Dear Members and Friends,
We are in strange times, trying to figure out what is going on and how we can respond with care in a situation we have never been in before. We are all on a learning curve!
Firstly, on the advice of the URC, we are totally closing St James’s for the duration of this crisis which leaves you, our members, without regular news or information.
Rather than depending upon the monthly Pilgrim Ways to fill the gap, my hope is to get a weekly news sheet out to all, either by email or through the letterbox, with links to information of all sorts and a bit of reflection. More information will come as we get ourselves sorted. This week's reflection is from Madeline Russell, who was to take the service this Sunday, Mother's Day.
Your Elders will be keeping in touch with you, as will I. But please remember to keep in touch with each other as well!
If you want to speak to a minister, please contact Joan(798290), Rev. Alasdair Pratt(605367) or Rev. June Barras (606405).
I offer some useful links for you:
Remember the BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day, Monday-Saturday at 7:45am. This can also be heard through the website.
There is also Sunday worship on BBC radio 4, Sundays at 8:10am. I have no idea how long these might continue.
On the internet:
Many churches are streaming their services. If you go to the URC website there is a list.
If you haven't signed up for the URC Daily Devotions, do so by going to: www.URC.org.uk and clicking "worship". You sign up and receive a reflection each day and on Sundays there is a full worship service which includes a printable order of service and a link to where you can hear the service at 10 a.m. The URC Daily Devotions are free. Even if you are not on the Internet we can get this information to you on Sundays.
There are also “apps” that are helpful:
Pray as You Go and Mindful are both free.
Much information will be shared by us on Facebook. You will find it by searching for: The United Reformed Church, Northern Synod, St. James's Church Centre-United Reformed, among others.
On Facebook there is a page for help, Alnwick Town Council - COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK Group. If you are interested in volunteering or in need this is the place to go.
Mothering Sunday : 22nd March 2020
This is a day where we remember not only our mothers, but all who have helped and guided us on our way and still do so: our mothers and fathers, our grandparents and others.
Mark 3:31-35 New International Version (NIV)
Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."
"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers and sisters! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."
This was yet another challenge Mary, Jesus 's mother faced. If an adult child said this to one of us, we would probably feel the same sense of puzzlement and hurt. The story of the Good Samaritan is just one of these stories that reflect Jesus' teaching of unconditional caring and love. If we are to be part of God's family, then we too need to show these qualities.
John Bell writes of this commitment in his well known hymn:
"Brother, sister let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too."
Loving God, we are your children. We thank you, that as a loving and patient parent, you care for each and everyone of us.We thank you for our families and friends, for memories of times together. We thank you for all you give us.
As Coronavirus grips this country and our world, we give thanks for our health. We ask that all who work in hospitals and medical centres across the world may be given the strength and love and patience they need.Show us ways of offering help and support where it is needed.
We thank you God that each of us is able to care for others in the way that our parents and families have cared for us over the years. We remember their care and concern; the joys they have shared with us; and for all that they have given us.We thank you for children and grandchildren - their energy, enthusiasm and love.
As your children we know we make mistakes and so we ask that you as a loving parent will forgive us. We thank you for your generous love which is always ready to forgive those who are truly sorry for their wrongdoings.
All these prayers we bring to you in the name of your son, Jesus. Amen
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Sometimes life catches us unprepared for what is to follow:when the landscape remains the same, yet things feel very different. Such unpredictability is daunting when we feel we cannot alter the situation and see uncharted waters ahead.
Although a global pandemic is such a moment, we do have agency: we can adapt our behaviour for the common good through social distancing and self-isolation. We can look out for one another, even when not meeting face to face. Our worship and prayer lives continue unhindered within our homes, just like the earliest Christian communities. We are blessed with a postal service, telephones, mobiles, iPads, and computers, which on a moment by moment basis hold us in a web of love and care even when separated from loved ones and friends. Ceasing to meet as a Christian Fellowship is an important means of contributing to a safer community, protecting those who are most vulnerable.
Coronavirus is reminding us, sensitising us, to how our lives in a globalised world are so intimately connected: Only good can come from such a realisation of interconnectedness -as Paul wrote of the Church: ‘God has so composed the body … that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.’ (1 Corinthians 12 : 24 - 26).
I write to you as sisters and brothers in the faith., when we feel our anxiety levels rising, recall the many times we read the words ‘Do not be afraid!’ throughout the Bible - a constant message, reminding us of God's sovereignty, whose presence fills everywhere: past, present, and times to come, whose infinite love underpins all. There is so much in Scripture that brings us guidance in such times.
May God's hand be guiding virologists, frontline health care workers, and all who continue to serve the common good with a selflessness and unconditional generosity which is inspiring, and can be honoured and undergirded through our prayers and our changing our behaviour as much as we can to help them to help those who are poorly.
Writing of prayers, you can join the whole Church in prayer each day at 7 p.m. (set an alarm now, to remind you), no videoconferencing or web-streaming or wi-fi required - just open hearts and minds as we commend one another, our neighbours and communities to God's love. May our prayers inspire acts of kindness. As St David said in the 6th Century: ‘do the little things’; this we can do. I invite you to share in a prayer from the General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, the Revd. John Proctor:
Lord Jesus, In the midst of a storm, You said, 'Peace be still.' Bid our anxious fears subside, Sustain your church in faith, hope and love, Bring our nation through this tumult, Grant wisdom to those with heavy responsibilities, And healing and hope to those who are infected. Amen
As ever, and in Christ,
Revd David Herbert,
Northern Synod Moderator
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