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News: November 2020

GOOD NEWS - We now have a new Minister. Garstang Elders have received confirmation that the Synod Committees have agreed with the Missional Partnership proposal that Revd John Gordon be appointed as the Second Minister for the group of seven churches in the North Lancashire Missional Partnership.

Further details can be read in the Moderator's letter by clicking here.

Posted: Sun 29th Nov 2020

Thought for week beginning 29th -11-20

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light Isaiah 9:2

Advent is here again! Advent is four weeks of preparation for the Christmas season, when we celebrate the first coming of Jesus Christ in fulfilment of prophesy, even as we continue to wait with eager expectation, and anticipation for Christ’s second coming, when good will finally triumph over evil, and love over hatred. 

This advent we stand in solidarity with those who have experienced and continue to experience the tyranny of inequality, unfairness, suffering, injustice and oppression in a world under the curse of sin. Yet, they have hope in the God who has brought deliverance in the past, and who can deliver in the present, and will bring ultimate deliverance in the future, when the Messiah will bring peace, justice and righteousness to the world. 

In a year which has seen its full share of war, pandemic, death and heartbreak, difficulties and struggles, don’t give up hope - Continue to wait patiently and in hope for God’s timely intervention in our world. Jesus will come with his peace and joy to those looking for him this advent, and at Christmas, and he will come again in the final advent when God’s kingdom will be established on earth.

A poem:

Advent, 1955
The Advent wind begins to stir 

With sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir,
It’s dark at breakfast, dark at tea,
And in between we only see
Clouds hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry
And branches bending to the gale
Against great skies all silver-pale.
The world seems travelling into space,
And travelling at a faster pace…
On some momentous journey bound –
Journey to what? to whom? to where?
The Advent bells call out ‘Prepare,
Your world is journeying to the birth
Of God made Man for us on earth.’

(John Betjeman)

Take care and blessing

Irene John

Posted: Sun 29th Nov 2020

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, 22nd. November 2020.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 25 v 31-46

Today is The Feast of Christ the King

The feast of Christ the King was first marked in 1925, Pope Pius XI was deeply concerned about the state of the world; worried (as he said in the encyclical that established the feast) that “the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics”.  

As we find in our Gospel reading, the bringing of the world into the order of God transcends political vision and political authority, but that does not mean that this is an otherworldly vision. Matthew reminds us of how we prepare for the kingdom of God through our actions in this world. As well as praise and worship, recognising Christ’s kingship is also about responding to injustice and about speaking out against the ways in which authority supports injustice.

Many churches have developed statements of mission which illustrate both the breadth of Jesus’s message but also its connections with our actions (individually and collectively) in the world. The Anglican Communion’s five marks of mission provides an accessible summary of this, affirming:

“The mission of the Church is the mission of Christ 

·      To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom 

·      To teach, baptise and nurture new believers 

·      To respond to human need by loving service

·      To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation 

·      To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”

The Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission

For us in Garstang, this year has seen us receive significant recognition of our work in respect of the final one of these marks, with the achievement of the Eco Church Silver Award.

In my family, we’ve been reminded in the last few months about both the global dimension of the challenge to safeguard the integrity of the creation and the contribution as individuals we can make. Lauren was a finalist in the Lancashire Business View’s Sub36 Awards in the Go Green category having been nominated for work during a summer internship. She described this work in a blog for the university website as “helping the next UN Climate Conference (COP26) hopefully achieve certification to ISO20121 for the event in November 2021…. advising the UK government on how to create a sustainable event… being actively involved in the project, attending meetings virtually and assisting in the creation of the ISO (Quality) manual.”  COP26 is obviously a major international event with the potential for a significant influence on the future sustainability of creation, and I know Lauren feels incredibly proud to have been able to play a part in the preparations for it.

If COP26 is international in its scope, the Eco Church criteria have made me think more carefully about how in the way I live my life more consistently with principles of sustainability of creation. Like the church, we have done a lot of the obvious things at home, we use LED lighting wherever possible, we purchase our household electricity on a green tariff. The more difficult items are where it necessitates a change in the way I do things, so how do I make less use of my car, how do I get better at recycling and reusing things (especially when the cardboard bin is overflowing again). 

These are all things that as part of our commitment to the integrity of creation and being an Eco Church that we are all being encouraged to think about both collectively as a church but also as individual Christians.

Let us Pray:

Rainbow God,

You give us a beautiful and fragile world

filled with colour and variety,

a world seasoned with your splendour.

Yet you also give us the freedom

To make your world a wilderness,

a place where there is desolation and darkness,

a place of ugliness and fear.

And that’s what we’ve done 

again and again.

We have disturbed the balance of nature,

we have polluted the atmosphere,

we have violated our neighbours,

so that at the end of the rainbow

there are blood and tears, a cross and a tomb.


Dress us in a new robe,

rainbow God

a coat of many colours

so that Eden may not be past history

but an urgent goal,

and life may be rich again

for all your creatures.




Adapted from Donald Hilton: The Word in the World

Posted: Sun 22nd Nov 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 15th November 2020

Matthew 25:14-30, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

‘...friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day…let’s not sleepwalk through life ... Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart’. [1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 The Message]

Just as we were getting back to some form of normality in our lives after months of lockdown, isolation and social distancing, we find ourselves just over a week into another lockdown, Not quite as severe as the first but for the very vulnerable another time of darkness and uncertainty. How do we get ourselves through and encourage others to stay positive? How are we to spread the ‘love, hope, peace and joy’ we will no doubt be sending to people in our Christmas cards? Will they be empty greetings or backed up by positive action large or small?

