The context of the above verse is that the early Church had been persecuted and scattered. The letter to the Hebrews was to Jewish Christians, to encourage them in their faith, and talks about the supremacy of Christ. At the time of its writing, thought to be before 70AD, the early Christians expected Christ to return soon, so the writer is encouraging them to keep going, to persevere to the end.
For us, the context is the here and now, trying to cope with the current situation. We’re now in local lockdown, unable once more to visit friends or other households, only those we are in a bubble with. The current situation seems to go on and on, and it’s hard to see an end in sight.
We may not be in the situation of the Hebrew Christians, we’re not anticipating Christ’s return any time soon – although of course, we don’t know when He will return, and it could be tomorrow. Yet we are unsure of the future, of our own futures, and that affects the whole of our lives.
The confidence the writer speaks of is the early Christians’ confidence of faith, their confidence in Christ. They are reminded of the suffering they went through for their belief in Jesus. They went through that with joy, the joy of knowing the risen Lord. They are urged to continue in that faith to the end.
I believe that is a call to us too, to continue in our confidence in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. The expression of our faith is very different to what it was back in March. Time has gone on and we may find that our disconnection with the familiar Sunday routine is impacting on our faith in different ways. At our last Elders’ meeting, we discussed when to come back to worship, with enough people, following the survey, wishing to do so. But in the current situation, maybe we need to wait a bit longer.
We are reminded that the Church isn’t the building, but the people, and in that sense, it doesn’t matter when we begin worshipping again. And yet Church is also about fellowship, about worshipping together, and encouraging one another in faith. We need to continue to do that in the weeks ahead, ever mindful and prayerful of each other, reaching out by making the fellowship connections we all need at this time.
For, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.’ (Hebrews 13: 8) It is Him we serve.
Love in His name,
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Margaret Chester, aged 83 years, on the morning of the 16th September. She had suffered from ill-health for some years, cared for in a Nursing Home and unable to worship with us. Margaret had been an active member of the church, bringing expertise and enthusiasm to all she did. Her funeral is to be held at Lawnswood on Friday, 16th October at 2.20pm. There is a strict limit to the number allowed to attend and the family will issue personal invitations, but I am sure the family, particularly Fiona and Neil, will be in our thoughts and prayers at that time. The family are hoping to hold a memorial service sometime next year by when, we trust, restrictions are lifted on Church attendance and singing.
I would first like to say a big thank you to everyone who continues to provide financial support to the church and, in particular, those who have created Standing Orders to guarantee both the amount and regularity of their offering.
As I am sure you can imagine, the Coronavirus Pandemic continues to have a serious and significant impact on church finances. Our income no longer covers our expenditure and it has proved necessary to call upon our investments to plug the gap. With the agreement of Management Committee members and Elders I have withdrawn £15,000 from our portfolio managed by Brewin Dolphin and deposited it in the church’s current account. Whilst this is a sizeable sum of money it should be borne in mind that it represents little more than 2% of the current value of our portfolio. I am hopeful that this proactive action will ensure the solvency of church finances until at least the end of the year.
Ian Henderson, Church Treasurer
Coffee & Conversation
Our next meeting will be online on 20th October, 2pm on Zoom.
A link with be sent out nearer the time.
“In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!”
Robert Louis Stevenson
City dwellers no longer know the joy of raking leaves, piling them up and hearing the crackle of the flames. Instead of polluting the air with smoke, we pollute with the noise of blowers and vacuums and await the arrival of the brown bin collection if we have no room to compost our garden waste. Far better for the environment, but Stevenson’s poem evokes a childhood memory that I can almost smell!
A ‘SPECIAL GET-TOGETHER’, 2020 STYLE
Four of the church youth enjoyed a socially distanced barbeque at the manse at the beginning of September with very tasty sausages, beef burgers and chicken cooked by Brian. We discussed and did some planning towards the service for Book Sunday at which the children took part in various ways. We were able to distribute books to the youngsters and for those who weren’t able to attend the books were hand delivered. Thank you to Clare, Brian and Stuart for hosting our special get together.
A reminder that I would be grateful for any contribution you may like to make to our newsletter – especially if you have good news or something to cheer us up as being together again is not yet possible. Norman Madill, Ian Lawrie and Aleck have worked together and with Brenda to ensure our buildings are adhering to all the regulations to keep us risk free and will let you know when re-opening is thought to be safe.
“THE NEW NORMAL”
Clare and the Elders are starting to consider how the functioning of the church might have been changed by the impact of Coronavirus.
Whilst it is undeniably true that the pandemic has caused great grief, sadness and difficulties there is also evidence that lockdown has brought new opportunities with positive outcomes. It is felt that these positive outcomes should be retained and built on as we move into a new normal. The general sense is that we should not hurry to return to things as they were, and that we need time to reflect. We should not rush into things – back to the old, or forward to the new. The URC’s document “The New Normal” is an excellent basis for discussion.
We would like to know the views of church members and friends and to include them in our thinking about the future direction of the church. To this end it would be very helpful if you could reflect and comment on the following questions within the context of the Coronavirus Pandemic:
- What have we lost that we need to regain?
- What have we gained, and need to keep/develop
- What have we lost and do not need to regain?
- What have we gained but do not need to keep beyond lockdown?
Please send me your answers to these questions and any wider thoughts on this important subject at your earliest convenience. I shall of course be happy to discuss this matter with you if that would be helpful.
Many thanks for your participation.
Ian Henderson (Church Elder)
Many of you will have already received an email from Aleck about our Harvest Collection this year. This is not a virtual collection but a real one! and we shall be supporting the ‘North and West Leeds Food Bank’ and ‘Caring for Life’, both of which charities are supporting individuals and families at a time when providing meals throughout the week has become a difficult challenge.
Aleck will be forwarding your cheques (made out to the charity you wish to support, or both if you prefer) and so he would be grateful to receive them by 17th October. Aleck has also attached Gift Aid forms if you are a taxpayer and wish to add the 25% donated by the Treasury. Please do not make cheques payable to the church as these cannot be processed. Just contact Aleck if you want a Gift Aid form and cannot print one or if you have any queries. We are sure you will respond generously to these charities; although these have not been easy times for anyone most have us have had a secure income without the worries of day to day living and we pray for those organisations that have worked through this crisis to support those in need.
Do join us in prayer in your own home, 10.30-11am. Margaret Madill is providing sheets by email to help us in our prayers, which you can ask for from her or Aleck Brownjohn.