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News: April 2020

 A very Happy 90th Birthday to Dorothy from everyone at Garstang URC.

Posted: Sun 26th Apr 2020

Thought for the Week, Sunday, 26th April 2020

Luke 24:13-35


‘Are you the only one who does not know the things that have happened?’[v 18]
There can’t be anyone who doesn’t know what has been happening in the past few months. Worldwide people know the devastating effect coronavirus has had, and is still having, on ordinary folk who just want to go about their daily lives. Everyone knows that the world has been brought to a virtual standstill as everyday routines have been quashed. No-one can failed to notice too that throughout the world neighbours who have barley spoken to one another before are going out of the way to do what they can to help anyone they see in need. That inbuilt kindness which I believe is in everybody but has been dormant for years, is beginning to emerge.


2 weeks after we celebrated the resurrection of Christ surely Christ was the only one who did know the true reality of what had happened in Jerusalem? He had, after all, predicted His suffering and resurrection when He was still alive [ see Luke 9:22. Mark 8:31]. The travellers on the road to Emmaus were fleeing the heartbreak of the crucifixion. The reality of the resurrection and what it meant for them came only when Christ broke bread with them. ‘Their eyes were opened’, ‘…were not our hearts burning within us?’.[vs 31-32]. They turned around and went back to Jerusalem to share their Good News with their friends. Previously lost in grief they could now rejoice that all was not lost. God was still in control and needed them to play their part to spread His love. So what does the resurrection of Christ mean for us today and how should we respond?


God doesn't need a response from us in order to love, forgive or save us but he does want us to take what he has given us and respond in kind to the realities of life around us. If we look closely we can see where God is already at work and either choose to be part of His life-giving work, taking appropriate action,e.g. pray, or we can go about our lives as if the problems we see don’t matter; imagine we can’t make any difference.


God’s life is always breaking out whether we see it or not. Our task is not to make anything happen, but to respond – to get on board with – what God is already doing. [John van de Laar]
A change has come upon our society and perhaps the whole world. This time through the deaths of 1000’s of people worldwide. People’s hearts have been stirred as they respond to the needs of others and/or recognise those who are doing what they long to do but haven’t the skill or physical ability. Christ called us to ‘Love one another’. Can we recognise this ‘new world’’ that is emerging as a fulfilment of that commandment?


‘We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.’ C.S Lewis.


Sally Watson
 

Posted: Sun 26th Apr 2020

 

Posted: Tue 21st Apr 2020

 Easter Sunday in 2019 was on today's date 21st. April 2020.

 

Posted: Tue 21st Apr 2020

 Thought of the Week, Sunday, 19th April 2020

Dear Friends,

Late that Sunday evening, the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors…Then Jesus came and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you!’ he said. (John 20:19)

On Easter evening, the disciples, cowered behind locked doors feeling powerless and genuinely afraid of the authorities. They had witnessed the torture and horrific crucifixion of Jesus, and they feared they would be next. In the midst of their turmoil, Jesus showed up, stood among them, and offered them his peace. Peace -Shalom in Hebrew, and Eirene in Greek, occurs more than 250times in the Bible. Here in the passage, peace refers to Jesus acknowledging and reassuring his disciples to trust God in the midst of their challenges. Their lives would not be plain sailing, they were still in danger, but the presence and help of Jesus was promised them.

Are you locked in? Do the restrictions of life encompass and seem to hold you fast? Circumstances can lock us in, making us feel powerless and afraid, but don’t be shut out from faith and hope. Jesus comes in through the locked doors and windows we erect, offering us the same peace he gave to his disciples. Jesus’ peace is definitely not the absence of perils and dangers, but a state of calm deep within ourselves, and trust that in the midst of it all, and come what may God is in control. This was the experience of Horatio Gates Spafford, who following the family tragedy in which his four daughters drowned on a sea voyage from America to England penned the words of the hymn: When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea-billows roll; whatever my lot You have taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my Soul.’ (1828-88)

Peace be with you!

Irene John

Posted: Sat 18th Apr 2020

Thank you to everyone who enjoyed receiving the Easter Blessing email.

Revd. Irene's Easter Cross.

