PASTORAL LETTER JANUARY – FEBRUARY 2015
The month of January was so named by the Romans in honour of Janus, their god of beginnings and transition and thereby of gates, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.
Looking back at a hectic November and December period with re-arranged services, the Autumn Fair, Church and Joint Pastorate Meetings etc, I found myself reflecting on the story told at the Worship Group Service. Vivien related how, at Christmas, the school teacher’s desk was covered with attractively-wrapped presents from the children. Amongst them was a small brown paper parcel. It came from Teddy, the loner in the class, who neither the teacher nor any of his classmates particularly liked and who, since the recent death of his mother, appeared to have lost all interest in school. When she opened it there was a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle half full of cheap perfume. The children began to snigger when they saw them but the teacher quickly grasped the importance of the situation. She quickly splashed on some perfume and put on the bracelet, pretending that Teddy had given her something special. At the end of the day Teddy worked up enough courage to say, “Miss you smell just like my mother … and her bracelet looks really pretty on you too. I’m glad you like my presents.”
After the children had gone, the teacher got down on her knees and prayed for God’s forgiveness. She prayed for God to use her as she sought to not only teach her children but to love them as well. She became a changed teacher, a new teacher. The story went on to tell of how Teddy found a new interest in his work and caught up with the others; how, and after he had left school, from time to time, he kept in touch with his teacher and eventually how he was being able to tell her he had qualified as a doctor and wanted her to come to his wedding. I guess that we all expect our presents to be wrapped in beautiful paper. How would we react to a present wrapped in brown paper? On reflection, it seems to me that’s whysome people miss out at Christmas and have missed out on the gift that God sent to them. You see God’s Gift didn’t come in a beautifully wrapped package. At our Carols by Candlelight Service Duncan read Fred Kaan’s poignant words: “Each year we sing with bated Christmas voice as if events in Bethlehem were nice; when every house and pub had shut its door and Mary in a shed her baby bore”.Some words that Rev’d Glyn Eatock included in his recent sermon also come to mind – “it wasn’t all turkey and tinsel” Jesus’ mother Mary was a young virgin, his earthly father was a poor carpenter. Jesus was not born in the capital city Jerusalem, not in a beautiful palace. He was born in a manger among the animals in a little town. Only the minor prophet Micah foretold that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. It was not an important place, neither glamorous nor glorious. Yet to this place God sent Jesus, His only Son, as His gift to each of us – a gift to you and a gift to me. The packaging certainly wasn’t too attractive but it contained by far the greatest and most glorious Gift in the history of the World. And now looking forward to a New Year…
On Sunday 11th January, we have our Joint Pastorate Service at 2:00pm at Kirkham URC when the Interim Moderator Rev’d Michele Jarmany will preach and the Constitution will be formally signed on behalf of the four churches. All members and friends are encouraged to attend and bring a packed lunch. Soup and tea/coffee will be available from 1.00pm. The members of the joint Vacancy Group have recently met and considered the profile of possible candidate for our ministerial vacancy. We had unanimously agreed to proceed with a meeting with the candidate at the end of December but sadly we have just learned that the candidate has, on reflection, decided that he does not feel called to this particular ministry. We must all trust and pray that another candidate will be found soon as our vacancy approaches its third year. A Happy New Year to everyone!
LECTIONARY READINGS FOR JANUARY & FEBRUARY 2015
4th Jeremiah 31: 7 – 14; Psalm 147: 12 – 20; Ephesians 1: 3 – 14; St John 1: (1 – 9), 10 – 18
6th Epiphany of the Lord Isaiah 60: 1 – 6; Psalm 72: 1 – 7, 10 – 14; Ephesians 3: 1 – 12; St Matthew 2: 1 – 12
11th Genesis 1: 1 – 5; Psalm 29; Acts 19: 1 – 7; St Mark 1: 4 – 11
18th 1 Samuel 3: 1 – 10, (11 – 20); Psalm 139: 1 – 6, 13 – 18; 1 Corinthians 6: 12 – 20; St John 1: 43 – 51
25th Jonah 3: 1 – 5, 10; Psalm 62: 5 – 12; 1 Corinthians 7: 29 – 31; St Mark 1: 14 – 20
1st Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8: 1 – 13; St Mark 1: 21 – 28
8th Isaiah 40: 21 – 31; Psalm 147: 1 – 11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9: 16 – 23; St Mark 1: 29 – 39
15th 2 Kings 2: 1 – 12; Psalm 50: 1 – 6; 2 Corinthians 4: 3 – 6; St Mark 9: 2 – 9
18th 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
22nd First Sunday in Lent Genesis 9: 8 – 17; Psalm 25: 1 – 10; 1 Peter 3: 18 – 22; St Mark 1: 9 – 15
1st Second Sunday in Lent Genesis 17: 1 – 7, 15 – 16; Psalm 22: 23 – 31; Romans 4: 13 – 25; St Mark 8: 31 – 38
8th Third Sunday in Lent Exodus 20: 1 – 17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 25; St John 2: 13 – 22
The bishop was complaining in a staff meeting that he wasn’t getting any respect from the diocesan committees and staff. Later that morning he went out and got a small sign that read, “I’m the Boss”, and then taped it to his office door. Later that day when he returned from lunch, he found that someone had taped a note to the sign that said. “Your wife called, she wants her sign back!”
