 Commitment for Life has enabled powerful support for Christian Aid.

36 Though many of our churches are nearing the end of their life span, there are also many green shoots.

37 Though Vision 2020 we all have ownership of all the excellent work others are doing.

38 Synods and Assembly staff strive to offer real support to our local churches without overburdening. At its best, this holds us together while enabling our freedom.

39 REFORM magazine – bravo !

40  We exist thanks to brave decisions. We are still willing to take them

Thanks to REFORM Oct 2012

 

 

 OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD

Those of us who chose to pay the postage for our shoe boxes on-line this year were given the option of being told later where our shoeboxes had been delivered.  Just before Christmas we received the following:

“Your shoebox was one of at least 130,000 sent from the UK to children living in Romania.

Shipments of gift-filled shoeboxes have been arriving in Romania since they left the UK last month and our partners have been working hard to get them to remote areas. When they get their gifts, the children are really excited, jumping and shouting for joy. One church leader said, “Most of the children didn’t hope to receive such beautiful presents considering their hard living conditions.”

In one village a father told us: “A couple of days before, I went shopping with my little girl and she saw a toy horse in one shop. She asked me to buy her the toy but I told her we don’t have enough money. She didn’t say a word. After that, we came to the Christmas celebration and she received a shoebox. When she opened it she found there a toy horse. She was very happy.”

Gavrila, aged 8, is orphaned and is being raised by her grandmother. Upon seeing her shoebox, her eyes lit up and a smile crept across her face. When she opened up the box, Gavrila found crayons and a notebook and said, “In this notebook I will write down everything that’s nice”.

Shoebox distributions are happening all across Romania and the team there say, “We thank God for those who made these shoeboxes and who helped to distribute them to us, making it a great blessing for these children who received a ray of hope from God… We pray that the Lord will give grace and blessing to all who are involved and   also that the children who receive a gift will receive joy in their soul “


 

CHURCH FELLOWSHIP

For our November and December Meetings

two long-standing friends returned to entertain and instruct us   After his fascinating talk last year about his trip to Russia to visit his daughter who was working there, Steve Garsed returned to describe “ The Green Way” – how he planned for both the  outward and return journeys using the most ecologically friendly means of transport. It was a pleasure to again welcome friends from St Anthony’s church to this meeting.  £30 was collected for Christian Aid.

In December, Pat Ascroft kept us thoroughly entertained for well over an hour in her own inimitable way without any visual aids or notes. Her “Kaleidoscope of Life” encompassed people and places in Pat’s family history in an enthralling talk.  £59 was collected for Pat’s chosen charity. Mencap.

On Thursday 10th January, Rev’d Helen will speak to us about her ten –day visit to “The Holy Land” in June 2012 and will no doubt be sharing her thoughts and experiences of visiting places known to many of us only in our Bibles. Then on Thursday 14th February, Ruth Bruce returns by popular request after sharing her previous long walk from Thurso to Preston as a means of celebrating her retirement.  Her illustrated talk on this occasion is in the opposite direction – entitled       “My long walk from Preston to The Lizard” 

Collections will as usual be taken for the speaker’s chosen charity.

 

 

ADVENT FAIR

The Advent Fair raised £781 on the day and donations of £103 were received. In a separate effort the Ballet raised £226 making a total of £1110.00 . This amount has been equally divided between St Catherine’s Hospice and Derian House. Thanks to everyone who contributed in any way to this fine total. Details of amounts raised by individual stall can be found on the Church Notice Board at the back of the church.

Vivien Manners

 

 

Q  Who was the greatest financier in the Bible ?

A  Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in  liquidation

Q  Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible ?

A  Pharaoh’s daughter. She went to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.                                                             Thanks to Brian Fazackerley

 

 

YOUR ROVING REPORTERS

LANCASHIRE SINGS CHRISTMAS – On 20th December four of our members joined friends from Fulwood Methodist Church at Oxford House Residential Home to sing along to the Radio Lancashire “Lancashire Sings Christmas”.  The residents seem to enjoy and appreciate the experience – they asked us to be sure to return next year!

