Welcome to the first issue of our new church newsletter – ‘Look-In’ in Lockdown. Hope that you are keeping well and staying safe at home. Trying to be church remotely in this current time when we cannot meet together as a church family is a challenge that we have been trying to meet over the last few weeks. We hope that this newsletter will help keep you connected through sharing articles from church members, ideas for activities during lockdown and ways in which we can worship together during this time. Any suggestions and items for future newsletters will be welcomed!
Let’s start with an opening prayer:
Loving God, here we are,
with all our different needs and emotions,
carrying the burdens of sorrow, pain and disappointment
as we journey away from the Cross
Coming as a stranger,
you caused the disciples hearts to burn within them
as they travelled the road with you.
Help us to expect your company as we travel –
to welcome you as a friend,
so that our hearts, too, will be set aflame.
Christ is risen – it is true!
so we don’t need to walk alone.
You promise to be with us through all of our journeying – the best and the worst.
So strike a fire in our hearts,
stir up our imaginations,
and inspire us to walk faithfully with you.
(Anonymous, taken from the URC handbook)
A thought for the week
Hello, Locked-Down Look-Inners.
I came across part of the following as a poem years ago and kept the words in my Bible. Now, with the wonders of the internet, I find it has more verses than I’d seen previously and that it’s set as a hymn, with the final verse as the chorus (or “refrain”, if you don’t want to sing it) between verses. It’s by Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932), who had many changes, challenges and trials in her life, yet had unshakeable faith in God. If you have access to the internet you can read her story. She wrote these words for someone who was depressed and asking why God allowed hard things to come into her life.
God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God has not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He has not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
God has not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest from our labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.
It is, of course, the final verse (chorus, or refrain) which reminds us of God’s care for us even in our deepest trials. I remember hearing that we shouldn’t ask, “Why me?”, but, “Why not me?”, when difficulties beset us. Faith is not insurance, it’s assurance.
This coronavirus time has and will have its difficulties and tragedies for us. But it will also give us memories of caring and neighbourliness above and beyond the call of duty, open up new ways of communicating and acknowledging God together, bring forth new talents and new ways of doing things which will remain after the pandemic. Our pastoral contacting, this newsletter and our on-line services are parts of that.
What Bible passage is most appropriate to these thoughts? Many, but here’s the one which came to me. It’s Romans 8:38-39. Thank you, Paul.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, [including COVID-19 (I put that bit in)], will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Halleluiah! We can rely on God who gives us strength, rest, light, grace, help, kindness and love – even in our darkest times.
Thanks to those who are givers. Thanks to those who are receivers. Annie Flint saw clearly that both are blessed.
Above all, thanks be to God.
Our readings for this week:
Acts 2:14a, 22-32 (NIV)
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Psalm 116: 1-4, 12-19
- 1 Peter 1: 17-23
- Luke 24: 13-35
We are now live-streaming services via Facebook each Sunday at 11am. You can find our most recent service here. You do not have to be a Facebook user to watch this – our services are publicly viewable.
We are also holding a weekly prayer meeting via Zoom on Wednesdays at 7pm. The first prayer meeting will be on Wednesday 29th April. If you would like to join us for this, please contact the office for details.
If you are unable to join us and have any prayer requests that you would like us to include, please contact the Church Office so that these can be passed on.
Links for worship material from the URC and Methodist Church are available via our Worship page.
Home thoughts from….Home
“Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there”
Often misquoted, the poem Home Thoughts from Abroad was written by Robert Browning in 1845 when he was spending time in Italy and is a nostalgic look at the glories of an English Spring.
The words have been niggling at the back of my mind since the beginning of the month. Suddenly, we don’t have the choice about spending April in England and it is easy to forget that the glories we can see around us are something that people like Browning long for. Indeed, it can be hard to see beyond the limits of our cloistered lives into the natural world beyond.
Spring is full of promises: the promise of new life; the promise of warmer weather; and the best promise of all, God’s promise to be with us, renewed each year in our hearts as we celebrate Easter. Hold on to these promises. It is great to be here, in England, now that April is here, and we are lucky to have these promises to hold on to. We may be nostalgic for things we used to do, but we have the promise of so much more to help us move forward.
I am glad to be in England now that April’s here.
Churches Not Together in Uxbridge
The observation of Commonwealth Day reminds me that in earlier times we celebrated Empire Day, and I believe the change came in 1958. Empire Day was May 24th – Queen Victoria’s birthday – and in schools it was always a half-holiday. Children in uniformed organisations always wore their uniform to school on that morning.
One lady told me that she was a pupil at St Andrew’s School, but as she belonged to the Girls Brigade at the Central Hall she wore that uniform. She was told to go home and change immediately. Her “Methodist uniform” was not acceptable in an Anglican school*.
Thank goodness those days are far gone.
(*Note from editor – Girls’ Brigade and Boys’ Brigade are ecumenical organisations and not affiliated with any particular denomination)
Ken has been sharing some local history on the History Show on Uxbridge FM. You can find his broadcasts on their website https://uxbridgefm.co.uk
A creative challenge for our community
At this moment in time we have no idea when we will be able to get together again but, rest assured, we most certainly will, so I’d like to set you a challenge.
Everybody who uses our Church buildings is invited to take part.
Your challenge is to design your own ‘coronavirus square’. Dimensions must be 21cm square.
You can use any medium. This could be paper, card, fabric, wool, plastic, crazy foam, polestyrene etc. (in fact anything that would stand being hung up on our green boards in the vestibule).
You may decorate your square in any way that you like.
Some ideas but not limited to:
- Write a poem or a prayer
- Draw or paint a picture
- Weave a pattern
- Sew a picture
A piece of A4 paper is 21cm x 30cm so you could cut the square from that.
Please bring your square with you when you come back into our Church building and it will be put on display. We may not all be able to all return at the same time, but we can add our squares as we do return and we can watch our numbers grow as we are reunited.
Thank you. Happy crafting!
Recipe – Dandelion and Lemon Biscuits
If your garden is anything like mine, it is full of dandelions at the moment. We’ve been making the most of this and using them to make delicious dandelion and lemon biscuits. If you would like to make them, here’s the recipe:
- Approx. 20 dandelion flower heads
- 125g softened butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- Zest of 1 lemon plus 1tbsp lemon juice
- 180g plain flour
- 20g cornflour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350F/gas mark 4.
- Wash the dandelion flowers, then remove the yellow petals by pinching firmly and pulling (a little green is OK, but too much may give the biscuits a bitter taste).
- Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
- Mix in the egg and lemon zest.
- Sift in the dry ingredients and combine well.
- Add the lemon juice and dandelion petals and mix.
- Dollop spoonfuls onto a greased baking tray and cook for approx. 12 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!
Lord, we thank you for the technology that allows us to maintain communication with each other while we are physically apart. We thank you for the love and community that we have together. We pray for those in our church family who are unwell, anxious or struggling at this time, for their wider family members and for our local community. We pray for the key workers who are keeping our essential services going and ask that you guide them and give them strength to continue in their work. We pray for our leaders and ask that you guide them and grant them wisdom in the decisions that they make. Lord, we thank you that you are with us all in these uncertain times. Amen.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.