March 14th News and Worship
To this week's newsletter. There is lots to explore: worship updates, Lenten challenges, all the worship resources for Sunday and our Church Family News is at the end.
With schools back this week, I was on after school pick-up on a couple of afternoons (why does it rain so often at 3pm?!) and it was great to see how happy and excited the children were at seeing their friends again. Our Church school has done an amazing job, as many have during lockdown, teaching children at home and in-school. School worship has also continued throughout, and I have enjoyed the challenge of leading Community Worship on Zoom, although it can be a challenge on days when the given theme is rather mysterious, like today's "first aid kit"! Using this prompt, this morning the children, staff and I explored the story of the ten lepers.
Back to events on the after school pick-up. A little gaggle of small boys were gathered by the "thinking tree" which has been for many years our family name for the knarly tree by the Springfield car park. Prior to lockdown, climbing it for the boys wasn't possible, they just were not big enough. Now working together with help and encouragement they were able to climb it. Now they had grown taller and stronger, more able, and were able to achieve what previously had been out of reach.
Growing in faith is very similar, we often don't notice it because it happens naturally and as we grow in faith we are able to meet the challenges that were previously out of reach. Are there spiritual trees you thought you couldn't climb that you should look at with fresh eyes? Perhaps God is saying they are now achievable. As the boys climbing the tree demonstrated, with help and encouragement it's amazing what can be done.
The Week Ahead
Sunday Worship at 10.00am
This Sunday our worship continues on Zoom. The code is: 255 545 2161. If you are new to Zoom or have any difficulty getting into the Service, please let us know.
Tuesday Morning Prayer at 9.00am
Code 503 346 024
A short service of about 30 minutes to start the day.
Wednesday Lenten Reflection, Coffee and Chat
Code 255 545 2161
We gather on Zoom at 10.30am for prayer, Bible reading and reflection which is followed by an opportunity to share in conversation and fellowship. Throughout Lent we will listen to the days Reflection, from On the Bible's Backroads, written by Rob Green.
Wednesday Opening for Private Prayer
Wednesdays 12noon until 2.30pm.
Thursday Morning Prayer at 9.00am
Code 859 930 994
A short service of about 30 minutes to start the day.
Family Lego Challenge
We have had a few entries for this Lenten Challenge, but are looking for more! Can you make a scene from the Easter Events out of Lego? Take a photo and send it to the newsletter and we will see if we can tell the whole story using the pictures. You could start with the Last Supper, or earlier with Palm Sunday, there's the garden scene, trial, the cross and the Resurrection garden, even the appearances of the risen Jesus to the disciples... go on, be creative! Pictures submitted will be kept safely until nearer to Easter.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent
Worship for the week starting 14th March
Together but Apart
Worship resources for Sunday 14th March
Below are the worship resources for this coming Sunday and the Prayer Diary for the week.
For use with Worship at Home booklet and reflection.
Exodus 2: 1–10
Colossians 3: 12–17
Musical Resources for Worship
Hymns for Worship at Home
Tell out my soul
A new commandment
The Lords my shepherd
Jesus strong and Kind
All the angels sing
For the beauty of the Earth by Rutter
God of compassion,
whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary,
shared the life of a home in Nazareth,
and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself:
strengthen us in our daily living
that in joy and in sorrow
we may know the power of your presence
to bind together and to heal;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
God of love,
passionate and strong,
tender and careful:
watch over us and hold us
all the days of our life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Exodus 2: 1–10 Colossians 3: 12–17
Things are a bit different this week, because our talk for the family service on Sunday is going to be given by Julie-Anne. We’re not quite sure how good an idea this is, but she was so keen to do it and, well, you know what Julie-Anne is like, she can be very persuasive… I don’t know what she’s going to say, and she didn’t want to write in the newsletter, so here are a few thoughts for anyone who isn’t able to join us on Zoom on Sunday. Not maybe a fully fledged reflection, because that might upset Julie-Anne – she’s really in charge this time, and she’s hoping lots of people will come!
Mothering Sunday may well trigger some sad memories this year as well as happy ones, because it was the first Sunday that the church was forced to close. A whole year ago… And what a year. There has been real sorrow for so many, and there has been amazing bravery and strength too. So it feels right to celebrate Mothering Sunday with a new energy and admiration, thinking of all the mums for whom this year has been, at the very least, a right old roller coaster…
Now we all know that anyone can mother – fathers, aunts, grandparents, brothers, sisters – and that’s really important, but I suspect (and indeed research confirms) that it’s mainly mothers this year who need a particular thank you. Home schooling your own children without the critical ‘otherness’ of being their teacher is challenging enough, but many have been juggling with their own work too. And on top of that, coping with the inevitable ups and downs in all the family as the frustrations of lockdown kicked in. For some too financial anxiety is taking its toll, and if we imagine being in a tower block with fed-up teenagers… this has been a year no-one wants to repeat.
