‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’
(Ephesians 3: 14-21 – NIV-UK)
Leaving aside this month that we’re not where we wanted to be in our worship in church, at this time in our church, we are being asked again to think about the future. We’ve just had an opportunity to meet the new Moderator, Rev Jamie Kissack, who, although he has been in post just over a year, hasn’t had a chance to meet many congregations because of the restrictions. We were able to hear what could be happening in Leeds in terms of future ministry, and there were, and are, a lot of questions we have over that. Next month we will be having to make decisions over our future, whether or not to partner in a new ministry team with several other churches in Leeds.
They are hard decisions, and we may wonder what will become of us.
One of the lectionary readings we missed the last Sunday of July is this beautiful prayer above. It is a prayer which the apostle Paul prayed over the church in Ephesus, in all that was happening to them at the time. And as we face what may be a period of turmoil, different for a change from the pandemic, it’s a prayer I pray for our church, and for everyone in it.
I pray that at this time, that we may all be strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing Christ with us, and being sure of that—having the gift of faith. If we lose sight of that, we may not ride the storm. Whatever the future holds, we have that power of the Holy Spirit in us, helping us to see a clear way ahead. It may not be the future of our own desires, but as we pray for guidance, we may see God’s hand to grasp to take us forward.
And I pray that we may all be rooted and established in love. God’s love is one that is self-less, not thinking of self, but looking to the needs of others. This encourages us to grasp what God’s love is about, that self-less nature, that love which is creative and unconditional. If we put that into practice, that says something about how we respond to the needs of others, and respond at this time in our church life, to the possibilities before us of sharing in a different way with other churches.
That love, Paul says, surpasses knowledge. It’s greater than any knowledge any one of us may have, or what can be presented in meetings of our ideas, or what we personally think is best. Even putting all our knowledge together, even putting the knowledge of all academics together in the world today, God’s love is greater than it all, surpasses it all. And as God is love, Paul is adding in that prayer, and I pray, that we may all be filled with that love, the fulness of God.
When I re-read the prayer, I realised that at first read, it seemed to be about ourselves, that we will be filled, that we would have Christ dwell in us through the Holy Spirit. But by the time I thought about that word ‘love’, I realised that it isn’t about us so much as acting as God does in love. We are filled with the Holy Spirit to do just that. And this last couple of verses, the part of the prayer giving glory to God, homes in on God rather than ourselves, and we see that it is all about God after all: ‘who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us’.
As we pray to have God’s love dwell in us, strengthened by Christ through the Holy Spirit, we remember it is God who works through us, we don’t have to do anything on our own, and therefore, we can, at whatever age or stage of life, ‘do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine’. That might have it limits, yet God also might surprise us!
In Christ, Clare <><
August’s worship@4 will be on Sunday 29th, venue to be confirmed.
There won’t be one in September as our good friend Mr Alex Walker, who leads worship for us from time to time, is being commissioned as the Elder in local leadership at the URC in South Leeds. I will be attending that, and an invitation will be going out to the Mission & Care churches soon.
This month’s prayer meeting is due to be on Wednesday 11th August, from 10.30am to 11am as usual. Do join us in the comfort of your own home to spend the time in prayer for those in our church and those we know who are unwell, bereaved or need prayer for other issues.
PAINTING THE STREETS by DOMINIC KING
This is the title of an exhibition of watercolours by Dominic king who we remember joining us occasionally for Sunday Worship. He was a gifted young man and an amateur artist who died young after suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neurone Disease.
This collection, in his memory by his parents and brother, will take place—Covid restrictions permitting—at the Heart Centre, Bennett Road, Headingley from Tuesday, 10th August to Saturday, 18th September. Catalogues will be available and all proceeds will go to the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Do please give your support to this worthy cause.
Church Family News
I expect that, by now, you all know that Denis and Charlotte are leaving Leeds to live nearer their family. We shall miss their friendship and the great support they have given us over the years. It is a consolation for us that this will be a happy move for them and the three generations of the family will be able to spend more time together—and knowing Denis and Charlotte there will be plenty of fun and laughter. They are leaving us without a formal ‘goodbye’ so we all send our love and best wishes to them and look forward to hearing from them once they have settled in. Aleck has received the following email from Charlotte to share through the newsletter.
‘Denis and I came to Leeds in 1960 and immediately joined Cavendish Road Presbyterian Church. Over all the years the friendships we made and the love and support we received has been one of the rocks through our life. We have had an amazing life and have been so fortunate and now is the time to move on to spend our remaining time nearer our family. Both girls have been amazing and so supportive and we feel so content and comforted about the way ahead knowing we are doing the right thing.
Many thanks to you and all our church friends.
Charlotte and Denis.’
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This has been such a difficult and lonely time for so many but we hope that, over the coming weeks and months, friends will be able to meet up again more easily and enjoy each other’s company. Getting out and about is not so easy for some of us, so now that restrictions are lifting, perhaps we shall be able to find the time to visit old friends who have been isolated during these long months. In particular, Joan says that Phil is finding it harder to get out and about and the uncertainty of the timing of carers’ visits makes it difficult to plan trips out. Phil would enjoy visits from friends and if you have some time to spare perhaps you could phone Joan to arrange a time to pop in and keep Phil company for a while.