Mary Thornber's  Easter Cross.

Sally Watson decorated her Easter Cross in her window.

Posted: Sun 12th Apr 2020

Easter Blessings to you all, from everyone and to everyone at Garstang URC.


The Lord is risen!       He is risen indeed!        Alleluia! 

Posted: Sun 12th Apr 2020

ONLINE COFFEE MORNING

Daleen Ten Cate is arranging a series of online coffee mornings for the various Partnerships.

 The one for North Lancashire Partnership is on Thursday April 23rd at 10:00am. It is an open invitation to all Church Members. Details are on the poster below. 

If you want to give it a go then do make contact with Daleen, so that she can send you a Zoom invite. In the mean time please try to download Zoom on your computer, laptop, phone or tablet. Email Daleen for more details on.

Daleen.TenCate@nwsynod.org.uk

Click here for more details.

 

Posted: Sat 11th Apr 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 12th April 2020

 

Easter Sunday Reflection 


Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18.


Dear Friends,
It’s Easter Day! The long dark night is over, the dawn is breaking as Mary and her friends journey to the tomb. We join them on their journey, noting their pain and bewilderment. Their anguish is palpable: no time for a final embrace, no time to say proper goodbyes (currently the experience of many people). Now mourning the loss not only of his death, but of all the hopes and dreams they thought were dead, they cry: How did it come to this? How are we going to cope? Who is going to roll away the stone of heaviness, and the burden that is too great for us to bare?’. Approaching the tomb, they made an alarming discovery- the tomb is empty!


Staggered by this alarming discovery, Mary turns to the ‘gardener’ saying: tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him. Then Jesus called her by name, Mary! Longing to embrace him, but denied any physical contact, Mary is drawn into a deeper awareness of Jesus’ presence. At his voice her confusion melts into peace - Jesus had risen from the dead! He had said he would, and he did it! God had done the unexpected. The impossible is made possible by God.


Friends, these are unprecedented and difficult times, and life seems almost to be at a standstill, but God remains faithful. In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, we are unsettled by the many unanswered questions we might have - How did it come to this? When and how will it end? Even when there are no answers and uncertainties remain, we can trust God that this crisis shall pass. So, listen, and in the silence hear Jesus calling you by name, reassuring you of his presence and peace in whatever you feel threatened by, and in whatever circumstances you find overwhelming. Be encouraged that the resurrection affirms God’s power to bring goodness out of evil, life out of death and hope out of despair.


As we experience anew the power of his resurrection this Easter, let us remain grateful for the self-giving love of Jesus. One of the most uplifting effect of the current crisis is the community spirit and good that it is bringing out of many individuals, Christians included. As Easter people, let’s continue to demonstrate the self-giving love of Jesus in our words and actions – While staying safe, reach out the best you can, wherever you are, whenever possible to those in need of love, hope and care.


I leave you with some words from a favourite Easter hymn: Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb; loving he greets us scatters fear and gloom; let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing, for her Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting …No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of Life; life is naught without thee: aid us in our strife;…Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son, endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won. (Edmond Budry, 1854-1932, tr. R.B. Boyle 1875-1939).
May love, hope and peace be yours this Easter!
Blessings
Irene John

Posted: Sat 11th Apr 2020

Good Friday

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8


Every year early on Good Friday morning, Christians Together in Garstang & District would gather for their walk from St Mary and St Michael’s Church to Greenhalgh Castle. They would follow a cross borne on the shoulders of two worshippers and pause along the way for readings and prayers on the events of that first Good Friday. Standing by the ruined castle and looking over an awakening town we would listen to the words of John’s gospel on the death of Jesus.

This year will be different. For many of us it will mean self-isolation, even quarantine, for all of us social distancing – terms unheard of till very recently but now in common parlance. Unprepared, we are removed from our familiar social world and maybe come to contemplating our own thoughts. We are encouraged to take daily exercise. What better time to take a walk of meditation, visualising Jesus’s final walk on earth: the turbulent crowd, the bewildered disciples, the rising apprehension of his loyal followers trying to protect a stumbling figure from the hostile onlookers. This Good Friday will be marked by unsettling news, feelings of helplessness and recognition of our reliance on hospital staff and key workers. Let’s pray we learn from this.


Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Stella Clarke

Posted: Fri 10th Apr 2020

ECO Church Silver Award

Over the past two or three years, in an effort to care more for the Earth, God’s wonderful creation, various members and friends at Garstang URC have been undertaking projects and changing the way we do things.
This was coordinated by Management Committee, where John Allen was an enthusiastic champion. We have been measuring our improvements against standards suggested by the Christian charity A Rocha, who work with churches and other organisations in practical ways to show that the Gospel is good news for the environment.
Our achievements to date have been assessed in four categories:
• our worship and teaching
• how we look after our buildings and land
• how we engage with our local community and support global campaigns
• the personal lifestyles of our congregation.
… and we have been given a Silver Award.
The challenge now is to maintain and increase our activities, encouraging others to do the same, so that together we can lessen our impact on the environment.
There will be more news about this in the months ahead as we have more opportunities to make a real difference. Let’s all play our part.
Management Committee

Posted: Sun 5th Apr 2020

A message from Revd. Dr. Irene John.

Dear Friends,
Holy Week
I hope you are all well and coping in the current crisis situation.
As part of Christians Together in Garstang, I want to encourage you all to display a cross in your home window during Holy Week.
The cross could be one you already have at home, perhaps a palm cross from a previous Palm Sunday, or one you could make from tree branches in your garden, or from a cardboard cutting.
On Easter Sunday, the cross could be decorated with flowers, ribbons and colours, as a symbol of hope and new life.
Stay safe and God bless you all
Irene

Posted: Sat 4th Apr 2020

Thought of the week, Friday, 3rd. April 2020

 

Palm Sunday Reflection

In these days of “social distancing” and “self-isolation”, today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 21 v 1-11) as Jesus makes his triumphal entry to Jerusalem through the adoring crowds chanting “Alleluia!”, seems like a scene from another age. Perhaps it reminds us closer to home of some of the great festivals we have experienced in our community and lifetime. I remember the impact when we moved to Garstang with Six and Three-year-old girls of the first Children’s festival we and they enjoyed, or as an adopted Coventrian of the celebrations that followed the 1987 FA Cup Final. “Alleluia We Won” announced the Parish Church notice board in the city centre.
For all of us, the current restrictions on our normal life are causing us to have to rethink some of the assumptions we make about how we live in the variety of communities of which we are part. We are spending more time in some communities – for me a household with both girls permanently at home for the first time in four years; less in others – the Synod Office is closed, so I have to interact with our staff by phone and video; and in some like our church we are having to rethink how we provide that active belonging that is an important part of our lives.
I’m just finishing reading Julian Baggini’s excellent exploration of the global history of Philosophy, “How the World Thinks”. In his chapter on relationships, he focuses specifically on the Japanese approach to community. In this he challenges our western stereotype of a society based on conformity and explains a set of values that are inherently pro-social, “because everyone behaves in the best interests of everybody else, not because they are trying to fit in”. An approach which is gently reinforced by visual reminders for example on the Subway.


  Image extracted and edited from www.japanandmore.com

The nature of individual’s place in society is determined by how they stand in relation to others and the respect that they give to others’ position and needs.
In many ways, current circumstances are asking us to rethink our traditional western focus on the individual and instead ask us to think and behave in a way that recognises the impact of the way we live our lives on others. As with anytime of change and uncertainty many of us will find this hard and perhaps feel fearful, but as the American evangelist “Jim Wallis” wrote in a recent editorial on www.sojo.net “Amid this, we must not let fear become a way of life. We remember the words of Jesus: Love can cast out fear. Leaning into love and learning what it really means to love our neighbours in this crisis will be crucial to our collective health and survival.”


A prayer for ourselves and our community
“Lord Jesus, you give abundant life, yet we feed on fear; you give abundant life, yet we make our home in the valley of the shadow of death, fearing every evil, unsure if you are with us. Helps us to receive the life that is life, to face fear with courage, to raise our voices in abundant praise. “
Amen


Mike Hart

 

Posted: Fri 3rd Apr 2020

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