My heart goes out to you all and I hope that the cards and flowers and chocolates are plenteous, and that being cosseted is the order of the day! Amazing, stalwart mothers – we thank you.
Yet, as I said, there are many others who mother too, and one of those plays a crucial role in our reading from Exodus. (I don’t think Julie-Anne is going to talk about that.) The story of Moses is so often seen as the cute baby in a basket story, and so it is. Moses must have been super-cute for Pharoah’s daughter to want to rescue him. But it’s really a story of desperation. Of two strong women – one probably still a young girl – in the face of genocide, prepared to risk everything for a tiny child.
Just imagine the terror of those first three months of Moses’ life, as they hide him from sight, scared that at any moment his cry would be heard, or a casual comment made that would alert the murderers. In what must have seemed a hopeless situation they didn’t give up. Maybe, just maybe, a non-Hebrew woman would catch sight of this precious baby and his life would be saved.
Jochebed (if we’ve been reading our Lent reflections we’ll know this is Moses’ mother’s name) and Moses’ sister Miriam take this last desperate step of hope. Are they being guided by the Spirit? Our text is silent, but we know what’s to come. In the many layers this passage opens up, what we hear loud and clear is the sheer strength of love, in this case the sacrificial love of a mother and a sister, ready to risk their own lives for the baby.
And not a man in sight! I mention this not because I think women have the monopoly on this sort of courage – that would be daft – but because the culture of the entire Bible is deeply rooted in patriarchal privilege and power, and yet, again and again, we meet strong, wonderful, unexpected women, who stand tall, who are recognised, who make a difference to the whole story of salvation. The Bible has always been radical, always challenging, and trying to soften its edges can lead us to missing important truths about how God speaks to us – and in ways we still need to hear.
The story of Jochebed and Miriam must resonate with women who live in places where tribal violence flourishes, where children are stolen to be fighters or sex slaves, anywhere where raising a child is precarious, painful. But on a much gentler level, maybe it resonates with a lot of mothers today, mothers who are struggling to do the best for their families in challenging times.
Mothering is never easy. Mothering Sunday isn’t straightforward. There are mothers we miss acutely, especially when the loss is still raw; mothers with whom the relationship was, or is still, fractured or complicated; mothers we never feel able to please; mothers who are disappearing from us in sickness. So the central message of Mothering Sunday is as powerful as ever. In the midst of joy and sorrow is our loving God, and our Church family, faithfully holding onto, trying to live by, and finding our strength in, his love.
This past year has challenged us in our inability to gather in person, but it has also given us opportunities to deepen our relationships with each other, not only through phone calls, but also with the unlikely medium of Zoom! And I suspect we understand more profoundly how precious it is to be able to be together in person (not long now…) to worship God… and to have the freedom to do so.
So as we celebrate and give thanks for the gift of mothering this year, we remember, and give the greatest thanks for the One whose Spirit inspires, sustains and flows through every thought and act of mothering love. God the Father, and the Mother, of us all.
Prayer focus this week
The focus of our prayer is on the theme of families. Choose six different aspects of family life, needs or challenges you know that families face, one for each day of the week. then focus your prayer on that one need or challenge as you journey through the day. Whenever there is a quiet moment bring that prayer to God. At the end of the week, on the seventh day give thanks to God that he hears our prayers, trusting that he has heard our prayer.
Those who have asked for prayer
Paul Nadin Salter
Those who have died
Prayer from yesterday for today
God, of your goodness, give me yourself,
for you are sufficient for me.
I cannot properly ask anything less,
to be worthy of you.
If I were to ask anything less
I should always be in want,
for in you alone do I have all.
Julian of Norwich
Church Family News
Thank you to everyone who attended our Fairtrade evening. Chrysi Dimaki from the Fairtrade Foundation gave an excellent presentation and there was lots of interesting discussion afterwards. I think we all learned how choosing to buy Fairtrade products can really help farmers in developing countries who are most hard hit by climate change. There was a question about personal Fairtrade favourites, so here are some of my family's favourites:
Tea: we buy Clipper tea bags (Fairtrade and fully compostable, unlike a lot of tea bags!)
Coffee: we like Cafedirect's Macchu Picchu ground coffee and the Co-op's Italian-style ground coffee
Bananas: the good news here is that all bananas at the Co-op, Sainsbury's and Waitrose are Fairtrade
Chocolate/cocoa: Green & Black's cocoa powder is Fairtrade and very good, as is their chocolate. And all cocoa in the Co-op's own brand chocolate range is Fairtrade; the Truly Irresistible dark chocolate bars are delicious!
Easter eggs: nearly that time, and Divine and Green & Black's are the Fairtrade brands to look out for!
What are anyone else's favourites?