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Thought for the Week, Sunday, 17th January 2021.

Prayer for Christian Unity  18th – 25th January 2021.

Abiding in Christ

The 18th January starts the Week of prayer for Christian unity. When they were asked to produce the material for 2021 neither the sisters of the Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland nor anyone else could have foreseen the pandemic of 2020 and its long lasting impact on the whole world.

What the Sisters produced was ‘an opportunity to engage with a form of prayer that is both very ancient and yet at the same time so apposite for our times. The ancient rhythm of prayer found in many religious orders and their traditions teach us that when we pray, we pray not just on our own or with those who share the same physical space, but with the whole Church, the Body of Christ, of Christians in other places and in different times…This tradition of prayer and spirituality, despite the things that hurt and separate us, invites us into shared prayer and silence together. Surely a most precious gift in troubled times.’

As the Pandemic continues to rule our lives, both our physical and spiritual well being have been challenged. Our Church buildings have been closed and, those who feel able, worship on line while others to listen to the URC Daily devotion services sent out by mail every week, or find other services on-line. Despite the availability of worship services, many are feeling a sense of isolation from God as well as each other. We may well all be asking ourselves what it means to be part of one church, the body of God when the only time we meet one another is on a screen.

This last year has caused us to reflect on our lives before restrictions were placed on where we are allowed to go and who we can safely meet-our priorities and the things and people that we value, that make our lives whole. 

The service prepared for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity may not take place physically but the message it sends out is to make a space in your enforced lock down space to simply “be” in this place and be carried by the prayer and the reality that it is God, in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, who carries us and accompanies us: to ‘abide in Christ’. To find comfort in knowing that God loves us and cares for us and is with us in these bleak days. To know that we do not suffer alone but with the whole body of Christ. Only by spending time in prayer can we develop an inner strength rooted and grounded in God’s love for us which will enable us to more confidently face the challenges of life which face us.

We live in a time that is both troubling and magnificent, an often-dangerous time where we are challenged by pandemics, wars, violence, poverty, racism and climate change. Yet as Christians seeking reconciliation, justice and peace, we also know the full value of a spiritual life, have an immense responsibility and must realize it, unite and help each other create forces of calmness, refuges of peace, vital centres where the silence of people calls on the creative word of God. It is a question of life and death.

Let us unite with the rest of the body of Christ in prayer for one another and the whole of creation putting Christ once again at the centre of our very being.

Jesus said to the disciples, “abide in my love” (John 15:9). He abides in the love of the Father (John 15:10) and desires nothing other than to share this love with us.

Yours in Christ


Words in italics and other facts taken from of prayer for Christian unity 2021 resources

Churches together in Lancashire are hosting a service to mark the week of prayer on 24th January via Zoom. Your Elder may be able to give you more details.

Posted: Tue 19th Jan 2021


This year our Leprosy Sunday will be held via Zoom. Once again, we are fortunate to have our Regional Manager, Paul Moores, leading the service. Paul is an excellent speaker and full of enthusiasm for the work of The Leprosy Mission (TLM), so please try and support this service. Paul will tell us about this year’s TLM focus on Mozambique and bring us up to date on the work of TLM over the past year. The good news is that any donations given between 24th January and 24th April 2021 will be fund matched by the government, so our gifts will be worth twice as much!


Donations can be made to this year’s appeal through me or the Church’s Treasurer. More details in February’s newsletter.


Please remember in your prayers those suffering from Leprosy in this time of pandemic.- Both the patients and the staff trying to administer the drug therapy and show the love of our Lord Jesus Christ in a caring way at this extremely difficult time.


With my best wishes for 2021.

Mary Thornber.

Posted: Sun 10th Jan 2021

Thought of the Week, Sunday,10th January 2021.

Psalm 29 “The Lord of the thunderstorms”

The Psalm set as part of the lectionary for this Sunday is Psalm 29, which the Revised Standard Version which I use for study entitles as “the Lord of the thunderstorms”! It is a psalm of praise in difficult times summoning its hearers to give glory to God. It is a Psalm full of images of a power, strength and majesty in water, wind, and fire – an elemental combination.

Last Saturday evening, BBC2 showed the documentary film “Amazing Grace” chronicling Aretha Franklin’s recording almost 50 years ago of her gospel album of the same name. This is not an album recorded in a secluded studio but live over two nights in the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, with an audience – no with a congregation, at the beginning of the film, those assembled are reminded by the Rev. James Cleveland that this is a church and as the songs of praise rise, so does the audience’s response. If you want to watch even a small element of this, it is available on the BBC Iplayer for the next three weeks.

