For Prayer and Reflection…

Thanks to Dorothy, our President, for the prayer points below, to the people who have contributed various other parts to the page, and to the people at Sermon Central, who have made it possible to share with you some video messages of hope and encouragement in these unprecedented times.  Please feel free to pray on the points given, reflect on the thoughts shared, to watch the videos below, to read the suggested Scriptures, and to reflect on what a great and awesome God we serve.

Alan Harrison (Communications Officer)


Week Commencing 12th April 2021

Points for Prayer

“The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”

(Hosea 14:9b, New International Version)

Today sees the loosening of more restrictions as we continue along the Government’s Roadmap out of lockdown.  Many people are expressing apprehension of greater freedoms and concerns about meeting together after such long times of isolation.  This is completely understandable, and we all need to continue to be vigilant and careful for the safety of ourselves and others during the coming months, as well as being kind, supportive and gentle with each other as we become used to meeting together again face to face.  What the future holds we do not yet know – there are many uncertainties and unanswered questions – but of this we remain sure, we do know who holds the future and our trust is in Him.

Last week saw great discussion regarding a video of Sir Kier Starmer’s visit to Jesus House on Good Friday to look at the vaccination programme being run from their premises.  Following pressure from certain sections of society, the video has been taken down but the ongoing work of Jesus House with their foodbank, and other support for the poor, has been highlighted across the country in a way it possibly would not otherwise have done.

We are called to be a people of God’s Word and to live according to it – to walk in the ways of the Lord.

Now, as our churches are seeking to re-open, or review their on-going work in the community, is the time to consider ourselves, individually, as a church, as a circuit and as a Connexion of churches and ask ourselves these questions: Am I/we walking in the ways of the Lord?  Or, is there compromise to appease others, a lack of zeal for the Lord’s work, an unwillingness to work/work together in unity with others with whom I may not always agree, a desire to think only of my needs and what I want/don’t want to do?

These are serious questions, and we are to consider our answers carefully.  If we are to move forward and grow and be the people God has called us to be, then we need to be a people of the Word, of integrity and with a willingness to be vilified, mocked and excluded for the sake of God and His call in our lives.  Nothing less than complete allegiance to God and His Word will see us through these times.

Dorothy Kendrick, Connexional President

Prayer Requests from our Churches

Ecumenical Officer (Lowton):  Pray for the situation in the Karen region of Burma where 20,000 people have been displaced from their homes by the Myanmar air strikes.

Cherry Lane, Lymm:  Please continue to pray for Su Hawkyard.  Many thanks to everyone for their prayers for Ken Irwin as he continues to recover.  Continue to pray for the church as repairs on the building continue.

Roman Road:  Geoff Lomas remains in hospital.  His breathing is much improved.  Please pray that he will receive the necessary assistance to improve his mobility.

Staple Hill:  Please continue to pray for healing for Paul Gee and also for peace, strength and comfort for his family during this challenging time.

Prayer Requests for our Royal Family

We thank you Father God for the life and witness of Prince Philip and his long years of service to our Queen and country.  We pray for all members of the Royal Family at this sad time and especially for the Queen.  Please comfort and support them, fill them with your peace and help them as they prepare for the funeral service.

Prayer Requests from Tearfund

Tropical Cyclone Seroja has caused flooding and landslides in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Bridges and roads have been damaged, and there is no electricity or network coverage in the area – making it hard to reach those in need.  Pray that those who are missing will be found safe.  Pray that the local government’s response will be swift in hard-to-reach places.

In Chad, tensions are high and there have been protests and violence ahead of the presidential election on Sunday (11 April).  Pray for a peaceful election, that everyone will be able to vote without fear or intimidation.  Ask God to grant wisdom to whoever wins the election and pray that they will rule fairly and prioritise the needs of those living in poverty.

Violence on the Venezuelan and Colombian border between the Venezuelan military and Colombian armed groups is escalating.  More than 5,000 people have recently fled into Colombia, where makeshift shelters have been set up to support them.  Pray for people’s safety from violence and coronavirus – as social distancing isn’t an option in the shelters.  And pray for peace.

Meditation from Wendy Hourriez (Troyes Evangelical Church, France and Bingley I.M. Church)

Easter has come and gone, but the message remains.

Back in lockdown, we attended our Easter Sunday service via Zoom, but the connection was very poor, and I found myself pondering on the Bible texts of the sermon.  God spoke to me and I would like to share this with you.

When Jesus died on the cross there was an earthquake (cf Matthew 27 v.51).  I don’t know why but I’ve never realised before that when He rose from the dead, there was also an earthquake, yet I must have read this hundreds of times in Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 28 v.2).  An angel appeared, whose countenance was like lightening (v.3); the guards were petrified and froze on the spot (v. 4).  The women who arrived at the tomb were also terrified, but the angel spoke to them (which in itself would have been another terrifying experience) telling them not to fear and to reassure them that Jesus had risen from the dead.  The angel then told them to take the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples.  We read that the women were still fearful but also filled with joy. (v.5-8)

They were the first to announce the Gospel message!  They weren’t important people, just ordinary women who didn’t really understand all that had happened, yet God entrusted them with the Gospel message.  This reminds us that, even if we are just ordinary people – and most of us are – and even if we don’t understand everything in the Bible and in the world around us, we can share the Gospel message with those around us.

