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Thought for week beginning 11th April 2021

Last Sunday, we celebrated Easter day, but that does not write finish to our Lord Jesus Christ – His story is never ending. There is life springing from the resurrection, that leaves us with a faith that must be lived out and acted upon: We are called to renew our engagement with Jesus Christ, to deepen our relationship with him, who, because of his death and resurrection, has given us newness of life, and new hope, that is not restricted to this life but is for eternity.
The story is told of a Rabbi and a soap maker who went out for a walk together one day. As they walked along the soap maker said to the Rabbi: What good is religion if all this misery and suffering exist? The Rabbi said nothing. They continued walking until the Rabbi noticed a child playing in the gutter. The Rabbi said: Look at that child. You say that soap makes people clean, but see the dirt on that youngster. Of what good is soap? With all the soap in the world the child is still filthy. I wonder how effective soap is after all. The soap maker protested: But Rabbi, soap cannot do any good unless it is used. Exactly, replied the Rabbi – So it is with religion. It is ineffective unless it is applied.
So, it is with us and our profession of faith in Jesus. We need to continue to apply our faith belief in practical terms in our everyday living reality, getting on with the work God has given us. Our words and our actions must proclaim the resounding message that we serve a living Saviour who is active in the world today. As the Easter story continues, we need to be a part of it, by allowing ourselves to be renewed afresh by God’s Spirit, even as we embrace the new beginnings and possibilities that beckon.

Below is a photo of the cross we displayed in our window during Holy Week, and decorated on Easter day, as a symbol of new life and new hope.
Take care and blessings
Irene John


 

Posted: Sat 10th Apr 2021

 Happy Easter to everyone from all at Garstang URC.

Posted: Sun 4th Apr 2021

 Dear Friends,                                                  Easter Day 2021.

 
“Christ is risen. The stone is rolled away. Alleluia! Alleluia!
 
We enter into Easter Day to be surprised by the Risen Christ finding ourselves and our world transformed by the gift of love from God. As the Apostle Paul writes:
 
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:
everything old has passed away;
see, everything has become new!”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
 
Paul captures the beauty of that first Easter Morning as a new creation, that everything has become new. Each new day brings new hope and new possibilities. It is all too easy to carry weight of unfulfilled hopes and dreams and failures. These burdens like to tomb stone has been rolled away.
 
The Easter Day new creation has inspired people all over the world throughout history to move beyond fear and hatred to hope and reconciliation. The Corrymeela Community was established in Northern Ireland to offer a vision of community in a land struggling with sectarian violence. The hope of Resurrection in a broken world was worth praying and working for. It is the hope of a new creation.
 
“Together is better” is the mission statement of the Corrymeela Community. This captures the Easter Day vision of a new creation. Paul continues to teach the Corinthian church: “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”
 
This is a profound conviction. God has given to us the task of reconciliation of being peacemakers in our broken world. Keeping score of wrongs done is not part of God’s game plan. That was shown to us on Easter Day.   
 
In this task of reconciliation Paul calls each of us as an ambassador for Christ. As Easter people we are called to move beyond the brokenness of the world into the healing light of God’s kingdom.
 
Mary and the first disciples were initially confused when they first encountered the empty tomb. They thought it was impossible that maybe the body had been stolen. Then Jesus came to them and then to many others. Likewise, Jesus has come to each of us. We have been drawn into the light and love of God’s kingdom. Likewise, God has come to us in the days of our own living. On this Easter Day the gate of everlasting life has been opened to us for from now on we now live in the power of God. 
 
With Easter Blessings,
 
Reverend John Gordon.
 
Posted: Sun 4th Apr 2021

All services will be on Zoom.

April   1st      7.00pm      Rev John Gordon & Rev Irene John     Communion for Agape


April   4th    10.45am     Mike Hart                                Easter Sunday Communion


April 11th    10.45am      Rev Irene John


April 18th    10.45am      Rev David Greenwood


April 25th    10.45am      Rev Irene John

Posted: Sun 28th Mar 2021

 

Posted: Sun 28th Mar 2021

Thought for week beginning 28-3-21, Palm Sunday


Look, your king is coming to you! He comes triumphant and victorious, but humble and riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).