Thessalonians reminds us that we are people of the light because we have Christ in out lives; we must keep our eyes open for opportunities to bring light into the lives of others. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 reminds us further that we all have talents or gifts; we are to use them wisely to bring the Kingdom of God to those in our world who so desperately need it at this time. During the pandemic we have all been encouraged to wash our hands more [who remembers being told by parents to wash your hands before coming to the table for meals?]. We are lucky to have easy access to water and, nowadays, hand sanitiser. However, 785 million or 1 in 10 people [2019 Water Aid statistic] do not have clean water close to home. In addition, 2 billion people do not have a decent toilet of their own. 19th November is World toilet day. Could you help bring the statistic down? Bring a little light into the lives of people who struggle to live dignified, healthy lives, let alone fight the virus, because of the inaccessibility of clean water and decent toilets, both necessary for good hygiene. So many charities find themselves with depleted funds this year but could you, perhaps, donate some of the money you have saved from not going out for meals or away on holiday? We can all at least pray for those working to improve sanitation conditions for those not as fortunate as we are and for monies to be found to support all the charities in need at home and abroad. Individually we cannot help all causes that require it but we can all help in small ways ’..let’s not sleepwalk through life’ but look for glimmers of light where God is working and offer encouragement in whatever way we can.

The Bible passages this week call us to be alert to what God is doing in the world. In the light of God’s reign, we are called to assess the resources that we do have – the gifts and abilities that we have been given – and how they can best be used to further God’s liberating, saving activity in our world. Faced with the global challenges that surround us, we may feel our contributions will be insignificant.What is clear is that, whether it’s using our wealth, our influence, or our voices, we all have a role to play and a contribution to make As we all obey the call, we do make a difference because together we become a force for change.

PRAYER:There is no shortage of ways that we can help to heal our world, Lord; we just need the willingness to see them and the courage to act. So, we pray for Your inspiration and strength, to use the abilities and resources we have for the sake of those who need them. [John van de Laar]

More information on providing clean sanitation is available on the Water Aid website

Posted: Sat 14th Nov 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 8th November 2020.

Remembrance Sunday 

God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble Psalm 46:1 
We honour the memory of all those who have fallen in war, paying the ultimate price in the service of others. As we remember we think of the real cost of conflict and war, borne by families, friends and the community – the unimaginable grief, the shattering of security, the permanent scarring of lives both mentally and physically. As we think of the cost a conflict brings, we remember that there are many children born and raised in war zones, for whom conflict and terror are part of daily life. Sadly, these children don’t ask to live in areas of conflict but they do, and war becomes the only reality they know; every day they don’t know whether they would live or die, whether they would become displaced, desensitized, brutalised and dehumanised. 
The World can be a frightening place, where violence breeds violence. There is evil, selfishness and greed in the world, and forgiveness and compassion can be in short supply – we really need godly wisdom and intervention in learning the art of settling differences peacefully.
To compound things, this year in particular we also think of the continuing effect of the global pandemic; an unseen enemy that has resulted in the cancellation of almost all physical gatherings to commemorate the war dead. Key workers are referred to as frontline staff battling the virus, the race is on to find a cure, while deaths occur all too frequently. There are communities overwhelmed by the virus, there are those grieving the loss of loved ones, those with economic insecurities, and those affected mentally, spiritually and physically, and whose lives will never be the same again. 
In the midst of all the challenges faced, let us find reassurance in the tested and proven words of the psalmist that: God is our refuge and strength, whose presence and help will not fail (Ps.46:1). God demonstrated this fact when he offered his Son Jesus Christ as the ultimate sacrifice for all people of every race and nation. To those who believe hope is offered through Christ in the midst of suffering. What might seem like utter defeat and disappointment can be transformed into victory. So, in our remembering let us commit ourselves to God, seeing and treating human life as sacred with dignity and respect. Let us also, in our own way, place and time, seek to promote a culture of peace not of war, so that God’s peaceable kingdom may draw close. 
Take care and blessings
Irene John
Posted: Sun 8th Nov 2020

Thought of the Week, Sunday, 1st November 2020.

All Saints Day– called to be saints (Romans 1:7)

Today, on all Saints Day, and throughout this week, we are celebrating all God’s servants, who lived saintly lives, and witnessed to God’s truth and love, in their own time and place. We also think of those in the present, who answer the call of God, and are trying to do what God wants them to do with their lives, and are willing to even lose their lives in service to others. Most of the time, these saintly individuals are ordinary people who quietly work to help others making the world a better place. As we celebrate, we also remember the endless list of those who have touched our individual lives in many special ways, ranging from family, friends and even strangers – all of them are God’s gifts to us because they were and some still are there when we need them, lighting up the way. 

We too are called to be truly God’s people, living out the gospel where we are, loving mercy and walking humbly before God. As saints we are called to be people of integrity, love, grace and care to a watching world, allowing our testimony to stand out for Jesus. 


Activity – Make or do something simple as a visible reminder of all those saintly people who have touched your life, and who you wish to celebrate this week. 

I have made a pasta necklace; to represent some of the special individuals, who have made a lasting impact, nurturing, challenging, and inspiring me on my life’s journey.

Take care and blessings

Irene John

Posted: Sun 1st Nov 2020

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