Welcome to the latest issue of our church newsletter. Hope that you are all continuing to keep well and stay safe. This newsletter is one of our ways of trying to maintain contact and a sense of community during this time when we cannot meet together as a church family. You can find previous issues of the newsletter here. We would love to hear from you and are looking for uplifting and encouraging content to share in future issues of this newsletter. If you have any ideas or content that we can share, please do email them to Louise (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We start with our opening prayer:
Lord, we bring ourselves today. Just as we are.
Help us to see your love, shining through us.
Help us to have a child-like eagerness to know you more, and share your love in the
May we live as your children: gentle, and lowly in heart.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Reflection from last week’s Pentecost service
I hope you’ll be keeping the drawings of the Mothering Sunday posy and the palm cross from the newsletter by you during lockdown. Today is Pentecost, so we have a flame to add.
Pentecost, along with Christmas and Easter, is one of the major commemorations in the Church Year – or Liturgical Year, if you want to be posh; 7 Sundays after Easter Sunday, 49 days plus 1 for the day itself gives 50. “Pentekoste” is the Biblical Greek for “fiftieth”.
We’ve heard read from Acts chapter 2 the account of what happened on that day. The apostles had returned to Jerusalem as Jesus had told them to during his resurrection appearances to them. They were just seven weeks into their lives without him with them physically – a huge shock and change. How organised were we seven weeks into the sudden change into lockdown? They’d done a bit; they prayed together, they saw close friends and relatives, they’d appointed a replacement for Judas; but it seems they largely kept out of the way until this event. “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high,” Jesus had told them.
And Pentecost was when it happened – when the Jewish nation and others who had come to Judaism were crowding into Jerusalem for one of the harvest festivals – the Festival of Weeks. A violent wind, tongues of fire. However it was manifested, the strength of the description tells us it was mind-blowing, mind-changing, revelationary, strengthening, empowering, enthusing. They came out from their huddle and communicated their faith and belief in a way that everyone there, even though they came from many different nations and spoke different languages, was able to understand. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. Sometimes conviction shines from a believer. Who knows? Some scholars see this as the reversal of the dividing of the nations by language at Babel, in Genesis chapter 11, when the people planned to build a tower to reach the heavenly regions. Peter points to it as the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy, Joel chapter 2.
This event is taken as the beginning of the active church, which makes today the birthday of the church, and we hear immediately of the believers meeting regularly for teaching, fellowship, holy communion, sharing of their personal wealth, caring for the poor, involvement in physical and spiritual healing, all empowered by the gifts of the Holy Spirit which they’ve each received.
In another reading set for today, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Paul says, “There are many different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” We each have a gift or gifts. What service are you putting your gifts to? Are you using them as you can, perhaps differently, perhaps inventively, during COVID-19? What gifts do you see in those around you? Have you told them?
The Holy Spirit is God’s power and our powerhouse, with many examples of his variety in both testaments. YOU have been clothed with power from on high!
It’s the birthday of the church. Please wave that flame and sing the world’s most sung song.
Happy birthday to us. Happy birthday to us. Happy birthday dear church. Happy birthday to us.
We go on in the power of the Holy Spirit, to love and to serve the Lord.
Our readings for this week:
Matthew 28: 16-20 (NIV)
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Genesis 1: 1 – 2: 4a
- Psalm 8
- 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13
Our next virtual coffee morning will be held on Saturday 13 June via Zoom. If you would like to join in, please contact Louise (email@example.com) for details.
One of our church members has written a few guides on using Zoom which you may find helpful. You can find a link to these here.
Anne Sardeson will be sharing a reflection for this week’s service.
We are also holding weekly prayer meetings via Zoom on Wednesdays at 7pm. If you would like to join us for this or have any prayer requests that you would like us to include, please contact the Church Office.
Links for worship material from the URC and Methodist Church and youth devotional material from #BBatHome are available on the Worship page on the church website.
A statement from the London District Chairs
How Long? We ask? Reflection and prayer for such a time as this:
For as long as we see each other as different,
Weeping and lament will not cease;
For as long as economic and political disparities occur,
Abuse, separation and segregation will not cease;
For as long as we remain silent in the face of oppression,
Discrimination, beatings, killings and demeaning of those who’re different will persist!
