PASTORAL LETTER September – October 2013
The definition of summer in the dictionary is `the warmest season of the year`. As we write we can agree with this one hundred per cent. We feel that we cannot make any negative comments about this unusual heat wave, but many of us find the excessive temperatures just too much. We sympathise especially with those who, for health reasons are finding it difficult to cope. You may on reading this article at the beginning of September wonder- `did the heat wave really happen?’
At the beginning of April we had a short holiday on the Isle of Anglesey. As we travelled from Preston and drove past Chester into North Wales, we encountered high banks of snow on either side of the road but as we motored along the foothills of Snowdonia the snow capped mountains were most spectacular and the views from Anglesey more so; we have never seen those mountains clothed in such beauty. It made us comment on the wonders of nature and God’s gift to us, – “for the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the sky”.
We do realise that this winter weather, especially in the mountain areas, caused a great deal of difficulty and loss of livelihood. We pray those farmers will recover their loss and that they received as much help as possible. By making us human, God has given us the ability to help others.
Recently we have had a holiday in the south of England and visited new and different places. It has given us much food for thought, both in admiring God’s work in nature, and admiring the wonderful structures made by man using the brain God has given to him.
It is always interesting to visit places of worship and learn about their history and heritage. Our first visit was to Chichester Cathedral. It is a massive building with wonderful acoustics for musical performances. We felt that as soon as the organ was sounded it created an atmosphere in preparation for worship and personal prayer. Beautiful stained glass windows provided a focal point and told stories from the Bible, one in particular was pointed out to us by our guide in that it linked stories from the Old Testament with those in the New Testament.
Later on in the holiday we visited a rural Kent village which had been laid out as it would have been during World War 2. It told the story of the hop pickers, family groups who came down from the East End of London to earn some money. During their stay they lived in very primitive huts. Many of the other buildings had been moved stone by stone from other buildings in Kent, one of these was an old Congregational Church which had a very interesting diary in which folk who had attended that Church in years gone by had written their recollections.
Sitting quietly reading this created an atmosphere for us and brought to mind one of our favourite hymns, “Be still for the presence of the Lord”.
We are now back home in our own Church with our Church family in the knowledge that other people are worshipping in their Churches, many of them in a different form to ours. We all love our Lord and by worshipping together it gives us `food for thought` to appreciate all of God’s glory.
For each perfect gift of thine
to our race so freely given
graces human and divine
flowers of earth and buds of heaven
Gracious God to thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.
LECTIONARY READINGS FOR SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER
1st Jeremiah 2: 4 – 13; Psalm 81: 1, 10 – 16 or Proverbs 25: 6 – 7; Psalm 112; Hebrews 13: 1 – 8, 15 – 16; St Luke 14: 1, 7 – 14
8th Jeremiah 18: 1 – 11; Psalm 139: 1 – 6, 13 – 18 or Deuteronomy 30: 15 – 20; Psalm 1; Philemon 1 – 21; St Luke 14: 25 – 33
15th Jeremiah 4: 11 – 12, 22 – 28; Psalm 14 or Exodus 32: 7 – 14; Psalm 51: 1 – 10; 1 Timothy 1: 12 – 17; St Luke 15: 1 – 10
22nd Jeremiah 8: 18 – 9: 1; Psalm 79: 1 – 9 or Amos 8: 4 – 7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2: 1 – 7; St Luke 16: 1 – 13
29th Jeremiah 32: 1 – 3a, 6 – 15; Psalm 91: 1 – 6, 14 – 16 or Amos 6: 1a, 4 – 7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6: 6 – 19; St Luke 16: 19 – 31
6th Lamentations 1: 1 – 6; Lamentations 3: 19 – 26 (or Psalm 137) or Habakkuk 1: 1 – 4; 2: 1 – 4; Psalm 37: 1 – 9; 2 Timothy 1: 1 – 14; St Luke 17: 5 – 10
13th Jeremiah 29: 1, 4 – 7; Psalm 66: 1 – 12 or 2 Kings 5: 1 – 3, 7 – 15c; Psalm 111; 2 Timothy 2: 8 – 15; St Luke 17: 11 – 19
20th Jeremiah 31: 27 – 34; Psalm 119: 97 – 104 or Genesis 32: 22 – 31; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3: 14 – 4: 5; St Luke 18: 1 – 8
27th Joel 2: 23 – 32; Psalm 65 or Jeremiah 14: 7 – 10, 19 – 22;Psalm 84: 1 – 7; 2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8, 16 – 18; St Luke 18: 9 – 14
3rd Habakkuk 1: 1 – 4; 2: 1 – 4; Psalm 119: 137 – 144 or Isaiah 1: 10 – 18; Psalm 32: 1 – 7; 2 Thessalonians 1: 1 – 4, 11 – 12; St Luke 19: 1 – 10
THE BIBLE IN 50 WORDS
|God made||Adam bit||Noah arked||Abraham split|
|Joseph ruled||Jacob fooled||Bush talked||Moses balked|
|Pharaoh plagued||People walked||Sea divided||Tablets guided|
|Promise landed||Saul freaked||David peaked||Prophets warned|
|Jesus born||God walked||Love talked||Anger crucified|
|Hope died||Love rose||Spirit flamed||Word spread|
THE STORY OF THE PRAYING HANDS
About 1490 two young friends, Albrecht Durer and Franz Knigstein, were struggling artists. Since both were poor, they worked to support themselves while they studied art.
