PASTORAL LETTER, SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2016
I have been wondering what to write in this month’s letter for several days. Having attended the Joint Pastorate Elders’ meeting and the October NW Synod, it seems unlikely that a solution to the current and impending ministerial shortage has a short term solution, further, the response from those churches with stipendiary ministry to release part of their minister’s time to support those churches without a minister seems to be mixed. Then I learnt that Mission Council seem minded to close down the Windermere Centre… not much in the way of good news! This morning we moved our clocks back an hour and this evening we have darkness at teatime and tomorrow is Halloween with its connotations of darkness.
It was therefore most timely to be reminded in this morning’s service led by Rev’d Lindsey Cottam that we are preparing to celebrate the coming of light into the world in the birth of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. Light greater than any darkness.
As we move into the final preparations for our Autumn Fair and all the busyness of the Advent and Christmas period, let us be sure to make time to fully contemplate that we are preparing to celebrate God’s greatest gift to the world – the birth of His Son and our Saviour. As we responded in this morning’s prayers – “Light shining in the darkness”
Following the success of the Lent Reflections, the former Synod Clerk, Andy Braunston has compiled Daily Devotions for Advent prepared by writers across the URC .Each day a reading, short reflection and prayer. For those with access to the internet these are available by daily e-mail . You can sign up for them by going to the address: http://tinyurl.com/URCDailyDevotions. For those without access we could make other arrangements.
Wishing you all a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Mac Dunsmore Church Secretary
You, Jesus Christ
born as one of us,
God in the midst of us,
you are the light of the world
So, with the angels we kneel and adore you
You, Jesus Christ
born to release us,
God in the depths of us.
You are healing for our deepest pain.
So, with Mary and Joseph we kneel and adore you.
You, Jesus Christ
born to reign in us,
God in naked blood and bone,
you are life in our flesh.
So, with the shepherds we kneel and adore you
You, Jesus Christ,
born to delight in us,
God’s choice to be for us,
you are joy beyond our wildest dreams.
So, with the faithful of every age and place, we kneel and adore you
Thanks to Jane Leach, URC Prayer Handbook 2012
QUIZ FOR CHRISTIAN AID 2016
Our annual Quiz for Christian Aid was held on 7th October. Nine teams took part, with ‘Kingsfold Kronies’ winning in a tie-break.
The total raised was £280.50 (of which £200 was Gift-aided) and £110 was taken on the Fair Trade stall. We are very grateful to all who contributed to the success of this event. The money has been passed to the Preston Christian Aid Committee to support their next match-funded project which they will agree at their next meeting.
Last year’s Quiz supported the Christian Aid Kenya Community Partnership, when £5000 raised by the Committee was match-funded by a further £15000. Here is Christian Aid’s latest report.
YOUR SUPPORT HAS ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH
Final Kenya Community Partnership update, Autumn 2016
In the three short years since this project began, Christian Aid’s partners have achieved tremendous things across Narok county – and they couldn’t have done it without you. Thousands of women and children whose lives were at risk now have access to healthcare. Your dedicated support has saved lives.
A lasting achievement
The transformation in Narok hasn’t stopped at saving lives. We believe in life before death: God gave us all life so we may thrive, not merely survive. And by setting up mother’s groups across Narok, our partners have been helping women to take control of their futures and build businesses to thrive into the future.
Our partners NIDP, CHP and TRDP have been working hard to ensure all they achieve is lasting. The project has united communities, bringing healthcare to people and changing attitudes to make sure that men don’t prevent women from getting the services they need. Our partners have put a firm exit strategy in place, making sure that the clinics they’ve set up will continue once the project ends. They’ve secured an amazing commitment from the World Bank, which will reimburse health facilities for every birth. The money will be split between improving clinics and giving an allowance to the community volunteers who give so much of their time. The project has done so well that other agencies are even replicating it in the neighbouring county, a testament to all that our partners, thanks to your generous support, have achieved.
