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News: June 2020

There are names of sixteen (16) books of the Bible hidden in the paragraph below. Let's see how many you can find:

I once made a remark about the hidden books of the Bible. A certain luke, kept people looking so hard for facts, and for others, it was a revelation. Some were in a jam, especially since the names of the books were not capitalized. But the truth finally struck home to numbers of our readers. To others it was a job. We want it to be a most fascinating little moment for you. Yes, there will be some really easy ones to spot. Others may require judges to help find them. I will quickly admit it usually takes the preacher to find one of them, and there will be loud lamentations when it is found. A little lady says she brews a cup of tea so she can concentrate better. See how you will compete. Relax now, for there really are sixteen books of the Bible in this paragraph.
Happy searching!!


Answer - The 16 Books are:
1. Mark
2. Luke
3. Kings (looking so hard)
4. Acts
5. Revelations
6. James (jam especially)
7. Ruth (truth finally struck home)
8. Numbers
9. Job
10. Amos (almost fascinating)
11. Esther (yes there will be)
12. Judges
13. Titus (i will quickly admit it usually)
14. Lamentations
15. Hebrews (she brews a cup of tea)
16. Peter (compete. Relax)

Irene John

 

Posted: Sun 28th Jun 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 28th. June 2020

Jeremiah 31:13-14


Jane, is a relatively healthy and very independent 80plus, who when asked how she was, responded by saying: ‘Fed Up’. This is understandable as Jane, who due to the virus is classified as ‘at risk’, lives on her own, with very limited contact to the outside world. Before lockdown, her lifeline had been her involvement with various activities, including attending regular church worship. Now, on a daily basis, she finds herself bored as the long lonely hours drag by, with the situation beginning to play tricks on her mental and emotional wellbeing. Jane is not alone ‘Fed Up’, is a view echoed by many others, who find it a challenge to know how to fill in the days and hours, while feeling the effects of isolation and separation. However, things are starting to move in the right direction – lockdown restrictions are easing, and the rate of infection from the virus is slowing down. So, the encouragement is to keep on keeping on, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Find things to do to help you cope, such as - take time to enjoy the sound, sight and smell of nature. Continue to appreciate and help those who need your help, by listening and praying for them, having a friendly chat, sharing a smile, and offering practical help. Whatever you decide to do: don’t count the days but make the days count (I got this very meaningful expression from Mary T. Garstang).
Also, as well as continuing to cope, stay hopeful about the future. In the scripture passage, we see a hope-filled people in Jeremiah’s day, who on the eve of redemption from exile, visualised the future restored community, with survivors living together, celebrating their union with God. They imagined a community where the painful realities of their present world is reversed, as God turns their weeping into laughter, and sorrow into comfort. As restrictions continue to ease, find time to visualise some positives in the future when by the grace of God our communities will be restored.
The women (and children), will dance and be happy, and men will rejoice. I will comfort them and turn their mourning into joy, and their sorrow into gladness. I will satisfy all the needs of my people. Jeremiah 31:13 -14.


Stay safe and blessings
Irene John

Posted: Sun 28th Jun 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 21st June 2020.

A reflection on Psalm 86
This is the Psalm that is set to accompany the Lectionary readings for this week. I would encourage you to read the Psalm in full before going any further.
The Psalm is a fascinating piece of scripture including in its 17 verses forty quotations from the Torah. Perhaps the Psalmist has been challenged to provide a short summary of its teaching. In its four parts it offers us a framework to reflect on God’s presence in our lives and our response.

Appeal for Help (Verses 1 -7)
For us, the Psalm is written from the perspective of an ordinary member of the church. It reminds us of the elements of prayer we should make as a regular part of our worship (personal as well as collective) – Affirmation of God’s grace and glory, Our confession and receipt of forgiveness, and our requests for help in our intercessions.
In our current circumstances, we should perhaps particularly reflect on verse 7
“In the day of my trouble I call on thee, for thou dost answer me”

Finding God (Verses 8 -10)
The next three verses read like a response to that appeal. The Psalmist asserts his confidence that God will be there for him even on his darkest day.
As we’ve gone through the last three months, reflecting the impact of events on our personal life, our local community, and our nation, have we wondered where God is. Perhaps we have prayed for signs of his presence in those difficult times.
The Psalmist should give us confidence that God is and will be there, read the affirmation in verse 10
“For thou art great and doest wonderous things, thou alone art God”

Plea for Guidance (verses 11 -13)
In the third part, the Psalmist offers plea for God’s guidance:
“Teach me thy way, O Lord, that I may walk in thy truth”
At a point where our traditional patterns of support and worship have stopped, and we now starting to think about what happens next, how are we reaching out to God, to seek his guidance. Change presents all of us with a challenge, to our traditional expressions of faith, but also an opportunity to start renewed for the next stage of that journey. At points like this, the Psalmists asks us to be open to God’s guidance, but confident in his steadfast love.

