This coming year with God’s help I will:-
Give up complaining . . . focus on gratitude.
Give up harsh judgments . . . think kind thoughts.
Give up worry . . . trust divine providence.
Give up discouragement . . . be full of hope.
Give up bitterness . . . turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred . . . return good for evil.
Give up anger . . . practice patience.
Give up pettiness . . . put on maturity.
Give up gloom. . . enjoy the beauty that is around me.
Give up gossiping . . . control my tongue.
Thanks to Beaconsfield URC magazine
Thank you to all who worked so hard, those who supported with gifts and donations and those who came and spent on the day. The proceeds of the Strawberry Tea and the Advent fair have enabled us to send £500 each to St Catherine’s Hospice and Derian House to support their excellent work.
The Craft Group were encouraged by number of their cards, decorations, novelties etc which were bought at the Advent Fair.
The church window decorations, which members were invited to make at the Advent Fair Coffee & Craft Afternoon in October, seemed to be generally appreciated. We have received several favourable comments about how well they looked, especially from outside church. Thanks also to Derek Orrell who completed the last two windows as part of his recuperation therapy!
1st First Sunday after Christmas Isaiah 61: 10 – 62: 3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4: 4 – 7; St Luke 2: 22 – 40
New Year’s Day Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 13; Psalm 8; Revelation 21: 1 – 6a; St Matthew 25: 31 – 46
6th Epiphany of the Lord Isaiah 60: 1 – 6; Psalm 72: 1 – 7, 10 – 14; Ephesians 3: 1 – 12; St Matthew 2: 1 – 12
8th Genesis 1: 1 – 5; Psalm 29; Acts 19: 1 – 7; St Mark 1: 4 – 11
15th 1 Samuel 3: 1 – 10, (11 – 20); Psalm 139: 1 – 6, 13 – 18; 1 Corinthians 6: 12 – 20; St John 1: 43 – 51
22nd Jonah 3: 1 – 5, 10; Psalm 62: 5 – 12; 1 Corinthians 7: 29 – 31; St Mark 1: 14 – 20
29th Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8: 1 – 13; St Mark 1: 21 – 28
5th Isaiah 40: 21 – 31; Psalm 147: 1 – 11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9: 16 – 23; St Mark 1: 29 – 39
12th 2 Kings 5: 1 – 14; Psalm 30; 1 Corinthians 9: 24 – 27; St Mark 1: 40 – 45
19th Isaiah 43: 18 – 25; Psalm 41; 2 Corinthians 1: 18 – 22; St Mark 2: 1 – 12
26th Hosea 2: 14 – 20; Psalm 103: 1 – 13, 22; 2 Corinthians 3: 1 – 6; St Mark 2: 13 – 22
4th 2 Kings 2: 1 – 12; Psalm 50: 1 – 6; 2 Corinthians 4: 3 – 6; St Mark 9: 2 – 9
CUMBRIA DECLARATION OF INTENT
A service to witness the signing of the Declaration of Intent by the Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed Churches to work more closely together in the specific areas of mission, ministry and buildings was attended by well over 200 people at Ambleside on Advent Sunday.
The preacher was Rev John Goddard, Baptist Minister and current President of Churches Together in Cumbria.
The Declaration was signed on our behalf by NW Synod Moderator Richard Church and by Bishop James Newcome and Rev Richard Teal (Chair of the Cumbria Methodist District). There were also letters of support from far and wide, including fellow members of Churches Together in Cumbria (Baptist, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, Religious Society of Friends and Church of Scotland Border Kirk) and the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches! It seems that our moves towards becoming an ecumenical county are exciting more than local interest!
- Why is it that a £20 note seems a lot when we take it to Church, but not much when we go to the Supermarket?
- Why is it that we might get excited when a sporting event goes to extra time, but complain if the Sermon lasts a few more minutes than usual?
- Why is it that we find it hard to read a chapter of the Bible, but so easy to read a novel right through?
- Why is it that an hour seems a long time to worship God, but seems to go quickly when we are doing something else?
- Why is it that we want a front seat at the Theatre, but scramble for a back seat at Church?
- Why is it that we find it easy to talk to others in front of God, but can’t talk to God in front of others?
