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:
In your love we trust, creator God:
your love for your world;
your love for each one of us;
your love that invites us to love others,
to love ourselves, and to love you.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
receive our love now, and our thanks.
Reflection from last Sunday
In recent years there has been a great interest in TV programmes whereby antiques, valuables and objects of great value and significance are discovered. Other people are interested in finding buried treasure from the likes of the Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island or more recently the pastime of geocaching (a cross between a treasure hunt and orienteering). This week we continue with our journey into the book of Matthew and discover six parables (Matthew 13: 24-30 and 36-43) which focus on the themes of wisdom and the Kingdom of God.
But before we do let’s look at our lesson from the Old Testament (1 Kings 3:5-12).
Early on in the reign of Solomon and the Lord appears to Solomon in a dream by night:
God asks Solomon what he would like:
Solomon then in his prayer then states a number of things:
- Give thanks for God’s love for his father David
- He asks for continued blessing from God as David had received
- Solomon expresses humility – I am only a little child
- He asks for the ability to carry out his duties
Solomon could have asked for many things, women, more land, more power, more wealth, a longer life, a bigger army – the list is endless. But he didn’t.
God is impressed and so grants his request – a ‘wise and discerning mind’.
The commentator states that wisdom covers all human experience. It includes ‘understanding’, ‘insight’ and ‘intelligence’. Rightly used, it brings success and prosperity. These aspects of wisdom, with ‘knowledge’ are qualities required in leadership, as shown by David and the Messiah. True wisdom is the creative gift of God, of whom it is an attribute.
Firstly, there is that of the mustard seed, the significance here is not what size the seed is but the great transformation of it that is so important. The seed grows into something huge, the expression is literally ‘greater than the vegetables’ and contrasts the full-grown shrub.
Mustard seeds normally grow to about 3 metres, so to say it is a tree is an exaggeration but the language Jesus used suggests that he was referring to the Old Testament whereby the image of a tree refers to a great empire. Next we come to the parable of the yeast, a portion of which is mixed with 3 measures of flour. This equates to about 40 litres of dough, which would make enough bread for a 100 people. Please note the contrast between the tiny quantity of yeast and the size of its effect. Yet again Jesus uses the symbolism of something small and seemingly insignificant transforming into something greater and of increased value.
Thirdly, we have the treasure in a field; it is likely that the man is a casual labourer and so finding treasure and not reporting it leaves us with a whole bunch of unanswered questions. However, that is not the point of the parable; it is in the discovery and the man’s joy of finding that treasure that is the underlying message. This is likened to the joy a disciple would receive in discovering the kingdom of God. The same is true of the next parable when the person identifies the huge significance of the pearl, goes away and sells all their possessions so they can purchase this one precious pearl. Pearls were highly valued in the ancient world and could generate huge prices and again this catches the imagination but is more improbable than the last parable. The final parable is that of the net which comes with an explanation and is similar to that of the parable of the weeds. The message of this parable is what will happen at the end of time when humankind will be judged for their deeds.
The lessons we learn are in discovering Jesus and the Kingdom that is so precious and by following the ways of Jesus we are guided into greater wisdom. We are made aware of His judgement and that by encountering God through Christ, God is able to transform us and our potential is able to be increased massively. How is your search for wisdom going and have you discovered the buried treasure of the joys of the Kingdom of God yet?
Rev’d Andrew Pottage
Our readings for this week:
Matthew 14: 13-21
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Further readings from the lectionary this week are as follows:
- Genesis 32: 22-31
- Psalm 17: 1-7, 15
- Romans 9: 1-5
We are now live-streaming services via Facebook each Sunday at 11am. You can find our services here. You do not have to be a Facebook user to watch this – our services are publicly viewable. This week’s service will be a communion service led by Graham HInton so do have bread and wine (or equivalent) available if you would like to join in with our communion.
We will be meeting via Zoom immediately after the service for a virtual ‘coffee and chat’. The link for this will be shared in the comments on Facebook during the service.
If you are unable to join us online for our Sunday services, but would like to receive a recording of them on a memory stick to watch at home, please let us know.
Bible study gets underway!
We had our first Zoom Bible study last night and it was a lovely time. If you wish to join us next week, please do. Each week stands alone so you won’t be playing catch-up.
We looked at Hannah (1 Samuel 1 & first half of 1 Samuel 2). We discovered how brave and devoted Hannah was. Despite being bullied by her husband’s other wife she prayed for a child; not in the usual, for the time, loud way, but quietly prompting the question was she drunk. Then she promised the child to God. She did get pregnant and had a boy. True to her word when he was weaned (probably age 2 or 3) she delivered him to the temple to God’s work and her husband supported her.
What a tremendous dedication she showed. To have no doubt yearned for a child in a culture of that being her main role, to have prayed and had her prayer answered, and then to have given her child to God shows a faith most of us can only dream of. What a man Samuel became. I hope we cover him later in the series.
Jonathan is next Tuesday at 7.30pm, please contact the office for meeting details if you would like to join us. The passages to read are 1 Samuel 18:1-9 and 20:1-42, so do have a read beforehand and note any points that strike you from reading it. I will be there.
Beatitudes for a Global Pandemic
Blessed are those who stay indoors for they have protected others.
Blessed are the unemployed and the self-employed, for their need of God is great.
Blessed are the corner shopkeepers, for they are the purveyors of scarce things.
Blessed are the delivery drivers and the postal workers, for they are the bringers of essential things.
Blessed are the hospital workers; the ambulance crews, the doctors, the nurses, the care assistants, and the cleaners, for they stand between us and the grave, and the Kingdom of Heaven is surely theirs.
Blessed are the checkout workers, for they have patience and fortitude in the face of overwork and frustration.
Blessed are the refuse collectors, for they will see God despite the mountains of waste.
Blessed are the teachers, for they remain steadfast and constant in disturbing times.
Blessed are the church workers; the deacons, priests and bishops, for they are a comforting presence in a hurting world as they continue to signpost towards God.
Blessed are the single parents, for they are coping alone with their responsibilities and there is no respite.
Blessed are those who are alone, for they are children of God and with Him they will never be lonely.
Blessed are the bereaved, for whom the worst has already happened. They shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who are isolated with their abusers, for one day – we pray – they will know safety.
Blessed are all during this time who have pure hearts; all who still hunger and thirst for justice; all who work for peace and who model mercy. May you know comfort. May you know calm. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all. Amen.
(©CartoonChurch.com 2020, Written by Jayne Manfredi, based on Matthew chapter 5. Used with permission)
Zoom, oh Zoom, where for art thou Zoom?
You’ve taken over my living room!
There isn’t a place that I cannot be seen,
You’re on my phone, my tablet, my screen.
I can no longer go without brushing my hair,
Without washing my face and pretending I care!
The pj’s replaced with a presentable top,
Not yesterday’s t-shirt all covered in slop.
The cupboards are cleared of debris – each bit,
The bookshelves arranged with intelligent lit.
That’s not really me showing up on the screen,
I’m younger by years and greatly more lean!
But it’s lovely to see friends of that I am sure,
It’s worth all the effort, we must do it more!
(Taken from the Roots activity sheet © ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020. Reproduced with permission.)
Praying for other churches
This week we hold the following churches in our prayers:
- North Hillingdon Methodist church.
- Hounslow URC.
Jesus says, “Love” and I say, “Who?”
Jesus says, “Give” and I say, “What?”
Jesus says, “Follow” and I say, “Where?”
And Jesus says: