or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have given us over to our sins.
Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.’
From a fallen tree, to calling a new Minister, to welcoming a child into the Kingdom through baptism, February was a busy month, and a very stormy one. As we come to March, we’re straight in with Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, the Lent study groups, and our Lent Liturgy in worship which reminds us of the path Jesus took to the cross.
As I was thinking about Lent, I thought about our own personal journeys in Christ, which can be as equally stormy as the weather. The thought of the potter’s clay came to mind, and how Lent is a time to reflect on our own discipleship. Many times we think about giving things up for Lent, or taking things up to help others. Yet, in this season coming out of the pandemic, it is a good time this year to consider ourselves, and our own walk with God.
The verse above is probably the most famous one we might know about the potter and the clay. God is the potter and we are the clay. No-one can ‘lay hold of’ God, because God is God. As a potter, therefore, God has formed us and moulds us as he wishes. That is in the sense of the plan and purpose he has for our lives. Yet we are the ones who go off on our own way. So much of the time, we choose to do our own thing. We may worship on a Sunday, yet so often we forget to follow Christ in the week. So often the storms of life take us over and we forget to be still before God with it all, and to refocus on Christ.
Lent is that time to take stock, to see where we are going our own way, and to seek to turn back to the cross. It is the opportunity to more deeply reflect on our discipleship, to take time out to be ourselves alone in the presence of God, if that opportunity is there for us. As the weather improves, we may find ourselves able to sit in the sunshine in a quiet spot, and let all our thoughts and emotions out to God.
Another verse which may come to mind about jars of clay is in 2 Corinthians 4:7, ‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.’ That likens us to a jar of clay, holding the treasure of Christ. The previous verse says, ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.’
In other words, God has formed us for his purposes—we are that jar of clay, moulded on the road to perfection, and therefore, we have the light of Christ within us, through the Holy Spirit. It is because of that we can bring all that we are and have been to God’s presence and can work through those things that need to change in us and in our journey of faith.
As we hold that treasure of Christ within us, we can therefore shine that through to others. As we continually, through Lent and every day, look to the Holy Spirit to mould us, change us and use us, more of Christ will shine through in our lives.
With love in Christ, Clare <><
|CALENDAR for MARCH
|World Day of Prayer
|Morning Worship led by Rev Phil Chilvers
|Morning Worship led by our Minister
|M & C Group by Zoom
|Morning Worship, including the sacrament of Holy Communion
led by our Minister
|Celebration of the Life of Len Bower
Morning Worship at Headingley Methodist Church
We are holding a worship@4 on February 27th for all those who would like to come. It will be led by Linda McHale and will be café style worship with tea and cakes.
This month’s prayer meeting is due to be on Wednesday 9th March, 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.
A date for your diary—Saturday 16th April, 10.30am-12 noon. Dust off your Easter bonnets—the Easter coffee morning is back! Please bring your Easter creations—bonnets, baskets, decorated eggs, whatever or just come and join us for coffee and hot cross buns. A very warm welcome awaits it will be so nice to meet together socially again.
We shall be supporting ‘Christian Aid’ for our Lent Project this year. You may wish to put a sum aside each week, collect certain coins or simply decide what you would like to give. Whichever it is, Joan—our CA representative—is sure you will be as generous as ever.
We have all been particularly concerned to see the terrible suffering in Afghanistan in recent months and, through Christian Aid, it is possible to earmark your Lent giving for work in Afghanistan and Gift Aid envelopes will be available in the coming weeks labelled as such. Please add Gift Aid if you are able.
From Christian Aid: How your support will help
- provide emergency food and nutrition support for children
- support healthcare facilities
- provide winter kits to help displaced families stay warm
- supply clean drinking water
- protect women and girls
We’ll be continuing to assist the most vulnerable—including those displaced by conflict—in Nagarhar, Kunduz, Kabul, Badghis, Laghman and Herat, through three local partners (which we haven’t named, for their protection). Through two partners we aim to reach around 17,000 people with food packages and provide over 850 pregnant women, new mothers and malnourished infants with additional nutritional support.’
