White Church Alternative Notices
(from Church Secretary, Ruth Cooper)
Dear Church Friends,
Welcome to Week 15 of the notices. I hope you are still keeping well and safe and that you have kept cheerful during the last week. The weather has taken a downturn, with wind and rain on most days. At some point during Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons the skies cleared and the sun made a welcome reappearance warming things up and showing us that the storms will pass. Sometimes I am sure it must be difficult for many people, especially with the lack of physical contact and social exchange. It’s just not the same on the phone, but many times that is the only option we have. Remember the encouragement from Captain Tom –“ tomorrow will be a good day” – and be patient. We know that good day will come. The Lord is with us. He will give us love, encouragement and strength.
Please pray for the families of Ann L and Kate H as their funerals take place on Thursday. Let us give thanks for their lives and the part they played in the life of the White Church.
This weekend sees a further relaxation of lockdown restrictions, with many businesses reopening, all be it under new guidelines and with regard to current legislation. We will all have personal choices to make about how much we feel happy to re-engage with, according to our circumstances. As places of worship are permitted to reopen from July 4th, the elders will be discussing the way forward and drawing up a possible timetable for reopening the White Church. Currently the elders are in the process of speaking to everyone in our congregation to get individual’s opinions. Please pray for your elders when they come together to discuss the next steps.
I have some pastoral news. Next weekend we shall say good bye to Valerie and David H who have worshipped at the church for many years. They have decided to relocate to the West Midlands to be nearer Valerie’s son and his wife. We thank them for their contribution to the life of the church; Valerie as Church Treasurer prior to their time living in Portugal and as member of the church choir and David for his willingness to help Peter with counting the offertory. We will miss their company and wish them every happiness in their new venture. They have asked me to say thank you to everyone for the companionship and friendship shown over the years. We hope that, when circumstances permit, they will be back to visit us from time to time. May the Lord bless them and keep them; may the Lord make his face to shine upon them and be gracious unto them; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon them and give them peace.
There is not much to report from the garden this week apart from saying that we picked our first two courgettes and there are some small tomatoes forming the plants in the greenhouse. On Thursday I hadn’t thought what I would write about this week until we went for a walk by the side of Fairhaven Lake. Attached to the wall of the RSPB centre is an illuminated noticeboard entitled ‘Flight Arrivals.’ It does not always have anything flashing across it, but on this occasion one of the headlines was “mud is the supermarket by the sea.” This got me thinking. To the human population unless you are a cockle picker or something similar, mud is likely to be perceived as something dirty, possibly dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. However for the natural world it provides life-giving sustenance to the many species which thrive on it. The Ribble Estuary feeds thousands of birds every year, just as our supermarkets provide food for us. All shapes, sizes and breeds of birds visit from near and far to feast upon this “supermarket by the sea.” Some fly thousands of miles at certain times of year to find the best feeding areas. As the tide goes out birds stretch along the tide line searching for marine life which has come nearer to the surface whilst covered by the sea. There is an abundance of food available twice every day. Life can be like that. People have very different perspectives on different situations. For some people the glass is ‘half full’ and for others ‘half empty.’ Sometimes it is hard to see the positives, but we need to look around and find all the good things that we can be grateful for. God will give us love, hope and the strength to do that.
Currently on the far side of Fairhaven lake, where the public are not allowed at present, there seem to be over a hundred Canada geese as well as many more of them swimming in the water. John tells me that there is a new word in the vocabulary – anthropause – meaning absence of humans. The Canada Geese have taken advantage of the absence of humans to produce and rear numerous goslings. I don’t ever recall seeing as many around the lake as this. One pair of swans is raising 5 cygnets and I am told that another pair has 2 cygnets. As usual, just seeing nature carrying on as normal always helps to raise my spirits. The Friendship Book reading for July 2nd mentions a lady, born in England in 1888, but who moved to Canada after her marriage. She wrote poems under the nom-de-plume of Wilhelmina Stitch. She was known as “the poem-a-day lady” and this was because she produced an up lifting poem each day for newspapers and magazines in Britain and Canada. I looked for information about her on the internet and found a poem called “the Road to Happiness”, which I enjoyed reading. You may like to look it up.
Last week Stuart Gay send me the following thoughts for 28th June. Although written a week ago, they are very relevant to this week as well.
A mixed week weather and life wise. We have had the baking heat – welcome for some and an absolute disaster for others (at witnessed in Bournemouth, Brighton, Dorset and other places) – we have had the heavy rains, again good for those in agriculture (including my friend in The Gambia who’s crops will now revive and grow), for those who want things to calm down a bit, but not for those of us who have to queue in it in our socially distanced shopping!!
Showers of blessing maybe. There is a hymn that reminds us of showers of blessings upon our lives:
Hymn: There shall be showers of blessing
I was thinking about the showers. They are water that is living – not static. They are brought down to refresh and to revive. To replenish and to expunge detritus to return that which once was good but has become dry or cluttered to freshness again.
Is that how God’s word moves upon our lives? Where things have become dry and wearisome, a revival of heart and of spirit?
In Jeremiah 2:13 and 17:13, the prophet describes God as “the spring of living water. In the New Testament also are references to “Living water” – have a look perhaps at John 4 v14; John 7 v38; Revelation 21 v6. There are many other references also.
Some of you will have heard me speak of my visit to the village of Bolu Kpeta in Togo. A village where there was a church but it was dead as the village was controlled by voodoo or “fetish” as it is known there. The people offered me a stew made with water from a stagnant depression in the ground – a rudimentary pond. I refused it as I was already ill from altitude sickness following a very unpleasant time being held by soldiers at the top of a high hill while we paid a “fee” (a bribe). My friend took some though and was very ill on the return journey to our base in Lome – the capital city.
When we return to our places of worship once lockdown eases further, let us go back not to a church that has stagnated during our absence, but instead, to a church that is revived in its mission – let us put what we have learned during lockdown about care, compassion, comforting, reaching out and yes – stepping out of our comfort zone also to find ways of bonding, neighbourliness and bridge building I am sure we have all done it and we can do more of it when we meet again.
The hymn writer sums it up:
Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be,
As more of heaven in each we see;
Some softening gleam of love and prayer
Shall dawn on every cross and care.
Let There Be Love Shared Among Us lyric video
And finally – an example of a church that is definitely not stagnating – I have led services very similar to this in Ghana and in Zambia!! Chaotic – but the church is definitely not sleeping!!
Salvation army ghana 20
God bless you all.
URC Website (urc.org.uk)
I know several of you watch the service from Dursley Tabernacle URC Church where Andrew’s brother Simon is the Minister. There are also other options available and the URC website contains information about many other URC churches which are live streaming or pre-recording acts of worship. The church in Nottingham we attended before moving to Lancashire 35 years ago is one of those that do this and we often watch Simon first and then the service from St Andrew’s with Castle Gate afterwards.
The URC website also offers Daily Devotions as well as a Sunday service.
I haven’t received any other contributions for this week’s alternative notices.
Let us pray.
Dear Lord, please be with all those at the White Church. Give them your love, your peace, your comfort and your strength. We pray for those who are ill; those who have lost loved ones; those who are feeling lonely or fed up; those who have decisions to make. Encourage us and give us hope for the future. Make us patient and ready to accept your will, for we know you listen to each one of us. Let us give thanks for all those who help in any way during these difficult times. They are your angels bringing light and hope to people through their actions. Loving God, thank you for Your love. Help us to trust in and follow Your light and love even when the way gets dark. Amen
Please join me in saying the grace:
May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen
God Bless you all