Safe deliveries to be the norm
Mary Grunah and Esther Mita are two of the traditional birth attendants in Nturumeti who have been retrained as mother companions. In October 2015, our partners opened a clinic in their community, and they’ve been involved from the start. With a delivery room, beds for several mothers and babies, and a catchment area of 30 kilometres, the clinic provides essential maternal healthcare to many families. Getting women into the facility to give birth is paramount, and women like Mary and Esther play such a vital role in making this happen. At Nturumeti, they’ve gone from having zero deliveries to five per month – which in making this happen. At Nturumeti, they’ve gone from having zero deliveries to five per month – which they’re thrilled about! Esther is optimistic: ‘Now we have changed a little. This is just a basis for a brighter future.’
In Nturumeti, they’re eager to see the facility expand and offer more complicated procedures to the women who need them. The community is utterly committed to the health of mothers and babies, building houses for volunteers and medical staff. Three young people – a girl and two boys – have even applied for nursing courses. Esther wants us to pass this message to you: ‘Thank you because you have uplifted our lives. You’ve saved the lives of women and children, and prevented diseases.’
Lectionary Readings November & December 2016
6th Haggai 1: 15b – 2: 9; Psalm 145: 1 – 5, 17 – 21 or Psalm 98 or Job 19: 23 – 27a; Psalm 17: 1 – 9; 2 Thessalonians 2: 1 – 5, 13 – 17; St Luke 20: 27 – 38
13th Isaiah 65: 17 – 25; Isaiah 12 or Malachi 4: 1 – 2a; Psalm 98; 2 Thessalonians 3: 6 – 13;St Luke 21: 5 – 19
20th Jeremiah 23: 1 – 6; Luke 1: 68 – 79 or Jeremiah 23: 1 – 6; Psalm 46; Colossians 1: 11 – 20; St Luke 23: 33 – 43
27th First Sunday of Advent – Isaiah 2: 1 – 5; Psalm 122 ; Romans 13: 11 – 14; St Matthew 24: 36 – 44
4th Second Sunday of Advent – Isaiah 11: 1 – 10; Psalm 72: 1 – 7, 18 – 9; Romans 15: 4 – 13; St Matthew 3: 1 -12
11th Third Sunday of Advent – Isaiah 35: 1 – 10; Psalm 146: 5 – 10 or St Luke 1: 47 – 55; James5: 7 – 10; St Matthew 11: 2 – 11
18th Fourth Sunday of Advent – Isaiah 7: 10 – 16; Psalm 80: 1 – 7, 17 – 19; Romans 1: 1 – 7; St Matthew 1: 18 – 25
25th Nativity of the Lord – Isaiah 9: 2 – 7; Psalm 96; Titus 2: 11 – 14; St Luke 2: 1 – 14, (15 – 20)
1st First Sunday after Christmas – Isaiah 63: 7 – 9; Psalm 148; Hebrews 2: 10 – 18; St Matthew 2: 13 – 23
The Naming of Jesus – Numbers 6: 22 – 27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4: 4 – 7 or Philippians 2: 5 – 11; St Luke 2: 15 – 21
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 Baptism of the Lord – Isaiah 42: 1 – 9; Psalm 29; Acts 10: 34 – 43; St Matthew 3: 13 – 17
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”
USING THE LECTIONARY
The Lectionary is a good thing … in the main. It’s good because it prevents those of us who are preachers from operating our own “canon within the canon” – sticking with our own favourite themes and texts. It’s good, too, because, by focussing on a different gospel each year, it forces us to recognise the uniqueness of each evangelist – his approach, his concerns and priorities, and his distinctive presentation of the significance of Jesus. Theoretically, it prevents us from operating with a “jigsaw theory” of the gospels: the idea that we build up a complete picture of Jesus by trying to slot the various pieces from each gospel into a comprehensive jigsaw. That approach is best exemplified in the Easter “Seven Words from the Cross” services, which does fundamental violence to the different ways in which each evangelist tells the Passion story. There weren’t “seven words” from the cross! The differences are there because each evangelist has a distinctive take on the cross. We are not being somehow more historically accurate by combining each narrative: when we do that, we miss the point that each evangelist is trying to make!
… and bad
But there are some significant flaws with using the Lectionary. For a start, it isn’t consistent with its own aim of following each gospel through. Those of us who have preached through each year are well aware of the fact that no single gospel is ever properly finished. It’s like missing the final episodes in a series! And the interleaving of John’s gospel into the synoptic narratives is as problematic as it is helpful.
