How brief is our span of life compared with the time since you created the universe. How tiny we are compared with the enormity of your universe. …yet during every minute and every second of our lives you are present, within and around us. You give your whole and undivided attention to each and every one of us. Our concerns are your concerns. And you are infinitely patient with our stupidity. I thank you with all my heart….
Prayer was written by Fulbert of Chartres (c970 – 1028) the son of a peasant family in Northern France who became Bishop of Chartres.
One of many stories based on the primary school nativity play is the one in which one of the shepherds, encouraged by their teacher to use their own words to act out the story, says:
“Eh, he does look like his dad!”
It’s a phrase he’s heard his mother use as she admired a neighbour’s baby. The audience giggle, but behind the fun there is a great truth. Jesus did look like his dad. His whole life, his words, his actions, were all meant to show us that God isn’t way above the clouds but is down here on earth with us, waiting to enter our lives. Looking at him we can learn a lot about love and forgiveness, and when we change from looking to following he can give us the strength to become more “like his dad”.
As many of you will know, the United Reformed Church supports the Commitment for Life Programme Six of our Sunday Communion Retiring Collections are in support of Commitment for Life and our chosen area of support is Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory.
Christian Aid has been working in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory since the early 1950s, when they provided help to Palestinian refugees. Today they are working with more than 20 Israeli and Palestinian organisations to protect human rights, provide access to services and resources, and to build a lasting peace based on justice for all. Their development and humanitarian relief reaches both Palestinians and Israelis, and those of all faiths and none.
In the hills near Hebron, a shepherd is filming attacks from settlers in order to protect himself, his flocks and his family
Ahmad’s video camera helped him recover a sheep stolen by a settler
Ahmad Jundiya lives in a cave with 10 members of his family, in Tuba, in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills. He calls himself a ‘part-time student, part-time shepherd’. Ahmad and his family suffer daily harassment from settlers living in the nearby settlements of Ma’on and Karmel. This includes verbal and physical abuse, and also the stealing of their property – including Ahmad’s sheep When Ahmad travels to study at Hebron University, he goes the long way round to avoid the settlers, but when he herds his sheep this is impossible. The settlement of Ma’on, established in the 1980s, is illegal under international law, but this doesn’t stop its residents from exerting their power over the local Palestinians.
‘Last summer I was herding my sheep with my cousin when a settler came up to us with a gun and threatened us,’ recalls Ahmad. ‘He stole one of my sheep, and then called the soldiers, claiming that we were trespassing on his land.’
Christian Aid partner B’Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights organisation, has been helping Ahmad fight back against the settlers, armed with his most
powerful weapon: his video camera. ‘Until 2004 we were attacked almost every day by the settlers, but the violence is less now because of the camera,’ he says. ‘We document it all. They see that I have the camera, so it protects me. They think a lot before they come and attack.’
B’Tselem’s video volunteer project works with young people across the West Bank. The filming not only provides a means of active non-violent resistance to the occupation, it’s also a method of gathering evidence, which B’Tselem can use in the courts to bring soldiers and settlers to justice. Ahmad’s filming of the theft of his sheep resulted in the police enforcing the law, and the settler returning the sheep to Ahmad. This kind of success empowers young people, without them resorting to violence. Ahmad would like to live at peace with his neighbours – but while the violence
In 2010 there were 72 Churches in our NW Synod participating in the Commitment for Life Programme as part of their overseas mission. The Overall amount sent in by North Western Synod Churches was £40,984.94!
A FEW THOUGHTS TO DWELL ON
The Will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.
The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.
God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.
When you get to your wit’s end, you’ll find God lives there.
Painting the Church
A painter named Smokey MacGregor bid successfully for the job of repainting the outside of a church. In the interest of saving a penny or two, he set to work using paint thinned with turpentine, as was his wont. All went well until one day, when the job was nearly finished, there was suddenly a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened, and the rain poured down, washing the thinned paint from all over the church. Smokey was knocked from the scaffolding where he was working to fall among the gravestones, surrounded by puddles of thinned and useless paint.
