In our last edition I began by reviewing all the activities planned in a busy run up to Easter. Regrettably only the World Day of Prayer Service and the recording of Reform Magazine took place. The rest were postponed by the restrictions imposed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
No public worship, no meetings. A lockdown confining us to our own homes except for very limited activities. Social distancing imposed when outside our home. Schools closed to all except the children of key workers. Children working from home by computer link with their teachers. Great concern and trepidation about what the future holds.
As schools closed, homemade pictures of a rainbow began appearing in house windows, and then, more and more pictures rainbows springing up in windows of schools still open for the children of key-workers.
Loads of pictures of rainbows to encourage hope in all passers-by. The display fixed to the railings of St Gregory’s school on Blackpool Road is splendid, The Rainbow – God’s symbol of hope to Noah.
Clearly this Edition of the newsletter will be different than usual. No lists of activity dates and rotas and the like. However, we have been blessed by contributions from outside sources for which we give thanks. All concerning the same topic – Hope.
Stay hopeful Stay safe
Mac Dunsmore Church Secretary
PASTORAL LETTER FROM BRIAN JOLLY, SYNOD MODERATOR
As we face the unprecedented challenges of the moment, locally and globally, I write to remind and assure you that we face these things together, with fellow pilgrims in the United Reformed Church and in the local and worldwide ecumenical movement and in partnership with members of other faiths and all people of goodwill.
We can face uncertainty with faith. The psalmist assures us, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble [Psalm 46:1]. Jesus promises us, I am with you always [Matthew 28:20]. Although we may have to celebrate Easter in our homes and with ongoing uncertainty about the future, the truth of the resurrection will be undiminished by whatever we face.
Please be assured of our common concern and support for one another, of our prayers for one another and especially for those who face the greatest challenges in our families, communities and world. As you are able, please care for folk in your community in whatever ways are possible, in the name of Jesus.
Your, in prayer and fellowship
16 March 2020
A PRAYER FROM THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT
In the midst of a storm,
You said, ‘Peace be still’,
Bid our anxious fears subside,
sustain your church in faith, hope and love,
bring our nation through this tumult.
Grant wisdom to those with heavy responsibilities,
And healing and hope to those who are infected
John Proctor – General Secretary
Jane Baird, Francis Brienen, Richard Church- Deputy General Secretaries.
LECTIONARY READINGS MAY & JUNE 2020
3rd Acts 2: 42 – 47; Psalm 23 or Ezekiel 34: 7 – 15; Psalm 100; 1 Peter 2: 19 – 25; St John 10: 1 – 10
10th Acts 7: 55 – 60; Psalm 31: 1 – 5, 15 – 16 or Proverbs 4: 10 – 18; Psalm 119: 9 – 32; 1 Peter 2: 2 – 10; St John 14: 1 – 14
17th Acts 17: 22 – 31; Psalm 66: 8 – 20 or Ezekiel 43: 1 – 7a; Psalm 115; 1 Peter 3: 13 – 22; St John 14: 15 – 21
Ascension of the Lord Acts 1: 1 – 11; Psalm 47 or 93 or Daniel 7: 9 – 14; Psalm 24: 7 – 10; Ephesians 1: 15 – 23; St Luke 24: 44 – 53
24th Acts 1: 6 – 14; Psalm 68: 1 – 10, 32 – 35 or Isaiah 45: 1 – 7; Psalm 21: 1 – 7; 1 Peter 4: 12 – 14: 5: 6 – 11; St John 17: 1 – 11
31st Pentecost Sunday Acts 2: 1 – 21 or Numbers 11: 24 – 30; Psalm 104: 24 – 34, 35b; 1 Corinthians 12: 3b – 13 or Acts 2: 1 – 21; St John 20: 19 – 23 or St John 7: 37 – 39
7th Trinity Sunday Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13: 11 – 13; St Matthew 28: 16 – 20
