Church Anniversary – 13th December 2020 led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

December 10th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Wednesday Worship – 9th December led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

December 10th, 2020

Carol Sing at Tapton – 10th December 2020

December 10th, 2020

Bible Study 8th December led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

November 30th, 2020

The Annunciation

I can remember the school Nativity play beginning with the annunciation and Primary School teacher wrestling with dialogue that mentions virginity etc. However, this is not where Luke begins. Luke begins with a different annunciation and a less-famous miraculous pregnancy.

Read Luke 1:5-25

Luke’s ‘Christmas’ stories begin and end in the Temple (with Jesus’ Presentation). One day The Temple was at the heart of Jewish faith and a visible sign of the presence of God. It was a huge complex and only the priests were allowed in the sanctuary. There were a vast number of them so each group or division would only serve in the sanctuary by burning incense for two weeks a year. The five priests for each group would be chosen by lot. So even though Zechariah was an old man it might have been the first time he entered the sanctuary. He would go in, offer up the prayers of the people and then emerge to bless the people outside with ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace’.

  1. It seems that Zechariah offers up the prayers of the people but has long given up on his own. He responds to Gabriel with incredulity. Do you find it easier to pray for others than yourself?
  2. Is Zechariah’s punishment fair? He cannot now pronounce the blessing. What do you think people outside would have thought? Remember that he goes on to sing a beautiful song (1:67-79)….he finally gets to give his blessing
  3. What do we think of Elizabeth’s reaction? I baulk at the word ‘disgrace’ rooted as it in ancient patriarchal ideas but the fact that women still find it difficult to talk about miscarriage shows that these ideas go deep.

Read Luke 1:28-38

Zechariah was surprised to see an angel in temple. Here Gabriel turns up in an ordinary house. Heaven has stepped into her home.

  1. In what ways is Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message different/similar? This isn’t something she has asked for/She too sees the obstacles but hers are about genuine fear/She unlike Zechariah has no power and so needs reassurance. ‘Overshadow’ is a beautiful description of God’s protective love (Psalm 17:8)
  2. What do you make of Mary’s obedience ‘I am the Lord’s servant/slave’? I prefer to think of her statement as courageous along the lines of ‘I belong to God’s household’ now.

We have a series of opposites in these two annunciation stories

Temple/Home

Man/Woman

Old/Young

Power/Powerless

Unusually the powerful man is silent and the powerless young woman gives the statement of her life! God is often grasped in surprising places by surprising people on the margins.

6-Where is the most surprising place heaven has broken through for you?

Prayer

Lord Jesus,

You will come to us again this Christmas

So many of the expected places where we look for wonder will not be there this year

So, surprise us!

May heaven breaks through in the margins.

Lord, may we be as humble and courageous as Mary

As we receive and bear Your image to the world.

Trusting in Your strength and protective love.

Amen.

Wednesday 2nd December worship led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

November 30th, 2020

Advent Service – 29th November led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

November 29th, 2020

Bible Study Tuesday 24th November

November 18th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Bible Study- Psalm 139

Being Known

Think about the company and love of those who know you best. Often such knowledge is a beautiful and comforting thing. Perhaps our partners or parents know us ‘inside out’. I can remember reading and re-reading parts of Psalm 139 when I was pregnant with Isaac. It fascinated me that God could see and know the baby I was yet to meet. He already knew Isaac better than I did.

Remember that the psalms are poetry and song….let’s not get too literal here.

Read Psalm 139:13-18

1-In what way do you consider yourself ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’? What implications might this verse have for the rights of the differently-abled.

2-Do you find it a comfort or a challenge that our days are ordained and written in God’s book?

3-What difference does it make when someone says; ‘they are thinking about you’? What difference does it make that God is thinking about you?

Read Psalm 139: 1-12

These verses seem like a chase…God ‘hemming’ the psalmist in and the psalmist realising that he cannot escape God even if he when down to the depths or into the darkness. If being known by God is so wonderful why do we want to run from it? A colleague reminded me that while this Psalm’s references to “hand” (v 5, 10) can be comforting and serve as a guide, they can also weigh heavily. Being so close to God is as burdensome as it is beautiful.

4-Can you think of times when you didn’t want to be ‘known’? Perhaps a time when you wanted to be someone else or escape yourself?

Read John 1: 43-49

Two different sorts of pre-knowledge seem to be at work here. Nathaniel has his suspicions about Nazarites so Phillip tells him to ‘come and see’ for himself in other words to get to know Jesus for himself. However, Jesus already seems to know something of Nathaniel’s heart. Apparently, there is no deceit in him. Nathaniel will not just go along with something to keep up a pretence. That is a lot to be able to tell about someone from just observing them under a fig tree! The encounter ends with Nathaniel coming to a new understanding and knowledge of who Jesus is ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God’.

5-Is this interplay between our knowledge of Jesus and Jesus’ knowledge of us familiar? We hope that one day ‘we will know fully even as we are fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Read Psalm 139:19-24

6-What do you make of the close identification between the psalmist and God- that an attack on God is an attack on the psalmist? Can we ever know God’s heart that much? Do we perhaps minimise things too much or is this a path that those who incite religious violence go down?

The psalm ends with a deepest desire to be known….even the psalmist’s ‘offensive ways’ might be laid bare because this would lead to his wholeness and healing? Perhaps this is our proper response to religious tension or hatred, to examine ourselves first.

Prayer

Sometimes it is really great that You know me Lord,

Especially when I feel no-one else does,

When I wish others would notice how tired, confused or sad I am.

You just know that a walk might make things better….or a soak in the bath……or a slab of chocolate.

I can rest in Your presence.

Sometimes it is terrifying that You know me Lord,

You know my backstory even though You never hold it against me,

You know when I am faking life,

You know what sets me off in a grump,

You know my ‘offensive ways’

Your presence challenges me.

Help me recognise that You can already see it all

You just want to go over my life, attitudes and sins with me

So, I can know myself and know Your mercy and glory

One day I will know fully even as I am fully known

On that day, such vulnerability will not scare me.

Amen.

Sunday message 22nd November 2020

November 18th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Sunday worship 15th November

November 15th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Remembrance Service

November 7th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels