Wednesday worship led by Mr Darryl Lomas 24th February 2021

March 2nd, 2021

Bible Study Tuesday 23rd February 2021

February 21st, 2021

BIBLE STUDY: LENT- SEVEN LAST WORDS (PART ONE)

  1. What is the most important thing anyone has said to you? What was the context in which they said it?

I wonder if you can remember the last words someone said to you? We tend to scour those words for meaning. We hang on the last words of famous historical figures hoping they might offer us some wisdom. Those facing the gallows are permitted to offer their final words.

Some Christian traditions have a service on Good Friday based on the seven last words, or last sentences, that Jesus spoke from the cross. It is a tradition that goes back to the 12th century. Jesus’ words bear witness that he is the Word of God and despite the coming silence of the grave they ring out bold and true. In these hard times where there is so much suffering, silence, and sadness I hope they can ring out again. We fear that words are meaningless, but these words come from extreme pain- they survive, they still hold meaning on the cross. Therefore, we should listen to them carefully. They might hold meaning for us now.

FATHER FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO

Read Luke 23:24

One of the things that strikes me is that Jesus forgives the onlookers (and by implication us) before they kill them. He forgives them before they even realise what they have done. That is a lot to get our minds around. We tend to view asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness as something that happens after a wrong has been committed. Maybe, that is how it works on a human level, but Jesus works on a difference level. Perhaps because Jesus is the only totally innocent human being and divine his forgiveness can operate like this.

Forgiveness comes first is the scandal of the gospel. It doesn’t mean that Jesus/God forgets our sins or thinks they are not serious but that because we are already forgiven, we can actually face what we have done. We dare to remember the failures, defeats, hurts caused and lack of love. We dare to remember not to feel miserable about ourselves but to open our lives to transformative power of God.

  1. What difference does it make to know that God has already forgiven you…even for the things that you don’t realise are sinful yet?

Was Jesus just offering forgiveness for his murder as an innocent man or for the violent act of crucifixion itself- the taking of life? Others died with him that day and crucifixion was almost an industry of death. There are countless people who have died as the result of our nation’s actions/inactions. If we trust that forgiveness comes first can we dare open our eyes?

  1. How do react when nations/organisations apologise and ask forgiveness for past mistakes?

TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE”

Read Luke 23:39-43

  1. What is your idea of paradise?

I suspect your idea of paradise is not a cross. How extraordinary that paradise is talked about at Golgotha and one criminal believes what Jesus is saying. We think paradise has to be attained and pursued. That when we have accrued enough stuff and status then we will be in paradise. But these men have nothing, and their lives are ebbing away. It is a sheer gift offered by Jesus. We don’t know if the criminal is a thief, but he is often labelled as ‘the good thief’ and it seems apt. He pulls off an amazing heist. He gets Paradise without paying for it. As we all do. It is another scandal of the gospel. We just need to learn to accept God’s gifts.

5- What small gifts have brought paradise into a situation of loss or pain for you?

The word ‘Paradise’ comes from the Persian and it means ‘a walled garden’. Gardens in the Bible are places of rest, renewal and joy. They are the places where God delights in us and we delight in God. Think of Eden, the resurrection and the Song of Songs. Joy is not incompatible with sorrow. I have laughed beside people on their deathbeds and enjoyed the final day of a romance even though I knew it must end. Sorrow hollows out our hearts so there is a space where God’s happiness can dwell. The opposite of joy and delight is not sadness but being stony-hearted like the other criminal.

6- Why do you think the two criminals react to Jesus so differently?

Prayer

Faced with your cross and in Your presence now,

Don’t let me be stony-hearted Jesus, still scrabbling for a scrap of power,

Make me open-hearted.

Remind me that Your forgiveness comes first and therefore I need not fear condemnation or retribution. I can name my faults and failings honestly and my places of hurt can be transformed by Your love.

Remind me that You offer me paradise even in the hardest of places if I just have the eyes to see it. You offer me Yourself and that is more than enough. You delight in me. Help my heart be open enough to fully delight in You.

Jesus, thank You for Your teachings from the cross.

Amen.

Wednesday worship 17th February

February 14th, 2021

Shrove Tuesday 16th February

February 14th, 2021

Members of the church spent the evening participating n a joint Zoom pancake day, hosted by our Minister Suzanne Nockels. A number of quizzes and pancake flipping competitions were enjoyed by all, despite some honest and open cheating by the Church Treasurer!

Wednesday 10th February – Song of Songs

February 1st, 2021

Led By Rev Suzanne Nockels

Tuesday 9th February Bible study – Ecclesiastes

February 1st, 2021

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

ECCLESIASTES- MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL?

