Lectionary Readings July & August 2012
After months of discussing how we will decorate our float for the Guild procession, around 40 people from our church and St Clare’s met on Sunday 10th June to start making some of the things we need. After an explanation of how the float will look we split into groups to start work – one group looking at making the framework to which everything on the float will be attached, another making signs attached to hula hoops and a third preparing banners for the sides of the float.
Our volunteers cut out large letters from fluorescent yellow fabric while I was helped by others to cut the navy background fabric to size. By the end of the afternoon we had made enough progress to set out one of the ”I am the bread of life” banners to see what the finished item would look like. I’m sure the people who had been cutting out the letters were glad to see that they didn’t look as garish against the dark background! At the second workshop on 17th June some of the men had started working on the framework and painting backdrops for the front and back of the float and those wielding scissors moved on to smaller letters to be used for putting the wording round the edges of umbrellas to be carried in the procession and on the top of the open top bus (purely for decoration of course – it can’t possibly rain on us!) Our Craft Group have also been busy cutting and sticking letters for the banners.
OUT & ABOUT
NEWTON-IN-BOWLAND UNITED REFORMED CHURCH
On the afternoon of Sunday 17th June, a Thanksgiving Service for 316 years of Worship and Service was held at Newton-in-Bowland URC conducted by Revd Michele Jarmany. The chapel was packed with members, friends, the NW Moderator and Area representatives and many more as sadly this was also the Closing Service. In 2011, the Church Meeting had unanimously decided in that, due to declining congregations, the Church should close. The members have each decided to transfer to one of three alternative places of worship in the neighbourhood. We were all sympathetically reminded that the Church is not a building but the people who seek to worship God and we were reminded in the final hymn that – “The voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away.”
In giving thanks and praise for 316 years of worship and service, it is pertinent to try to image the countless men and women who have, over more than three centuries have witnessed to their faith in this tiny chapel and to remember that this little village was one of the early centres for “protestant dissenters”, when many ministers lost their livings, and others their opportunities and privileges merely by declaring their faith publicly. Let us remember in our prayers all those seeking a new spiritual home in the neighbourhood.
Churches Together in Lancashire held their AGM and Annual Forum at Fulwood Methodist Church on 13th June. It was marvellous to have Debbie Peatmen back with us and restored to health after her recent serious illness. After two years of service, the Bishop of Lancaster praised the good work that has been carried out on behalf of CTL before handing over the Chairmanship to Rev’d Stephen Poxon.
Debbie Peatmen writes “It was wonderful to have slightly too many people for comfort in the room we’d booked, and not enough paper copies of reports etc to go round! I’m delighted that so many people were prepared to travel across the county in what has been a very busy few weeks, and engage so enthusiastically with the subject of our Forum – Chaplaincy Together across Lancashire.”
It was stimulating to hear of the churches working together across the denominations in local chaplaincy projects.
Kevin Duffy, the Methodist Connexion’s Chaplaincy Development Officer shared his reflections on his work in the county over the past twelve months and Polly Mason, the CTL coordinating chaplain for Further Education , supported by three of the team of lay chaplains gave an insight into their work in FE colleges.
“Local, congregation led chaplaincy is one of the most effective ways to collaborate in God’s mission in the world; local people responding to local needs over time can change the world”
NW SYNOD QUIET DAY – LOOKING TOWARDS GOD
“Come away a while and rest”
On Saturday 16th June the NW Synod Silence and Retreats Group arranged a Synod Quiet Day at the beautifully re-developed Methodist / URC church at Little Lever, Bolton.
We spent the day, largely in silence, reflecting on the text for the day – The Walk to Emmaus Luke 24: 13-35
In four one hour-long sessions we were invited to:
STOP (24:13-17) – “They stood still” -reflection and prayer
LOOK (24:18-24) – reflection – Where do we see Christ?
LISTEN (24:24:25-32) – listen to the scriptures
And after a silent lunch (this I found the hard bit!)
WALK (24:33-35) – the pilgrim way – Where am I going ?
Concluding with a most meaningful COMMUNION “Bread for the Journey“ led by our Moderator, Rev’d Richard Church. It was a doubly meaningful service as Richard has just returned from his Sabbatical which included a five week walk on a ancient pilgrim way in Spain as a pilgrim walking with the bare minimum in his rucksack. He reflected how his experience had focussed his thought on the real necessities of life and the plight of the many millions who every day have barely enough.
Our thanks are due to the Moderator, Rev’ds Richard Davis,Michele Jarmany, Lena Talbot and Ruth Dillon for their input into a most successful day and to the Little Lever Church for their generous hospitality
In March, five members of the Synod Retreats Group took the decision to establish an embryonic “Prayer Community” within the Synod, an idea which has been on the Moderator’s mind and heart for some time.
