PASTORAL LETTER JANUARY – FEBRUARY 2014
The old year`s gone away to nothingness and night: We cannot find him all the day nor hear him in the night: He left no footstep, mark or place In either shade or sun: The last year he`d a neighbour`s face, In this he`s known by none. By John Clare. January 1st. 2014, A New year. The ancient Romans had among their beliefs a god of doorways, his name was Janus. With two faces, one looking forward and the other looking back, he was the god of beginnings as well as endings. He gives his name of course to this month, “January,” and of course to “janitors,” the keeper of doorways. And so on the threshold of another year we are waking up to the reality of yet another year, we are holy janitors, – Janus, I believe was the god of transition and change, and perhaps we should consider his guidance when we meet to discuss the (hopeful) appointment of a new minister to lead us here in Fulwood URC. Lots of people at this time of year make new year resolutions, some people carry them through to the end of the month, no prizes if you get further than February. That same yearning, that same hope was attributed to Jesus by the early Church. Paul in the first chapter of his letter to the Colossians, writes very simply, “He is the beginning and the end”. We can all remember back in November, the Philippine Islands and what happened to them in a violent storm which blew down their homes and flooded the roads in and out of their small islands, they had nowhere to go and there is still a lot of clearing up to do at this moment. The death toll was enormous. There is within our human nature a deep yearning for new beginnings, and a natural hope that this year is better than last, but do we deserve what we get, and at the end of the day all we can do is our best in the name of Jesus, help when we can and do what we can to help others less fortunate than we are. And so fellow holy janitors, keepers of this new day, let us pray that God may fill our hearts with joy and hope in believing. Save us from our fears and doubts. And give us courage and strength to be instruments of our God’s promised kingdom. Old Year! Upon the stage of time you stand to bow your last adieu; A moment and the prompter`s chime will ring the curtain down on you. Your mien is sad, your step is slow; You falter as a Sage in pain; Yet turn, old year, before you go, And face your audience again. By Robert W, Service HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE !!
For those who like looking forward, please note that the next N W SYNOD BIG DAY OUT will be at the Southport Convention Centre on Saturday 18th July 2015
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED…??
……..why the room fills from the back for church meetings, or why the oldest, wisest and hardest-of-hearing members of the congregation sit the farthest from the pulpit? You perhaps thought it was a throwback to school days, when the object was to avoid the teacher’s eye, or perhaps you attributed it to Christian humility, a determination not to claim the limelight. Not so, according to a recent study by the University of Hinterglaube; it is all down to our ancestors. When our primitive forebears were threatened by danger, the bravest and best formed a ring, pushing their leader as well as the weak and the vulnerable to the centre. And so our members are merely following their ancestral intuition in forming a protective shield at the back of the assembly.
Thanks to Beaconsfield URC
In the ancient words of Ambrose of Milan (339 – 397 AD) In Christ we have everything . . . If you want to heal your wound, he is the doctor. If you are burning with fever, he is a fountain. If you are in need of help, he is strength. If you are in dread of death, he is life. If you are fleeing in darkness, he is light. If you are hungry, he is food.
The website (sort of) works!
We have now had a church website for over 5 years and some people may wonder whether it is any use. Well, over the past few weeks I have discovered that quite a few people have found our website easily and contacted us for information. In the last newsletter Mac mentioned that the secretary of Saltaire URC contacted me prior to the Churches Together in Fulwood & Broughton pilgrimage when she was looking for an organist for the service as she had found our contact details via our website. In November we were contacted by someone in the Archbishop of York’s office. They were arranging a meeting for the denominational church leaders in the north of England and needed contact details for Rev Lis Mullen who had recently been inducted as Interim Moderator for the URC Northern Synod (she was formerly the minister at Carver URC, Windermere). By checking the Northern Synod website I provided the required details. Our church contact details had been found via the website. The following week I had a phone call from a lady at the Garstang Courier & Longridge News asking about the minister at Christ Church Longridge as they regularly ask for articles from local clergy. She had been given the name ‘John Borg’ but when looking on the internet could only find ‘Ray Borg’ so she found our website and phoned me to find out what was his connection with the United Reformed Church? I explained that he was the Methodist Minister currently in charge of the URC/Methodist Local Ecumenical Partnership at Longridge and looked on the Preston Ribble circuit website for his contact information. According to the statistics on the website most people find us by searching Google and whilst the majority are searching from the UK there are a large number of searches from around the world. The following list shows which words are most used to locate our site although I’m not sure how our site was found by searching for ‘respect school property’: Top Search items Visits nativity 138 fulwood urc 28 fulwood united reformed church symonds road 17 shepherds nativity 15 fulwood united reformed church 14 .Respect school property 13 urc lectionary 2013 12 the christmas nativity 12 urc lectionary 11 nativity background 10 fulwood urc preston 9 shepherds from the nativity 8 united reformed church preston 7 fulwood united reformed church preston 7 june baker singers 7 united reform church preston 7 churches in fulwood preston 6 computer monitor 6 united reformed church 5 Revd Helen Higgin-Botham United Reformed Minister 5 In November 2013 there were 521 ‘visitors’ to our website and 428 by 16th December, wouldn’t it be lovely if one or two of them found their way to one of our services. Until then we will continue serving them in the virtual world.
OUT OF THE MOUTHS…..
Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread without any ingredients. The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple. Samson killed the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles. The Epistles were the wives of the Apostles.
COMMITMENT FOR LIFE
Responding to the Crisis in Palestine and the Occupied Territories From Moving Stories : 166 (December 2013) Yusef is a worker in olive wood. His shop is full of Christmas crib scenes and statues of the Madonna and Child, ranging from the traditional smooth and impressionist modern statues up to 0.5m tall. As with many Arab shopkeepers he is courteous and offers hospitality. He tells me he has a new baby, a boy, who is two months old. He has seen his new son once, on the night he was born. Yusef’s wife has a permit giving residency in East Jerusalem. Yusef does not. Every time he wants to cross the separation barrier he needs to apply for a permit. If Yusef’s wife were to leave her home in East Jerusalem she would lose her right to residency The Israeli authorities seem to make life as uncomfortable as possible for Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and for the Palestinian citizens of Israel. One day, Yusef hopes, their family will be able to live together in peace. “O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in time of trouble.” (Isaiah 33:2) Little boy: Mummy what is the sea like? Please take me to the sea. Mother: “I can’t – It is against the law.” Friend: Come with me and my family, we will take you.” And so it happened that a little boy – and his mother – from near Bethlehem, were taken to the sea near Jaffa, by a woman from Jerusalem. What’s unusual about that? The little boy and his mother were Arabs. The woman from Jerusalem was Jewish. The Jewish woman broke the law by taking them. Neither woman knew the Bible, which speaks of “their being neither Jew nor Greek, but being one in Christ.” But they lived as if they did know it. They were sisters, children of Abraham. They were sisters, children in God’s family. But their homes were separated by the separation barrier Prayer: There is no “must” about a wall or a fear that divides. There is no “must” which says tomorrow will be like today. The only “must” is that love will win; that God is stronger than evil. Your Kingdom come, O God; your will be done
In November, we enjoyed our usual hot pot supper and table games evening. It was good to be joined by Allan and Joyce Clarke who enjoyed the supper and the fellowship. Thanks are due to Margery for arranging the supper and games. At our December meeting we had an excellent illustrated talk by Ray Lea, the Regional Co-ordinator of the Mission Aviation Fellowship . He enlightened us about the vast number of ways in which small aircraft, flown by volunteer pilots, provide all sorts of help to many remote parts of the world. £50 was collected on behalf of MAF. One way in which MAF raise funds is through the collection and sale of post cards. A box has been placed in the foyer to receive any of your unwanted post cards, which Ray, who lives in Blackpool, will collect in due course. Jean Dunsmore has decided that now is the time to stand down as Fellowship Secretary, so we are looking for a volunteer(s) to arrange the new year’s meetings.
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON – CTFB Review Meeting held on Saturday 16 November at Our Lady & St Edwards Parish
Centre. Some thirty- seven people attended including all of the clergy and with four from Fulwood URC. After opening prayers and o review of the first 25 years of CTFB. a representative from each church then commented on how we could be more effective. After a time of silent prayer and reflection we discussed in small cross-church groups what we do well, what we could do better together, what we could do together for our communities, what we might do with other churches in Preston and how we could work together in the future. The conclusions of each of the groups were recorded and have been collated for further reflection. There was a positive feeling about the meeting and all present affirmed the value of the existing Covenant CTFB held the usual Carol Singing in the foyer of Royal Preston Hospital on the Saturday before Christmas. The event was better supported than in recent years and the carol singing was much better, for part of the time augmented by a several of the hospital staff in their blue gowns and by quite a number of passing visitors as they walked along the corridor.
MORE OUT OF THE MOUTHS…
The Sunday school teacher was carefully explaining the story of Elijah the prophet and the false prophets of Baal. She explained how Elijah built an altar, put wood upon it, cut the bull in pieces and laid it upon the altar. And then Elijah commanded the people of God to fill four barrels of water and pour it over the altar. He had them do this four times. “Now,” said the teacher, “can anyone in the class tell me why the Lord would have Elijah pour water over the bull on the altar?” A little girl at the back of the room raised her hand with great enthusiasm. “To make the gravy,” came her enthusiastic reply.
IT’S A GIFT
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. Time passed, and when conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was courageous and died in battle, rescuing another soldier. His father was notified and grieved deeply the loss of his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the father’s door. A young man stood there with a package in his hands. “Sir”, he said, “you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day and was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him and he died instantly. He often talked of you and your love of art. ” The young man held out the package – “I know this isn’t much. I’m no great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.” The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. Whatever its deficiencies, the painting somehow captured the personality of the son. When the father offered to pay for it, the young man responded, “Oh no, Sir. I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.” The father treasured that painting and hung it in a prominent place in his house. There it remained until he died. The auction of his art collection, which followed his death, attracted many influential people. The portrait of the son was on the platform. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture – who will bid for it?” The response was silence, and then protests from the art aficionadas who demanded that the amateur work be set aside. The auctioneer, however, persisted. The portrait must go first. Finally a voice came from the back of the hall. “I’ll give £10 for it.” It was the father’s gardener, and all he could afford. There were no other bids. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice. SOLD FOR £10!” Someone shouted, “Now let’s get on with the collection.” The auctioneer laid down his gavel. To angry protests, he declared, “I’m sorry. The auction is over. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the Will I could not reveal until now. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned – whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything.” “..God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.