Smokey was no fool. He knew this was a judgement from the Almighty, so he got down on his knees and cried: “Oh God, forgive me, what shall I do?” And from the thunder, a mighty voice spoke, “Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!”
Thanks to Beaconsfield URC
The Windermere Centre recently celebrated its 25th birthday with a weekend of music, a garden party, a celebratory meal and a thanksgiving service. Garth Hewitt kicked off the weekend of celebrations with a concert, performing songs from his new album, ‘Hymns of Liberation’. Saturday afternoon was an indoor garden party (owing to the weather) with a local jazz quartet and harpist.
The Sunday morning service at Carver United Reformed Church was a ‘The Three Directors” service of thanksgiving, led by Lawrence Moore (the present Director), with Graham Cook (the original Director) preaching and Peter McIntosh (the second Director) presiding at the Communion service. [Some members will remember our Away Day at Windermere several year ago where Peter McIntosh challenged us about what the name of our Church meant to the passer-by. This resulted in the change to Fulwood United Reformed Church]. The weekend concluded with a BBQ on the terrace and in the marquee with glorious sunshine.
What began as Stephen Thornton’s dream in a bath became a reality in 1986, when the former Carver Church Manse opened as the United Reformed Church’s residential training centre with the express aim of ‘training the whole people of God’.
25 years later, the Centre has changed enormously to meet the changing needs of its clientele. The 22 bedrooms are a mix of single, twin and family rooms, all en suite, and include the Hannah Wing – a wheelchair-accessible suite of rooms for wheelchair users and a carer.
The Centre boasts state-of-the-art conference facilities. Whether you’re here on one of the cutting-edge courses designed to resource you and your church for mission, whether you’re here with your church or committee or network, on retreat or study leave, or simply using the Centre as a hotel, you’ll notice how much has changed over the 25 years.
What hasn’t changed is the ethos of the place. The Centre is here to resource the Church in its life-in-mission. It has always been and remains a place that’s ‘on the edge’ – the place where the Church can explore the hard questions, the urgent questions, the outrageous questions, the transforming questions. It’s a place where the welcome is warm and a vital part of the ‘Windermere Experience’. It’s a place where you can come and experience God; you’re unlikely to go away the same person or group who arrived!
25 years after it opened its doors, the Windermere Centre is one of the four Resource Centres for Learning for the United Reformed Church. We’re here to serve you – to enable you to be ‘God’s people, transformed by the gospel, and making a difference for Christ’s sake’. We pray that by God’s grace, we will continue to do that, faithfully and effectively, even as we give thanks for God’s faithfulness, presence and blessings of the past 25 years.
A CHRISTMAS PRESENT LIST:
Give to your enemy . . .forgiveness,
Give to your opponent . . .tolerance.
Give to a friend . . . your heart.
Give to a customer . . . service.
Give to all men . . .charity.
Give to every child . . . a good example
Give to yourself . . .respect
Our Autumn meetings began in September with a most interesting talk by Allan Clarke on his experiences as a Police Officer and as a sailor. A collection for the Leprosy Mission yielded the sum of £29.40.
In October, our Hot Pot Supper and Table Top games evening was well supported and enjoyed. Thanks to Margery for arranging the meal and the games.
On Thursday 10th November our speaker needs no introduction. Rev’d Nigel Lemon will give an illustrated talk entitled “Building for Dissent”. He will speak about chapels from our own and other related denominations.
Our speaker on Thursday, 8th December will be Pat Ascroft, well-known to all our regular members and to many others. Pat’s latest “rollicking adventure” has been to China and her subject will be “The Great Wall of China”.
In the New Year, our speaker on Thursday 12th January is equally well-known. Stephen Garsed is the immediate past chairman of Churches Together in Fulwood & Broughton and the current Secretary. Stephen has recently visited his daughter, working in Siberia, and his talk in entitled “Russia – a Land of Contrasts”
As usual, a collection will be taken on behalf of the speaker’s chosen charity.