The idea is that small groups of layand ordained members would commit to a private pattern of prayer and pray for members of their group weekly. More details will be included in a future edition.
The impressive Little Lever Methodist/ URC Church was re-developed and re-opened shortly after our own church. The Little Lever Methodist and URC Churches agreed to set up an LEP on the site of the former Mehodist Church in Mytham Road and construct a beautiful new 250-seat worship sanctuary. It was interesting to read of the early Wesleyan Methodist and Congregational churches which were its forerunners.
A plaque in the coffee lounge interested me. It was erected to commemorate a Little Lever man – Rev. Oliver Heywood BA who was ejected from his living in 1662, “suffering many hardships through oppressive laws, several times imprisioned. He was a great leader of Nonconformity and a great preacher of “Christ and Him Crucified.” A further reminder of the cost of nonconformity in previous generations.
EVENING SERVICE – 24th JUNE
Our evening service was held at the St Peter’s Centre, Fylde Road to celebrate the Methodist Visible Faith exhibition of Modern Christian Art as part of Guild2012. It runs from 23rd June to 18th July 2012. Rev’d Peter Sheasby led worship using projected images of some of the pictures in the exhibition – giving a fascinating insight into the ways various artists have tried to portray scenes from the life of Christ.
The exhibition is really not to be missed. It is open: 10am- 6pm Monday-Friday; 10am-5pm on Saturday; and 2pm-5pm on Sundays between the above dates.
Each picture in the exhibition is accompanied by a two-line prayer specially written by Christine Sheasby which she hopes you might feel can be your prayer too.
REV’D ALBERT GREASLEY – 60 YEARS SERVICE
It was wonderful to read in the NW Synod News that the congregation at St Annes URC had recently celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the ordination of the Rev’d Albert Greasley. Albert has occupied our pulpit on many occasions in the past and has been a good friend to Fulwood URC. We send Albert our warmest congratulations!
NW Synod News:
Albert is a much valued member of the congregation at St Annes. We are very conscious that his Christian Ministry has been exercised in both pastoral and more secular environments and continue to appreciate his spiritual wisdom and experience.
This prayer is attributed to a Confederate Soldier of the American Civil War.
“O God, I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for help that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might receive the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed”
At the end of May my friend & I went on holiday to Wensleydale, but the co-editor of the newsletter wasn’t off duty as I always keep a look out for magazines or newsletters when we visit other churches, just in case there is an item that could be included in our magazine. In West Burton (near Aysgarth) the only church is a Methodist Chapel which is part of the North Yorkshire Dales Methodist Circuit. On Saturday evening we checked the notice board for the time of the service and saw a familiar name for the preacher – Rev David Wood. Could it be the David Wood who used to be at Ashton or, as it isn’t an unusual name, is there more than one Methodist minister called David Wood?
Next morning we were greeted with the offer of coffee as we went into church and made very welcome by several of the congregation. When the minister came in and I saw that it was the David Wood who has taken several evening services at Fulwood I knew we could expect a good service. As it was Pentecost Sunday it was no surprise to hear that his sermon was about the Holy Spirit. He thinks he must watch too much Casualty or Holby City because although the Holy Spirit is often called the Paraclete (which comes from a Greek word meaning “one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court”) David likes to think of it as a Paramedic – the one who is first on the scene providing support when we need help. On the theme of the Holy Spirit David told us the following story…
A vicar went on a week-long silent retreat run by his Bishop. By the middle of the week he was finding it too much and decided to sneak out to the nearest town in the afternoon. As he walked around town, hearing conversations around him and saying ‘hello’ to people, he was dismayed to see the Bishop crossing the road towards him.
Thinking quickly, he told Bishop that he had heard the voice of the Holy Spirit telling him to go and buy a present for his wife.
The bishop replied, “Either you or the Holy Spirit must be confused – today is early closing day!”
We didn’t find a church newsletter but there were some items on the back of the weekly notice sheet on the notice board at the entrance which I copied out later in the week. I also found some snippets in copies of the Upper Wensleydale Newsletter so look out for those in future editions.
West Burton is a lovely, peaceful Dales village with beautiful views all round and Sheila & I felt relaxed and at home within hours of arriving and the notice at the door of the church seemed to fit the whole village:
Stay awhile here and be still.
Let go your burden and share in the serenity of this place.
May you have the strong assurance that God cares for you and may the peace of Jesus Christ go with you.
PS – I found this item in the Upper Wensleydale Newsletter (and yes – our cottage did have indoor sanitation and electric light!)
