St John's on Facebook

Join us
on Facebook

Welcome to St John's Church, Gowerton
Croeso i Eglwys Sant Ioan Tre-Gŵyr


Due to the situation with Coronavirus, church services are suspended until further notice.

Alex is going to post updates below during the closure period, please keep checking back :)

Pye's Pondering from the Vicarage

5th July, 2020


Dear friends,

Those of you who were able, pre-lockdown, to attend our family services will know of my love of acronyms, where you take each letter of a word, to be the first letter of a new word, which either then enhances your original word or changes its meaning. It all stems from the first time I came across the following; when a person says they are “fine" what exactly do they mean? For me ‘fine' means,

F – Fed up

I – Insecure

N – Neurotic

E – Exhausted

You can have a lot of fun with acronyms and I often do! However, one has evolved in my mind with regard to our present situation and struggles. It has become very apparent to me that a lot of people, from all age groups, are very frightened at this time,, and understandable the word fear is used on a daily basis in all our newspapers and all our television news broadcasts.

Julia will tell you that I have an annoying habit of looking for the silver lining in every cloud, so with regards to the word ‘fear' I offer you the following,

F – Face

E – Everything

A – And

R – Recover

At St John's we are fortunate to be part of a community of faith, friendship and fellowship, which collectively will support and sustain us through the present crisis.

"Fear not", said he for mighty dread,

Had seized their troubled minds". (While Shepherds Watched)

I recently read that apparently the words “do not fear", or a similar phrase, is written 365 times in the Bible (one for each day of the year). We are indeed fortunate to have such a book, such a faith, such a Saviour. So, let us be filled with hope not fear and look forward to the day when we can all join together to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, who banishes fear through His holy presence.

God's blessing on you all,

Alex


Parish Puzzle – Trees, insects and fruits

Since Julia and I have spent so much time outdoors over lockdown, in the Vicarage garden and church grounds, we thought this was very appropriate.

Just choose the answer that matches the reference. Enjoy

A B C D
1. Neh 8:15 MothMyrtle Apple Spider/td>
2. 2 Sam 16:1 Olive Poplar Raisins Melon/td>
3. Prov 6:6 Ant Raisins Cedar Fig/td>
4.2 Sam 5:11 Melon Locust Apple Cedar/td>
5. Deut 8:8 Locust Fig Grasshopper Olive/td>
6. Job 13:28 Olive Myrtle Locust Moth
7. 1 Kgs 8:37 Locust Oak Almond Moth/td>
8. Gen 30:37 Oak Moth Poplar Apple/td>
9. Job 8:14 Fig Grasshopper Spider Cedar/td>
10.Num 11:5 Oak Grasshopper Fig Bee/td>
11. Song 2:3 Fig Ant Locust Apple/td>
12. Num 11:5 Melon Cedar Bee Apple/td>
13. Ex 37:19 Moth OakAlmond Olive/td>
14. Judg 14:8 Fig Poplar Melon Bee/td>
15. Gen 35:8 Moth Oak Almond Spider/td>
16. Is 17:6 Olive Melon Locust Spider/td>
Answers follow Julia's Jottings


Julia's Jottings

Monday
Chatted amicably to Mother-in-law but do wonder whether lockdown is taking its toll - one of the ways she amuses herself is to watch her new bin's self-closing lid, I like to think this is because she's admiring the engineering not because she's trying to find suitable music to accompany it. N.B. Fortunately we don't have such advanced bins , nevertheless will keep close eye on hubby to see if this trait is inherited.

Tuesday
Noticed tendency for new exercise regime to evolve, frequent need to run outside to re-stand potted sunflowers blown over by unseasonal elements is helping fitness levels, completed 80 skips WITHOUT stopping and in the rain – go girl!

Wednesday
Returned to my roots felt, like a latter-day Robin Hood taming the “wild" garden around large tree in forgotten part of the Vicarage grounds- never fully appreciated learning about asymmetric haircuts until now. Admit didn't ride through the glen, but created a clearing.

Thursday
Felt a right nincompoop/hoodlum returning from local shop when it started to rain, dressed for gardening so wearing college hoodie had to put up hood – increased pace and kept head down, didn't want to recognised in new look.

Note to self: Sometimes it's better to ignore Guiding motto “Be Prepared" – couldn't garden due to unsuitable weather conditions – so could have worn ‘regulation' clothing anyway.

