Matthew 6.25-27 (NIVUK)
One day when I was away in Brighton, I had breakfast with a seagull. I’d gone in the garden with my breakfast not realising one of the pair who nest on our roof was in the garden. He didn’t fly away – males are less timid – so I went back in, brought out some food for him too and we enjoyed a few moments peace in safety.
That got me thinking about how we feel safe, where we feel safe, especially at this time when we’re able to go out more, and lockdown has eased considerably for most of us. For many of us, we still have worries about where it is safe to go now, who it is safe to talk with. We worry when we see others not social distancing as they should, or maybe who has last sat on the bus seat.
These concerns are with us as the Elders think about how and when to open the Church buildings. Many are looking forward to coming back, some are apprehensive. Safety for us all is our main concern.
How then do the verses at the top of the page speak to us in our situation. The verses are about every day worries, food and clothing, worries most of us don’t have to think about. Jesus reminds us that God cares about the little details of our lives, because we, made in God’s image, are so very precious. Jesus is saying that we can trust in God’s care, with whatever we have or don’t have.
Our current worries may seem large in comparison to food and clothing for us, because we are so blessed with material things. Those concerns are very real to us, and we need to plan properly to keep safe. Yet Jesus’ words not to worry remind us that God cares about every situation we’re in, and we can trust in that care.
That doesn’t mean we’re protected from anything happening to us, but that God is with us, in it and through it. We are not to worry, just to trust.
Further, Paul says in Philippians 4.6, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ Our worries should turn us to prayer, both to pray about those concerns and to give them over to our loving Lord. As the hymn goes:
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
May the Lord give us all the peace that passes understanding as we trust in Him.
Love in Christ,
The Church is closed—there’s no-one there
The Church is closed—do people care ?
Where are God’s people—no-one knows
Society still comes and goes
An empty building—stark and bare
No hymns or music fill the air
No services, no people meet
Just busy traffic in the street
We long to fill that empty space
To meet each other face to face
We need our Church to meet once more
To see again that open door
Hoping that we can get together again soon
Coffee & Conversation
Our next meeting will be online on 15th September, 2pm.
A link with be sent out nearer the time.
Just a reminder that the prayer meeting the 2nd Wednesday of the month will take place on 9th September, in our own homes, 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.
Coffee & Chat idea – volunteers needed
If anyone has thought about this from last month’s magazine – to provide a space for people to come and talk if they want to, to share their experiences of lockdown, or just sit and relax in a friendly safe space – and would like to volunteer, please let Clare know by email or phone. We will then arrange to attend the introductory session with Renew Wellbeing, and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to know how to proceed from there.
NEWS FROM THE CHAPLAINCY
Life at the chaplaincy has definitely been different this year, below is a brief summary of some of the activities I have been involved with over the last 12 months and an example of how the work of the chaplaincy has changed in the last 4 months in response to COVID-19.
Café Church has gone through a time of transition this year. We finished last year talking about possible changes we could make to café church, and began the year with the inclusion of a monthly praise service on the 1st Sunday of the month with a simple inclusive liturgy, singing led by one of our regulars and a time of reflection. Our hope is that folk will find an open and inclusive space where they can worship and explore something of God with fellow explorers. No one claims to be an expert we share in the journey together. The year began with the theme of Women in the bible – wanting to explore some of the less known women, dipping into the stories of Esther, Deborah and Miriam.
In January we took the hard decision to meet just twice a month, 1st Sunday would be Café Church Connect our inclusive praise service, and the 3rd Sunday we would host Café Church Original where we create, discuss and reflect. As always, at all of our meetings we gather around tea, coffee and cake sharing fellowship together, and hand the rest over to God.
The Trolley Project
You may have remembered towards the end of last year Farhat Yaqoob and myself started regular Trolley runs at the University of Leeds. The aim of the project is to offer altruistic hospitality to staff, student and visitors to campus. To provide a reason for folk to stop and breathe (even if it was just for 5 minutes) without asking for anything in return.
I am happy to say it has grown and flourished. With the purchase of a new trolley and equipment we have handed out a total of 771 hot drinks over 9 separate occasions between Oct and March. We still operate on a pop-up principle, no advertising beforehand, which gives us the flexibility to cancel last minute due to bad weather and go out last minute due to good weather.
We have noticed as the year has gone on that we have regular ‘customers’ who look out for us and will even come and find us when they hear we are out. It has been a place for staff and students to come for respite during what can often be very busy time. We look forward to returning to campus and the time when we can take the Trolley back onto campus.
A day in the life of a University Chaplain.
Normally my day is a mixture of checking emails, being available for staff and students who may come to the chaplaincy looking for someone to talk with, and being out and about on campus and talking with folk who I/we meet. As well as plan and lead a number of regular services such as mid-week communion and occasional services like memorial/remembrance services.
I try to share my time between the University of Leeds campus, where the chaplaincy building is, and spending time on campus at Leeds Beckett City. Campus – often hanging around outside the library and in the foyer coffee shop with a sign that says “Here to listen, here to talk. Here to be disturbed. Just say Hi!”. All the while my main priority is to try and be available where folk are.
But since lockdown, life as a chaplain has been rather different. We have needed to think outside the box when it comes to being available, and how we make it know that we are still available.
Our building was closed when the University shut, and all our services went online. We managed to set up a virtual drop-in space where we could have face-to-face conversation over the internet, or use instant messaging to continue to offer support to students and staff.
Our weekly communion changed to a weekly reflection emailed to those who would usually attend, sent around the same time as the service, to encourage folk to continue to pause at the same time each week. We also posted it on our Facebook page so more people could read it.
