Archive for March, 2011

Ash Wednesday Service – 9th March

Friday, March 18th, 2011

For the second year running we held an service to mark the beginning of Lent, complete with Ashing! Unlike other churches we don’t have palm crosses to burn,  instead we (after a few moments silent prayer and reflection) wrote something that we want to change over the course of Lent on to post it note, or other small scrap of paper. We then gathered in the porch and burned our private notes in a clay pot. Later in the service we used the ash from these for the ceremony in which I made a cross on the forehead of each person and pronounced the words from Genesis ‘Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return’. These are severe words indeed.

The intention is that in focusing on our mortality we will seize something of the value of life and it will help us to make positive changes. I mentioned how Buddhists sometimes keep flowers in a vase without any water to remind them that everything in this world (including ourselves) is impermanent. At first this seems quite depressing, but actually it can release a great serenity and joy to to be always mindful that we are not indestructible, and that we will all die one day.  Hospices are often very happy places where people realize the value of life in each second of each day.

If our faith stops at Good Friday, with the death of the earthly Jesus then there are still possibilities for joy. How much more joyful then should we be with our hope and belief in Easter Sunday. It is on this day that the Bios, the natural life which is destroyed on Good Friday, is overtaken by the Zoe the divine life that is the resurrection. Bios and Zoe are different Greek words for life which the New Testament uses when talking about Jesus. Undoubtedly the earthly Jesus possessed Bios, but when John’s gospel says ‘In him was life…’ it is describing Zoe, the divine life that we all hope and pray will become a reality in us.

It is through the divine life working in and upon us that we stand a chance of being changed in a wonderful way during Lent. We cannot do anything on our own, but if we accept and invite a divine force to act in and upon us we can have a portion of the resurrection life now, in anticipation of the full Zoe to come in the resurrection, in the Kingdom of God.

Soup & Roll Club – March 3rd

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Much fun was had at today’s Soup & Roll, with a growing number of men joining.  After having our soup, rolls, biscuits and cheese, we were treated to a double bill of entertainment.  Barry brought in a DVD of ‘The Way We Were’, which made fascinating watching and prompted a lot of memories from childhood. Before that I announced to everyone present that our resident poet would be giving a reading of a new poem of hers – little did I realise that the poem was all about me!

Summary of Service 27th February 2011

Friday, March 11th, 2011
Service led by Lesley Davison
Readings: Micah 6 v1-9, Matthew 5 v1-12
Sermon: What the Lord Requires
The prophet Micah a contemporary of Isaiah was convinced Judah faced a major catastrophe. Using a form of trial Micah presents his case: The Lord brought them out of Egypt, rescuing them from slavery. Sending them Moses, Aaron and Miriam as leaders.
Micah talks to the people referring to the previous history  of King Balak and Balaam and what  happened on the road from Acacia to Gilgal. He talks of sacrifices – first born killed to pay for sins – a reference to the Passover in Egypt or the future death of Christ on the cross. V8 is a wonderful verse relating to our relationship with God, not a ‘pal’ but the need for us to be humble and respectful.
Jesus when he spoke to the people used shocking stories which we now find familiar. This includes in Matthew, the beatitudes expressed in so many ways in different bibles – happy or blessed but what we need is  to live our lives with God by our side, day by day.
Lesley finished by challenging the congregation – what does our Lord require of us today?

Summary of Service 20th February 2011

Friday, March 11th, 2011
Service led by Fulwood Preachin g Team – Dave Saunders, John Lockley and Richard Chester
Opening hymn – Come, Let us sing of a wonderful love
Readings: Psalm 16
Acts 2 v24ff
Sermon: The Lord is my inheritance    by   Richard Chester
In February as we approach Spring we look forward to longer, warmer, brighter days. The readings show David on the run from Saul and he seems to have a similar February feeling.
In Ps 16 David compares  the lands distributed to the tribes as an inheritance but instead of land refers to the Lord as the inheritance.
Richard asked if we have such an inheritance and a personal relationship with God.  Do we have God with us in everything we do?  Do we ask him to be by our side?
In 1 Thessalonians Paul shared the gospel and commented on how the people should live and thereby impact on those around them. Our relationship with God should be seen not just in our words but in our actions.
In Psalms v7ff we read about the Lord’s inheritance and that we should always be aware of his presence.
V9-11 refers to future inheritance and protection from death.  We have received such assurance through the risen Jesus Christ, giving living hope and rich blessings.
Final hymn – Take my life and let it be consecrated to Thee
The service concluded with John Silverton playing Voluntary in d minor for double organ(1670) anon. – an elegant and ‘modern’ piece.

Funeral of Mrs Eileen Hawksworth

Friday, March 11th, 2011
On February 11th we held a funeral service for Eileen Hawksworth who was a cherished member of the church. It was easy to forget how frail Eileen was due to her sparkling eyes, ready smile and always cheerful manner. A regular both at Sunday services and at the Soup & Roll Club, Eileen was usually seen in the company of her good friend Muriel.
Her death was a shock to her family and to all of us in church, as she kept expecting to go home from hospital, and had been told that this would happen several times. Eileen loved Tapton Hill Congregational Church, and in recognition of this the family asked that instead of flowers donations be made to the work of the church.
While we celebrated Eileen’s long and fruitful life we will all miss her terribly.

Mini-Worship & Discussion – 10th February 2011

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Tonight we prayed for the families of Dorothy Hinchliffe and Eileen Hawksworth, two much loved church members who recently died. We prayed too for our church, reflecting how hard it hits a small church like ours to have two funerals within a  couple of weeks of each other.

We read the parable of the Sower, and talked and what ‘sowing the seed’ means to us. We hope that among all the hundreds of new people being brought into contact with the church lately, through two funerals and a baptism, we may have sown seeds that will bear fruit either in this church or in any other church.  A lifetime of faith and dedication to the church is sometimes traced back to one particular moment when, often in contact with other Christians, something tiny and indescribable happens to us that leads, either gradually or suddenly, to a living faith. We prayed that this might happen in and around our

I also asked the question, what is the seed in the life of our church? Lets imagine our church is like a mustard tree. There are so many different parts of the life of the church: social events, raising money for good causes, bible study, worship, private prayer and so on…but which one of these is the seed from which everything else grows?

Double Baptism! February 6th

Friday, March 11th, 2011

The church was jam packed for the baptism of Lewis and Katelyn Beckton, two beautiful twins.  It was originally intended for before Christmas but the extreme weather put paid to that, especially as Lynn’s parents were travelling from Northern Ireland  and Andy’s came from Skegness for the special day.

Andy was himself baptised at Tapton all those years ago, and its through our connection with his mother that they approached the church. It was a fantastic day, and we were all invited to the reception at the Shiny Sheff afterwards. A really great day.