Thanks to Penwortham St Marys
LETTER FROM THE NW SYNOD MODERATOR
Sheila and I had assumed that my ministerial service would end here on retirement. However, I was encouraged to explore another role within the United Reformed Church. As a consequence I have been appointed to be Deputy General Secretary of the United Reformed Church with a particular responsibility for Discipleship.
I will take up this role from Easter / early summer next year so I hope there will be an opportunity to bid farewell to many of you personally. The Synod Executive will be meeting with the General Secretary in November to start the process of appointing my successor as Moderator of North Western Synod.
Sheila and I have very much enjoyed our years in the North West and will always be thankful for the opportunity to serve in ministry here.
Yours in Christ
30th October 2014
THE THREE BEARS – WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
A far more accurate account of the events of that fateful morning…
Baby Bear goes downstairs and sits in his small chair at the table. He looks into his small bowl. It is empty. “Who’s been eating my porridge?” he squeaks.
Daddy Bear arrives at the big table and sits in his big chair. He looks into his big bowl and it is also empty. “Who’s been eating my porridge?” he roars.
Mummy Bear puts her head through the serving hatch from the kitchen and yells, “For goodness sake, how many times do I have to go through this with you?”
“It was Mummy Bear who got up first. It was Mummy Bear who woke everyone in the house. It was Mummy Bear who made the coffee. It was Mummy Bear who unloaded the dishwasher from last night and put everything away. It was Mummy Bear who swept the floor in the kitchen.
“It was Mummy Bear who went out in the cold early morning air to fetch the newspaper and croissants. It was Mummy Bear who set the table. It was Mummy Bear who walked the dog, cleaned the cat’s litter tray, gave them their food, and refilled the water.
“and not that you’ve decided to drag yourselves downstairs and grace Mummy Bear with your grumpy presence, listen carefully, because I am only going to say this once… “I haven’t made the porridge yet!”
Thanks to Lytham URC magazine
UNICEF MITE SCHEME
Vivien has received the following note from the Mite Scheme after our latest donation of £70.00:
“Please pass on my thanks to all at Fulwood URC for the generous donation . I am sorry to have to tell you of the death of our founder Roy Barnett on 29th November 2014 aged 93. He leaves his wife Molly and family but he also leaves a wonderful legacy in the Mite Scheme. With every blessing for Christmas and for 2015. Keith Garner (Coordinator)”
GIVE IT UP
Psychiatrists say it’s not good for a person to keep too much to himself. The Inland Revenue people say the same thing.
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
CAROL SINGING AT RPH
On Saturday afternoon, 20th December 25-30 people from CTFB gathered in the foyer of the Royal Preston Hospital to sing carols for a couple of hours. We were accompanied by keyboard, accordion & guitar or a combination of all three and sang all 23 carols/songs in our booklets plus a couple that we sang again as we still had some time left. It sometimes feels as if we are singing to ourselves as people hurry past on their way to or from the wards although some do sing along as they are passing, however this year a lady passed the following note, written on the back of a receipt, to Robert our pianist:
Thank you, we had some sad news today and this blessed my heart. So nice to hear proper carols telling of the real meaning of Christmas, none of this PC stuff. I watched
people’s faces as they walked past, it brought joy to them to hear you sing.
Thank you all, Sheila.