Friday
Noticed language and times they are a changing – occupants of Vicarage are not being left behind –who needs celestial bodies and mythological figures to label days of the week, following have been employed to adapt outdated and meaningless terms: Washday (granted somewhat traditional); Vegday (always fresh and great selection when collected from local venue early evening); Meatday ( phone through order a.m. and delivered promptly and efficiently); Clapday (spanner- in-the-works as this has now finished and this week Clapday was on old Sunday…or as it's now known Frustrated Vicar Day …aggh chaos); Binday (thanks to efficient Swansea Council); Brownieday( a late starter but most welcome treat from Gowerton café) and Frustrated* Vicar day.


Answers to ‘Trees, insects and fruit' puzzle.

1. B
2. C
3. A
4. D
5. B
6. D
7. A
8. C
9. C
10. B
11. D
12. A
13. C
14. D
15. B
16. A



June 28th, 2020 Pye’s Ponderings

St Peter tide and Ordination weekend


Dear friends,

This coming Monday is the feast day of saints Peter and Paul, Apostles; and usually this weekend is when ordinations take place in our cathedrals, a time of great celebration for individuals and their families as their calling to ministry is affirmed and blessed by our Bishops. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of my ordination at St Woolos Cathedral, Newport, and my family and friends had planned to mark the milestone with a gathering and a meal, and yet, obviously this could not happen. Putting aside my sorrow at not being able to lead collective worship this Sunday I am not despondent nor downhearted , what I have witnessed and been privileged to be part of in our community over the past few months has filled me with great hope for the future. If you look up hope in the dictionary part of the definition is as follows, “expectation and desire/person or thing giving hope”.

The well-known hymn ‘All my Hope on God is Founded’ states the following,

“All my trust He shall renew;
He, my guide through changing order,
Only good and only true.”

Our faith in God in these challenging and changing times provides us with a firm foundation to face the ‘new order’ of our lives. The hymn finishes with these words,

“Hear Christ’s call one and all:
We who follow shall not fall.”

Through prayer let God guide us and sustain us.

God bless you all,

Alex


Julia’s Jottings

Monday
Fear I can procrastinate no longer, repercussion of working from home coincides with fewer steps so need to take action. Decided to use daughter’s skipping rope, which was clearly excess luggage for her return to Sheffield. Plan for day 1 = 50 skips.

Tuesday
. Walked to shops with hubby; clearly wanted to clear his conscience by expressing his dislike for the sound of my “floppy sandals”. Feel he does have a point, I have already decided not to wear them for this morning’s exercise as they continually broke my rhythm yesterday by slipping off mid-skip. Therefore, resolved that more secured footwear appeases both parties –a sling-back style would be safer for the wearer (me) and preferable for the parson(him) as the reduction in my height due to smaller heel means this wife is slightly shorter than hubby. Decided to increase skip target to 60.

Wednesday
New fitness regime obviously paying-off, handkerchief hem skirt’s first outing this summer and I still need a pin in the waistband. Boosted by success decide no further delay with the fitting of Hands Together polo shirt, do feel XS is a step too far…. OH JOY it fits!!!

Completed 70 skips.

Note to self: Have decided to cap skipping target for present, do feel any extension may require a First Aider to be on stand-by.

Thursday
Am concerned my washing machine has gone rogue – have been waiting, with peg-beg tied around my waist for 15 minutes, whilst the machine dashboard has shown time remaining to be 1 min since I donned it! Decided to de-bag and retreat from domestic chore and do skips.

N.B. Correct decision to stop at 70. Absolutely no regrets.

Friday
Why does Google answer me back but carry out Vicar’s request without question? However should I have the audacity to make a request the retort is one of mischief, I mean when I asked if a certain shop was open the response was “Call them”! Bloomin’ cheek. Going to ban any copies of “1984” from this abode.




From the Vicarage (Sunday 21st June)

Father’s day and the longest day of the year.

Dear friends,

Sunday’s gospel is Matthew chapter 10 verses 34-39, look it up and read it before you ponder the following.

The teaching point here, I feel, is to show that God cares for us and how this should drive away fear.

Matthew is a Jewish Christian, he sees Jesus as the fulfilment of the Jewish hopes and he reiterates one of the great themes of the Bible. Jesus says, ‘Have no fear, do not fear.’ In a world of darkness and trouble it is easy to fear and to lose hope but we are not left alone because our Lord is with us. In this passage fear is mentioned four times.

