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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

a collage image of 4 photos showing shepherds digging sheep out of big snow drifts

Friday Connection – 1st May 2020

Welcome to our Seventh Friday Connection – 1st May 2020

Dear Friends we hope you are all well and feeling at peace in this strange time. Perhaps you have been able to do jobs that have been waiting for a while; maybe you have found a new hobby or craft; you may have been able to think and meditate on your life as a Christian and read your Bible more and dig deeper into God’s word to us.

When we lived and worked in Derbyshire in the 1970’s we had a very bad late fall of snow, just after the sheep had all had their lambs – there were drifts four feet deep in the whole valley that was Edale. For almost 48 hours without stopping only for food and a short rest, the shepherds in the valley kept searching and digging until every one of their sheep and lambs had been accounted for. The most distressing sight was a pile of lambs in a farm yard, all had perished but the most poignant sight was the efforts of those shepherds tirelessly searching until ALL had been found.

3 sheep lay in the foreground where snow has been cleared, and a man's legs can be seen sticking out of the snowdrift behind them

Project that into one of the readings for today – John 10 verses 1-10, the parable of the Good Shepherd. Jesus never stops searching and finding those folk who have lost their way in life – often through their own misguided efforts and ideas. And when we are feeling lost, in times of questioning and sometimes doubt or fear, Jesus always calls us back to himself, to receive the love, life and assurance that only he can give: “I have come that you will have life in all its fullness.”

The picture of God as our shepherd is written throughout the whole of the Bible. One of the other readings for Sunday is Psalm 23 which we probably all know by heart and which brings strength and comfort to many. It is so wonderful to know that Jesus wants us to have that fullness of life and that Gods unquestioning love for us is shown in so many verses. Although it is not one of the week’s readings Isaiah 43 tells us ‘I have called you by name, you are mine, do not be afraid. You are precious to me and I love you’. If a shepherd cares for his sheep with great care and devotion, how much more does Jesus love and care for each of us. Also in Isaiah 40 verse 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart…

What wonderful readings for the week, full of peace, encouragement and love.

And I will trust in You alone, And I will trust in You alone,
For your endless mercy follows me,
Your goodness will lead me home.
© Stuart Townend (click on the link to hear the song).

These are the four readings for the week if you would like to study them all:
Acts 2:42-47Psalm 231 Peter 2:19-25John 10:1-10

With our love and prayers Terry and Irene

a grassy path beside a field, with the sun shining on a clear day

Friday Connection – 24th April 2020

Welcome to our Sixth Friday Connection – 24th April 2020

Dear Friends it is good to meet together each week in this ‘connection’. As Christians we need to meet together to study the word of God and this week one of the readings we are looking at is Luke 24: 13-35, the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

As we walk along the Christian road we do not know what lies ahead. When we get to the end of the track will we turn left or right? Is there a bend in the road and what is beyond? Is there a hill to climb and what will be seen when we get to the top? Will it be a hard journey or a gentle stroll? Will we meet friends on the way? When we reach our destination will there be a reunion with family and friends and will they have a welcome meal waiting for us?

During the first meal in the Bible in Genesis 3 verses 6 & 7, the woman took some fruit and ate it. She gave some to her husband, and he ate it; then their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. Death itself was traced to that moment of rebellion– the whole  creation is subjected to decay, futility and sorrow.

Luke, echoes that story, in the first meal of the new creation in Jesus – “He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, then the eyes of both were opened and they recognised him” – Luke 24 verse 31. Death itself is defeated, God’s new creation, brimming over with life and joy and new possibility, has burst into the world of sorrow. The risen Jesus is the sign of this new world. Jesus has gone through death and entered a new world, a world of new and deathless creation.

I wonder if the disciples travelling on the Emmaus Road with that stranger noticed what sort of road they were travelling – was it stony, hilly, a hard climb? I think nothing about the road they were journeying would have been noticed or mattered as they listened to that stranger explaining the scriptures to them, the how, the why and the importance of Jesus and his life, death and resurrection . Can you remember when you first listened to or read this portion of scripture? Did your heart burn and did your imagination run riot as the experience of those disciples, not named and not the ones we know from the bible passages echoed in your life? We are not named in the Bible, though God knows each one of us intimately.

The travellers’ eyes, hearts and minds were opened as Jesus shared a meal with them and broke the bread and suddenly, at the breaking of bread, they knew with whom they had been travelling, that Christ had risen. Their real experience meant they had to turn around and rush back to tell the others what a miracle had happened. Their wonderful experience helps us to believe all that the Bible offers us through Jesus.

We are invited to listen to the exposition of the Bible, to have our hearts burning within us as fresh truth comes out from the pages. Only when we see the Old Testament reaching its climax in Jesus will we understand it.

We too are invited to know Jesus in the breaking of the bread. This is the central symbolic action of all Jesus’ people. Scripture and sacrament go together – we find Jesus in the Bible, in worship, but especially now walking alongside us on our road through life.