- Why is it that we need a few weeks’ notice to fit a Church event into our diary, but can adjust our diary at the last minute for a party?
- Why is it that we find it hard to speak to our neighbour about the Gospel, but so easy to pass on gossip or bad news?
- Why is it that people believe the newspapers and T.V, but can’t possibly take the Bible seriously?
- Why should we study a set text thoroughly for the short term to get through an exam, but not study the Bible thoroughly for the long term – for life?
Thanks to Altrincham URC
At the end of November, Margery Pitcher and myself seriously enjoyed an Advent Retreat led by John Bell and Jo Love of the Iona Community. Advertised as “an opportunity to take a look at the weeks ahead, separate truth from reality and seek to encourage a deeper appreciation of the significance of the incarnation“, the event, held over four days, attracted 40+ from ours and other denominations We reflected on the stories in the Bible, discussed the hidden themes, learned new hymns and songs, heard of how other churches celebrate Advent and Christmas and took part in workshops looking at resources for celebrating the season – much less daunting and much more enjoyable than it might sound ! We even took part in the World Premier performance of a newly written carol “Veni Emmanuel (Carver)“! Anyone who saw the recent “Songs of Praise“ from Cheltenham will have heard John Bell talking about some of what we discussed – the truth of the real Christmas often lost in today’s commercialisation.
On 16th January, Margery, Vivien and myself will be back at Windermere for the next of Lawrence Moore’s inspiring courses – this “A Year with Mark’s Gospel“ as a follow up to “A Year with Matthew’s Gospel“ which we attended last January. This is what the publicity leaflet has to say:
“Mark’s is the oldest of the four gospels. Matthew and Luke include over 80% of Mark’s material. It is the first of the four Jesus stories and provides the foundational structure. There has been a rediscovery of Mark’s gospel in recent years – particularly of his art as an author. We will be focussing on the ways in which Mark’s narrative is structured and his presentation of Jesus. It’s exciting stuff! The gospel is a racy read, and his theology is hi-octane.
We’ll be working, too, with the gospel to create resources for prayer and worship, as well as for preaching and private study. Come and be refreshed, challenged, delighted and amazed by the Jesus you find and the richness of the gospel.”
Full details of courses at the Windermere Centre can be had from our Church Contact, Margery Pitcher or windermere.urc.org.uk
A HEART FOR OTHERS
“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.”
We included an update on the Mite Scheme in the May-June 2011 Newsletter. The money raised by the Mite Scheme is used to fund Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) for severely dehydrated children through UNICEF and its partners who distribute life saving sachets .Our contributions are collected weekly through the little wooden box at the back of church.
On receipt of our latest contribution, Vivien received a note to say the scheme has now passes the 6,000,000 “lives saved”. The founder Ray Barnett first heard the news at his recent 90th Birthday party and sends his thanks for what he described as his best birthday present.
Our November meeting lived up to its expectations, when Rev Nigel Lemon give his fascinating, illustrated talk entitled “Building for Dissent”. He showed a wide variety of chapels and churches from all over the country from our own and other related denominations. The sum of £29.55 was collected for Commitment for Life. (Incidentally, the chapel shown in the last edition was the URC chapel at Tunley, Wrightington and the original church building is thus believed to be the oldest building in England which was built as a Presbyterian church and is still used to this day.)
In December Pat Ascroft maintained her reputation for enthralling talks about amazing adventures – this time five days walking for nine hours a day along the Great Wall of China! Not least among the challenges she overcame was obtaining insurance for someone of her age. A very entertaining evening at which £50 was collected for her chosen charity Mencap.
Our speaker on Thursday 12th January will be another long-standing friend Stephen Garsed, the immediate past chairman of Churches Together in Fulwood & Broughton and the current Secretary. Stephen has recently visited his daughter, working in Siberia, and his talk in entitled “Russia – a Land of Contrasts”
At our meeting on Thursday 9th February our speakers will be Jennifer & Ray Jones of Wesham. They will talk about the work of CLEM, the Community of Freedom and Hope for Women in Bolivia.
On Thursday 8th March, Rev’d Helen will speak about her recent visit to Egypt.
As usual, a collection will be taken on behalf of the speaker’s chosen charity.
