Word over all, beautiful as the sky,
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost,
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world;
For my enemy is dead – a man divine as myself is dead,
I look where he lies, white faced and still, in the coffin – I draw near,
Bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.
Walt Whitman (1819 – 92) was an American poet, essayist and journalist, influenced by Emerson, an American philosopher and poet, who said of Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Straw’, that it was a work of wit and wisdom. It contained twelve poems but later editions added over a hundred.
Whitman worked as a volunteer hospital visitor among the wounded during the American Civil War and it is likely that this inspired the poem, ‘Reconciliation’. The poem is used in Vaughan Williams, ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’, and reminds me of the later poem ‘Strange Meeting’ by Wilfred Owen.
‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’ 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)
I quoted the above verse in worship a couple weeks ago. Scripture for Timothy was what we would call our Old Testament, the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings, the latter including the Psalms.
We often avoid the Old Testament, and hear few sermons on it. There are parts where the violence against others jerks our sensibilities, and we wonder where the God of love is. There are parts which seem like impossible or improbable stories, other parts which give images which must have meant something to the original hearers, but which mean little to us. There are pages of laws which seem to make outcasts of people, and some of us may feel are plain boring.
Yet the pages are rich with the story of God’s people, and they provide us with insights into how God wishes us to live and to be. The Old Testament has been described as History – His story – not so much the story of God’s people, but the story of God, interacting with humanity. There’s a lot in it and a lot to wonder about.
When we read the laws we not only find ones that outcast people with skin disease and women once a month, but we also find common sense ways to increase hygiene in the community at that time. The pages of consequences for wrong-doing have a hint of mercy in them. In some sense, they were based on the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – something incidentally which isn’t in the Old Testament but a common saying in Jesus’ time which He speaks against – were much less brutal than the surrounding nations. Rather, for example, if a slave is hit by their master and their eye is taken out, that slave should be given their freedom (Exodus 21.26).
There are laws which speak of helping widows and orphans, and also the stranger. The former is often easier than the latter. There are laws about sharing food with the poor, in not harvesting fields fully so some was left for the poor to glean, and inviting the poor to eat with them at religious festivals. There are laws about releasing slaves, many of whom were people who had got into debt, and returning land to them to live on. There are laws about not over-tilling the land. Many speak to our generation, as do the prophets. They were written with specific people in mind, often in the middle of a bad situation, by people of prayer who could see what would happen (seer being another word for prophet). They are God’s voice in the injustice of the rich-poor divide, the problem of bribery and corruption, and many other issues.
The prophetic writings show us God’s heart in these issues. They came to be read by generations as being about times to come. They came to be read as pointing to a Messiah, and we often read them in this way. They can also be read as about places and times in our own time, and many of the issues are as true of our society today as it was then.
Then there are the Psalms, which some of us have been brought up on. For good reason. Many are prayers which can be prayed in any age because they touch the human condition and bring our needs, our hopes and fears, our struggles, and much more, before the throne of God.
There is so much to the Old Testament, to value and to learn from. It’s best tackled, not by reading from Genesis 1 through, but taking a book or a chapter at a time, and flitting between different parts. Rev’d Dr Janet Tollington, retired tutor in Old Testament studies at Westminster College Cambridge, led a session at Heckmondwike URC a few weeks ago. We’re booking her in Leeds for early summer next year. She has fascinating insights and well worth hearing.
Details will be posted soon. You’ll never think of the Old Testament in the same way again!
Love in Christ, Clare
Our meeting this month is on Wednesday 14th. Join us for this short time in God’s presence to pray in the quiet for those in need and for our Church, or put aside the time to pray at home.
Coffee & Conversation
Wednesday 28th November at 6 for 6.30pm. Light refreshments will be provided.
More details will be in the notices.
It is planned to hold a fund raising Concert for Wheatfields Hospice on Sunday 25th November at 2.30pm in the Sanctuary. This will be followed by Afternoon Tea. We are to be entertained by the Cuckston Singers and we hope to have a short Organ Recital and perhaps a duet by two of our own musicians. Please support us, join us, bring your friends and publicize the event as much as possible.
Our monthly lunch will be held on Tuesday, 13th November, meeting at 12.30pm for lunch at 1o’clock. All Welcome.
We shall hold a short AGM after the lunch where the main business will be deciding where we shall send the remaining donations for the year. Perhaps you could be thinking of “good cause(s)” that would appreciate small donations.
At our afternoon meeting on Tuesday, 27th November Roger Morley will be entertaining us with a Musical Quiz. Do join us at 2.30pm for an enjoyable afternoon – and a big thank you to Roger Morley and his neighbour, Keith, for the musical afternoon in September.
Children’s Christmas Party
Once again we are hosting a Christmas party for our own children and their special guests with entertainment, food and hopefully a visit from Santa. The date is Sunday 9th December from 3pm – 5pm. As usual your help is needed, by donations towards presents and food and also, if you have time to spare, please join us either to help with the children or talk to any parents.