Extracts from “Where to find Dales Hospitality”. (1940)
And what mattered when looking for Accommodation?
Askrigg. Come to Wensleydale for safety. Comfortable rooms. Indoor sanitation. Near Station (Elm House Farm)
Board residence, nr moors, indoor sanitation, hot and cold, good table, garden, games. (The Willow Garth, Miss Sadler)
Hawes. B & B, board residence and apartments, residentially situated, near station and buses, modern conveniences, electric light. (Misses E M Blythe, ‘Eastbourne’)
West Burton. Comfortable farmhouse accommodation, beautifully situated, daintily served food. Modern conveniences. (Mrs Close, Cote Farm)
Although this was in the Wensleydale magazine, it also applies to the NW Air Ambulance Service:
Did you know that although the Lifeboats (RNLI) are exempt from paying duty on the fuel they us, the Air Ambulance services are not exempt. A petition has been set up to encourage the government to extend the exemption on fuel tax to the Air Ambulance service. If the petition gathers 100,000 signatures, Parliament is duty bound to debate the issue – if you agree with this why not look at the petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/29349
Our speaker at the May meeting, Kath’s fiend Ruth Bruce, gave a fascinating account of how she celebrated her retirement by walking alone, in stages from Thurso to Preston (and beyond ! – perhaps for a future meeting?)
Her chosen charity, Life Education Lancashire, tours around schools helping children make healthy choices
By strange coincidence, a van had appeared in the car park at my grandchildren’s Sherwood school a few days before Ruth’s visit. The van is a mobile classroom with a giraffe pictured on the outside. Inside each class in turn were able to meet Harold the Giraffe and receive appropriate instruction, linked to the work in school, on healthy choices. – ranging from the importance of food, exercise and sleep; friends and their influences, to the dangers of drugs, medicines, smoking and alcohol, and the importance of making ones own choices. When I spoke to the boys (aged 6, 9 and 11) some time later, they had all been impressed by Harold and had lots to tell about what they had learned. See www.lifeeducation.org.uk for more information. The sum of £40 was collected for Life Education.
At our June meeting we entertained by an excellent illustrated talk from our long-standing friend Anne Garsed entitled “Cycling for Christian Aid“Anne first told of her experiences cycling from Preston to Paris in four days in a party of 70 – 80 cyclists organized by Christian Aid – the places passed through, the others in the group who came together, somewhere in the middle of the cyclists, having found their own preferred pace, the joys of navigating Paris and the satisfaction of arriving safe at the destination.. Well done Anne !
Shortly afterwards, not resting on her laurels, Anne then decided to accompany her daughter on a cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats following a route that her son had undertaken some years before . Quite a different challenge than being in a large group with back up and support. A collection for Christian Aid realised the sum of £47.
We have arranged a Fellowship Lunch for our July Meeting.- at Ferraris Restaurant, Longridge on Thursday 12th July , 12 noon for a 12.30 pm start. Please sign the list in the foyer if you wish to attend and ask if you need a lift.
There will be no Fellowship meeting in August
On Thursday, 13th September, our speaker will be Helen McKinnell, who will speak about her visit to Sierre Leone and her time spent working in a hospital.This will complement the talk that John Spencer gave some time ago on the work of the Methodist Church in Sierre Leone.
Commitment for Life is a programme of the United Reformed Church. It encourages churches in the programme to take action, pray and give for people across the world. It works in partnership with Christian Aid and The World Development Movement raising over half a million pounds a year from contributing churches.As a church, we support Commitment for Life through our Communion Retiring collections on alternate months.
Our preferred area of support is Palestine and the Occupied Territories. Here is a recent “good news” story from there:
“My future will be better. I can contribute to my own future now.”
Eighteen year old Soyed has a brighter future since coming to Christian Aid partner the YMCA in Beit Sahour to learn a trade. As part of a family of five, Soyed spent his early life in a refugee camp in Tulkarum. As a child he sustained a back injury in a car accident which left him unable to find suitable employment. And as a young teenager he spent a year in prison.
However help was at hand when he was noticed by YMCA field workers. Travelling each day to the olive wood workshop in Beit Sahour was out of the question as poor roads, long journeys caused by closures and checkpoints aggravated his injury. So it was decided he would live nearer the centre and be part of the vocational training, learning woodworking skills. Soyed is excited about the opportunity to earn money but says being trained means so much more,
“I am training to help my father when he gets older and can’t work. Being at the Centre has helped my confidence. I felt lonely but now I have a different feeling.”