CAROL SINGING – The previous evening, two of us again joined with Fulwood Methodist in singing carols to the residents at  Moor Park Nursing Home. It was good to visit Dick Arton, sing his requested carol – Silent Night – and to deliver his Christmas cards from Christmas Post Box.

CAROL BY CANDLELIGHT – Those who attended our evening Carols by Candlelight service much enjoyed its traditional intimate nature. It was good welcome members of the Ferguson family in Preston at Christmas and to have a surprise visit from Margaret Edwards who had travelled from Manchester specially to attend. We also enjoyed new carol sheets provided free by Embrace the Middle East, a charity tackling poverty and injustice in Bethlehem and beyond. We have a catalogue of the materials they sell. Their website is www.embracechristmas.org  

LANCASHIRE AREA MEETINGS – The open gatherings for fellowship, discussion and exploration continue at 7.00pm on the first Wednesdays of each month.  The December meeting : “What is the URC?” by Rev’d Graham Cook, the former Director of the Windermere Centre, and past Moderator of Mersey Synod and General Assembly,  was excellent !   The Next Meetings are :

9th January (yes, I know it’s not the first Wednesday) Watch the film “Nativity”      6th February  Hear about the work of Derian House”   6th March  Changing Church…? By Linda Rayner (URC Co-ordinator for Fresh Expressions)  Full details on Notice Board.

PASTOR BOB WORSWICK – Those who attend our Church Fellowship will remember our visit from Bob Worswick of the Wycliffe Memorial Church some years ago. Bob has just retired as pastor at Wycliffe – aged 81 years !  His last service was on 30 December and we wish him every happiness in his retirement.

ADVENT FAIR – Both St Catherine’s and Derian House Hospices have written expressing their grateful thanks for the £555 they both received as the proceeds of our Advent Fair. The letters are on the Notice Board.

UNICEF MITES SCHEME – Acknowledging receipt of our latest contribution to the Mites scheme, the Coordinator Keith Garner expresses his thanks to all at Fulwood URC for faithful support. He reports that Mites have now passed the 6.5 Million “ lives saved “ mark.

 

 

CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON

During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, a service will be held at St Anthony’s Church on Sunday 20th January at 3.00pm to celebrate 25 years of Churches Together in Fulwood & Broughton

Lent Series Following the hugely successful Lent Series in the Minster last year, a further series for 2013 will take place on Monday evenings in Preston Minster throughout Lent i.e. Mon 18th February to Monday 25th March from 7.30pm to 9.00pm. Each evening consists of worship, prayer, a talk about one of the charitable organisations active in Preston/ South Ribble and a short Bible study comprising a reading, a brief talk and discussion.

 

 

“WHATEVER YOU DID FOR ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE… YOU DID FOR ME.” MATTHEW 25:40 NIV

 

Mother Teresa said, “If you are kind, people will accuse you of selfish motives; be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you’ll win both false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway.

What you spend years building, someone may destroy over night; build anyway.

The good you do today most people will forget; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it’s between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD TO FEBRUARY ………

The Very First Valentine Card ( a legend )

The Roman Emperor Claudius II needed soldiers. He suspected that marriage made men want to stay at home instead of fighting wars, so he outlawed marriage.

A kind-hearted young priest named Valentine felt sorry for all the couples who wanted to marry, but couldn’t. So secretly he married as many couples as he could – until the Emperor found out and condemned him to death.

While he was in prison waiting execution, Valentine showed love and compassion to everyone around him, including his jailer.

The jailer had a young daughter who was blind, but through Valentine’s prayers, she was healed.

Just before his death in Rome on 14 February, he wrote her a farewell message signed ‘From your Valentine.’

So the very first Valentine card was not between lovers, but between a priest about to die, and a little girl, healed through his prayers.    

Thanks to Rush Hill URC, Bath

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