Perhaps the two most irritating and unhelpful features of the way in which the Lectionary is compiled is that the compilers themselves operate their own “canon within a canon”, leaving out the bits that they simply don’t like! The Old Testament texts, in particular, carefully avoid the more challenging and problematic passages about Yahweh’s anger and judgement – something that Walter Brueggemann, for example, helpfully refuses to do. When these are omitted, we end up with a different picture of Yahweh from that which the biblical writers convey. It may be easier to deal with, but it gets us off the hook of having faithfully to wrestle with the texts. God is not easy. Our experience tells us that, and the biblical narrative bears faithful witness to that fact. It is in the wrestling with our experience of the world and our experience of God that we are enabled to live faithfully in response to the God revealed in the Scriptures.
But secondly, and more importantly (from my perspective), the Lectionary compilers operate firmly within the historical-critical approach of treating the gospel narratives as isolated pericopae that the evangelists have “cut and pasted” together to form a story. Now, while I have no quarrel with source criticism and form criticism as helpful ways of shedding light on the process of composition and the structure of some of the narratives, the disadvantage of that approach is that it fails to recognise that each evangelist is both a theologian and master story-teller. It makes a huge difference to read each gospel as a story with its own narrative integrity. It is when we read the gospels in this way that we discover the narrative strategies that the evangelists employ – themes that are repeated and developed, symbols that gradually build in power and significance. At a basic level, for example, we lose sight of the way in which Mark builds the storm clouds of opposition and impending doom from very early in his narrative. Or we miss the symbolic significance of geography. We lose the sense, in other words, in which each gospel draws us into a story of Jesus that challenges and enters into conversation with our own story.
Engaging with the texts
In looking at the texts, I try to do two things: the first is to put each incident into the context of the wider narrative. It means that we are always engaging with the author’s wider concerns and theology. It’s less tidy and tight than treating each passage as an enclosed narrative and an end within itself, but it’s actually more faithful to the intention of the writer.
The second thing is to try and uncover the links between the various texts for each week – to try and illuminate, in other words, what might have been in the minds of the compilers in selection the different passages for consideration. I look for a common theme (or themes), giving priority to the gospel passage and using the other texts to illustrate and develop the central gospel theme. I don’t claim that this is what the compilers intended – indeed, that isn’t my concern. Rather, it seems to me a helpful way of reflecting on the passages in order to preach a sermon that draws the reader, the believing community and the biblical community into a conversation.
I do this is the conviction that Brueggemann is right when he contends that the biblical narrative’s primary function is to open up a new world (what he calls “The Third World of Evangelical Imagination”) that confronts and challenges the worlds of the individual believer and the wider context of today’s believing community. The function of the text, then, is to present a different construal of “the world as we know it” – to portray the world as infused with the presence and saving activity of God. It challenges the imagination, kindles hope and faith, and spurs us to live differently. It is sacramental (it mediates an encounter with God) and it is converting. That is when the Bible becomes the Living Word of the Living God – which is, after all, the purpose of preaching!
THE MITES SCHEME
At each Morning Service, in addition to the collection bags, the stewards bring forward a small brown box for dedication as part of the Offering. This is the MITES box and it contains the MITES (5ps) you collect, helping UNICEF to supply Oral Re-hydration Salt sachets to children around the world. Every 35p or 7 x 5ps collected provides a course of 5 sachets which will save a child’s life. I think we were introduced to the MITES scheme by Ernest Wrennell about 20 years ago and since then we have contributed regularly
Our latest donation received the following note “As always please pass on to all at Fulwood URC for the generous donation, although I am aware that no words can adequately express the gratitude of those in need of O. R. T.”
Please keep on saving the 5ps, children’s lives really do depend on us putting them to one side and placing them in the little brown box week by week.
WHAT SHALL WE PRAY FOR THOSE WHO DIED?
What shall we pray for those who died,
those on whose death our lives relied?
Silenced by war but not denied,
God give them peace.
What shall we pray for those who mourn
friendships and love, their fruit unborn?
Though years have passed, hearts still are torn;
God give them peace.
What shall we pray for those who live
tied to the past they can’t forgive,
haunted by terrors they relive?
God give them peace.
What shall we pray for those who know
nothing of war, and cannot show
grief or regret for friend or foe?
God give them peace.