GRANDPA’S FRUIT CAKE RECIPE
You’ll need the following: a cup of water, a cup of sugar, four large brown eggs, two cups of dried fruit, a teaspoon of salt, a cup of brown sugar, lemon juice, nuts, and a bottle of whisky.
Sample the whisky to check for quality.
Take a large bowl. Check the whisky again. To be sure it’s the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.
Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again.
Make sure the whisky is still okay. Cry another tup.
Turn off the mixer. Beat two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the turner. If the fired druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the whisky to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whisky. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees.
Don’t forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out the window. Check the whisky again and go to bed.
Thanks to Penrith/ Penruddock URC
The Craft Group been busy making Christmas cards, decorating Christmas boxes for sale at the Advent Fair. We have also been making other items which will be ideal for Christmas presents. An augmented team was very busy at the Coffee & Craft afternoon in October making “stained glass windows” to decorate the church during Advent Don’t forget that cards are on sale in foyer weekly, but if you need one for a special event, why not ask if we can produce a customised card?
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
Pilgrimage to Stonyhurst College and Skipton
On Saturday 3rd September, ninety “pilgrims” left Preston at 9.20am by coach bound for Stonyhurst College. After a very welcome cup of coffee, we were divided into three groups for excellent and informative tours of the College.
After eating our packed lunches in the college refectory we embarked by coach for Skipton where we had a couple of hours to browse round the market stalls, find an afternoon tea room or whatever else took our fancy.
At 4.00pm we all assembled in the Anglican Church of Holy Trinity for the evening service. We were extended a very warm welcome, not least because we greatly increased the size of the normal congregation !
The day ended with a convivial evening meal at the Shireburn Arms in Hurst Green. Our grateful thanks are due to Margaret Thompson, Janet Huggan and Pat Gibson, for envisaging, planning and arranging such an enjoyable day.
Annual Songs of Praise. In the afternoon of Sunday 16th October, the annual Songs of Praise service was held at St Cuthbert’s Church. The service was arranged by the group making our preparations for Preston Guild, working together in pairs of churches. Each pair presented by hymns and readings the relevant “I am…” saying of Jesus which their two churches will be portraying at the Guild Procession.
The service ended with a rallying call from Steve Garsed for all churches to give maximum support to make Guild Year a success. The success of the Guild should be judged, not only by the big events, but by the legacy of co-operation it leaves and the renewal it brings to our City.
A CHRISTMAS PRAYER
Jesus, the Light of the World, as we celebrate your birth . . . . may we begin to see the world in the light of the understanding you give us. As you chose the lowly, the outcasts, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may we worship you in meekness of heart. May we also remember our brothers and sisters less fortunate than ourselves in this season of giving. Amen.
The quiz in support of Christian Aid was held on Friday 7th October and was well supported by 12 teams from local churches and several spectators . Steve Garsed was our able quizmaster again and his wife, Anne, ran the Traidcraft stall. Margery Pitcher had arranged the questions which were projected for all to see as were the subsequent answers and team scores. Everyone felt that this was a super way to run the quiz and that it was a most enjoyable evening. The event raised £390 (which includes £57 from the gift-aided donations) for Christian Aid. The Traidcraft stall took £109.58.
Thank you to everyone who participated or helped in any way to achieve this wonderful total.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marks the signing of the Armistice, on 11th November 1918, to signal the end of World War One.
At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month on 2011, the nation will pause to remember those who have given their lives fighting for their country.
This year is doubly special: 2011 is The Royal British Legion’s 90th Birthday, and also this is a once-in-a century Remembrance Day.
At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month in 2011 – 184.108.40.206 we will be remembering those who were willing to lay down their lives for their country.
