‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him’ – Psalm 37: 7
I wonder how you’re doing at the moment? The majority of us are coping very well I know. There is plenty for us to do at home, and many can go for walks out. Yet, some of us I know are struggling in various ways, whether with on-going health conditions, loneliness, lack of exercise, or whatever it is.
The verse from Psalm 37 is an encouraging one. We’re invited to be still before God, and to wait on Him.
I never find waiting very easy. I’m the sort who wants to get on with the next thing that needs attention. Yet many of those things are not possible.
At this time, we have a lot of waiting around to do. Some of us wait for food deliveries, or meals provided by others. We are all waiting for the time we can do all we used to do freely, listening to the news for a glimpse of hope.
All the while, we try to be still before the Lord and wait patiently in His presence. I wonder what we are waiting for?
Maybe we wait for God’s work through those developing a vaccine to the virus; or we wait for Him to bring healing to those who have the virus; or we wait for comfort for ourselves in this difficult time: or for God’s next step for ourselves.
The majority of us also wait, and long as we wait, to be back together in Church. For all of us used to the Sunday morning Church routine, it is so hard to adjust to what we are doing now, myself included.
In the middle of writing this, my mind turned to the discussion paper sent out recently by the URC, ‘Ready for the new “normal”’. Most of us won’t have seen it, but it is on the URC website for those who are able to take a look. The paper reminds us that while we may be waiting to return to what Church and all we do as Church has been for us, things will never be the same again.
That may sound unsettling for many of us. Yet the paper points to the disciples waiting. At Pentecost, which we’ve just celebrated, the disciples were waiting for what Jesus had promised them, not sure exactly what this was and how it would come, or how it would affect them.
For us, we don’t know what getting back together will look like. It may not be as we’ve always experienced it, and we have the opportunity to discover what God wants for us to be in the future. The paper points to age demographics in our Churches meaning it may be into next year before worship on a Sunday can be resumed with hymn singing and refreshments afterwards. Already, we’ve been doing Church differently for over two months, and that will continue, with all the resources we have in our Church, around Leeds and from the URC Devotions podcast. The Elders are waiting and watching what we’re advised to do.
That may be very disappointing for us as we long to be back together in our usual way. But as the psalmist says, ‘Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.’ The Lord knows what the future holds. It’s in His hands.
With love in Christ,
Almost a year on from Coffee and Conversation – further thoughts on prayer
In a beautifully illustrated little book called Lasting Friendship (Select Editions, Axiom Publishers, 1999) I read 25 words. The book is a selection of phrases and sayings on the subject of being a friend but these words (with no named author), which weren’t about friendship as such, gave me an idea for a prayer. I can’t quote the words as they are written in the book in case I breach copyright law but this is the prayer I composed as a response to the words I read:
We are wondering how we will respond to the next news broadcast, Lord and the subsequent advice on how to live our lives. At this time most of us need more help than ever to do more than just exist: Lord, encourage us to live the best lives we can.
Help us to do more than just touch the objects that are around us in our home – we need to lift them up, feel their textures, stroke their surfaces and simply be glad of them.
If we are able to go for a walk Lord, help us not to just look at our surroundings – open our eyes to really see them and appreciate them.
We hear sounds but do we really listen, Lord? Help us to understand the nuances of what conversations we have and thus, when we are talking, to actually say something that may just be what the other participant in the conversation needs to hear. We may never know what our words have meant or how much a letter or an email has been read and re-read Lord but at this time all means of non-physical contact is precious.
God of all our senses we praise You for enhancing our awareness of all that we are.
Coffee & Conversation is back!
On Tuesday 16th June, 2pm on Zoom, we’ll be re-starting our conversations over coffee and cake. The only other difference is, please bring your own coffee, cake and Bible!
A link to the gathering will be sent out nearer the time.
Prayer meetings have continued throughout on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, all praying quietly in our own homes. Margaret Madill has been producing prayer sheets sent around by email. Please let her or Aleck Brownjohn know if you’d like one.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEN
Our love and Best Wishes go to Len Bower as he celebrates his 100th Birthday on Friday, 5th June. It is very sad that Len will not be able to celebrate with all his friends and family as he should, but I am sure he will have a very happy day and we shall have to be with him in spirit and remember the wonderful afternoon we spent with him when he celebrated his 99th Birthday.
NEWS FROM THE LENT PROJECT – ZIMBABWE
Words can hardly express our deep and humble appreciation for the Amount of usd 942.00 that you kindly donated to us at this time of need as a result of this deadly pandemic Covid 19.This assistance came at a time when we were wondering how we were going to address a number of concerns such as the upkeep for our ministers who so much rely on Church offerings as there are no services from which offerings were collected. The payment of service deliveries is also a challenge as there are no assessments from our Regions. This just to mention a few, this donation will therefore go very long way in alleviating our challenges. We will send a full detail of how it will be used that will be accompanied by receipts. May I once again thank you and all for
May God so much bless you in all you do. Thank you.