The rehabilitation programme in Beit Sahour was originally set up to help victims of violence from the first intifada but expanded to include those young people living with physical difficulties. The programme aims to integrate the young people back into the community so they can play a full part by working not only with the young person but also their families. Soyed has been able to benefit from their residential centre and receive vocational training and life skills. The YMCA put special emphasis on high quality counselling and education. Many of the young people they help have spent time in prison. Soyed explained how he felt trapped because as a Palestinian he can’t travel from one place to another without many difficulties. “It causes us suffering,” he explained.
Constant reminders of the occupation, which probably was the cause of their imprisonment in the first place, make it hard to readjust to life for young Palestinian men coming out of Israeli prisons. The YMCA knows it is important that these issues are worked through, so the young people can become full members of their communities again.
In 2012, Commitment for Life celebrates twenty years of Faith and Justice in action.
We include a special reflection by our previous NW Moderator Rev’d Peter Bain
A LONG TIME AGO…..
The United Reformed Church came into existence at an exciting time. Human beings were travelling to the moon! All kinds of new possibilities, scientific, cultural and spiritual were opening up. Some say that the sight of the earth seen from space was the single most transformative image of the 20th century. It certainly spurred on those who were considering our planet as a whole, for environmental or developmental reasons, and several new organisations were started in this time (including World Development Movement). We were all travellers on this space-ship earth. Indeed we still are.
From the beginning the URC took on board the 1% appeal which had been supported by our two constituent denominations. It was a kind of indirect voluntary ‘tax’ which, apart from the intrinsic benefit on developing countries, was intended to demonstrate our willingness for the UK Government to accept the challenge issued by the UN to developed countries to contribute 1% of the Gross National Product to development across the world. This was later reduced to a target of 0.7% and several nations, including the UK, are belatedly on course to achieve this – but that’s a different discussion!
The 1% appeal took off in the new URC and went well for many years under the leadership of Church & Society Secretary John Reardon. But twenty years in, the concept and the campaign needed an overhaul; the income was slipping and the interest waning. A task group was charged with renewing the programme and came up with this new one with a number of new features:
1 There would be partners, not twinned projects because of the problems that can cause, but countries and partner organisations which would receive the bulk of the funding; this would allow more information to be shared, giving a focus for prayer and for campaigning as well as for fund-raising.
2 The name would not be ‘the 1% appeal’ but something more inspiring. We thought of ‘Commitment for hope’ but settled for ‘Commitment for life’.
3 The programme would employ a part-time co-ordinator who would recruit dozens of advocates across the church, to promote the new programme in different ways.
4 The system of partner countries meant that visits would be possible, from representatives of our partners to us and by some of our advocates to those countries.
There would be more deliberate worship material for use in churches, who would be encouraged to mark their involvement in ‘Commitment for life’ with an annual service.
5 There would be a debate and resolution in General Assembly every four years to renew the ‘profile’ of the programme.
6 Participating churches could change their partner focus after a few years, which would also refresh the programme locally.
7 There would be a similar division of the funds as before, namely 75% to partners via Christian Aid, 10% to World Development Movement and 15% for education, advocacy and other grants.
These new ideas meant that ‘Commitment for Life’ caught on and the number of participating local churches grew steadily. For two years Janet Davies worked as the co-ordinator and then Anne Martin took over in 1995. With our funding WDM has been able to take a lead in many of the campaigns around global justice over the years. And our grants helped significant pieces of work to get going and keep going, such as Fairtrade Foundation and Jubilee 2000.
A revelation with an Incredibly Big Message (IBM):
Well, you might have thought that you knew how the Internet started, but here’s the TRUE story…
In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.
And she said unto Abraham, her husband: “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?” And Abraham did look at her – as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said: “How, dear?” And Dot replied: “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”
Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent. To prevent neighbouring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was called Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures – Hebrew To The People (HTTP). But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did secrete himself inside
Abraham’s drum and began to siphon off some of Abraham’s business. But he was soon discovered, arrested and prosecuted – for insider trading.
And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic
Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS. And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks. And Dot did say: “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.”
And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said: “We need a name that reflects what we are.” And Dot replied: “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.” “YAHOO,” said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com. Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).
And that is how it all began.
Thanks to Beaconfield URC
Giving to a church or needy person is charity. Giving cheerfully to the Lord is worship.
Giving is NOT God’s way of raising money. It is God’s way of making us more like Jesus
who gave everything for us.
Giving is not so much about an amount. It is more about our attitude.
A Poem for the Fridge Door?
The more you give, the more you get.
The more you laugh, the less you fret.
The more you do unselfishly,
the more you live abundantly.
The more of everything you share,
the more you’ll always have to spare.
The more you love, the more you’ll find
that life is good and friends are kind.
For only what we give away,
Enriches us from day to day.