The backdrop is dark, signifying the darkness of these unprecedented times. Not only is Covid-19 continuing to wreak havoc with human lives, now segregation, racism and separatist attitudes are dominating human relating once more. In a Public Health England review on the Disparities in the risk and outcomes of Covid-19, the following is highlighted: ‘People from Black ethnic groups were most likely to be diagnosed. Death rates from COVID-19 were highest among people of Black and Asian ethnic groups. This is the opposite of what is seen in previous years, when the mortality rates were lower in Asian and Black ethnic groups than White ethnic groups. Therefore, the disparity in COVID-19 mortality between ethnic groups is the opposite of that seen in previous years. People who live in deprived areas have higher diagnosis rates and death rates than those living in less deprived areas. The mortality rates from COVID-19 in the most deprived areas were more than double the least deprived areas, for both males and females. This is greater than the inequality seen in mortality rates in previous years, indicating greater inequality in death rates from COVID-19.’ (extract from the Executive Summary: Published June 2020 PHE publications; gateway number: GW-1311)
Some of the reasons noted for this in the above statement is poverty and the so-called post-code lottery. The area one lives in can often be contributory to the disparities faced.
As the London District of the Methodist church, we embrace everyone and believe all lives matter!
We also strongly yield to the side of the oppressed, the deprived, poor and marginalised.
We weep with those who are weeping and in humility,
we share deeply the pain of those who’ve lost their loved ones.
That is why we cannot afford to remain silent when people like George Floyd are deprived of life through callous, racist and insensitive ‘public order – actions’ that are not meted out equally and without bias amongst the whole community; whether be it here in the UK with the high incidences of stop and search amongst BAME youths when compared to those of white ethnic origin; or in the US with the ongoing riots and continued segregation by police forces in ‘dispensing their brand of justice’ (which often stands in stark contrast to the proper rule of law). As Christians from all walks of life, we are dismayed and filled with righteous indignation at the cheapening of human life, the continued accentuation of difference and the disparate way in which resources are shared amongst differing communities. When one weeps and is in pain, as a church, we cry too and share in their pain!
God of the persecuted and the bereaved,
Pour Your love upon Your sorrowing servants.
In the sickening and devastating acts of human intent,
Pour out your power we pray,
that we may be given hope
and an assurance of Your presence in these tumultuous times.
Open your hand of grace dear God to all the people of the USA
Enable them to find common ground, to yield to justice and to find peace.
Empower them to have compassion through the presence of your Holy Spirit.
Forgive our failing hearts as we allow these tragic events to overtake us,
Forgive our anger as we allow senseless killings to control us
And forgive our fearfulness in remaining silent and doing nothing.
Give us O Lord a glimpse of a hopeful future,
through the presence and life affirming power of Jesus Christ our Lord,
Who reigns with You in the power of the Holy Spirit, now and always.
May justice, peace and love be a symbol of our unstinting solidarity;
The District Chairs,
Jongi, Nigel & Micky
My friends all speak of sparkling rooms, of tidy gardens full of blooms.
They’ve painted walls and scrubbed the floors; they’ve washed the windows and the doors.
There’s not a spec of dust in view, no cobwebs lurking in the loo.
I wonder where they find the time, their perfect worlds are not like mine.
I’ve made some calls, I chat for an hour, I’ve made some cakes with gluten free flour.
I’ve thought long and hard about what I should do, I made several lists to tick when I’m through.
I work in the day and cook in the night; my house really is quite a terrible sight.
Thank goodness my visitors must stay by the gate; I’ll do it tomorrow if that’s not too late.
Taken from this week’s Roots activity sheet
© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020.
Reproduced with permission.
Life in lockdown
Preparing for our live-streamed services certainly keeps us busy each weekend. Here’s a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes:
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- Yiewsley Methodist church
- St Andrews, West Kilburn URC
May we be wrapped in the love of The Creator
May we be inspired by the life and teachings of our Saviour
And may we be empowered by the Holy Spirit, this day and forever more.
(Wayne Grewcock, taken from The Vine at Home)