I read out the note to the singers and I think we all sang with renewed vigour knowing that our singing had really helped someone
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN LANCASHIRE
The Ecumenical Facilitator, Rev’d Anton Muller writes in the CTL December Newsletter:
(1) Praying for our schools
December began with news on the radio that Nativity Plays in schools and Carol Services in general are in decline. We have an opportunity as Churches across Lancashire to show that the opposite is the case. I have been in a number of schools recently and delighted to discover that the traditional nativity play is alive and well. It is true, however, that many schools have opted for non-religious Christmas events, more likely to feature cowboys, aliens and even lobsters in place of the Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus. It so important that we pray for our schools, volunteer to be involved in school support groups, serve as governors and do whatever we can to be a Christian presence. To be the Christian presence in the life of our community is the calling we all share as one Church and the gift we have to offer is none other than Jesus, God with us.
(2) Churches Together in Lancashire Forum and AGM – 20 January at St Cuthbert’s, Fulwood
The Church Leaders across the denominations will be present along with each of their Denominational Ecumenical Officers. This will be your opportunity to come together as the whole Church of Christ in Lancashire and to celebrate and affirm who we are. Churches and groups are invited to bring a display of some aspect of their mission and ministry in the communities they serve. This is your opportunity to encourage and support one another, to celebrate the faith in Christ that unites us and to honour the traditions that in past may have divided us but now represent the richness of our diversity and point to the ecumenical journey in which we all share.
FROM YOUR ROVING REPORTER
In November your Roving Reporter attended two special acts of worship very different in both style and venue.
It started in the summer when I received an invite from Girl guiding UK headquarters to a Service of celebration and thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on 1st November, the reason being that I have been a Guide Leader for over 40 years. My initial reaction was that it was an awfully long way to go for an hour long service and when I looked at the train fare the feeling was reinforced but over the next few days I started to think that it would be nice to go and perhaps make the journey worthwhile by spending a couple of days in London so, as I was allowed to take a guest to the service I asked my friend if she would like a trip to London and then booked the train tickets, hotel and oyster cards. (Handy hint – if you book in advance and don’t mind the slow train, the return fare was just over 1/3 the price of the faster trains.) After dropping our bags at the Ibis near Euston station we spent Thursday afternoon looking round the Museum of London.
On Friday we were typical tourists and visited the Wellington Arch and were standing on the top balcony when the Household Cavalry rode underneath on the way from Hyde Park to the changing of the Guard. Inside the arch was a very interesting display about English Heritage preserving and restoring War Memorials around the country. From there we went across to Apsley House (postal address No. 1, London) which was the home of the Duke of Wellington before wandering down to look at the Christmas displays in Harrods followed by a picnic in Hyde Park. It was too early to go back to the hotel so we caught the tube to go and see the poppies at the Tower of London. It was an impressive sight, not just the sea of red poppies, but the thousands of people who were queuing up to walk round the full length of the moat.
Before going to the Abbey on Saturday we visited St Margaret’s church next door and then joined the queue outside the Abbey. There were several tourists, who either joined the queue thinking we were ordinary visitors (despite the number of Guide & Scout uniforms) or spotted some of us holding tickets, and asked where they could buy them. At the door our tickets were checked and we were directed into the nave while others were seated in the transepts. It felt quite unreal, waiting for the service to start and remembering all the State occasions that had taken place there. The address was given by the Rector of Gravenhurst who is also County Scouter for Bedfordshire and was based on a quotation that volunteering isn’t giving your time for nothing but giving your time for something, and when that ‘something’ is like Guiding or Scouting it is very worthwhile. The service closed with us renewing our Guide or Scout promise and singing the national anthem.
The other event started with an email in October from Rev Richard Church, URC NW Synod Moderator, to some of the Area Pastoral committee which said he had been invited to be part of an ecumenical representation for the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu’s visit to Blackpool Tower but couldn’t attend as he was at another meeting? Could any of us deputise? No-one else could so on the 4th November I went to Blackpool Tower ballroom where the ecumenical group were to meet at the back prior to the Archbishop arriving, apart from three wives I was the only Lay person in the group. Joe Wilson from Radio Lancashire was covering the event and at one point I was asked to speak to him. Just before 7:30pm the Archbishop arrived and the Dean of Blackburn introduced each of us to him, unfortunately when he got to me I was introduced as a minister of the URC. When I listened to Joe Wilson’s programme on the following Sunday I realised that he had also been told I was a minister!