The first Palm Sunday was a day full of contradictions: instead of riding into Jerusalem on horseback, Jesus entered on a donkey which was a symbol that He was coming in humility as the King of peace, not as a political hero. Jesus came to serve and give his life, to put us right with God. So, the celebratory Palm Sunday hymn – All glory, laud and honour, becomes the Passion Sunday hymn; Ride on ride on in majesty, in lowly pomp ride on to die. The contradiction continues with the palm carpeted passageway, leading to a royal throne, becoming instead a lonely path to a cross. Every moment of the week will widen the gap between acceptance and rejection. By the end of the week those who want to be rid of Jesus will have their way and the followers of Jesus would be frightened into silence. In less than a week Jesus would go from being the leader of many to being abandoned by all. Between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, the Good Shepherd would become the Passover Lamb.
We can’t help but wonder about the crowd - how many of those who enthusiastically cried, ‘Hosanna’ on Palm Sunday shouted, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him’, a few days later? How much did they understand about Jesus? Was he ruling in their hearts and lives? Like the crowd the challenge is to reflect on the question of how much we understand about Jesus - do we shout hosanna today and crucify on Good Friday? Jesus challenges us to respond to him by moving from religion to a life transforming relationship and commitment to him, for only he can transform the poverty and emptiness of our lives. This week, look at the cross and reflect on the one who died there - for though he was God and worthy of all honour, he did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many. He invites us to serve him in true humility and faithfulness – will you?
Take care and blessings
Irene John
 

Posted: Sun 28th Mar 2021

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 21st March 2021

 

Dear Friends,                                                                                                             Passiontide 2021

 

Each year my parents would take our annual family holiday on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. One year, I decided to write a message and put it into a bottle and throw the bottle into the sea. My hope was that the message would be picked up on the other side of the world and that the person who found my message would write back to me. I never did get a reply, and was uncertain of course how far my message in a bottle really went.

 

As we begin Passiontide, humbly we reflect anew on God breaking into our world to reach out to us. Jesus’ face is turned to Jerusalem to deliver and complete the work his Father ordained him to do. We acknowledge that Jesus is the fulfilment of a long line of prophets called by God to bring his people back to him, those prophets finding themselves ridiculed and ignored by God’s people who should have known better. 

 

 

“See that you do not refuse to listen to His voice;

for if they who refused to listen to the One

who brought the oracles of God upon earth did not escape,

how much more shall we escape if we turn away

from Him who speaks from Heaven?”

(Hebrews 12:25) 

 

The prophets and patriarchs like Moses had been transmitters, a mouthpiece through which God had spoken, to God’s chosen and holy people. Jesus was God’s own voice from heaven itself speaking directly to those around him. The author of Hebrews sees this direct link with Jesus and heaven, and issues a warning not to ignore what Jesus has said. It can’t get any more real and urgent than this.

 

As we follow Jesus on his Passion journey to the Cross, we are challenged to commit ourselves to God’s love and sovereignty, the only reality there is for us.

 

“Therefore, let us give thanks

because we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,

a kingdom in which we must worship God acceptably,

with reverence and fear,

for our God, too, is a consuming fire”.

(Hebrews 12:28)

 

When Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai the presence of God shook the mountain. With the coming of Jesus into Jerusalem the world is going to be shaken again. Where are we going to place our love and loyalty? Is it to a world where things can be swept away so easily as we have seen in the pandemic, or in God’s kingdom revealed to us in Jesus that cannot be shaken?

 

The writer of the Hebrews arrestingly refers to God as a consuming fire. This is a powerful symbol that allows us to see reality in a different light. We all know that a consuming fire, no matter how large, is very difficult to ignore. We do so at our peril.

 

So, let us listen afresh to the words of Jesus and weigh them against the many words we hear reverberating around the world. For the Word of God will last forever!

 

With every blessing.

 

John Gordon.  