We have just spent a month going through the Book of Proverbs with its pithy nuggets of wisdom ‘do this and you’ll be wise and have a good life’ but then we come to the Book of Ecclesiastes and it seems to stand in stark contrast to the Book of Proverbs. Wisdom literature tends to set up two
paths; wisdom and folly and says that if you follow wisdom good things will come to you. The Book of Ecclesiastes is for everyone who took the right path and still got burned. It for those who have found that the rules don’t always work. There are two phrases that keep cropping up. The first is
‘meaningless’, in Hebrew ‘hevel’ which means vapour. In other words, transient and hard to keep hold of. The second is ‘under the sun’ which means the earthly realm and a human lifespan.
We don’t seem to read Ecclesiastes much, but I do think it is a book for our lockdown times. However, we do read (or sing!) this bit on a regular basis.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
We tend to read this as a list of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’. What should I be doing right now? Should I be embracing or refraining from embracing? Has Solomon read the Covid-19 guidelines? However, in the context of Ecclesiastes there is no moral judgement attached. They are just things you might do in life. The first couplet unlocks all the others. Between your birth and death all these things may and probably will happen.
1) When have you been most aware of the passing of time?
The thing that never changes- is that everything changes. Sometimes this is painful and other times this is a comfort.
2) When does ‘everything changes’ challenge? When does
‘everything changes’ comfort?
Read Ecclesiastes 3:9-12
Notice the word ‘eternity’. We tend to think of eternity as forever
but in Hebrew it can mean a realm or experience that has no
connection to time.
3) When have you have experienced a ‘timeless’ moment?’
When you experience joy, time tends to disappear. God has placed this ‘timeless’ realm in the human heart. The human heart has no relationship to time. The body and mind change constantly but love is a constant. Our ability to love and be loved doesn’t change and our capacity to love
doesn’t deteriorate. Does our heart age? This is an important key to our spirituality. We can tend our hearts despite the circumstances raging around us. Jesus called this heart-place ‘the kingdom of God’ and ‘eternal life’.
Read John 4:13-14
4) How can we pay more attention to the timeless realm of the human heart? What gets in the way?

We are convinced that the past and the future exist. However our memories can play tricks on us. Did it really happen that way? The future is a feature of our imagination. The only moment that is 100% real is now. It is only when we can comfortably rest in the now then we can perhaps access the
timeless realm of the heart. It does not mean the past, the future, our education, employment, families etc. and all the things Ecclesiastes describes don’t matter. These things can be incredibly beautiful. However, if like Solomon/The Teacher you get weary of all the changes and ups and
downs there is a timeless heart-place of the kingdom that Jesus points to. Life is a dance and you can get up from your chair and join in the dance but at some point the dance will stop and you will have to find the chair again. Ecclesiastes tries to show us where the chair is.
5) How might this reading of Ecclesiastes 3 help us during lockdown?

Wednesday worship 3rd February

January 31st, 2021

Led by Suzanne Nockels

Wednesday worship 27th January (nearest Hospital Sunday. Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

January 31st, 2021

Bible Study 26th January 2021

January 18th, 2021

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

What I am talking about? On average it is 3.3 inches long. It is made up of 8 different muscles creating a flexible matrix and is the only muscle which works independently from the skeleton. It is not the strongest muscle but has amazing stamina. You’ve guessed it. The answer is the tongue.

There are more proverbs about the tongue than anything else.

  1. When has something some has said helped you this week? When has something hurt?

A Bit of Background on the Book of Proverbs.

The book of wisdom is ascribed to King Solomon but most scholars think it is 7 collections of wisdom material that has been grouped together after the time of Solomon. The earliest proverbs (25:1-29:27) date from 700BC and the latest (1:1-9:18) from the 4th Century BCE. One collection (22:17-24:22) has strong similarities with the Egyptian ‘Wisdom of Amenemope’ which suggests that the Israel’s wisdom movement was open to wisdom from elsewhere. The wisdom tradition revolved around the professional sages and scribes in the service of the court, and consisted primarily in maxims about the practical, intelligent way to conduct one’s life and in speculations about the very worth and meaning of human life itself. There is some debate about whether there were actual schools run by these sages for young men at court. The proverb was seen as an easy, pithy way to impart instruction. In Hebrew literature there are generally two types of wisdom. Practical wisdom is thought to be earlier and consists of guidance for a prudent and happy life. This can be found all over the Ancient Near East and the book of Proverbs is mainly practical wisdom (although the first chapters are later in date and are more speculative). Hebrew literature developed a more distinctive ‘speculative’ wisdom during the exile and dwells on the deeper problems of good and evil. I can remember the saying ‘stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. I have never been convinced that that is true and the compilers of the Book of Proverbs feel the same. Words have tremendous power.

2-What does a righteous and gentle tongue do? Can you think of current examples?

a) Prov. 10:31

b) Prov. 12:18

c) Prov. 15:2

d) Prov. 15:4

e) Prov. 16:1

3- What does a perverse and unguarded tongue do? Can you think of current examples?

a)Prov. 6:17

b)Prov. 15:4

c) Prov. 17:4

d)Prov. 26:28

e) Prov. 21:6

There is a great focus on gossip in the Book of Proverbs.

‘Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore, do not associate with a simple babbler.’ (Proverbs 20:19)

‘A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.’ (Proverbs 16:28)

‘The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body’ (Proverbs 18:8)

4-Why might gossip be a spiritual problem? Has our modern society become more enthralled to gossip? I find these words from Jesus very pertinent especially in our internet age; ‘Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.’ (Luke 12:3). Paul also includes gossip in those things that are abominable to God in Romans 1:29

There are so wonderful passages about those who deal well with anger. It is OK to be angry especially at injustice and cruelty, but anger should not control us. Paul says in Ephesians 4 that we can be angry but not sin in our anger.

‘A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger’ (Prov. 15:1).

‘Those with good sense are slow to anger, and it is to their glory to overlook an offense’ (Prov. 19:11).

‘Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife, but those who are slow to anger calm contention’ (Prov. 15:18)

5-Can you give an example when you or someone else has diffused a situation using words?

Lastly, we often overlook the power of blessing each other and the difference it can make. The Book of Proverbs says this;

‘Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up” (Prov. 12:25)

I find it interesting that one description of Jesus is ‘logos’ or God’s word spoken into the world. Jesus is like God’s spoken sentence walking around ancient Israel/Palestine. God’s spoken word created the world! God’s word redeemed the world! Therefore, words do have the power to shape things. We are not Christ but can speak his love into this world and we can create newness and change in His name.

Sunday service 24th January 2021

January 18th, 2021

This service led by Rev Suzanne Nockels will be a repeat of that held Wednesday 20th January