To the accompaniment of the Mighty Wurlitzer, Bishop Julian and Bishop Geoff waltzed towards the stage and when the Archbishop joined them he waltzed round the stage with Bishop Julian. The evening started and finished with traditional hymns sung to the organ and in between there were modern worship songs sung to guitars and drums. The Archbishop spoke about his early life in Uganda and Christ being a light in the darkness of the world, at one point using the torch illustration which I ‘borrowed’ for the Christmas Tree service. Some of the modern songs weren’t really to my taste but the overall atmosphere of the evening in the packed ballroom was very uplifting.
I feel like my body has got totally out of shape, so I got my doctor’s permission to join a gym and start exercising.
I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotard on, the class was over.
Thanks to Lytham URC magazine
We agreed at our Quarterly Church Meeting to continue our Church Fellowship meetings on a Thursday evening, initially on a bi-monthly basis We are still asking for ideas for future meetings and/or offers to help in arranging a meeting If you think you could help in this way please have a word with Mac or Margery
MINISTRY OF FLOWERS
4th Jan Dorothy Rawsthorne
11th Jan Lindsay Heaton
18th Jan Margery Pitcher
25th Jan Tom Taylor
1st Feb Elsie Hunt
8th Feb Brian Fazackerley
15th Feb Jean Tosh
22nd Feb Mac Dunsmore
1st Mar Lindsay Heaton
PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL
A 65 year old wealthy widow had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital.
While on the operating table she had a near death experience. Seeing God she asked, “Is my time up?” and God replied “No, you have another 33 years, 2 months and 8 days to live.”
Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face-lift, liposuction, breast implants and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and change her hair colour and brighten her teeth! Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it and find a young husband.
After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the road on her way home, she was killed by an ambulance.
Arriving in front of God, she demanded, “I thought you said I had another 33 years? Why didn’t you pull me from out of the path of that ambulance?
God looked at her closely and said, “Sorry – I didn’t recognise you!”
Thanks to the magazine of the United Parish of Scorton, Barnacre & Calder Vale
PRAYER Christ the Priest
Christ is the Priest above us to reign,
Him did the Being of life ordain
For all alive salvation to gain;
Christ is the Priest of rising again,
Christ is the Priest above.
A Celtic prayer from South Uist
An elderly man was stopped by the police around 2am and was asked where he was going at that time of night.
The man replied, “I’m on my way to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, as well as smoking and staying out late.”
The officer then asked, “Really? Who’s giving that lecture at this time of night?”
The man replied, “That would be my wife.”
Thanks to ‘A Fifth little book of smiles’ from Guisborough Parish Church
Finding a woman sobbing that she had locked her keys in her car, a passing soldier assured her that he could help. She looked on in amazement as he removed his uniform jacket, rolled it up into a ball and rubbed it against the car door.
Magically it opened. “That’s so clever,” the woman gasped, “How did you do it?”
“Easy,” replied the soldier, “These are my khakis.”
(If this doesn’t make sense, try reading it out loud)
Thanks to the magazine of the United Parish of Scorton, Barnacre & Calder Vale
FOOTNOTE TO CHRISTMAS
Grandfather was talking to his grand-daughter. “When I was a child all I got for Christmas was an apple and an orange“ The little girl clapped her hands in joy. “Brilliant ! I’d love a computer and a mobile phone!!”
Thanks to Penwortham St Mary’s Magazine
OUT AND ABOUT
Listening to the music on Classic FM on the car radio in the build up to Christmas, it was a real pleasure to hear several items of music from Tewkesbury Cathedral where the Organist and Director of Music is Carleton Etherington. Soon after the Congregational and Presbyterian churches joined at Garstang Road in 1968, I remember Carleton as a member of the Sunday School. His father shared the organist’s duties with Mrs Edna Scott who was Carleton’s music teacher. It was wonderful to be reminded of former days with such amazing music!
Research conducted by Onepoll for the Bible Society reveals the declining Bible literacy in Britain. It found that up to 99% of adults fail to recognise the traditional nativity story from commonly held misconceptions about donkeys, stables and inns.
- 90% of people said that there were three wise men that visited Jesus with others either unsure or believing it to have been a far lower or higher number. Just 3% of adults correctly identified that the Bible doesn’t state how many there were.