One of the joys of working from home has been the view from my window, sadly my chaplaincy office doesn’t have a window. But it does not make up for the missed conversation you have when you bump into someone on campus.
This week I have found myself pausing, thinking, and praying for all the Graduates from across Leeds, who this last month (July) received their certificates in the post. Graduation ceremonies are a big deal in University life, it’s a marker, a point to put down and a point to jump forward from. It can be one of life’s milestones as you transition from student life to rest of life. For many this moment will be missed; and for many more the uncertainty of ‘what next’ is a very really concern.
My prayers this month have been for the graduates across the UK – may they know the Blessing of God at this time and the love and support of family and friends. Amen
University Chaplain, Universities Chaplaincy in Leeds
WATER-WALKER Matthew 14 v 22-33
Words and music by Jane Bower July 2020
(Used in this service: starts at around 20 mins in.)
In wild wave you walked upon the sea
Come, you said to Peter, walk to me
The hardened fisherman was gripped by fear
But ‘Take heart’, you said, ‘for I am here.’
Throw me the float that saves
People-fisher, sailing saviour
Help me to keep on making your waves
When we panic, when we cannot cope
When we call aloud for help and hope
Let us hear your voice above our shout
‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’
Faith is the float that saves
Help me to keep on making your waves
When out of our depth and far from land
Walk across to us, reach out your hand
Join us on our voyage when we cry
Saying calmly, ‘Courage, it is I.’
You are the float that saves
Help me to keep on making your waves
making your waves
As you can see above, Jane has sent a link to the Service in which she sang the song she had composed for their worship on Sunday, 9th August. She is a member and Elder serving at Downing Place URC but part of the Service was recorded at Westminster College where they hope to be able to resume public worship in September. They have left their building on Trumpington Street, which is now owned by Pembroke College, and are awaiting the completion of the refurbishment of their ‘Downing Place’ church. This is major transformation to help them serve their community better. We wish them well as this new phase of their church life comes into being. Do listen if you are able; I am sure you will be moved by this simple, deep and meaningful song.
Mission & Care meeting online
All are welcome to attend the Mission & Care meetings. Our next meeting is on Wednesday 2nd September, 7.30pm online on Zoom. Please see the advert below to find out what we’ll be doing.
|Ian Hardie, Treasurer of the United Reformed Church
|The members and friends of all our 1,400 URC congregations
‘THANK YOU’ for your unique and vital contribution to the life of the United Reformed Church, and for the work of the kingdom which we are able to do together in God’s name
We are living through an extraordinary and challenging time – a very anxious time for everyone; a difficult time for many; and a time of suffering and loss for some. Yet, the main purpose of this letter is to say ‘thank you’ to each of you for all that you have done for the Church in the past; for all that you continue to do even in these difficult times; and for what you will do in the future.
As we are treasurers, you will not be surprised that the focus of this letter is on finance. But we recognise that finance is only a means to the end which is our doing of God’s work together.
‘Thank you’ for your giving to your local church. Financially, this giving is the lifeblood of your own church and of the whole United Reformed Church across England, Scotland and Wales. It is this personal giving that enables your local church treasurer to pay your church’s bills. Typically, the largest of those ‘bills’ is the contribution your local church pays to the URC Ministry and Mission Fund. This Fund meets the central costs of the United Reformed Church. The total budget is around £20 million and is approved each year by Mission Council. Over 80% of this money is spent on ministers and church related community workers – their training, stipends and pensions. But the other 20% also achieves an enormous amount on behalf of us all. General Assembly 2020 was severely constrained because of the Covid-19 lockdown, but the reports written for General Assembly are available on the URC website, and they paint pictures of all the work that has been done in our name over the last two years and much of that work is ongoing.
‘Thank you’ for your giving and the giving of your local church last year. In 2019, over £19.4 million was given by local churches and synods to the Ministry and Mission Fund. The total contributions from local churches reduced very slightly but the average giving per member has, once again and remarkably, gone up by more than inflation.
‘Thank you’ for your continued giving this year. We fully understand that circumstances this year are difficult. Most local churches have been unable to meet for over five months. We have not had the usual opportunities to make our offerings for the work of the Church. But most of the costs of the local church and of the denomination have not reduced and some have increased as a consequence of the pandemic.
We are also aware that some have lost income or work this year and are therefore in great financial difficulty. But there are others on fixed incomes who are actually better off than they might otherwise have been. So, please continue to give what you can in whatever way you can – or save it up until you can hand it over.
Any giving of ours is a response to the amazing generosity and love of God which we see in Jesus. Nevertheless, it is important for us to say ‘thank you’ to each and all of you.
If you have any questions or comments arising from this letter then please speak to your church treasurer, who has been provided with more detailed information. If they are not able to help directly then they can get in touch with the finance team at Church House.
Yours in Christ,
Ian and John
We believe in life before death
Joan McShane has received a letter of thanks from Christian Aid following our ‘collections’ during what would normally have been Christian Aid Week. They mention that their work continues in 40 of the world’s poorest countries. At the time they wrote last month they were responding to the Covid19 pandemic in 20 countries. In particular they alluded to their work in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which is home to more than 850,000 Rohingya people. In this over-crowded refugee camp physical distancing is impossible and one in three do not have enough clean water or soap to wash their hands.
We were able to send a total of £840.58 and, once again, we thank Joan for dealing with all the admin. and reminding and encouraging us to keep them in our thoughts.
If you are interested in listening to the views of fellow friends and members of the URC on the future of our denomination and perhaps your own hopes for the inevitable changes we face, do register for this online event. All welcome.