Work took so much of their time and advancement was slow. Finally, they reached an agreement: they would draw lots, and one of them would work while the other would study art. Albrecht won and began to study, while Franz worked at hard labour to support them. They agreed that when Albrecht was successful he would support Franz who would then study art.
Albrecht went off to the cities of Europe to study. As the world now knows he had not only talent but genius. When he had attained success, he went back to keep his bargain with Franz. But Albrecht soon discovered the enormous price his friend had paid. For as Franz worked at hard manual labour to support his friend, his fingers had become stiff and twisted. His slender, sensitive had been ruined for life. He could no longer execute the delicate brush strokes necessary to fine painting. Though his artistic dreams could never be realised, he was not embittered, but rather rejoiced in his friend’s success
One day Durer came across his friend unexpectedly and found him kneeling with his gnarled hands intertwined in prayer, quietly praying for the success of his friend although he himself could no longer be an artist. Albrecht Durer, the great genius, hurriedly sketched the folded hands of his faithful friend and later completed a truly great masterpiece known as ‘The Praying Hands.’
Today art galleries everywhere feature Albrecht Durer’s works, and this particular masterpiece tells an eloquent story of love, sacrifice, labour and gratitude. It has reminded multitudes the world around of how they may also find comfort, courage and strength.
Thanks to Court Hey Methodist (via Colin Biggs)
When Margaret Edwards led morning worship recently she wrote this specific prayer. Margaret has kindly agreed that we can include it:
Lord God Almighty, we see in many places that numbers of worshipping Christians are dwindling; and we are anxious as our own church shrinks, and those members who are left are growing older and frailer; and we are afraid that we won’t be able to maintain our church.
Fill our hearts with hope, Lord, and warm them with courage. Guide us so that we cast our anxieties and fears on You, the Maker of us all. Strengthen our trust in You, and cleanse us of the arrogance that makes us expect and demand to understand how things might develop.
Keep us mindful of how our churches came into being, and of the cycles evident in their history. Keep our minds open to ways of changing which might lead to new paths of growth for our churches, paths beyond our imagining. Keep our spirits strong in hope, confident in the conviction that You are eternal, the ruler and maker of us all, and that You are working out Your purposes. We place our church, and all our churches, in Your care. Amen
WHAT IF GOD HAD AN ANSWERING MACHINE
Imagine praying and hearing this:
“Thank you for calling My Father’s House. Please select one of the following four options:
- Press one for requests
- Press 2 for thanksgiving
- Press 3 for complaints
- For all other enquiries, press 4
What if God used the familiar excuse: “All of the angels are helping other customers right now. Please stay on the line. Your call will be answered in the order it was received.”
Can you imagine getting these kinds of responses as you call on God in prayer?
- If you’d like to speak with Gabriel, press 1
- For Michael, press 2
- For any other angel, press 3
- If you want King David to sing you a psalm, press 6
- To find out if your relative is here, enter his/her date of death and listen for the list that follows
- For reservations at My Father’s House, simply press the letters J-O-H-N on the keypad, followed by the number 3-1-6
- Our computers show that you have called once today already. Please hang up immediately.
- This office is closed for the weekend. Please call again Monday. End of message.
Thank God, you can’t call Him too often !!!
You only need to ring once and God hears you. Because of Jesus, you never get a busy signal. God takes each call and knows each caller personally. When you call and the Lord will answer, you will cry for help and He will say “Here am I!”
Thanks to West Burton Methodist Church
(Included especially for those who have recently spent considerable time trying to speak to someone at one of the telephone services )
ENOUGH FOOD FOR EVERYONE IF
Last year, as part of the Guild celebrations, we along with our partner church St. Clare’s, presented the theme “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE”. Earlier this year our church held a lunch to help Christian Aid and both of these lead us nicely into this current campaign.
Early in June 2013, at an ecumenical service in London, the Archbishop of Westminster and Archbishop of Canterbury joined together in calling for action at the upcoming G8 summit to tackle the root causes of global hunger.
Ahead of the Enniskillen G8 summit, 3,500 people from all over the UK attended the service in Westminster before joining thousands more for the Big IF rally in Hyde Park.
Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said: “That millions go hungry every day is a responsibility we all must share. These are our brothers and sisters and their suffering is also ours. There can be no excuse that in a world of plenty, so many go without. We have gathered today to show our solidarity with those millions who are made to have less because the food system is skewed in favour of those with both financial and political power. Our world and our global family were not made so that some could feast while others hungered. Everyone has a right to his or her daily bread.”
Some people do not eat meat, and one of the many reasons that some of us become vegetarian is the argument that goes “3 acres of farm land can be used to produce enough meat for 1 meat eater for a year or enough crops to feed 18 vegetarians for a year.
It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of meat”. According to Newsweek, “The water that goes into a 1,000 pound beef steer could float a destroyer.” In contrast, it takes only 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat.
Commitment for Life and The United Reformed Church are part the IF coalition.
- Did you know that 1 in 8 people do not have enough food to stay healthy?
- That every 15 seconds a child dies of hunger?
- There is enough food for everyone, but not everyone has enough food.
- This is the silent scandal and injustice of hunger.
In June, world leaders came together to decide the fate of millions at the G8 Summit. The decisions our leaders make can change the futures for millions of hard-working mums and dads from the world’s poorest countries, who are unable to feed their family. IF you join in, you can be part of the beginning of the end of hunger.
There is enough food for everyone IF world leaders end the scandal of tax dodging in poor countries, stop land grabs, and use land for food not biofuel. This will only happen IF we join in, speak up and turn out.
Make IF happen and be there at the beginning of the end for hunger.
Please consider making a donation the next time we, here at Fulwood URC have a collection for ‘Commitment For Life’.
A JOURNEY CALLED LIFE
A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. ‘What food might this contain?’ the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed this warning: ‘There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!’ The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, ‘Mr Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, ‘There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!’ The pig sympathized, but said, ‘I am very sorry Mr Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray… Be assured you are in my prayers.’
The mouse turned to the cow and said, ‘There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!’ The cow said, ‘Wow, Mr. Mouse I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”
So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap. … Alone … That very night a sound was heard throughout the house — the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it. It was a venomous snake whose tail was caught in the trap. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. When she returned home she still had a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup. So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient: But his wife’s sickness continued. Friends and neighbours came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. But alas the farmer’s wife did not get well .She died. So many people came for her funeral that the farmer slaughtered the cow to provide enough meat for all of them for the funeral luncheon. And the mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.
So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and you think it doesn’t concern you, remember. When one of us is threatened we are all at risk, we are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.
Thanks to St Annes URC June 12 Magazine
THE WINDERMERE CENTRE
Your Roving Reporter (alias your Windermere Centre Contact) has been on her travels again but only for one night! There are now over 200 Contacts in churches around the country and we were all invited to meet at the Centre this weekend, as the Centre only sleeps 32 it was fortunate that not all of the Contacts could attend but unfortunate that there were only 8 of us but we covered the area from Derbyshire to Hamilton in Lanarkshire and various points in between. After an afternoon cuppa and sticky cake we gathered in the lounge while the Centre’s director, Lawrence Moore, explained the reasoning behind the selection of courses for the next 12 months is mainly to provide what the URC needs and not just what it wants. Some of the key issues to be addressed are that we need ecumenical vision and vibrant personal faith & passionate spirituality as well as facing the challenges of the digital age and listening to what other people need from the church rather than just carrying on what we have always done. The Windermere Centre can help by resourcing the Church for mission, developing discipleship and helping people to “be a faithful Church rather than a successful institution”.
There are 56 courses on offer from Sept 2013 to Sept 2014 with categories ranging from Bible & Theology or Spirituality to Art & Craft or Outdoor and includes 10 Retreat based courses. Mac & I have already booked for a course in January looking at John’s gospel and another in May which combines Bible study and singing so if you are shy about going on your own you could join us for one of these or why not look at one of the more recreational courses such as Painting, Card making or Walking or even just book in for B&B and use the Centre as your base in the Lake District? Have a look at the full programme on the notice board in the foyer or ask Mac or me for further information about the Centre – we can definitely recommend it!
We will be holding our Harvest Festival service on Sunday 22nd September. There will be a plate at the back of church during September for donations towards the cost of items or if you would like to donate flowers or tinned or packet foods please bring them to church between 2:00pm & 3:30pm on Saturday 21st September.
CHRISTIAN AID QUIZ
On Friday 4th October we will be holding a Quiz in aid of Christian Aid. Why not get together a team of four people, any age, and come along and have a go. Don’t worry, it isn’t an audition for Eggheads – there are no individual questions and each team writes their answers on a sheet which is marked at the end of the round. It is intended as a fun evening to raise money for Christian Aid. We are also hoping there will be a Fair Trade stall on the evening.