Let’s go back to the Easter story (v 9-10).  Before the women got very far, they met with Jesus and worshipped Him.  Jesus too told them not to be afraid and gave them a message for the disciples.

What an experience again for these women.  Once again, this passage in Scripture reminds us that Jesus is always with us to reassure us, whatever our circumstances.

In John’s Gospel (chapter 20) he relates other aspects of the Easter story.  In the evening, the disciples, who had heard the good news but were afraid of the Jews, remained together in a room with the door safely locked (verse 19).  Suddenly, Jesus was in the room with them and His first words were “Peace be with you!” and the disciples were filled with joy.  Jesus showed them His hands and His side and repeated those words as He commanded them to go and share the Gospel message.  They needed to experience God’s peace and be filled with the Holy Spirit to overcome their fear before being able to do so.

Although our situation is very different from those of the women and the disciples, we are living in uncertain times.  Here in France, we don’t know yet if we’ll be able to come out of lockdown early May.  For you in England, you are easing out of lockdown, but the future is still very uncertain.  Things will probably never be quite the same, including for our churches.  Jesus desires to give us His peace in all circumstances.  With His peace and joy, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome our fears and fulfil His will for us to go out and tell others the wonderful message of Easter.

Can we rise to this challenge today?

Please do submit any prayer requests or good news stories to share from your churches, by sending them to the Resource Centre.  It really would be lovely to hear from you.


Week Commencing 29th March 2021

Points for Prayer

“See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. ”

(Song of Songs 2: 11 & 12, New International Version)

Supermarket doorstep deliveries have resulted in me discovering a different bird seed for the garden birds.  As a result, I now have a daily treat of seeing two ring necked doves tucking into a hearty breakfast.  It is a joy to behold and reminded me of today’s verse.

The presence of Spring is all around: daffodils are bravely waving in the recent winds, forsythia, tulips, hyacinths and crocus are all in full bloom.  It cheers the heart and gives rise to hope that warmer weather and longer days are on the way.

Several more of our church buildings are being re-opened for Easter Day and again, there is an increased sense of hope that the vaccine is helping to return to some form of normality.

Yet not all our churches are yet in a position to re-open and there is real fear for some that they may not be able to.  For others, life will never return to normal because of events through this past year, whether the death of a loved one, loss of employment or home, increased levels of stress and anxiety, sickness …the list in endless.

Let us never forget that our hope must be in God alone.  He gives and He takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.  Whatever our circumstances, God is with us.  That is His promise.  As we work through the future, may it be in a spirit of unity, with each other and with God.  None of us knows what lies ahead but we can help and support one another, encourage and pray for one another.  This is the benefit of being a Connexion of Churches.

So, if you are struggling – reach out and ask for help.  It is not a sign of weakness but of strength.  An acknowledgement that we cannot manage on our own and we need God and each other is an agreement that we will not be bound by independence but are willing to be joined together in unity in Christ and enter into the freedom He died to bring to each of us.

May God richly bless you as you travel Holy Week with Jesus and, following the trials and sorrows, come to the joyous celebration of Resurrection Day.

Dorothy Kendrick, Connexional President

Prayer Requests from our Churches

Boldon:  After a long period of illness, we regret to have to tell you that George Park died peacefully in the early hours of Wednesday 24th March.  The funeral is scheduled for Wednesday 31st March 2021.  We would ask you to keep Jean, Linda, David and all the family in your prayers.

Cherry Lane, Lymm:  Please continue to pray for Su Hawkyard in Arrow Park Hospital, and for Ken Irwin who is still recovering.

Staple Hill:  An update on Paul Gee – he still on a low sedation as the delirium is causing him to be very anxious at times.  Lisa was told on Friday that the infection markers are going up as the antibiotics had got used to his body and weren’t working.  They have changed the antibiotics, but it could take up to five days before they would see the outcome of the change.  He is still critical, and all his organs are still being supported by machines.  Please continue to pray for healing for Paul and also for peace, strength and comfort for his family during this challenging time.

Westwood:  Please continue to pray for Brenda Hampson who is still unwell and waiting for appointments and results.

Meditation from Wendy Hourriez (Troyes Evangelical Church, France and Bingley I.M. Church)

Last week during our Zoom church service, we sang that wonderful song of Graham Kendrick, ‘Shine Jesus Shine’.  The words have always spoken to me but last week took on a new meaning.

The French translation is slightly different from the original English version, so it fits with the music.

The beginning of this song, translated back into English reads:

‘Lord, by the light of your love banish the darkness which surrounds us’.

As I sang these words, I thought of this dreadful virus which is still so present around us and prayed that God in His mercy would banish Covid from the earth.

The refrain spoke to me even more:

Shine, O Jesus, cover this country with your glory

Blaze, Holy Spirit, set our hearts on fire

Flow in torrents, by your grace flood our nations.