Our Gift Service will be held on Sunday 25th November when gifts of new toys and presents suitable for teenagers will be gratefully received and distributed through the Salvation Army.
at Arndale Centre: 8th December, 10.30am to noon.
BONFIRE PARTY Join Brenda and David, family and friends for supper, a bonfire and fireworks on Saturday, 3rd November from 6pm. All welcome to this family event.
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My thanks to everyone in church for the cards, good wishes and prayers since my fall on the bus. Everyone has been so kind. Thank you all and God bless you.
Hope to be back with you very soon.
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From Joan McShane
When I was on holiday on a cruise to Iceland and Greenland I attended an Interdenominational Church Service. The “Heaven’s Grocery Store” was read in place of a sermon and I thought you would like to read it:
I was walking down life’s highway a long time ago.
One day, I saw a sign that said “Heavens Grocery Store”
As I got a little closer the door came open wide,
And when I came to myself, I was standing inside.
I saw a host of ANGELS. They were standing everywhere.
One handed me a basket and said,”My child, shop with care”.
Everything a Christian needed was in the Grocery Store,
And all you couldn’t carry, you could come back the next day for more.
First, I got some PATIENCE, LOVE was in the same row.
Further, down was UNDERSTANDING you need that everywhere you go.
I got a box or two of WISDOM, a bag or two of FAITH.
I couldn’t miss the HOLY GHOST for it was all over the place.
I stopped to get some STRENGTH and COURAGE to help me run this race.
By then, my basket was getting full, but I remembered some GRACE.
I didn’t forget SALVATION for SALVATION is free.
So I tried to get enough of that to save both you and me.
Then I started up to the counter to pay my grocery bill,
For I thought I had everything to do my MASTER’S will.
As I went up the aisle I saw PRAYER and just had to put it in,
For I know when it’s tough outside, I would run into sin.
PEACE and JOY were plentiful, they were on the last shelf.
SONG and PRAISES were hanging near so I helped myself.
Then I said to the Angel, “Now how much do I owe?”
He just smiled and said “Just take them wherever you go”
Again I said “How much do I really owe”?
He smiled again and said,
“MY CHILD, JESUS PAID YOUR BILL A LONG LONG TIME AGO!”
As you all probably know we are regarded as an “EMERGENCY APPEAL CHURCH” by Christian Aid.
Recently you donated £330.51 for the “Kerala Flood Emergency Appeal” which devastated the region in August. I forwarded to Christian Aid. Thank you so much.
And now, in October, I have asked you to respond to the Emergency Appeal for “The Phillippines and Indonesia” where earthquakes, a typhoon and tsunami have yet again caused terrible loss of life and devastation. Thank you for your response and I will forward your gifts to Christian Aid who are part of the DEC Emergency Appeal.
What a lovely display of goods you donated at our Harvest Service. The items were divided equally between “Caring for Life” and “North and West Leeds Food Bank”. I know that the Fruit Juice donated was sent to our Moortown centre the next day and the other goods helped stock empty shelves. In addition, £180 was donated and divided equally between the two charities. The £90.00 given to the Food Bank has been kept and will be used to restock essentials. The volunteers and especially the clients are so grateful for the food they are supplied with.
Thank you all for your continued support.
BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION
It is hard not to be aware of the many charities seeking support when Headingley has so many charity shops, but the BHF, which is involved in research not only into heart disease but also vascular dementia, stroke and diabetes has approached Clare because their stocks are low and they are currently promoting their collection service for unwanted goods.
We, of course, collect our own charitable items but you may wish to contact them if you have larger items or unwanted clothes to donate.
|At Headingley Methodist Church
|Pat van Lemmen
Please advise the relevant Elder of any notice you wish to have given on a Sunday morning. It would be helpful to send it to them by the previous Wednesday.
|FLOWERS FOR NOVEMBER
|At Headingley Methodist Church
|Miss Christine Tweedie
|Mrs S Bollon
|Miss G Strawbridge
|Mrs M Koi
|Mr & Mrs I Henderson
I hope to have the new calendar in the vestibule this month. Please enter your name for the Sunday of your choice.
Our gratitude goes to those who pay for the above. If you cannot arrange them yourself, I will ask one of our flower arrangers to kindly assist. Rosemary Reid would be happy to know those who are in need of comfort to receive the flowers.
Please may I have all articles for the next edition by Sunday, 18th November, either by hand or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
The Christian Dance Fellowship in Yorkshire invite you to work with us on dances for the Advent Meal in Cottingley, arranged by Rev Tony Lee the Cottingley Companion. The workshop is on 10th Nov, venue provided by Stainbeck URC, and the meal is on 29th Nov at Cottingley Community Centre. Please let Clare know if you can come or email/phone the details given in the flier below: