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News: December 2020

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

 

Greetings 

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"
Blessing

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.


Prayer


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.
Sally

Posted: Sat 12th Dec 2020

The Revd. John Gordon has written a letter introducing himself to the North Lancashire Partnership. It gives us a good insight into his Christian beliefs and the person he is. To read his letter, click on his photo below.

Posted: Sat 12th Dec 2020

 Daleen Ten Cate sends Chritsmas Greetings and a prayer.

A FUTURE NOT OUR OWN

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, 
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime
only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise
that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme
accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives
includes everything.

That is what we are about.
We plant a seed that will one day grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations
that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation
in realising that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace
to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own. 

*This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.

Posted: Sat 12th Dec 2020

 We have receieved this Christmas Greetings from our friends at Bolton-le-Sands URC.

Posted: Fri 11th Dec 2020

We have received this Christmas Greeting from the members and Elders at Forton URC.

 

Posted: Thu 10th Dec 2020

 We have received this email greeting card from Trinity URC, Lancaster.

Posted: Tue 8th Dec 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 6th. December 2020.

I would like to focus our thoughts this week on the Old Testament passage set in the Lectionary for this week, Isaiah 40 v 1 -11. In these 11 verses sit the essence of the Old Testament message of hope and comfort for God’s people.

This is part of the writings of the “Isaiah in exile”, speaking to the people far from their homes exiled in Babylon, a people suffering and unsure of the future. I have written previously about the relevance I find for our current times in the writings of the Old Testament, and this passage again has an important message for us.
The first thing to focus on is the language that stresses the closeness of connection between your God and my people “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Verse 1)

Repeatedly God is referred to as “our” or “your” God, this is not a remote figure but one who in this time of need is closely entwined with the needs of his people. The word “says” underplays its meaning in the Hebrew – which is more like “keep on saying”. This is a God who is with us for the long term. There are lots of words in this passage that talk of the tenderness of God’s caring and nurturing of the people, culminating in the final verse with the image of the shepherd and the depth of his care for the flock. This is our God who, in times of trouble, puts his arms around us in loving embrace.

But for Isaiah, from that assurance, comfort and tenderness leads into a proclamation of God’s hope, sometimes hard in the sort of situation we find ourselves. There is a stubbornness to this sense of hope – one that believes, despite everything, in God’s persistent grace towards the human race. It is the grace that provides “from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (verse 2). For us individually and collectively what does that stubborn hope look like as we go into a further period of local restrictions on our lives? How do we continue to sense that hope borne of God’s comfort and care?

But as Isaiah reminds us, that is not the end of the story. The injunction “Lift up your voice with strength… “Behold your God!” (verse 9); reminds us that because of that comfort and hope we are called to reach out to others to receive that promise, to “prepare the way of the Lord” (verse 3).

Advent is a time when we think of the hope that Jesus bought to the world. It is also a time when, perhaps more than at any other time of the year, others are more aware of Jesus and hence there is more opportunity to share the comfort and hope we find in our faith in Him. Importantly, Christmas cannot be simply be looking back to events 2000 years ago, but to show how that the message is real today. The challenge for each one of us is how we continue to express that to others. A challenge that today requires us to find new ways of communicating what God has bought into our lives.

Dorothea of Montau (14th Century: German Hermit and Visionary) wrote:


“You are my hope,
My food
My trust
My comfort
And all my desire.”
Amen

A Collect for today (Taken from David Adam Traces of Glory)


Lord, grant us a glimpse of your glory:
open our eyes to your coming to us,
that we may know that you are with us always,
and that you are a very present help in trouble.
Lord, as you abide is us and we abide in you,
may we show traces of your glory in our lives,
and so glorify you, Lord Jesus,
Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever. Amen.
 

Posted: Sun 6th Dec 2020

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