It is now almost three months since we were able to meet together in our church buildings and whilst various activities are opening up, the advice from the United Reformed Church is to be in no rush to open. Our style of church believes that private prayer happens in the home, or street or park, we only need buildings to gather together or reach out from. Even if the government advice is that we can gather in the building, we are still going to be cautious. The Elders believe that too many of our normal congregation will still need to be shielded and that the precautions we would need to put in place would make our already small congregation even smaller.
So far, we have encouraged you to use the material on the reverse of this page, along with television, radio and internet resources in order to worship on a Sunday morning. We have produced some podcasts and have gathered online for a bible study. Elsewhere, I have learnt how to use a conference facility called Zoom. It can be accessed by computers or telephones and allows us to see and hear those who use computers, whilst those on the telephone can hear and talk. I have hosted services for Chapel of Unity, sat in on a service with North Warwickshire Group, as well as sitting in lots of meetings from the comfort of my own chair.
At both Elders’ meeting this week it was felt that the time had come to use zoom to create a space where we could be with one another on a Sunday morning and so from this Sunday we are going to offer an online service each week. I will continue to send you a weekly outline for those who do not wish to join with us or find the technology too difficult. But I would also say that many people have been surprised at how easy it is to use – so please give it a go.
To join by phone dial one of the following numbers
0131 460 1196
0203 051 2874
0203 481 5237
0203 481 5240
If you have problems try another number. When asked to enter your Meeting ID key in 831 4268 9496#- if asked for a Participant key just dial #. If asked for a password it is 512001
To join by computer, click on this link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83142689496
and say yes to the various questions. (It gets easier the second time).
Please come and join us, we will all be learning as we go.
On more mundane matters, the Elders are worried about the current financial situation. The Synod have supported us by paying half the money that goes to Church House to pay stipends etc. That support is due to end this month. We have cut our costs & used £5000 in reserves. Thank you to those who have sent cheques for me to pay in or set up Standing Orders. They help us see what income we can anticipate. But the reality is that only 10 people have made a contribution to the church finances over the last few months and that is worrying. We would welcome payments direct to the our bank account Barclays Sort Code 202355 Account No. 30807591.
Sorry to end with the begging bit – turn over and I hope you find something much more nourishing.
Prayer Powerful God, you strengthen us, no matter what storms we face in this life. We give you the glory! United Church of Christ, Daily Devotional 10 June 2020
Here in this place, new light is streaming
now is the darkness vanished away,
see, in this space, our fears and our dreamings,
brought here to you in the light of this day.
Gather us in the lost and forsaken
gather us in the blind and the lame;
call to us now, and we shall awaken
we shall arise at the sound of our name.
Bible Genesis 18:1-15
Reflection Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”
Is this a God-incidence? Kirsty is in the process of finalising the details of renting a shop on Ball Hill so that we can start the work there that some of us have been talking about for many years. And I asked, what are we going to call it? What name do we put above the door? As is my want, I then began throwing out suggestions. Amongst the things I played with, was the current address – 185 Walsgrave Road – what if we called it 1/85 or 18:5? I began looking at bible passages that fitted, there are lots of them for 18:5 – and one is the verse above. It comes in the midst of this passage about creating hospitality. God’s self as three strangers is welcomed into the camp. This is what we want to do at our [Unnamed] shop – welcome, refresh, pass on, serve.
Having dashed something off to Kirsty, I turned to thinking about this Sunday and looked up the lectionary readings. Here we were again, Genesis 18:5. Abraham knowing he has to welcome these strangers – however in the next verse he is mansplaining to Sarah, how to make cakes (Whoops) and then rushing off to instruct servants on picking out some meat to serve. Eventually, he settles down and he has time to hear the message, “Sarah will have a son.” Sadly, Sarah hears this by listening from the tent, but her mocking laughter is noted and her son Issac (He laughs) will be named for that moment.
For some of us, this has been a busy time. Sometimes it’s been difficult to take time to sit down and listen to God. And yet when I do it is all about the future and some plans seem ridiculous enough to create mocking laughter. Next week Kirsty and I will be at online Ministers Summer School, instead of meeting at Swanwick. There is no planned content in the afternoons and we are being encouraged to rest and reflect. Makes you laugh!
God, you disrupt our calm. Continue to be our peace. Amen.
United Church of Christ, Daily Devotional 8 June 2020
Not in the dark of buildings confining
not in some heaven, light years away
but here in this place, the new light is shining
now is the kingdom, now is the day.
Gather us in and hold us forever
gather us in and make us your own
gather us in all peoples together
fire of love in our flesh and our bone.
Marty Haughen © Gregorian Institute of America