The brilliant poppy flaunts her head
Amidst the ripening grain,
And adds her voice to sell the song
That August’s here again.
For that one moment, ‘in and out of time’,
On that one mountain where all moments meet,
The daily veil that covers the sublime
In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.
There were no angels full of eyes and wings
Just living glory full of truth and grace.
The Love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face
And to that light the light in us leaped up,
We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,
A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope
Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.
Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar
Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.
Malcolm Guite is happy for his poetry to be reproduced by churches, with attribution.
The Transfiguration is celebrated on 6th August. A reminder of the mystery and wonder of the incarnation of God in Christ.
In memoriam. Sadly, not all of those who would have wished to do so, were able ‘To celebrate the long life, lived well’ of Audrey Jones at a Thanksgiving Service on 14th July as Covid restrictions were still in place.
We knew of some of Audrey’s talents from Flower Arranging to painting on ceramics and calligraphy and her organisational skills, serving on the Management Team as well as an Elder for many years. Audrey had been retired as Head of the Infants School, St Margaret’s Horsforth, for almost 40 years but remained in touch with former staff and their friendship had lasted throughout her retirement; a certain indication of the love and respect in which she was held.
Audrey had a great love of the theatre, served as a Second Lieutenant in the Territorial Army for almost ten years, enjoyed gardening and supported firstly Cavendish Road Presbyterian church and then our church in Headingley. And was, of course, a loving wife to Ivor and mother to Ann and Gwyn. Judging from Ann’s words I think life with mum must also have been a lot of fun and quite exciting!
All these aspects of her life were shared in the Thanksgiving Service and, although we were unable to sing, we were able to listen to the music that Audrey herself had chosen.
Audrey had known great sadness in her life, losing Ivor very suddenly and her son, Gwyn, at a young age, but she bore such tragedy with outward fortitude, still giving generously of her time and ability to the community.
Audrey was not to meet her baby great-granddaughter, but the proud father, grandson, Ben was able to show us photographs of his very new daughter.
Ann produced a lovely ‘Order of Service’, full of illustrations of Audrey’s life. There is a copy in the vestibule if you would like to see one.
Many of us enjoy visiting local churches while on holiday and when we moved from the South I noticed that churches in Yorkshire were frequently dedicated to Saints less celebrated in Essex and Sussex (our home counties). Churches here were dedicated to St. Aidan, St Cuthbert, St Chad, St Oswald, St Hilda, the exotic sounding ‘Venerable Bede’ and St Wilfred, while we were more accustomed to St. Mary, St Paul, St. George and St Alban or even ‘All Saints’ – our local Parish Church in Woodford.
I knew little of the Northern Saints but a visit to Whitby soon made us realise we had much to learn about the men and women who spread the Gospel across the north, founded religious communities, oversaw the creation of beautiful artwork and all the while faced danger and the threat of invasion.
Two of these northern saints are celebrated in August. The first is Oswald, King of Northumbria who was to reunite and rule over the lands divided after the death of his father. He was a man who lived among intrigue and power struggles from his childhood and he was converted to Christianity after fleeing to Scotland and then Ireland. The small kingdoms of the north were in constant conflict and Oswald is said to have had a vision of St Columba before leading a small army against the mighty Cadwallon. ‘Be strong and act manfully. Behold I will be with thee . . . the Lord has granted me at this time your foes will be put to flight . . . you shall return victorious and reign happily.’
His vision was shared with his council and they were baptised following a victory in which Cadwallon lost his life. Oswald reunited the kingdom of Northumbria and set about spreading the Gospel with the support of the church in Ireland. He put his faith into practice with his generosity to the poor.
Sadly, Oswald’s reign was not to be quite as predicted, but these were rarely peaceful times and he died in battle, recorded as 5th August 642, fighting the pagan Mercians after reigning for only 8 years – but his role in the spreading of the Christian faith is indisputable.
Aidan is the second Northern saint to be celebrated in August. Oswald requested help from Ireland in his propagation of the Gospel, and was sent the ‘austere’ Bishop, Corman, who met with limited success blaming the stubborn people of Northumbria. Aidan was the second missionary to be sent from Iona and his gentler approach found acceptance among the people and the word spread quickly. Oswald and Aidan decided upon Lindisfarne as the centre of his episcopal See, close to the king’s fortress at Bamburgh. A truly inspirational man, he walked from village to village, meeting and talking to people, interested in them and their lives. It is said he would slowly draw them into Christianity—offering ‘them first the milk of gentle doctrine, to bring them by degrees, while nourishing them with the Divine Word, to the true understanding and practice of the more advanced precepts.’
Aidan spoke Gaelic and it is said that Oswald (who had a perfect command of the language from his exile in Ireland) would have to help translate his faltering ‘English’. He worked and travelled tirelessly, establishing communities, churches and schools. His abbey on Lindisfarne became a power house for Christianity. He died, after becoming ill during his travels, on 31st August, leaning against the wall of the church in Bamburgh.
A quiet moment by the shore on Lindisfarne or on the windswept cliffs at Whitby can roll back the years as we give thanks for the faith and bravery of the saints who dedicated their lives to spreading the Good News of the Gospel.