In our world today there is a great deal of fear and anguish understandable, so no one is immune from these feelings, fear of the moment and rear of the future; it is so easy to fall into the trap of being consumed by this fear and yet there is so much to celebrate and give thanks for in our community, and further afield. The willingness of individuals to help and reach out to those who are isolated and struggling – Gowerton Rugby Club, the Nomad and the Co-op to mention just 3, who have reached out with generosity and love. I am sure their actions will never be forgotten alongside the many individuals who are working tirelessly in various ways, it was stated to me that people were “proud and pleased to be part of our collective response” and it would be remiss of me not to mention Councillor Sue Jones and her tireless work and support.

As we tentatively move forward with our lives the words of a well-known hymn come to mind:

Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken;
Bind us together’ Lord,
Bind us together,
O bind us together with love.

We are not alone, we are blessed.

God bless you all,

Alex


The Sunday Puzzle

This week our quiz is about the church in the Bible, specifically the New Testament, and what it tells us, or indeed teaches us. I hope you enjoy our little challenge and it leaves you feeling positive.

1. On what is the church foundation built and what will never happen to it according to Jesus? (Matthew chapter 16 verse 18)

2. The early believers did not have a church building like St John’s but they did stay in touch and share and do something else too – what was that? (Acts chapter 2 verses 43-47)

3. Where did Phoebe serve the church? (Romans chapter 16 verse 1)

4. Priscilla and whom helped the church in 2 ways, and how did they help? (Romans chapter 16 verses 3-5)

5. Is 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 2 addressed to us? And what does he ask Jesus to give us in verse 3?

6. In Romans chapter 14 verse 4 how are we told we can help the church?

7. Paul is very specific about what the church is in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 23 – what is it?

8. Who are the living stones of the church? (1 Peter chapter 2 verse 5)

9. Throughout Revelation there is a clear message for churches, but what is it? (Revelation chap 2 verses 11,17,chap 3 verses 6, 13)

Answers follow Julia’s Jottings


Julia’s Jottings

Monday:
Let it never be said that on those pre-lockdown holidays when people sailed the seven seas, cruises were purely for relaxing– ah no – by getting up early(ish) and wandering on to the sun deck, cup of tea in hand, one could watch the breakfast chefs making omelettes – and it has come to pass that over our enforced stay at home omelettes have become a signature dish of mine, praised by my onsite cleric, thus proving “The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge”.

Tuesday:
“She prepares her bread in summer”, now I don’t like to think of myself as an “ant” but I side with the Book of Proverbs and not our Gospel writer on this occasion who, quite rightly I feel, says we shouldn’t store our treasures on earth, however whilst 2 pairs of sandals in the sale last year are not on the same scale as baking bread, nor is it technically stockpiling valuables and… given the circumstances of the last few months…. I feel vindicated for storing said purchases ready for the coming summer.

Wednesday:
Do feel daughter teaching her Father how to get Google to make an ‘announcement’ was a mistake – for one thing the technology is in the kitchen and if I am elsewhere in the Vicarage it is impossible to hear – there’s a lot to be said for old fashioned shouting I suggest.

Thursday:
Woke early again, do feel desperation is setting in, unable to find anymore cupboards to clear I polished wooden top of digital radio, oh woe is me.

Friday:
Just as hubby had given up on his newly laid grass in the Vicarage, the rains came and there before our eyes the grass grew and the lawn was extended, and what timing, just as restrictions are being lifted thus the church grounds can be handed back. Indeed, the trees in the field shall clap their hands with joy!


Answers to ‘Church’ puzzle

1. Peter, death will not overcome it.

2. Praised God (they also shared possessions and money to all in need).

3. Cenchreae.

4. Aquila and they risked their lives for Paul and the church meets in their house.

5. Yes; grace and peace.

6. By proclaiming God’s message.

7. Christ’s body.

8. You and me.

9. “If you have ears then listen to what the Spirit says to the churches!”



Weekly Message from St John’s Gowerton (Pye’s Ponderings) for Sunday 14th June

Dear friends,

If I wrote truly about my ponderings over the last week, I would probably get into a great deal of trouble; the disjointed politically motivated response to the easing of the lockdown across the four nations is causing confusion and anger, and there was me thinking we are the United Kingdom –silly me!

Then the tragic death in America of George Floyd, yes, of course the culprits should be punished with the full weight of the law, and also racism, in any form, is abhorrent, but mass gatherings in their thousands during this pandemic, I despair.