14th Genesis 18: 1 – 15, (21: 1 – 7); Psalm 116: 1 – 2, 12 – 19 or Exodus 19: 2 – 8a; Psalm 100; Romans 5: 1 – 8; St Matthew 9: 35 – 10: 8, (9 – 23)
21st Genesis 21: 8 – 21; Psalm 86: 1 – 10, 16 – 17 or Jeremiah 20: 7 – 13; Psalm 69: 7 – 10 (11 – 15), 16 – 18; Romans 6: 1b – 11; St Matthew 10: 24 – 39
28th Genesis 22: 1 – 14; Psalm 13 or Jeremiah 28: 5 – 9; Psalm 89: 1 – 4, 15 – 18; Romans 6: 12 – 23; St Matthew 10: 40 – 42
5th Genesis 24: 34 – 38, 42 – 49, 58 – 67; Psalm 45: 10 – 17 or Song of Songs 2: 8 – 13 or Zechariah 9: 9 – 12; Psalm 145: 8 – 14; Romans 6: 12 -23; St Matthew 11: 16 – 19, 25 – 30
12th Genesis 25: 19 – 34; Psalm 119: 105 – 112 or Isaiah 55: 10 – 13; Psalm 65: (1 – 8), 9 – 13; Romans 8: 1 – 11; St Matthew 13: 1 – 9, 18 – 23
THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH VISION STATEMENT
Called to be God’s people, transformed by the Gospel, making a difference in the world for Christ’s sake
MYRTLE AGNES SMITH
We were sorry to hear of the death of Myrtle Smith on 25th February just in time to make the Stop Press in the last edition. Her funeral was held at church on 13th March, followed by committal at Preston Crematorium, both led by Margery. Luckily this was just before the lockdown so the church was full for the service.
Myrtle had made plans for her service and it was no surprised to hear that one of her chosen hymns was ‘I to the hills will lift mine eyes’ as this was what she chose when we had a favourite hymns service. She had also left some notes to be used for the eulogy which is reproduced below (the comments in italics were added by two of her children).
Born Myrtle Agnes Maclaren in Glasgow on the 27th July, 1929, she lived there very happily with her Mother, Father and older brother David until, during the Second World War, the Germans bombed the shipyard at Clydebank for two consecutive nights in March 1941.
One of the planes on its way home dropped a stray bomb near where she lived demolishing a house. The following morning Myrtle’s parents packed the car and the family left for the countryside of Perthshire where a relative had a small cottage – extremely basic as far as facilities went but they hoped to be safe there.
They never went back to live in the big city and after seven months the family moved into their own house in Auchterarder. Myrtle’s father commuted by train into Glasgow as there was no petroleum for cars. The journey took much longer in those days! Auchterarder was home to Myrtle until she married Dick in 1952 having started their courtship when she was 19 and he 23.
Myrtle always loved singing. She was about 9 or 10 when her mother played the piano and taught her to sing ballads such as “Alice Blue Gown” and “A brown bird singing”. This led to singing lessons for 10 years and playing principal roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan society in Perth and lots of solo singing locally. She was even paid on some occasions! Singing was always part of her life wherever she lived – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Norwich and in Preston, where Myrtle sang with the Orpheus choir for very many years. Latterly being part of the “Life Long Singers” gave her much pleasure and she enjoyed performing frequent concerts with them in retirement homes. Although singing was her first love she also became a master of the comic monologue – who can forget her wonderful renditions of “I wish I’d looked after my teeth” and “There’s a baby in my dinner”!
Her other great loves were Scotland and all things Scottish. Her ashes are to be scattered with Dick’s in Auchterarder cemetery.
Myrtle was very proud of her 3 much loved children, Celia, Richard and Fiona and considered them, and husband Dick, as her career. She was so grateful to have seen 5 grandchildren grow up and delighted in her 2 little great grandchildren.