Perhaps the most incongruous moment of the documentary comes as it moves to the second night and, amidst the Pentecostal enthusiasm of the congregation, for a couple of minutes the camera lingers on two familiar figures at the back of the church – Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts.

I’ve just finished reading a recent book “Being Interrupted: Reimagining the church’s mission from the outside, in” which asks questions, reflecting both on one of the author’s experience of ministry in and Anglican/ URC partnership on an estate in Birmingham but also some stories from Mark’s Gospel, about how the church responds when something from outside its norms intrude. With this reference point as I spotted the familiar figures in the film, I wondered what they made of the scene that was in front of them; and equally how did the congregation view their famous guests.

Seven times in our Psalm, the phrase “The voice of the Lord” is repeated. As I read the Psalm again, I wonder whether those who first heard it felt it as a reassuring comfort of God’s presence, or a challenging assertion of God’s purpose and strength. It is a Psalm deeply rooted in images of nature and the unity of God and creation. At times like ours, I’m sure we feel God’s presence intruding in both those ways.

As we journey through this next week, I hope we can take with us the words of the final verse of this Psalm.

“May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!” (Psalm 29 v11 R.S.V.)


Posted: Sun 10th Jan 2021

URC GARSTANG is inviting you to Sunday Morning Worship, via Zoom meeting.

On Sunday January 3rd 2021, commencing at 10:45am.
The Service will be led by Lindsay Williamson.

On Sunday, to join the meeting, click here

or enter the following details on Zoom:

Meeting ID: 832 8946 3874
Passcode: 634412

The Order of Service can be followed below or downloaded by clicking here.


The service is led by Lindsay Williamson



Call to Worship
Hymn "Who would think that was needed"
Prayer and Lord's Prayer
"A stable!"
1st Reading: John Chap 1 vv 10-18
"Into the Light"
Hymn "In the bleak midwinter"
2nd Reading: Ephesians Chap 1 vv 3-14
"God with us!"
Prayers of Concern
Hymn "Jesus is born"

Posted: Thu 31st Dec 2020

Thought for the New Year

As we stand at the gate of the new year, no one knows what 2021 will bring, just as no one could have anticipated an unprecedented 2020, with the global pandemic and all the disruption and extreme challenges in its wake. What we do know is that 2021 will bring its highs and its lows: There will be challenges and new opportunities, there will be times of joy and happiness, but also times of sadness and uncertainties. There will be fresh visions and newness of life, but also stalemate and disillusionment. 


We certainly don’t hold the key to the future in our hands and so can’t lock or unlock what happens, yet, we can know and put our trust in the God who holds the key to the future in his hands. As we journey in 2021, we can choose to consciously focus on the positives, finding and celebrating the good and helpful things; it will be worth it in the end. Have faith, be hopeful and joyful for the same God who raised Jesus from the dead, will extend his faithful care to everyday of the New Year (Ephesians 1:15-20): He will be there to shower us with his love and acceptance. He will be there in our times of happiness and fulfilment. He will be there to help us experience hope in the face of despair, light in the face of darkness, assurance in the face of uncertainties. We can confidently say as the psalmist: I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life (Psalm 23:6).


Below is a poem that I find helpful: 


I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: 

‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’.

And he replied: 

‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. 

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way’. 

So, I went forth, and finding the hand of God, trod gladly into the night. 

And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day  

(The Gate of the Year, Minnie Louise Haskins, 1875-1957)


Praying you have a good, healthy and blessed 2021

Irene John

Posted: Thu 31st Dec 2020

 Below are some photos of Christmas last year to remind us all of what has passed and what will come again.


Some of the Christmas meal together.

Posted: Sun 27th Dec 2020

Below are the planned services at Garstang URC during January 2021. All services begin at 10.45am

3rd January, Lindsay Williamson, Zoom service

10th January, Communion with Michael Pickles, Zoom service

17th January, Rev David Greenwood, Zoom service

24th January, Rev Irene John, in the Church Hall, places to be booked via Stella

31st January, Mike Hart, Zoom service or in the Church Hall dependant on tier level 

Posted: Sun 27th Dec 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 20th December 2020.

Mary says ‘yes’ to God, Luke 1:26-38

How astonishing that God would decide to come into the brokenness of our world as a tiny baby, born to an ordinary teenage virgin called Mary, who was waiting to get married to Joseph. Mary was a peasant girl, living an uneventful life, thrust into the limelight with the appearance of the angel Gabriel, with a message from God: greetings to you favoured one… (v.28). With this one visit of the angel, and Mary saying ‘yes’ to become God’s vehicle for Jesus to be born, everything changed with her forever.