My Faith (Verses 14 -17)
In the final section the Psalmist shares something of his personal faith, the challenges of living a faithful life; of being slow to anger, constant and faithful in the face of what the world throws at him. His honesty is refreshing but also his determination to continue to work faithfully, verse 16:
“Turn to me and take pity on me; give thy strength to thy servant”
Three weeks ago, we celebrated the feast of Pentecost when we were reminded of the gift of God’s Spirit as a sign of his blessing and his help as we journey through our world, proclaiming His Kingdom. Like the Psalmist aa we journey in faith we should be confident that our “Lord, has helped us and comforted us” (Verse 17) and will continue to do so.

A prayer for our journey of faith.
Hearing God,
Help us hear what You hear

Speaking God,
Help us receive what You say

Eye-opening God,
Help us see what You see

Amen

Mike Hart

Note all quotations from the Revised Standard Version

Posted: Sun 21st Jun 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 14th June 2020.

Exodus 19:2-8a, Psalm 100, Matthew 9:35-10:8 and Romans 5:1-8


Leaders of a small community, having heard of a serious threat heading in their direction, set off into the hills to find a place of refuge for their family and friends. Once they had found such a place they intended to return and lead the people into safety until the menace had gone away. They hoped the threat would pass leaving all unscathed.
After a long day of travelling, clambering over rocks and boulders, they decided to rest for the night. Seeing an opening in the hillside the weary souls took shelter. It was very dark and they were soon fast asleep. In the morning they found they had stumbled upon a cave which seemed to stretch way into the hillside. They decided to explore its depths and sent a message back home of their intention. It soon became obvious that they had stumbled upon a hidden passageway and they all wondered whether this would lead them to the place of safety they sought. They pressed on. It was not easy terrain, the tunnel was dark, they stumbled and fell but helped each other along, pooled their strengths and resources so made steady progress.
After some 80 or more days they glimpsed a speck of light ahead. It was quite a way off but there was now no turning back. They persevered and, encouraging one another, eventually emerged into a world where the birds were singing so loudly it drowned out their previous worries; the sky was bluer than they had ever known; in the valley below were people waving and shouting for joy at their sudden appearance.
Unknown to the explorers the threat had come so close that those they had left behind had decided to find another way round the hillside to reach a place of safety. Young and old had travelled together encouraging and supporting one another. The whole community was now reunited, the perseverance of each member meant they had come through the difficulties together and now had hope for their future together. As each person had found reward in being neighbourly and sharing their resources, knowledge and time with others they knew that life was going to be different from then on.
…We gladly suffer because we know that suffering helps us to endure, endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us… God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.[Romans 5: 3-6]
Shout praises to the LORD, everyone on this earth. Be joyful and sing as you come in to worship the LORD! You know the LORD is God! He created us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep in his pasture. Be thankful and praise the LORD as you enter his temple. The LORD is good! His love and faithfulness will last forever.[Psalm 100]

Posted: Sun 14th Jun 2020

Garstang URC and Eco Church


At their meeting on 9th June, the Elders accepted without hesitation an offer from Mike Hart to coordinate and guide activities to extend our Eco Church achievements and adopt more ways of learning about God’s Creation and protecting the environment. Mike cannot do all this alone, and we should expect to hear of opportunities to become involved in the various projects he has in mind. These range from themed worship to revitalising areas of the church land and gardens, so there should be something for everyone. We thank Mike for his willingness to take on this role, and we wish him success in the months ahead. 

Posted: Thu 11th Jun 2020

Extracts from the URC leaders statement on racism.

The following statement and prayer comes from Karen Campbell, the United Reformed Church’s Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries, and the Moderators of the URC General Assembly, the Revd Nigel Uden and Derek Estill:
 
“I have come that you might have life in all its fullness.” Jesus Christ said this more than 2,000 years ago. But when will that fullness of life be afforded to all people – irrespective of the colour of their skin?
 
The United Reformed Church has no hesitation in adding its voice to the outrage and dismay expressed following the brutal killing of George Floyd. Floyd is the latest in a long line of black people killed in the USA by police officers - those whose sole authority comes from the motto “to protect and to serve”.
 
Together with our sister Churches in the USA, the United Reformed Church declares that racism - in any form - is a sin against humanity, and a sin against God, who created all people in God’s own image and likeness. As Christians, we heed Christ’s call that we should be one, we reaffirm our unity with all people through the love of our one parent-God, and we declare that it is meaningless to claim that "all lives matter" until Black Lives Matter.
 
Prayer
 
Eternal God,
deeply troubled by what is happening following George Floyd’s death,
and by too much other inhumanity that doesn’t reach the headlines,
we cry to you as the one
whose love was the victor at Easter and
who pours it into our hearts at Pentecost.
 
As we observe the pain of a fractured world,
use your love to drive us from sadness to compassion;
as we watch the pain of the bereaved,
use your love to move us from pity to companionship;
as we are faced with the pain of marginalised people,
use your love to point us from complacency to your commonwealth.
 
In our praying,
let us not just talk to you,
but yield to your love;
in our anger,
let us not just rail against injustice,
but manifest your love;
in our actions,
let us not just flail about aimlessly,
but build the civilisation of love.
 
Until none of us are disregarded for who we are
nor any diminished by what we fail to be,
we keep on praying in the name of Jesus Christ,
 
Amen
 
Posted: Mon 8th Jun 2020

Daleeen Ten Cate invites you all to a Partnership Online Communion and Coffee Morning this June.

Please join me for communion and fellowship around Jesus’ table on Thursday, 11th June @ 10am for the Lancashire North Missional Partnership.

Please join me for a brief act of worship and fellowship around the coffee table on Thursday, 25th June. Don’t forget to bring your coffee/tea in your favourite cup.

If you haven't signed up before, drop me an email and I'll send you a Zoom invite.  

Email: Daleen.TenCate@nwsynod.org.uk

Blessings, Daleen Ten Cate

Posted: Sun 7th Jun 2020

 Sunday, 7th June 2020, Trinity Sunday.

(Genesis 1:1-5, 24-27, Matthew 28:19, John 16: 12-15, 1Peter 1:2)

Today is the first Sunday after Pentecost known as Trinity Sunday.  Trinity was first introduced as part of the church worship in the 14th century, celebrating the idea of the one God, who has shown himself in three persons. Trinity is the model of God living in a community of unity with diversity – There is God, the Father and Creator of all things - there is Jesus, the Son and Saviour, who shows us what God’s love truly is – there is the Holy Spirit, the comforter and advocate. The partnership between the three is one of standing together, of shared actions, and existing for others. An example of this togetherness within the trinity is found in the Genesis passage mentioned above where the Spirit moved over the deep, and God the Father says to the Son: ‘let us make human beings’ Genesis 1:2, 26.

The trinity model of existence can be helpful in our individual living and interrelationship with others, especially in our world today, where there is so much fear and hatred. Today, we live in a world where racial, economic and social divides are blatantly evident, and where there is an appalling disregard for human life and dignity. Yet, God created all human beings as equals, and wants the human race to be a community of diversity, but of mutuality and unity. Desmond Tutu highlighted the issue of community when he said: What invests people with worth is not biology, but that all without exception is created in God’s image. Each one of us is a God carrier, a God viceroy... In God’s family there are no outsiders, all are welcome all are the children of our heavenly Father. (Tutu’s address as guest speaker to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Edinburgh 27-5-09).

Indeed, we are communal beings, everyone yearns to belong and be accepted. No one wants to live in isolation or exclusion, all want to experience the power of standing together. All need to learn the art of living for others. Could it be that irrespective of theology and traditions, God is encouraging us as Christians to keep working towards the breaking down of all barriers, thereby proclaiming the forgiveness and reconciling love of Jesus? 

Could it be that God is calling us not just to be tolerant, but genuine in our acceptance and embrace of others, until the whole human race is brought together as one family to the love and mercy of the God in three persons, blessed trinity?

And so, we pray: For real peace, enriching all the human race. We pray for peace, and not the evil peace defending unjust laws and nursing prejudice, but for real peace of justice, mercy, truth and love.  (We pray for peace, Alan Gaunt 1935)

Stay safe and blessings

Irene John 

Posted: Sun 7th Jun 2020

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