Speak, Lord, let there light!

Once again, these words compelled me to pray for God’s outpouring of His Holy Spirit upon our nations.  They also reminded me of my call to France and my burden for French people to come to know the Lord.

But these words don’t just apply to me or to us here in France.  They concern us all.  We need to pray that God will work in our lives and fill us with His Holy Spirit so He can reach out to others right there where He has placed us.  In England, as you ease out of lockdown and churches start to reopen, my prayer is that He will fill you and give you new opportunities to reach out to others, that His Glory might cover the UK and be flooded by His Grace.

Please pray for us too as we are back in lockdown since Saturday, that we may still be able to witness to others and share the wonderful message of Easter.

Shine, Jesus, shine, Fill this land with the Father’s glory.

Blaze, Spirit, blaze, Set our hearts on fire.

Amen!

News

Spring Harvest Home 2021

This year, Spring Harvest will be held online from Sunday 4th to Thursday 8th April.

There are three programmes available: adults, youth and kids schedules, and it will be a mixture of live and exclusively on demand content.  You’ll also be able to catch up with anything you miss or want to re-watch.  So, if you’re working in the day or unable to join us for the live sessions, you’ll still be able to get the full Spring Harvest Home experience in your own time.

The theme for this year is ‘Unrivalled: Why we worship’ for all ages; through music, teaching and workshops to name a few.  You can expect all the best bits of their usual programme: Big Start, Bible teaching, celebrations, excellent kids and youth content and much more.

The UK political leaders, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour party leader Keir Starmer and Liberal Democrats party leader Ed Davey, have also recorded exclusive messages for Spring Harvest Home 21 which will be available during the event.

Look at the Spring Harvest website for further information and details, and also their YouTube channel Spring Harvest.

 

Easter Mail

Many thanks to Geoff Matthews from Bethel, Newtown for sending through this photograph of his local post box in Orrell, Wigan.

There is a little tag on the knitted ‘post box hat’ which says, ‘A random act of kindness for the children!’  It’s such a lovely idea which I’m sure has made everyone smile as they have seen it within the community.

I wonder what acts of kindness to share God’s love that we could do for our neighbours this Holy Week?

 

What’s happening in our churches this Easter?

Nelson Church is reopening with a Good Friday service at 10:30am, followed by Easter Sunday at 10:30am.  Then, it will be the usual 10:30 Sunday service from then on.

 

Bethel Newtown and Stubshaw Cross

A Zoom service took place on Palm Sunday morning at 10.45am, led by Pauline Smith and with a message from David Moulson.

In the afternoon of Palm Sunday, the Church was opened from 2 – 4pm for ‘Prayers at the Cross’, during which people could visit the Church, place a prayer on ‘The Old Rugged Cross’, partake in a personal Communion and either sit in reflection for a short time, or leave immediately if preferred.

It was so lovely just to sit in God’s presence, either in the silence or when the organ was playing.

On Good Friday, 2nd April, there will be a service by email which we can all join in during the morning.

For Easter Sunday at 2pm, Bethel have been invited by Alan Harrison to join with the fellowship at Stubshaw Cross for an ‘in person’ service, to include Holy Communion.  The service and sacrament will be led by Alan with an Easter message from Geoff Matthews.  Places are limited so booking is required.

For further information, or to join any of these services, please contact Pauline on 07897 335036 or by email.

 

The North East IM Circuit will be holding An Easter Zoom Service on Saturday 3rd April 2021 at 6:30pm.  Everyone from within the Connexion is invited to attend: the speaker will be Andrew Faulkner and the soloist is Kay White.  Please see the PDF document attached to the weekly email for further information and Zoom link.

 

Tim Price from our Ramsey Church has made a film, ‘Eyewitness’ which looks at the Easter story through the eyes of Thomas.  This will be available to watch through their YouTube channel as part of their Easter services.

 

Silksworth are planning to recommence their Sunday Morning Services on Easter Sunday at 10:30 am.

 

Yesterday at Thatto Heath, they had a Virtual Service for Palm Sunday led by Dave Hill.  Dave will lead a Virtual Service on Good Friday and Denise Helsby will lead a Virtual Service on Easter Sunday.  At all these Services, members of the Fellowship took or will take part – leading Prayer Time, Bible Reading or Reading Poems.

 

West Camel (in co-operation with the Anglicans) will be distributing Easter Gift bags to local children: these will include Easter story/activity sheets, an Easter craft kit, sunflower seeds to plant, and, of course, chocolate eggs.  They also plan to give each family a copy of the Easter edition of the “Good News” paper.  Please pray for these Easter bags as they will be distributed to mainly non-church families.

On Good Friday, they are having a “Zoom” service at 7pm.  All are welcome to join them by using the link details given in the weekly mailing.

West Camel are also re-starting services in the church on Easter Sunday at 6pm.

Please do submit any prayer requests or good news stories to share from your churches, by sending them to the Resource Centre.  It really would be lovely to hear from you.