As Mary processed the information in her mind, she became confused and frightened - What were the implications for her and Joseph? What about the tongues that would wag in her tiny village of Nazareth? Would she be rejected by her family for bringing disgrace upon them? Yet, in obedience, Mary chose to say ‘yes’, staking her reputation and her future on it: I am the Lord’s servant, may it happen to me as you have said (Luke 1:38).

Mary’s obedience started a chain of events that led to the birth of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross, and his resurrection; all testament to the fact that with God nothing is impossible. Today, we may say we believe that God can do the impossible, but do we believe that he can do it through us? As Mary did, are we willing to say ‘yes’ to God, staking our reputation and future in his hands? Are we willing to take the risk in trusting the God, who sees and knows the bigger picture, even when it doesn’t make sense to us?

A Christmas Prayer: By Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Loving Father,
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and the worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be Thy children,
and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Have a peaceful Christmas and a healthy and happy new year
Irene John


Hope you have some fun with the following:

Christmas jokes:
Why does Santa always go down the chimney?
Because it soots him.

Who looks after Santa when he is ill?
The National Elf Service

What did the salt say to the pepper?
Season’s greetings!

Why was Santa’s little helper depressed?
Because he had low elf esteem

What did the stamp say to the Christmas card?
Stick with me and we will go places.


Posted: Mon 21st Dec 2020

Below are the planned services at Garstang URC during January 2021. All services begin at 10.45am

  3rd January, Lindsay Williamson Zoom service

10th January, Communion preacher tbc on Zoom

17th January, Rev David Greenwood Zoom service

24th January, Rev Irene John in hall book via Stella

31st January, preacher tbc Zoom or hall dependant on tier levels and availability of Stewards for the hall

Posted: Sat 12th Dec 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday,13th December 2021.

Isaiah 64: 1-4, 8-11, Luke 1:46-55, John 1:6-8, 19-28, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The lectionary readings this week are all about joyful expectation and living in hope of the promised return of Christ.

In Luke we hear Mary rejoicing in the fact that God has chosen her, a young girl from a humble home, to be the bearer of his Son. She recognises that the birth of the child will fulfil God’s promises made long ago to his people-- the hungry fed while the rich and proud are scattered and left to their own devices. A prophecy we find in Isaiah 61.

In John’s gospel we hear of an itinerant preacher called John with a fiery and forthright message. John [later to be called the Baptist] doesn’t mince his words. The prophecy was fulfilled! The Kingdom of God was at hand and the people must repent - change their sinful ways. He warned the well-to-do that they must share their food and clothing with the less fortunate. He exposed the greed of tax collectors and warned them not to cheat people.

We seem to have spent most of this year waiting in hope and expectation; we want to know when we can get back to our usual daily routine; to start living a more ‘normal’ life’. We are tired of waiting. This year has been like an elongated Advent. We have had to stop rushing about trying to fill every moment of every day. We have tried to wait patiently for things to change so we can resume living safely.The pace of modern day society is such that the joy of waiting patiently for anything has been lost. Even during Advent, a special time of waiting, the build-up to Christmas can be so frenetic that it’s easy to lose sight of its true meaning. It’s great to buy gifts for our loved ones, but do we need to spend extravagantly? I’m sure most people would consider spending time with loved ones this Christmas to be a priceless gift worth more than any material gift. This year we can prepare well for the Christmas celebration as we all have more space and time to sit quietly for a few minutes in the presence of God; to take time to wonder at the beauty of creation and to give thanks for all that is good: the skill and dedication of doctors, nurses, care workers and emergency personnel and all those who have kept us able to function, albeit in a different way, this year. Let’s take time to remember the joy of Mary knowing she had been specially chosen; to learn to be a prophet like John foretelling better times to come; to rekindle in the lost and broken a hope for the future. Let us absorb the message of hope from Mary & John that the light is coming, yet is already here, and be ready to be the agents of change that God calls us to be. May he work through us to restore broken lives and bring light to those whose lives have become dark and had their spirits crushed by what has happened this past year.


God of Advent and of Restoration,we praise you for every new day that absorbs the darkness; for every rising sun that calls the night to end; for every messenger of hope and forgiveness that baptises us with your love. Amen.

Posted: Sat 12th Dec 2020

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