With our love and prayers, Terry and Irene

a BIble laying open in the sunlight, with John 20:31 written across the top "these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

Friday Connection – 17th April 2020

Welcome to our Fifth Friday Connection – 17th April 2020

As we join together again it is difficult to believe that the coming Sunday will be the fifth Sunday we have been unable to worship together physically. Despite the situation we are still able to speak to each other by telephone and other electronic means and, of course, through our prayers for each other, the situation and our world as all countries work hard to combat this virus.

Are you contagious? Hopefully not with the virus or any other illness but with the Christian Spirit. For us as Christians we need to be contagious so that others can catch the Spirit and know how much God loves them.

The Gospel readings for Sunday are from John 20:19-31 and the Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47. As we read these portions of scripture we see how the apostles reacted to the resurrection of our Lord and the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

In the reading from John we see that the disciples were locked away and afraid. Although we are locked away and some of us may be wary of how life is going to return to some normality, we know that in God’s plan we are safe. After his resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples and said to them “Peace be with you” and emphasised that by repetition. Even when Thomas doubted because he wasn’t with the disciples at Christ’s first appearance, Jesus came and again reassured him. John tell us of these incidents and says to us today …these things are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name.

In the Acts of the Apostles we learn how the apostles lived and how they shared their faith so much so that “…every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”. In this exceptional time when we are separated from each other we still have opportunities to dispense our faith, maybe by encouraging each other in our church family but also by being able to speak to friends who aren’t believers and showing God’s love in our care and concern.

You may be eating your meals alone, or with one other or with a family. The disciples “…ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God…”. Meals may have become more of an important and enjoyable part of your day as other activities have become curtailed. Thankfulness is part of a Christian life so rejoice in every day, the weather, the jobs that you’ve been able to do because of the lockdown and the food we eat to keep us healthy. While we offer our thanks to God, remember those parts of the world where health services and food are scarce. Consider what we can do to help. There are so many ways and things we have to be thankful for, even in this different and difficult situation.

As you pray each day remember that Jesus is the Christ and through belief in Him we have life in all its fullness. Jesus still leaves his peace with all who believe. Easter is a daily celebration for all his followers.

We send our love and prayers
Terry and Irene

Friday Connection – Good Friday (10th April 2020)

Welcome to our Fourth Friday Connection

Good Friday – On our Walk of Witness this year we shall be travelling together in our hearts and minds as we remember what Jesus did for us on Golgotha.

The cross is where Jesus took our sins away by his willing sacrifice. Good Friday fulfilled all the prophecies about who would be the one true Saviour who would bring peace. Psalm 85 verse 10 says “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other”. Jesus asks for nothing from us except faith – a faith which follows His teachings. Even when Jesus was on the cross and being mocked he asked His Father to forgive those mockers.

He asks us, his followers, to live a life of love and forgiveness as he did. We know that the suffering of Jesus is followed by a glorious resurrection on Easter Day. Hebrews 12 verse 2 asks us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God”; because of Jesus we are blessed and put right with God who reigns with righteousness and peace.

The first disciples were not in a church when they met the risen Jesus – they were at home, behind locked doors, afraid of what the future might hold. Jesus burst through their doubts and fears, and showed them that their lives could have purpose and meaning that they could not know without him, and know his presence and power in their homes and lives and world. This year on Easter Day we will be at home, perhaps feeling unsure about the future – with the risen Jesus we can find a certainty that he will be with us in every part of our lives, no matter what the future may hold – we can still say: the Lord is risen – He is risen indeed! Amen.

See, what a morning, gloriously bright, with the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
folded the grave clothes, tomb filled with light, as the angels announce Christ is risen!
See God’s salvation plan, wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
fulfilled in Christ, the Man, for he lives: Christ is risen from the dead!
… And we are raised with him, death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
and we shall reign with him, for he lives: Christ is risen from the dead!
©Stuart Townend (b.1963) and Keith Getty (b.1974)

Easter Sunday Communion at Home

Why not use this simple communion at 10.30am on Easter Day to bring us together as a church family?

Take a small piece of bread and some juice and say:

Bring bread to the table – Bring the body of Christ
Bring wine to the table – Bring the blood of Christ

Holy God, we praise you. We bless you for creating the world, for your promises to your people, and for Jesus, in whose face we see your fullness.

Born of Mary, he shares our life.
In broken bread he shares his life: with the hungry, the exploited & the poor.
In poured wine he shares his promise: with the oppressed, the hopeless and the excluded.

With thanksgiving we break the bread & lift the cup.
We proclaim Christ’s death & resurrection. We claim the promise of life.
We share the gifts of bread & wine, and share his gifts of love & life in our daily lives.

Unite us in faith, encourage us with hope, inspire us to love, that we may serve as your faithful disciples, until we join with all your people around your banquet table. Amen