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photo of a house built on the edge of a cliff, with a blue sky and clouds in the background, and Matthew 7:24 written to the side (Anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock.)

Friday Connection – 12th June 2020

Welcome to our 13th Friday Connection
We thought we’d begin with an update on the stamps we collect for the Bone Cancer Research Trust – we sent them off last week, and had a note back from the volunteer who sorts them – called Terri . “Thank you so much! Your box made me so happy – we aren’t getting much post at the present for the stamp appeal.” She also says they raised £9659 last year with the stamps – so please keep collecting!
Our reading from Matthew this week is the well-known story of the two house builders – one who built on sand and his house collapsed, the other who built on rock and the house withstood storms and floods.
It’s all about the foundations – one way to understand this parable is to say that the rock is Jesus, and the sand is anything other than Jesus.
However, it actually says: “Anyone who hears these words of mine and OBEYS them is like a wise man who built his house on rock.” So the rock is obedience, the sand is disobedience, going our own way, doing our own thing.
One ancient Christian writer said that the greatest need of any follower of Jesus is not to know more, but to obey what she or he already knows. On that basis it is reading God’s word and then living by it, that is the foundation for our life.
With that foundation our lives can withstand anything that life throws at us: be it illness, loneliness, even lockdown and not being at church. We live our lives as followers of Jesus, not in a church building but in the world and placed where God has placed us.
Are we “doing” the words of Jesus, or only reading them, hearing them, and thinking how fine they are?
We pray:
Almighty God, you have built your church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone. Join us together in the unity of the spirit by their teaching, that we may become a living temple, acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With our love and prayers
Irene and Terry
Green image with shamrock growing up the right hand side, with a message about St Patrick using the image of a Shamrock with 3 leaves coming out of one stalk as a visual teaching aid for the Trinity

Friday Connection – 5th June 2020

Welcome to our 12th Friday Connection which leads us to Trinity Sunday

There’s a story that says Saint Patrick was trying to explain the mystery of the Trinity to his people – how God could be Father, Son and Holy Spirit at one and the same time – when he noticed a shamrock growing – three leaves coming out of one stalk and used it as visual aid for his sermon.

Here at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 28, Jesus the Son gives his followers three tasks to work at now that he is going back to God the Father, and leaving them His Spirit to support and strengthen them.

First – to make disciples: his own followers had become learners of the way of life Jesus taught and embodied, and like them we are called to help people to find Jesus and that way for themselves.

Second – to baptize – baptism is not an option, but the way that someone takes on the name of Jesus for themselves – the name of the living God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And third – to teach the gospel of Jesus that generates a lifestyle that is quite different to the way the world lives.

These three tasks are held together by the fact that Jesus now has all authority, and His promise that He is always with us. Matthew’s gospel begins with Immanuel, God with us, and ends with Jesus – God with us for all time and in every situation – yes, even when we face the surreal situation of a pandemic that hems us in, and keeps us from being the church we were called to be.

These three callings are how we will continue to be God’s people in the future, however unclear that seems just now, and whatever form it will take:“ I am with you, every single day, to the very end of the age.”

With our love & prayers, Irene and Terry

These are the full readings for this Sunday if you would like to read them: Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a, Psalm 8, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 and Matthew 28:16-20

We pray –
Father God, you have created all things, and through Christ shown us your salvation in all the world. Give us a vision of your glory, and by your Spirit fill us with life and love, that we may praise and serve you, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

An abstract image of a white dove and orange "fire" coming down from the heavens

Friday Connections – 29th May 2020

Welcome to our 11th Friday Connection – Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4)

I remember as a child that we always had new clothes for what we called Whitsunday – is that a peculiar Yorkshire thing, or did that happen in Lincolnshire as well? These clothes then became our “Sunday best”, and what had been new clothes last year now were pressed in to everyday use. Was it also something to do with the cleansing or newness of the Spirit – hence Whit or White Sunday, as the name for the day?

Pentecost only came later as the name for the day when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, which our reading tells us about. For a first century Jew, Pentecost was the fiftieth day after Passover, and it was a celebration of the crops beginning to grow again, as they remembered coming to the promised land generations before, and the promise that God would provide their needs – it was called the first fruits, to be fulfilled in the full harvest later in the year.

In our reading, the disciples had been waiting for the Spirit that Jesus had promised to meet their needs in working and speaking for him, and now they were able to speak in a way that everyone could understand. Their needs of timidity and uncertainty were met so that they could then meet the deeper needs of others.

A new language to meet deeper needs – and as we move out of this time of staying at home, we will need to speak in a new way of God’s love to those we live with and see each day – and we will need God’s d help to have the right words to say, so that people can grasp God’s love and purpose for life for themselves, that we show to them and talk about.

May you know the refreshing of the Spirit this Whitsuntide
With our love & prayers, Irene and Terry

Pentecost Sunday readings: Psalm 104:25-35, 37, 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13, John 7: 37-39

Stained glass window of a dove on an orange background, with Acts 1:8 written at the bottom