To keep you up to date, the Advent Appeal, including the Advent Lunch raised £410 for Christian Aid.
A further £65 was sent to the Bible Society from our ‘pennies for bibles’ collections.
We are holding our lunch a week early this month, so join us on TUESDAY, 1st MARCH so that we can share pancakes together on Shrove Tuesday! We shall meet as usual at about 12.30pm for lunch at 1o’clock. All are welcome – just let us know if you would like to come.
A feasting prayer for Shrove Tuesday
for eating, not wasting,
for chewing and tasting
all that God makes!
This day is for singing:
our ears will be ringing,
with songs we are bringing
to God – full of praise!
Sing a song of praise!
Bring eggs for the baking
add flour to the making
and stir up the cake in
a bowl nice and big!
Add milk to the bowl
then stir with your soul,
and cook ‘til it’s whole –
and eat all you can!
Tomorrow’s for praying,
for silently saying
to God that you’re laying
your life down in love.
To wait on God’s giving
God’s food for your living,
God’s grace, all forgiving,
as Easter comes near . . .
(Pause for silent prayer)
God’s blessing for sharing,
for hoping, for caring.
God’s life we are bearing
for us and the world!
From ‘Feasts & Festivals’ www.urc.org.uk
A CELEBRATION OF A LONG, FULL LIFE
Jane Bower will be presenting a celebration of her father, Len’s life, at 2pm on Saturday 26th March. It will reflect Len’s interest in music, word and art with friends participating in the readings and music.
There will be an exhibition of Len’s artwork and refreshments will follow. Jane would like to have a fair idea of those who are planning to attend so she can organise the catering. If you have not yet let us know, please could you tell me as soon as possible so that I can inform her.
Jane sadly had to postpone this concert last year when Covid returned, but we are really optimistic for this happy event in March.
From Rev Samantha Sheehan
‘It is with great pleasure that I can confirm Nicola Robinson has accepted the call to serve as minister in the Leeds URC Partnership. Can I invite you to share this news with your congregations.
We are looking at welcoming Nicola to the Partnership over the Summer. I will be liaising with the Steering Group, Nicola and the Synod Moderator to plan for this. As plans are made, we will endeavour to keep you up to date.
Interim Moderator, Leeds URC Partnership
WORLD DAY OF PRAYER
(A WOMEN LED, GLOBAL, ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT)
FRIDAY, 4th MARCH 2022
“I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU”
2022 is a special year for World Day of Prayer in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This year, we have prepared the World Day of Prayer service. It has been both challenging and rewarding to write about the three countries that make up our area: our landscape, people and culture all shaped by our history. We celebrate our diversity and the contribution made to our countries by the many groups and individuals who have made their home here. We use our Bible text “l know the plans I have for you” from Jeremiah to reflect on some of the issues facing us today: poverty, domestic abuse and disability, finding hope in difficult situations and encouragement in the help we can give to each other.
World Day of Prayer is an international ecumenical organisation which enables women all over the world to share the ideas and concerns of the writing country. Preparation for the day has taken several years. Our International Committee based in New York coordinates the work of National Committees and facilitates the creation of our annual World Day of Prayer service on the first Friday in March. The service outline, created by the writing country, is distributed to the rest of the world, along with a Bible reflection, country background and children’s and—for the first time—young people’s activities.
We will use modern technology to reach those unable to access a service but hope to be able to extend a welcome and hospitality once released from lockdown.
All this work will come to fruition on Friday 4 March 2022 when services will take place beginning in Samoa—on the international dateline. The wave of prayer sweeps across the Pacific, touching Fiji and New Zealand then rolling across Asia, Africa and Europe and finally the United States and South America before finishing in American Samoa. Throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland services will take place in large urban centres, such as Central Hall Westminster, and in remote village churches.
SADLY, OUR LOCAL SERVICE AT ST CHAD’S HAS BEEN CANCELLED BECAUSE OF COVID RELATED ISSUES.
I thought the above article might interest you, nevertheless. I was unable to find a link to a service but there will be services held at Leeds Minster and Stainbeck URC on Friday 4th.