Life, of course, had its ups and downs; happy times and sad times but Myrtle always felt very fortunate.
A simple but very fitting epitaph in memory of Myrtle are the words that the family have heard from everyone on hearing of their mother’s passing – “She was a lovely lady”.
We also remember that Myrtle was a member of the choir here at Fulwood along with Dick for many years, and also sang with the Christian Aid Choir North West.
MOTHERING SUNDAY SERVICE
Our Mothering Sunday Service was due to be led by Val Atkinson who as you know was caught up in the coronavirus restrictions. A friend of Val’s always makes a Simnel cake for her to take to the church where she is preaching on Mothering Sunday. We are grateful to Margery for distributing the Simnel cake to nearby members, and sending Easter cards, together with palm crosses and to Val for offering the following Meditation & prayer she sent and agreed they be included in our Newsletter.
It was a strange life… the world so busy and competitive so that she often was passed by and pushed into a corner… unwanted and forgotten.
The people, full of their own lives, were laughing and playing… working and enjoying many liberties. To them life was all about themselves, so wrapped up in their own private worlds… oblivious of others about them.
Day followed night and night followed day, the rhythm of life ticked by so automatically that it was not acknowledged…
But, one day the earth almost gave up… the sun shone so hot that much of life perished… night came and a freezing moon gave way to a quiet stillness…
So, earth grew hard and dry… dust covered all about it… life had lost its voice.
A lonely worm peeped out from beneath a stone, all it heard was silence… there was nothing to see except the woman’s figure in the corner silent and alone…
The worm found a voice and spoke to the woman…
“What future is there for us now?“ it said…
“You wait” said the woman…
“If you say so“ said the worm…
“I do“ she said….
Not knowing the future of life on earth, they waited… time slowly ticking by…
Then… Quietly… so quietly… tears fell down to earth, hitting its dusty crust…
One by one they fell… and slowly, so very slowly where each teardrop fell a green shoot broke the surface… pushing its way confidently towards the sun… a sun that now shone with a gentle warmth…
Amazed the worm turned to the woman in the corner and asked… “Who are you?”
“I AM HOPE”… she said.
Let us pray.
For each of three, we pray to Thee…
For Faith and Hope and Charity,
For tears that fell extinguishing hell…
To bring new Hope to earth.
This time to be, to think and see…
Of what was done to your dear Son…. who died to set us free.
Dear Father, we thank you for this precious time.
When new shoots give birth to peace on earth.
VAL ATKINSON April 2020
NOTE FROM DALEEN OUR MISSIONAL DISCIPLESHIP MENTOR
I would like to share with you this very personal, heartfelt and powerful message of Darren Holland (Missional Discipleship Mentor for Central Area). My hope is that it will support people who feel numbed or distant from God due to fear or anxiety caused by this strange time we live in. May we be able to rest in God, knowing that there is always hope in him/her.
Grace and Peace
Daleen ten Cate
MEANDERINGS OF A MISSION MENTOR
In the window of our house is a small A4 piece of paper with a rainbow and the word ‘Hope’ written on it. My daughter made it after an initiative going out through schools encouraged children everywhere to make rainbows to remind people that there is always hope.
As I drove to the chemist the other day I noticed rainbow coloured paper chains adorning a school railings made, no doubt, by the children of key-workers who are being supported and cared for by teaching staff.
There is always hope.
Of course there are times when hope can be the thing that eludes us most.
Psalm 22 has always been a favourite passage of mine. It speaks honestly of the heart cry of someone tormented and feeling abandoned by God. It is most famously the cry of Jesus as the Gospel of Mark records in chapter 15.34: ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’ A complete absence of hope. And yet the psalmist daring to challenge God, daring to metaphorically shake his (though who’s to say it’s not a her?!) fist at the Almighty proves to be the key to taking him on a journey that will eventually renew his sense of hope in the God of faithfulness. It is in his openness that the psalmist begins to experience a new understanding of the presence of God that takes him from despair to deeper understanding and to praise.