Our Autumn Fair will be held on Saturday 9th November, opening at 2:30pm. There will be a planning meeting at 7:30pm on Friday 20th September for anyone interesting in helping. There will also be a coffee morning with Bring & Buy on Saturday 5th October from 10:00am 0 11:30am to raise money to buy stock for some of the stalls
“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” The Big Day Out offered a wide variety of workshops to attend throughout the day between the opening and closing worship.
One I chose to attend was entitled “Enough is Enough” The flyer said “Fed up with poverty? Fed up to the back teeth with greed? Fed up with a world that doesn’t reflect God’s Kingdom? Join us for this interactive workshop that explores just how sinful poverty is and how Christian Aid stands in the footprints of the prophets and is driven by the Gospel to challenge the structures that keep communities poor”.
It was led by two ministers working for Christian Aid, Dave Hardman, who covers the North West, and who we have met on several occasions, especially through the Christian Aid Choir NW, and by Martin John Nicholls from the South West. I found it to be a very moving session with inspiring examples of the work of Christian Aid across the world, together with a mixture of songs and stories of injustice from Martin.
As workers for Christian Aid, both men have wide experience of being invited to lead worship across the wide spectrum of the Christian Church – large and small, established and free, high and low, over the whole country. I was challenged to think about a comment they made that they are sometimes saddened by some of the issues that seem to occupy the efforts of some churches at the expense of their real mission pronounced by the prophets : Micah 6:8 … 8what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?… food for thought!
In July, fourteen of our members shared a good lunch and a happy time of fellowship at Ferrari’s Restaurant Longridge and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings on a lovely summer’s day.
On 12th September we commence our autumn programme with the return of Pat Ascroft. Our regulars will know it will be a highly entertaining evening delivered in Pat’s inimitable style. Her adventure this time is entitled “Trekking in Iceland”
For our next meeting, on Thursday 10th October, we look forward to the return of Stephen Garsed, who will give an illustrated talk entitled “ Wild Scotland”. This recounts his visit to the most north-westerly parts of Scotland and will be of particular interest to some of our members. As usual, a collection will be taken on behalf of the speaker’s chosen charity Meetings start at 7.30pm and all members and friends are very welcome.
Giving to a church or needy person is charity.
Giving cheerfully to the Lord is worship.
Giving is NOT God’s way of raising money. It is God’s way of making us more like Jesus who gave everything for us.
Giving is not so much about an amount. It is more about our attitude. Anon
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
Seven of our members have booked for the Churches Together Pilgrimage to Saltaire and visit Boundary Mill on Saturday 14th September.
ROYAL PRESTON HOSPITAL There is still an urgent need for more volunteers for the Information Desk at the Royal Preston Hospital.
The Barnabas Trust are grateful for the Collection of £161.83 + Gift Aid taken at the CTFB Pentecost service.
LANCASHIRE AREA OPEN MEETINGS
These are held at Penwortham URC as open gatherings for fellowship, discussion and exploration. They commence at 7.00am with bring and share refreshments on the first Wednesdays of each month.
4th Sept: Spirituality
Rev’d Michele Jarmany will lead us through a series of reflections and discussions as we explore different spiritual practises together.
2nd Oct: Pillars and Propellors
Rev’d Paul Pells will lead an interactive evening of reflection concerning the joys and frustrations, opportunities and limitations of Eldership and Local Leadership in the URC today and tomorrow.
6th Nov: Christianity as a minority faith
Aftab Alexander Mughal will offer a reflection and enable a discussion grounded in his experience of being a Christian in Pakistan NW.
All are most welcome to attend
THE STARFISH STORY
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a little girl and a little boy gently placing things into the sea. Approaching the children, he asked, “What are you doing?”
The children replied, “Returning starfish to the sea because the tide is going out and it is very hot today and if we don’t do something they will die.”
The man smiled and said, “don’t you realise there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the children bent down, and helped another starfish back into the sea. Then, smiling at the man, the children said “We made a difference to that one!”
Thanks to Court Hey Methodist (via Colin Biggs)
WELCOMING CHURCH The NW Synod are pleased to announce the initial launch of the ‘Welcoming Church’ Programme. Welcoming Church is a 3-stage programme developed by the North Western Synod, which we hope will enable every congregation to participate, regardless of style, size, theology, location, ministerial scoping or LEP configuration. The program as a result, intends to be more flexible than the ZI process, but uses many of the same excellent resource materials. The 3 stages are: Exploring, Engaging, and Embracing, and you will find much more information about each one the website and from the brief overview circulated with this email.
Copies for each congregation of the Grove Booklet ‘Creating Culture of Welcome’ are in the process of being circulated, and loan copies of ‘Everybody Welcome’ will be available from the Synod or your Area’s Welcoming Church Representative