What shall we pray for those who fear war,
in some guise, may reappear
looking attractive and sincere?
God give them peace.
God give us peace and, more than this
show us the path where justice is;
and let us never be remiss
working for peace that lasts.
Carnwardric Parish Church (Glasgow) Worship Group © Carnwadrick Parish Church and Wild Goose Resource Group 8 8 8 4 (verse 6: 8 8 8 6): Used By Permission. CCL Licence No. 214046 Copied from HymnQuest 2009: CLUE Version HymnQuest ID: 70429
MACMILLAN COFFEE EVENING
Thank you to all who supported our MacMillan Coffee evening. The total raised was £101.
Jean and Brian Fazackerley would like to thank the Church for the beautiful flower arrangement and card on the occasion of their Golden wedding anniversary.
Our Autumn Fair will be held on Saturday 12th November, opening at 2:30pm. We are hoping for the usual mix of stalls and we would be grateful for any offers of help or goods for the stalls. The proceeds will, as usual, be split between St Catherine’s & Derian House hospices.
(An article from the Nov-Dec 2008 Newsletter by Donald Oakley reminding us about our crib)
The season of Advent is fast approaching and it will evoke different and special memories for each one of us. Amongst the things which we eagerly anticipate are the services leading up to Christmas Day and the lighting of the Advent candles week by week as well as the candles on our Christmas tree. We are particularly fortunate in our own church in having the beautiful and unique crib with its figures acting as a focal point for our worship.
As many will know, the nativity tableau was crafted by Rev’d Bernard Jones, a former Minister at Kirkham U.R.C. Following his retirement, Bernard moved to Preston and attended Grimshaw St. church. Although he had some tutoring in woodwork in his school days he never received formal training in woodcarving. His skills were self-taught and crafting in wood became his hobby and a means of relaxation. For Grimshaw St Church Bernard built a lectern which reflected the architecture of the church and the panelling of the gallery front.
The figures for the Nativity scene were carved at the rate of one each month using a variety of types of wood. For example one of the Wise Men is crafted in a darker wood to represent the more African origins of this particular man. The carving is extremely intricate and the set consists of the Holy Family, the manger, the three Wise Men, the shepherds and a donkey. The crib and tableau were dedicated in church in December 1994 when Bernard presented them to us and they now belong to Fulwood Church.
Not a man to do anything by halves, Bernard also made a strong wooden box fitted with softly lined fabric to keep the figures safely from year to year. They are a prized possession and are totally unique. Do please have a close look at our Nativity scene during the Advent season and marvel at the skill involved in its creation.
‘THANK YOU’ FROM MARGARET
I’m always delighted when I receive a birthday card from Fulwood URC members, and this year’s was especially valued, as I have just changed churches; and while I’ve been warmly welcomed and have settled in now, a renewed link to dear FURC was especially warming.
I began worshipping at my new church only at the beginning of September. It’s a small community church with roots in the Baptist Church, ‘planted’ by two close friends of mine about twenty years ago, and we rent our worship premises. The congregation varies in number from about 18 to 24 – much the same as that in recent times at Wilbraham St. Ninian’s URC Church in Chorlton, where I worshipped for nine years. (The other URC Church in Chorlton is a URC and Baptist Church, only about half a mile from WSN.)
It was my illness last Autumn, when I spent four weeks in MRI then took quite a time to recover thoroughly, hampered by a lot of bad weather, which made me realise that attending a church five miles away from where I live was not a sensible arrangement any longer. My new church is only a mile from home.
I was invited early on to contribute to worship, which I greatly enjoyed. I hadn’t really taken an active part in that since my illness. Every month, on the first and third Sundays, we have Communion; and on the third Sunday we have a meal after the service. Everyone contributes in kind to it and it includes hot and cold food – two courses. After all has been enjoyed, and all the washing up has been done, we have a short reflection and hymn. The music for our services is provided by a pianist (she brings her keyboard) and three or four instrumentalists, and we’re enthusiastic singers. Above all else, it’s a warm-hearted and friendly church – which reminds me of FURC. I so much enjoy receiving your Newsletter and keeping track of all your doings – and having a go at the sometimes ‘fiendish’ puzzles!!!