Posted: Sun 21st Mar 2021

Thought for week beginning 14-3-21, Happy Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday, have its origins in the feast of the Annunciation (25th March), chosen to celebrate the motherhood of Mary, Jesus’ mother, and also the mother church.  This has developed into a custom of celebrating motherhood (Mother’s Day), and by extension womanhood in general. Today, in the midst of all the joys and challenges, and complexities of family life, let us celebrate and give thanks to God for our mothers no matter what they are like, or were like, and where they may be. We could be thankful for the positives, even when our circumstances are not what we would have chosen. Our celebration can be an acknowledgement of the fact that the overwhelming majority of mothers, and mother figures, try to demonstrate God’s love and tender care - and even when they get it wrong their intentions are usually good. 
We also celebrate with joy and thankfulness, the motherly qualities of the God who protects us, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings (Psalm 17:8 Matthew 23:37). Each one of us is so special that God gave the best thing that He had to save us: His Own Son, Jesus Christ. Through Christ, God demonstrated his parental love for us; a love that is unconditional, non-judgemental and redemptive.
 
A Mother’s Love (Helen Steiner Rice)
A mother’s love is something 
that no one can explain – 
It is made of deep devotion
and of sacrifice and pain.
It is endless and unselfish
and enduring, come what may,
for nothing can destroy it
or take that love away.
It is patient and forgiving
when all others are forsaking.
And it never fails or falters
even though the heart is breaking.
It believes beyond believing 
when the world around condemns, 
And it glows with all the beauty
of the rarest, brightest gems.
It is far beyond defining, 
it defies all explanation,
and it still remains a secret
like the mysteries of creation-
A many-splendored miracle
man cannot understand
And another wondrous evidence
of God’s tender, guiding hand.
 
Take care and blessings to you all 
Irene John
Posted: Sun 14th Mar 2021

Daleen Ten Cate will be holding a Holy Saturday Retreat, online, on 3rd April 2021 @ 10:30am- 12:00


To Join Zoom Meeting click the link below

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86246349125?pwd=QWNicmhidjBoVG5Fb1BNSFM1OWhtdz09


Meeting ID: 862 4634 9125

Passcode: 024468

 

Posted: Wed 10th Mar 2021

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 7th March 2021.

 

Dear Friends,

 

From his prison cell, Paul writes,

 

And this is my prayer,

that your love may overflow more and more

with knowledge and full insight

to help you to determine what is best,

so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless,

having produced the harvest of righteousness 

that comes through Jesus Christ

for the glory and praise of God.

(Philippians 1: 9 – 11)

 

I am drawn to Paul’s phrase in the above passage regarding “having full insight to help you determine what is best”. Is it not a sign of maturity when we realise, we cannot know everything or indeed control events that happen all around us?

 

We know that Paul was present at the stoning of Stephen and violently persecuting the early church. No doubt at the time he thought that his actions were wise and insightful, that he was doing the right thing. However, his actions were lacking in God’s love that results in that “harvest of righteousness”.  

 

We know the story well, how the risen Jesus meets with Paul on the road to Damascus to challenge him about his persecution of Jesus, and how Paul is temporarily struck down blind. Paul’s intellectual and spiritual blindness, is for a while, matched by his physical blindness. This must have been frightening and disorientating for Paul.

 

Again, Paul finds his movements curtailed as he is imprisoned, but as he writes he discovers that he is not hemmed in and closed down but rather begins to see and understand the essential nature of God’s love leading him to a better way of living sacrificially in knowledge and full insight.

 

Edith Stein (1891-1942) was a German academic of repute when she surprised and shocked her family and friends by converting from Judaism to become a Roman Catholic and a Carmelite nun. Her Order moved her from Germany to Holland just as the Nazis were tightening their grip on every aspect of German living.

In reprisals to the Dutch Roman Catholic Bishops who stood up for the Jews in Europe, the Nazis deliberately arrested Edith and thus she was taken from Holland to Auschwitz. Edith’s insight born out of God’s deep love was that she wanted to share in the pain and suffering of her people, the Jews, in their moment of profound catastrophe and vulnerability.

 

Edith’s journey to Auschwitz had a profound effect on those experiencing the same transportation to the camp. One Jewish woman wrote to her sister that she had just met two German nuns who had been arrested because of their Jewishness. “What an extraordinary impact they made on those they met even just for a few moments on the train”. Edith was canonized by Pope Paul II in 1998.

 

Paul in prison, Edith en route to a concentration camp, both living and teaching the way of God’s love in difficult and demanding times. Through this love their knowledge and insight of God was greatly expanded and nurtured.

 

With every blessing,

John Gordon

Posted: Sun 7th Mar 2021

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