- 84% of people said Mary travelled on a donkey. A further 8% thought that she had either walked or rode a camel. Only 4% were aware thatthe Bible doesn’t say how Mary travelled to Bethlehem.
- Only 20% accurately stated that Mary and Joseph travelled across the country after being told to do so by Caesar Augustus. 42% incorrectly believed it to have been King Herod that ordered them to travel, while 5% claimed them to have been moving house.
- Just 20% of adults knew that it wasthe Shepherds who first visited Jesus after his birth…..and so on .
In keeping with the findings of Bible Society’s ‘Pass it on’ report released earlier this year, the research indicates a growing decline in Bible literacy. Older generations, 55+, were once again found to know Bible stores best with the majority of correct answers being achieved by this age group.
How Well Do You Know The Nativity Story? If you have access to the Internet Try the Quiz – visit www.biblesociety.org.uk/biblebedtime2
The tragic accident in November at the Sydney Cricket Ground when the Australian Test Cricketer Paul Hughes was knocked unconscious by a bouncer and subsequently died, prompted an article in the Lancashire Evening Post. which included – On the last Saturday of June 1908, members of the Garstang Road Congregational Church cricket team were warming up for their fixture on Moor Park (one of fourteen being played in quite a confined area!) when Francis Henry Hogg, the Sunday School Superintendant, while standing chatting when he was stuck on the back of the head by a cricket ball. Although he continued to play in the match and went to work on the Monday he lapsed into unconsciousness in the evening and died later. The plaque in the Kitchen passage was erected in memory of a much loved member of the Church.
DELIVER HOPE THIS CHRISTMAS TIME
At Christmas, we celebrate the hopes of humanity focused on a tiny baby. He was born to a young mother with nowhere but a stable to welcome him into the world. A joyful night. The night a child was born who would change the course of history. But not every child born in a stable survives. Together we can spare mums the anguish of losing a child, and make sure more babies never have to lose their mothers.
Good news! The UK Government will match every pound you donate between 7 Nov 2014 and 6 Feb 2015, so even more lives can be saved.
From providing maternal healthcare in Kenya to ensuring poor communities receive the vital services we take for granted, your gift will help fund our work to eradicate poverty.
A PRAYER OF ST ANSELM (1033-1109)
Come now, little man,
Turn aside for a while from
Your daily employment,
Escape for a moment from
The tumult of your thoughts.
Put aside your weighty cares,
Let your burdensome distractions wait,
Free yourself awhile for God
And rest awhile in him.
Enter the inner chamber of your soul,
Shut out everything except God
And that which can help you in seeking him,
And when you have shut the door, seek him.
Now, my whole heart, say to God,
‘I seek your face,
Lord, it is your face I seek’
THE LAST WORD – Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
ROTAS FOR JANUARY & FEBRUARY 2015
|4th Jan||Kath Farquhar Mavis Orrell||Elsie Hunt Margery Pitcher||Norman & Elizabeth Croll|
|11th Jan||Derek Orrell Elsie Hunt||Brian Fazackerley Duncan Farquhar||Pauline Collier & Kath Farquhar|
|18th Jan||Viv Manners Frances Fraser||Richard Fraser Margery Pitcher||Frances & Richard Fraser|
|25th Jan||Duncan Farquhar Pauline Collier||Greta Temperley Jean Fazackerley||Mavis Orrell & Elsie Hunt|
|1st Feb||Brian Fazackerley Jean Dunsmore||Craig Millar Mac Dunsmore||Norman & Elizabeth Croll|
|8th Feb||Mavis Orrell Greta Temperley||Jean Dunsmore Viv Manners||Pauline Collier & Kath Farquhar|
|15th Feb||Norman Croll Kath Farquhar||Duncan Farquhar Ben Millar||Jean Dunsmore & Greta Temperley|
|22nd Feb||Viv Manners Jean Dunsmore||Jean Fazackerley Pauline Collier||Norman & Elizabeth Croll|
|1st Mar||Duncan Farquhar Mavis Orrell||Worship Group||Pauline Collier & Kath Farquhar|
|8th Mar||Brian Fazackerley Pauline Collier||Pauline Collier Greta Temperley||Mavis Orrell & Elsie Hunt|
Tea, coffee, biscuits etc are supplied by the Church
If you are unable to attend when you are on duty,
please arrange a swap with someone and notify
Mac Dunsmore or Margery Pitcher.