As Advent approaches and Christmastide activities are arranged, I may join you at some point. My friend Judith in Penwortham, one of our longest-standing friends (Denis died about seven months before Ben), is very hospitable; I travel to Preston quite a lot, and we share lots of good times. I hope things go well for you as you grow more and more used to your new partnership. You are remembered in my prayers.
With love and all good wishes, Margaret.
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
More volunteers are still urgently needed to staff the Information Desk at the Hospital as for various reasons, a number of existing volunteers have been lost. Please consider and pray about the possibility of helping and speak to Vivien, Jean, or Mavis to learn more.
MINISTRY OF FLOWERS
6th Nov Frances Fraser
13th Nov Mavis Orrell
20th Nov ——
27th Nov ——
4th Dec ——
11th Dec – 1st Jan Christmas Flowers
TEN WISE SAYINGS
- Prayer is not a “spare wheel” that you pull out when in trouble: it is a “steering wheel” that directs us in the right path throughout life.
- Do you know why a car’s windshield is so large and the rear view mirror is so small? Because our past is not as important as our future. So, look ahead and move on.
- Friendship is like a book – it takes a few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.
- All things in life are temporary. If going well – enjoy it – they will not last forever. If going wrong, don’t worry, they won’t last forever either.
- Old friends are like Gold! New friends are Diamonds! If you get a Diamond, don’t forget the Gold. Because to hold a Diamond, you always need a base of Gold.
- Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, “Relax, it’s just a bend, not the end!”
- When God solves your problems, you have faith in his abilities; when God doesn’t solve your problems He has faith in your abilities.
- A blind person asked St. Anthony: “Can there be anything worse than losing eye sight?” He replied: “Yes, losing your vision.”
- When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them; and sometimes, when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.
- Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles: it takes away today’s peace.
A CHRISTMAS PRAYER
Let your goodness, Lord, appear to us, that we, made in your image, conform ourselves to it. In our own strength we cannot imitate your majesty, power and wonder; nor is it fitting for us to try.
But your mercy reaches from the heavens, through the clouds, to the earth below. You have come to us as a small child, but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love.
Caress us with your tiny hands, embrace us with your tiny arms, and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries.
Bernard of Clairvaux 1090 – 1153
AS THE YEAR DRAWS TO A CLOSE
Loving Father, help me to live one day at a time,
Not to be thinking of what might have been,
Not worrying about what may me.
Help me to accept the fact
That I cannot undo the past
And I cannot foresee the future.
Help me to remember
That I will never be tried
Beyond what I can bear;
That a Father’s hand will
Never cause his child a needless tear;
That I can never drift
Beyond your love and care.
As a bagpiper, I play many gigs.
Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man with no family or friends. The service was to be at a cemetery some distance away. As I was not familiar with the area, I got lost, and finally arrived an hour late. The funeral director and hearse were long gone. There were only the diggers left and they were eating lunch.
I went to the side of the grave and looked down. The lid was partially covered with soil. The diggers stared at me over their sandwiches, and I sensed their reproach that I had deserted this dead man in his final hour of need.
I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.
The diggers looked quite startled at this, and put down their lunches. But they stood quietly enough while I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends.
And as I played ‘Amazing Grace’, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together.
When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say,
“I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”
Anon (Thanks to Rev’d Paul Pells)
ROTAS FOR NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2016
|6th Nov||Brian Fazackerley
|Jean Dunsmore &
|13th Nov||Mavis Orrell
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll|
|20th Nov||Frances Fraser
|Richard & Francis Fraser|
|27th Nov||Jean Dunsmore
|Mavis Orrell &
|4th Dec||Norman Croll
|Jean & Brian Fazackerley|
|11th Dec||Jean Dunsmore
|Norman & Elizabeth Croll|
|18th Dec||Brian Fazackerley
|Jean Dunsmore &
& Jean Dunsmore
|1st Jan||Norman Croll
|Worship Group||Norman & Elizabeth Croll|
|8th Jan||Viv Manners
|Mavis Orrell &
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.
|* * * CAN YOU HELP? * * *
Could you help with some of the duties on Sunday mornings?
Our team of people willing to help prepare & serve the refreshments and wash up afterwards is dwindling – please consider if you could help occasionally. The more people we have on the rota the less often each team would need to be on duty.
Please see Margery if you feel able to help. Thank you.