God’s abundant love
Lent is a season where we are invited into a time of focus and concentration, of stopping to notice what matters most in life. Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before the joy and excitement of Easter. In our own lives, there are times we can experience our own wildernesses. The wilderness of long-term physical and/or mental illness. The wilderness of grieving for a loved one. The wilderness of losing our job/independence/security.
Yet in this wilderness, as we recognised, acknowledged and declared at Christmas – Emmanuel – God with us. God with us in the pain. God with us in our loss and sickness. God with us in the moments of joy. God with us in looking forward to a hopeful future.
In Lent, we are invited to recognise – God with us – empowering us to focus and concentrate on being aware of God’s surrounding, all-encompassing love.
Because God’s abundant love for everything impacts on absolutely everything in our lives and world, including:
the way we treat our earth
the way we treat our local and global neighbours
the way we treat ourselves.
To prepare for Lent, I have just started reading Living His Story by Hannah Steele. In this book, Steele encourages us, as Christians, to reflect on the difference God’s love makes to ourselves, our communities and our world and to think about how to share our faith.
So, this made me think and reflect on a question about how we see ourselves as people of faith, part of a church community.
The question: what difference does God’s love make to ourselves, our communities and world?
So, as we enter the Lenten season and beyond, I invite us to take notice and explore ways we can embody God’s abundant love in all that we think and do and say.
I end with a wonderful poem by Jean M Watt:
Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf,
Barer than blackthorn in its winter sleep,
All unadorned. Unlike Christmas which decrees
The setting-up, the dressing-up of trees,
Lent is a taking down, a stripping bare,
A starkness after all has been withdrawn
Of surplus and superfluous,
Leaving no hiding-place, only an emptiness
Between black branches, a most precious space
Before the leaf, before the time of flowers;
Lest we should see only the leaf, the flower,
Lest we should miss the stars.
|Morning Worship led by Rev Phil Chilvers
|Morning Worship led by Rev Geoff Ellis
Joint service with Headingley Methodist Church
|Morning Worship led by Rev Phil Chilvers
|Guild Pancake Lunch
|Morning Worship, including the Sacrament of Holy Communion, led by our Minister, Rev Nicola Robinson
|Leeds URC Partnership Lent Course begins:
|URC in South Leeds
|St Andrew’s Roundhay
In Memoriam: Mrs Mary Koi.
It is with great sadness that we record the death of Mrs Mary Koi who was a faithful member of our church for many years. She had been seriously ill for the past year, bearing surgery and treatment with fortitude and grace. Mary radiated joy and good humour, there being little that she did not take in her stride. She was always willing to help – often quietly without being asked – and her sunny smile and laugh were never far away. She will be dearly missed by her sister Gladys, her children and grandchildren – and all who knew her.
The funeral will be held on 22nd February at 1pm, to which all are welcome, followed by a private family cremation at Lawnswood Crematorium.
WORLD DAY OF PRAYER, 3rd MARCH 2023
“I Have Heard About Your Faith”
One of the WDP Guiding Principles states that ‘Prayer is rooted in listening to God and to one another. In WDP we listen to the Word of God and to voices of women sharing their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows, their opportunities and needs.’
The theme of the worship service “I have heard about your faith”, based on the letter to the Ephesians, is an invitation to active listening, which is the ground of our prayers. Following the example of the letter (1: 15-19), where the author praises the church for their faith in Jesus and love toward all the saints, the worship service has been prepared by the women of Taiwan. Taiwan has for many years been caught in a superpower struggle. Isolated internationally for decades, as of April 2022 only 13 of the 193 United Nations member states recognised Taiwan as a sovereign country. China continues to claim Taiwan as its sovereign territory although a large majority of Taiwanese people reject unification with China. Harassment continues, the risk of conflict is at its highest level for many decades. The people of Taiwan are very much in need of our prayers at this point time.
You are warmly invited to attend one the services in our area as listed below.
Friday March 5th 2023
10.30am. Lidgett Park Methodist Church, Lidgett Place LS8 1HG
1.00pm. St. George’s Church (the Lighthouse) Great George St, LS1 3BR
In the presence of the Lord Mayor of Leeds
2.30pm. Shadwell Methodist Church, 102 Main Street, Shadwell, LS17 8HN
6.00pm. Trinity United Church, 6 Banstead Terrace, LS8 5P
“Lent is a time for discipline, for confession, for honesty, not because God is mean or fault-finding or finger-pointing but because he wants us to know the joy of being cleaned out, ready for all the good things he now has in store. — N.T. Wright
“There are three elements that are almost always part of Lent: prayer, giving something up, and giving something back.” — Elizabeth Hyndman
“LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” — Isaiah 33:
It has become our custom to celebrate Shrove Tuesday at the Guild with a Pancake Lunch. Easter is late this year so Shrove Tuesday falls on TUESDAY, 21st FEBRUARY and we shall be holding our lunch on that day. We shall meet, as usual, at about 12.30pm with lunch at 1 o’clock. All are welcome – friends too.
‘On this Shrove Tuesday, Lord help us to enjoy and give thanks to you for the bounty you provide for us and remind us to share your gifts with others. And as Lent begins tomorrow, prepare our hearts and minds to reflect upon the temptation of Jesus for 40 days and nights and what that means for us’. Amen
BIBLE STUDY GROUP
Nicola organised her first Bible Study Group for us in January. It was friendly and informal, starting with tea and coffee and biscuits. We read the account of Jesus returning to Nazareth and preaching in the synagogue as he commenced his ministry, and shared our thoughts on the passage.
As we shall be sharing a Lent Course with the Partnership during Lent, Nicola will not be preparing another session until the Spring, but please think about joining us then, when the days will be longer and we hope, warmer. Just mention it to Aleck or Nicola if you would like to come and would find it easier with a lift. More details about time and date nearer the day.
Details of the Partnership Lent Course are given below. There are three sessions which you can attend at various times of the day/week but also a Zoom meeting on Thursday evenings. Aleck will send out the details for joining them prior to the first one.