Friday Connection – 22nd May 2020

Welcome to our 10th Friday Connection
“Is it that time already?” How many times do we ask that sort of question? And just now – is it Ascension Day already? Yes, last Thursday! Time moves on, the Christian calendar moves on as it does each year, no matter what is happening at the present.
One of our readings this week, Acts 1:6-14, carries us in our Christian calendar to remember Jesus leaving his friends to go back to be with God – we are part of a world in our faith that has heaven and earth as the two parts of God’s creation – and Jesus moves between the two parts without effort. He leaves us to carry on the work that he began – that work has been spelled out in verse 8: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. Then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the very ends of the earth”
So just like the disciples we are to begin just where God has put us – them in Jerusalem; then the wider area – Judea; the area of Samaria that has “foreigners” living right next door; and finally to all the world. And if that seems a daunting agenda, Jesus says we will be given the power we need to do the work by the Holy Spirit!
But just now, like the disciples, we are to wait 10 days until Pentecost on the very last day of the month – and while we wait we pray using the prayer journal for Thy Kingdom Come,
looking for pointers from God, for the names of people to pray for to come to faith.
The other readings for this Sunday are: Psalm 68:1-10 and 32-35, John 17:1-11 and I Peter 4:12-14. The Psalm’s last verses tell us to sing to God, who rides the skies, just as Jesus has risen to be with God. The Gospel reading asks that all Christians might be one in being God’s people and proclaiming his promises through good times and bad, because he is our faithful God. As one of our songs reminds us: What a mighty God we serve!
With our love and prayers
Irene and Terry
I thank you, Lord, for creating us all in your image,
for giving us hearts that can love like you,
for the goodness of others,
for those who help the poor and needy,
for those who show consideration,
for being able to forgive like you,
for fortitude through life’s trials,
for your glory shining through those seeking to
make the world a better place.
I thank you Lord for sharing your Life with us,
for suffering for our sakes,
for giving yourself up on the Cross,
for the splendour of your Holiness,
for loving us all, now and always,
For all this and more I thank you Lord. Amen
Bible open to the Psalms with the words, "It's your breath in our lungs so we pour out our praise" handwritten onto the page

Friday Connection – 15th May 2020

Welcome to our Ninth Friday Connection – 15th May 2020

Do you feel life is on hold, life is dream-like, or life is just different. While we are not meeting in church our Christian life is not on hold – indeed Christian life is not a dream but full and purposeful, a Christian life can be quite different to the lives of so many who do not know Jesus and the full life that knowing Him means. Though we are living differently from eight or nine weeks ago we need more than ever to stay close to Jesus and each other by whatever means we can as we encourage and charge each other to go forward in whatever situation we find ourselves.

As we look at the readings for the week we are encouraged. The Psalm for the week is so joyful and reassuring so please read it and know our God: Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. Read it all and be glad. Likewise as we look at the Gospel reading we are challenged to go forward with courage.

John 14:15-21 Another Helper

Here we are in week nine carrying on our thoughts from last week – we are walking with Jesus as he continues to support his disciples and encourage them for the work he is going to leave them to do when he returns to be with his heavenly Father. We need to listen carefully for the words are intended for us too.

Jesus in effect says that he will still be around when he goes back to God – an event we remember this coming Thursday – Ascension Day. He will do this by sending his own Spirit, his own breath, his inner life. He uses a special word for this – he calls the Spirit “another helper”. This is a term that is many sided. It doesn’t simply mean someone who comes to lend assistance in our lives – it does mean that as well – the Spirit comes to give us strength and energy to do what we have to do, to live for God and witness to his love in the world – yes, even in times like these. It means two other things: another word that is used is “comforter” – to give an extra strength to meet special needs; yet another word is “advocate” – to help us to speak up for Jesus.

So in the days of this week, and the days that lie ahead, the Spirit of Jesus will be with us at every step in every situation, to be our helper, comforter, and enabler, giving us the words and actions we need.

Don’t forget to make use of the Prayer Journal you have received from this Thursday to Pentecost Sunday on 31 May – we can wait on God as the first disciples waited for their gift of the Spirit – and pray for five people we know to come to know Jesus for themselves.

With our love and prayers
Irene and Terry

The readings for the coming Sunday are:
Psalm 66: 8-20; Acts 17: 22-31; 1 Peter 3: 13-22; John 14: 15-21

A wooden path leading towards the sea, with the words "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me" written at the bottom.

Friday Connection – 8th May 2020

Welcome to our Eighth Friday Connection – 8th May 2020

Dear Friends,

Can you believe that this coming Sunday will be the fifth Sunday after Easter, that day when we celebrated with great joy the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour? Easter day, the day when sin and death were defeated by Christ’s death and resurrection and gives us assurance and confidence that whatever happens, Jesus walks with us and God will protect us. Psalm 31, verses 1-5 tells how King David put his trust in God, how he acknowledged God as his rock and fortress in whom he put his trust. Surely when we accept and believe in God this is our experience too.

Our Gospel reading for this Sunday is John 14, verses 1-14, and gives us the words that Jesus used when talking to his friends about his own life, and his own approaching death. In trying to prepare them for his leaving them and returning to God, he offers them some of the best known words in the New Testament: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life! Nobody comes to the Father except through me.”

When we feel we have lost our way in life, in Jesus we find the road back to God, to Jesus, and to ourselves. When we hear so many words in the world, all claiming to contain the truth, in Jesus we find that genuine teaching that makes sense of anything and everything that happens to us. When we have been hearing of so many lives lost in recent weeks, perhaps someone close to us, in Jesus we hear the promise that He gives us a life that begins in this existence, but goes on all for all time, and beyond time. Jesus has come in to our world to open up the path that leads us to God, and we only find it through Him.

These are words that we all need to hear, and take in, and seek to pray and live by each day. There is a beautiful song, from the Bible Society that says it so well:

Do not be worried and upset, believe I God, believe also in Me,
There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I’m going to prepare a place,
prepare a place for you.

I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by Me,
I am the way, the truth and the life, and I’m going to prepare a place,
prepare a place for you.

After I go and prepare a place you, I will come back and take you to Myself,
so that you may come and be where I am, and I’m going to prepare a place,
prepare a place for you.

I am the way, the truth and the life….

© Bible Society 1980

With our love and prayers, Terry and Irene

If you would like to look at any or all of the readings for this coming Sunday they are:

Acts 7:55 to end; Psalm 31: 1-5; 1 Peter 2.2-10; John 14. 1-14