The British Legion is inviting people to be a special part of this unique occasion by leaving a message to go on a poppy planted at Wootton Bassett. That is the town where thousands of people paid their respects during the repatriations in recent years – you may have seen this on TV.
The British Legion explains: “Many people associate Remembrance Day with the heroes of D-Day or the Battle of Britain’s Spitfire pilots. Some people think of the deeds of the SAS during the Falklands conflict or, of course, Flanders Fields in Word War 1, carpeted in poppies growing where so many men lost their lives. But in the last few years it’s also been about the nation showing its support for the soldiers returning injured and traumatised from current conflicts. “
So if you would like to put your name to a poppy, please visit: www.donations.britishlegion.org.uk/RBLDonation/
Our own Communion Retiring Collection on 13th November will be in aid of the British Legion Appeal.
THE METHODIST CHURCH COLLECTION OF MODERN CHRISTIAN ART
An exhibition of these prestigious pictures (“second only to the Vatican”) will be held in the St. Peter’s Centre at UCLAN in Preston as part of the Christian contribution to the Preston Guild and also Fulwood Methodist Church’s Centenary in 2012. It will also link into the District’s “Year of Prayer” and Inspiring discipleship in and beyond our churches.
We hope to open the exhibition on Friday 22nd June and will display the works until mid-July going to (before before going to Westminster Methodist Central Hall in London for the Hall in London for the Cultural Olympiad) and you can be involved in a number of different ways:
- Start thinking locally about planning visits for church groups, and using the collection as an impetus to prayer, Bible study and worship.
- Anyone with an interest in art or theology or is just willing to give some time and energy is invited to join the planning group.
- Do you have an art group at your church who could get involved?
- To offer as a volunteer; at the venue we will need at least 2 people on duty for each session every day for a month (training given).
- Are any individuals or businesses willing to sponsor and contribute financial help to promote the exhibition?
- One idea is a competition for local creative talent, adult and children?
- We aim to have school and college visits, linking the display to the art and religious education curriculum, can you help?
- How else can we use this opportunity to bring creative arts and faith closer together and to encourage people to reflect on the Bible through these pictures?
On the 26th of November we will once again be raising funds for Derian House & St Catherine’s Hospices; as you know we have been supporting these two wonderful establishments for several years.
Due to the timing of the Fair this year, we decided an ‘Advent Fair’ was more appropriate. Once again Helen wrote to all the Hall users asking them if they would support in any way.
Mrs Heather Fitchett (who runs the Ballet classes) has kindly spoken with the parents of her class members. As a result of their generosity we have several items being arranged by the Ballet class students. There will be a Glass Slumping stall, (if you do not know what this is ‘Google it’ – you will be surprised!) and a Tombola using gifts donated by parents. Additionally the Ballet class is also running a separate face painting day with the proceeds also being donated to Derian House and St. Catherine’s Hospice. The Archaeological Society have also kindly offered to make a donation and to supply items for the stalls. We are indebted to their support and thank them whole heartedly
As you will see from the flyer opposite we have all your favourite stalls, including tea, coffee and seasonal refreshments. The Widows group will once again be staffing the Cake Stall, but would welcome any further contributions that you might be able to provide. Many dedicated members of the congregation will also be on hand to serve the excellent range of products and produce – many of which will be handmade.
So come along and spend a couple of hours topping up your Christmas Shopping and trying your hand at the Raffle.
We look forward to seeing you there!
The Advent Fair committee
This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ
The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.
C.S.Lewis (Mere Christianity)
What are we to make of Jesus Christ? . . .
The real question is not what we are to make of Christ,
but what is He to make of us?
God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Best of all, Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.
George F. McDougall
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
Star and angels gave the sign.
After the Christmas morning service the baby Jesus was missing from the crib. The vicar was searching for him when a little girl arrived with a brand-new doll‘s pram and started lifting the baby Jesus out from it. Putting him back in the crib she said ―I told you that if I got a pram for Christmas you would be the first to get a ride in it!c
Thanks to Penrith/Penruddock URC