Unity Week Service 2012 in the Guild Hall
During Guild Year 2012, the 70+ churches who will be working together on the Guild will join together, not in the usual local groups meeting to praise and pray together in the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, but in one single service in the Guild Hall at 3.00pm on Sunday 22nd January It will be a simple non-denominational service and it is hoped that 2000+ Christians raising the roof to worship God and celebrate the start of Guild Year will be a fantastic experience and one of the highlights of the Year.
At the beginning this New Year we uphold before God all our members and friends. May we all be resolved to try to be your better servants in the world in 2012. We remember those who are unwell, or lonely or anxious, or mourning the loss of loved ones, and find it difficult at this time of the year. Assure them of your love and nearness and show each of us what we can do to help those less fortunate than ourselves. In Jesus Name. Amen
The Living Christ
There is a long tradition of churches contributing to Preston Guild; for 2012, under the banner of the Living Christ, we hope this activity can cover the whole year, establishing partnerships and projects which last beyond the Guild, and generating new ideas for how the church can serve the city.
Jan 22 Christian unity service in the Guild Hall, 3 pm
Feb – Mar City-wide Lent series: The “I am” sayings of Jesus, Monday evenings at the Minster
March 3 Fairtrade Fair, Preston flag market, 10 – 4
Good Friday Preston Cross: drama, broadcast live on BBC
May 5 Sponsored walk for Christian Aid and CAFOD
June 22 Opening of Methodist Collection of Modern Art. On display at St Peter’s UCLAN til July 20
July 10 Serve Our City – week of social / community action
Sept 1 Mass for the Catholic community, 7pm, St Walburges
Sept 2 Ecumenical Service – 2 pm
Sept 3 Churches Procession – “The Living Christ”
Sept 8 Churches Bike Ride and Stride featuring ‘Open Doors’
Dec Sing Christmas
Please get involved: for more details including your churches Guild reps contact Peter Lumsden (07929270753 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Guild website: http://www.prestonguild2012.com/
Churches material: http://www.ashtonmethodist.org.uk/page9.htm
URC MODERATORS-ELECT 2012-2014
The URC Moderators- Elect, Lawrence Moore and Michael Jagessar are writing a blog together. They would welcome as many as can to engage with the content that they will be adding and make comment at http://immoderatethoughts.urc.org.uk
For Christ’s Sake Lawrence Moore
This is our moderatorial theme for our period of office (2012-2014). We will lay it out for discussion over a series of articles, of which this is the first.
With Catch the Vision, we embarked on a radical re-think of our life as a Church that actually wrestled with the question of whether we ought to continue as a separate Church, rather than amalgamate with the Methodists or Baptists … or simply release all the local resources (church buildings, assets etc) so that URC congregations could dissolve and join other local churches, bringing their assets as a gift.
We did that because our continuing existence, 30-something years after we were ‘born to die’ in ever-increasing unions of Christian churches in these islands, raised acutely the question of whether or not we had failed to realise our founding vision and ought therefore not to remain yet another denomination with all its attendant bureaucracy and consumption of resources that could be deployed for mission.
We decided that we needed to continue to exist in order to keep the vision of the visible unity of the Christian Church alive (if for no other reason), but that we could do so with integrity only to the extent that we are ‘God’s people, transformed by the gospel, making a difference for Christ’s sake’ (italics mine).
‘Making a difference for Christ’s sake’ is the mission question/mandate. With the Growing Up report (1997), the United Reformed Church defined itself as a Church in terms of its faithfulness to God’s mission. This is the world that God is saving by transforming it into the Kingdom of God. We need to join in God’s mission. That is the point about ‘making a difference’.
But what about ‘for Christ’s sake’? How can we be sure that the difference we are making is for Christ’s sake and not (a) for our own personal sakes, (b) for the Church’s sake (rather than Christ’s) and (c) born out of ignorance, prejudice, misguidedness or lack of spiritual imagination?
Think about it: at what point do we let go of our own idea/dream of how can things can be and see it as our dream rather than Jesus’? How do we balance needs and priorities – especially when we have to decide where and how to deploy resources? How do we avoid pushing a ‘church promotion’ agenda, and recognise when that might be something different from a mission agenda?
Tough questions that need answers if we’re going to make a difference for Christ’s sake.