Imon Ndlovu ( Rev)
We have supported Vuli Mkandla’s ZET charity in past years and here is an update:
I know your church has been a great supporter of ours so we wanted to send you a little info about our recent activity. Zimbabwe Educational Trust is delighted that we were able to secure a grant from Department for International Development (DFID) and their Jo Cox Memorial Fund to support the Rafiki Girls Centre in Harare. The project will support 240 of the most vulnerable young women over 3 years to make positive changes in their lives, breaking the cycles of hardship which have until now, affected them so harshly. The programme gives 3 months of life skills where the students learn about leadership, cooking, sewing, business communication, health and hygiene, and bible study amongst other subjects. They then move on to choose a specialism in subjects such as pre-school training, nurse-aid, hotel and catering and more. They learn about this specialist course and follow it up with real life work experience to ensure that they are ready to join the workforce when they are finished. The programme seems to work, with over 85% of graduates being in education or employment within 6 months of finishing their course – way above the national average.
We were honoured to attend a launch event on 3 rd March held in collaboration with DFID and the Jo Cox Memorial Foundation and were further honoured to be invited to speak which we did alongside members of other worthy projects, Baroness Sugg and Jo’s proud and passionate sister Kim – who’s promised to come and visit us in Leeds. We were to be alongside Kim on the BBC breakfast sofa that morning but sadly the coronavirus coverage stopped this from happening.
Rafiki Girls Centre is a great partner to work with, their staff are dedicated and wonderful and the programme they deliver is truly life changing for the young ladies they serve. Coronavirus has meant that the school is now closed (expected to reopen soon as lockdown is eased) and staff are working from home, when internet allows, and we hope to get back to this fantastic project just as soon as it is safe to do so. We’d like to thank everyone at the church for your support and prayers and wish you all the best.
If you’d like to know any more please feel free to get in touch with us via phone, email or on facebook, twitter or Instagram.
Many thanks again from the Zimbabwe Educational Trust team. Kind regards and thanks again
Andrew Jackson, Operations Manager
I am a hoarder and the past weeks have been an opportunity to have a bit of a ‘sort out’ – in truth I have just spread stuff from one room to several but memories have been aroused – happy and sad – and there was usually some reason for keeping things! In 1993 we had picked up a ‘Parish News’ from the lovely old church of St Mary’s in Eastbourne and I found an interesting article which touched on things which seemed appropriate to ‘now’.
There has been a lot of discussion about wartime spirit recently and the 75th Anniversary of VE Day brought a flood of old films to television schedules. No doubt many reflected accurately the lives of those brave men and women who fought through those days in the Services and at home, but one film in particular had a more international impact. The story of ‘Mrs Miniver’ was an American production and now seems a little ‘Downton’ in its depiction of middle-class life in England but the suffering and bravery is real enough, though not as gritty as other British films made during the war. It was based on a column in the ‘Times’ written by Jan Struther about ‘an ordinary woman who leads an ordinary sort of life’ which was later turned into a book. The film won 6 Academy awards, including one for Greer Garson – always a great favourite with my mother as she was a local girl made good. The film was in the early stages of production before America joined the conflict and perhaps conceived with the idea of a greater understanding of the British struggle and of breaking down their isolationism. Elements of the script were strengthened by its release in 1942. The Mrs Miniver column continued during the war and were a reflection of her own family life and all its frustrations and when times are hard she said you must just, ‘put on spiritual dungarees and remain in them until things are running smoothly again’.
The Eastbourne interest came about as Jan Struther and her first husband rented a weekend cottage at Rye and the writer followed up the connection noting that, to us, she is also a well-known hymn writer. She wrote the ‘All Day Hymn’ – ‘Lord of all hopefulness’ at the request of Canon Percy Dearmer who was compiling the ‘Songs of Praise’ hymnal in the 1930’s and for which she submitted about a dozen hymns despite her agnosticism. She also wrote two lovely children’s hymns ‘When a knight won his spurs’ and ‘Daisies are our Silver’; they may be dated but they have wonderful images and truth and, for me, happy memories of a loving grandma, a piano and Sunday evenings after tea.
CHRISTIAN AID: MAY 2020
Joan McShane sends her thanks on behalf of Christian Aid for your magnificent response to this year’s appeal. She has received £830 and further sum will be added by Gift Aid
THIS HAS BEEN A BEAUTIFUL SPRING AND ALECK HAS CAPTURED THE CLEMATIS AT THEIR PEAK.
If you have a photograph you would like to share, this is an ideal time. Just email to me and I shall do my best.