This week has been personally challenging as my Dad become quite unwell with the coronavirus and I felt helpless and limited in what I could do to support my Mum who was quarantined in the house with him.
Unable to go in I paced about their garden for two hours while mum waited an hour and a half to get through to the overwhelmed NHS111 service. As I paced and the recorded message kept repeating and Dad started to deteriorate and become more confused, I used my last sensibility to text some friends to ask them to pray.
Even before the texts had arrived that moment of helplessness and hopelessness seemed to be the key to experiencing the presence of God. Within seconds I felt at peace – an assurance that no matter how this turned out God was in it with us. I can honestly say hope never felt more certain.
The NHS as we have rightly celebrated was brilliant. A Doctor was sent whose compassionate manner (despite being dressed like an astronaut!) was exactly what my parents needed. Dad is now on the road to recovery, Praise God. I don’t offer that praise flippantly as though Dad was singled out for healing when so many are dying but I exclaim it simply because through it all we were not alone. Isolated, frustrated, helpless but, as it turns out, never hopeless. Hope was present because love was present – visible in the gifts, skills and compassion of the one who attended Dad; invisible in the sense of comfort and peace that came when we were at our most vulnerable.
I know so many are struggling with the isolation that has come because of this coronavirus crisis. It is not something many have experienced before because it was never a feature of people’s lives even in the war.
I have been so overwhelmed and inspired by the stories of compassion and community around the nation but also from our local churches. It’s a source of encouragement to us all to hear of how you are supporting and caring for one another in the limited ways that you can. Thank you.
I pray that if you ever feel moments of fear, helplessness or hopelessness that you will have the strength and confidence to cry out to our faithful God. Try reading Psalm 22. May you know God’s peace, his comfort and the renewal of hope in the certain knowledge that you are not alone. There is always hope.
If you feel so inclined maybe take the lead from our children and young people and create your own rainbow. Place it in your window as a sign of hope for others who may pass and as a reminder to all of us – we are not alone. The God of faithfulness is with us.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
We have received a card from the family of Ellie Russell thanking us for our kind expressions of sympathy. Our support at this difficult time was very much appreciated and a great comfort. A special thanks to those who attended the funeral service at the Crematorium.
DATES FOR MAY – JUNE 2020
At the time of writing, the Covid19 lockdown has been extended until early May – by the time you are reading this it may have been put back even further or we may be getting back to normal. I will need to contact the Preachers I have already booked for our services to see whether they are still willing to come but Mac & I have agreed that our first service back at church will be a celebration that we are about to gather again but also to remember those who have been affected by the virus.
We will contact members of the congregation as soon as we know that we can get together for our usual worship, praying that it will be sooner rather than later.
FOOT NOTE The BBT group from whom we have hired our church photocopier for several years have recently become part of a bigger group named Corona Corporate Solutions!!!
…not the most appropriate name at the present moment!!
Pentecost Sunday – 31st May
At the time of writing, we don’t know when the Covid19 lock-down will be lifted, but it seems likely that we won’t be back in church soon. There are many services offered on the radio, TV or internet but we have included a couple of Pentecost hymns, the lectionary readings for Pentecost Sunday and some items from Roots on the Web for you to read.
R&S 310 – Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost
Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost, taught by thee, we covet most,
of thy gifts at Pentecost, holy, heavenly love.
Faith that mountains could remove, tongues of earth or heaven above,
knowledge, all things, empty prove if I have no love.
Though I as a martyr bleed, give my goods the poor to feed,
all is vain, if love I need; therefore give me love.
Love is kind, and suffers long; love is meek, and thinks no wrong,
love than death itself more strong; therefore give us love.
Faith and hope and love we see, joining hand in hand agree;
but the greatest of the three, and the best, is love.
Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) 7 7 7 5 Used By Permission. CCL Licence No. 21406 Copied from HymnQuest: Copyright Licence Users’ Edition HymnQuest ID: 53695
Day of Pentecost acrostic
An acrostic telling of the story of Pentecost:
U p the street we came, pilgrims from far and wide,
N ot understanding each other, each with our own language.
D ay of Pentecost, harvest to celebrate,
E ach with our own worship to offer to God.
R ushing wind, flames of fire,
S tartled people on the street.
T hen words of God all could hear
A ll spoken in languages each could understand.
N ow I know, now I believe.
D ay of Pentecost, God’s great gift. Let’s all celebrate TOGETHER.
Acts 2.1-21; Psalm 104.24-34,35b; 1 Corinthians 12.3b-13; John 7.37-39
A meditation for Pentecost
Imagine … in these times …
When the day of Pentecost came those who attended worship that day had all come to church and shut the outer doors.
Suddenly there was an almighty racket and a draft blew its way through the building where the worshippers were sitting in their pews.
And what seemed like individual flames came to rest on each of the assembled people filling them with the Holy Spirit.
Speaking in tongues was the least of their worries, for the Spirit filled them with such a powerful message that they were compelled to leave their seats and go out into the highways and byways.
Now there were many people living nearby who had never before shown any interest in the life of the church nor had they ever been invited inside, other than for occasional baptisms, weddings, funerals and jumble sales.
But at the sound of the commotion no-one batted an eyelid and the world outside carried on pretty much as before.
Other, that is, than those who had been filled with the Spirit, for they had been guilty of dreams and visions and knew that the world would never be the same again.
Spirit of God moving across the waters creating order out of chaos form out of void light from darkness life from dust.
Spirit of God create new life in us.
Spirit of God descending on your Word delegating power instilling strength filling with love ensuring life after death.
Spirit of God grant eternal life to us.
Spirit of God coming like a mighty wind consuming with tongues of fire even a gentle breeze stirring leaves to dance makes a tree pulsate with life even a tiny spark kindling flames to dance makes a fire leap into life.
Spirit of God enable us to dance.
Images of the Spirit
You came like a dove wings softly beating resting on Jesus
Help us to be gentle in our dealing with each other, may we choose the path of peace.
You came like a strong wind breathing energy and power into the believers.
Help us to respond to your power as we work in our homes and employment, in our churches and communities.
You came like tongues of fire consuming doubts and fears breaking down the barriers of language.
Help us to keep the fire of our faith burning fanning the flames until we dance, with the certainty of your presence within us.
R&S 268 – Jesus is Lord! Creation’s voice proclaims it
Jesus is Lord! Creation’s voice proclaims it,
for by his power each tree and flower was planned and made.
Jesus is Lord! The universe declares it –
Sun, moon and stars in heaven cry: ‘Jesus is Lord!’
Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord!
Praise him with alleluias, for Jesus is Lord!
Jesus is Lord! Yet from his throne eternal
in flesh he came to die in pain
on Calvary’s tree.
Jesus is Lord! From him all life proceeding,
he gave his life a ransom thus setting us free.
Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord!
Praise him with alleluias, for Jesus is Lord!
Jesus is Lord! O’er sin the mighty conqueror,
from death he rose and all his foes
shall own his name.
Jesus is Lord! God sends his Holy Spirit
showing by works of power that Jesus is Lord.
Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord!
Praise him with alleluias, for Jesus is Lord!
David J Mansell (born 1936) © 1982 Authentic Publishing/Adm. by Kingswaysongs, a division of David C Cook, www.kingswayworship.co.uk Used by permission 11 12 11 12 and refrain Used By Permission. CCL Licence No. 634729 Copied from HymnQuest: Copyright Licence Users’ Edition HymnQuest ID: 56173 CCLI#: null
May the power of the Spirit challenge you.
May the peace of the Spirit comfort you.
May the presence of the Spirit enable you to live in love and service in the name of Christ.