My prayer life (and sleep, may I add), have been fractious to say the least, and yet I have been sustained by two things, firstly the collect for peace;

Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed: kindle, we pray thee, in the hearts of all men the true love of peace, and guide with thy pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquillity thy kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And secondly, a song by Jason Mraz which is titled, ‘Look for the Good’ and which Julia’s signing group are practicing, it sums up my most basic prayer, try and listen to it – the words are printed below.

Yours honestly,

Alex

Look for the good in everything
Look for the people who will set your soul free
It always seems impossible until it's done
Look for the good in everyone
Hmm, hmm-hmm
Hmm-hmm, hmm-hmm
Hmm-hmm, hmm-hmm
Hmm-hmm
Hmm, hmm-hmm

[Chorus]

Look for the good in everything
Look for the people who will set your soul free
It always seems impossible until it's done
Look for the good in everyone

[Verse 1]
People done gone crazy, people done gone mad
People done forgot the superpowers we all have
We were born to love, not hate
We can decide our fate
And look for the good in everyone
And celebrate all our mistakes
If there's a silver lining (Silver lining)
You still have to find it, find it, find it

[Chorus]
Look for the good in everything, hmm, hmm
Look for the people who will set your soul free
It always seems impossible until it's done
Look for the good in everyone

[Verse 2]
Everyone needs sunshine, everyone needs rain
Everyone is carrying around some kind of pain
I see who you are, you're just like me
I see you're searching for a purpose, guided by a dream
I see who you are, I'm just like you
I get lost sometimes and I forget what I came here to do
I keep on trying (Keep on trying)
When it gets frightening

[Chorus]
Look for the good in everything, hmm, hmm
Look for the people who will set your soul free
It always seems impossible until it's done
Look for the good
Look for the good
Look for the good in everyone
Everyone is nature, everyone is God
Everyone is love and light and vibration
Look for the good, look for the good
Everyone gets mad sometimes and maybe they should
Look for the good
Look for the good
Yeah, look out for all the heroes in your neighbourhood
Look for the good
Look for the good
Life sure would be sweeter if everybody would

[Chorus]
Look for the good in everything
Look for the people who will set your soul free
It always seems impossible until it's done
Look for the good in everyone
Look for the good in everything (Look for the good)
Look for the people who will set your soul free
It always seems impossible until it's done
Look for the good
Look for the good
Look for the good in everyone


Julia’s Jottings

Saturday
Ah ha! Had a wonderfully warm bath, reclined in a tub of bubbles and ‘voila’ the splinter disappeared, come out, gone, extricated itself; proving initial gut feeling that my two “medics” were a little over zealous with their suggestions of needles, squeezing and other such horrors was right – I’ll stick to the painless old wives’ tale.

Tuesday
Feel Repair Shop is not only a good tonic but an education, always had an interest in horology and although I don’t have two pairs of specs now feel informed sufficiently to tackle kitchen clock, used sellotape to secure battery after clock had stopped again even after receiving new power source and Eureka!

Wednesday
I feel it’s always a positive to have a trade up your sleeve, so served a little more of my apprenticeship for Pickfords by helping Vicar move furniture from dining room to lounge –impressed myself and proved that over the years I’ve helped cleric to move so much church and church hall furniture I had picked up sufficient (both mentally and physically) to be able to re-position myself so he went backwards. I may have served more than a 7 year apprenticeship but it’s paid off.

Note to self: Would prefer working day not to start with a 4 in it!!!

NB. ‘Our Vicarage made perfect’ has a certain je ne sais quois, however once again feel career move into television is less of an option than becoming a chattel conveyor.

Thursday
Decided to ignore the amassing grey clouds and dress brightly, considerable lighted my mood. Daughter returned from work took one look and said, “You look like a fruit salad” – well it’s healthy if not necessarily complementary.

Sunday
As the song says “Look for the good in everything” and although younger daughter will be sorely missed now she’s gone north, the resigned tone in her voice suggesting I was a poor challenger, did nothing for my ego every time she beat me at Mancala.



Alex's update Sunday, 7th June – Trinity Sunday

From the Vicarage

Dear friends,

Bearing in mind the popularity of my wife’s “Julia’s Jottings”, (all true if somewhat embarrassing), my offering to you this Sunday could be entitled “Pye’s Ponderings”!

Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost and this weekend it’s trinity Sunday, and also we should have been at Brecon Cathedral celebrating 100 years of the Church in Wales…and yet we are still at home, not isolated just distanced. Struggling, yes. Beaten, definitely not!!!

The Gospel reading for today (Matthew chapter 28 verses 16-20) concluded with these words,

“I am with you always to the close of time.”

The promise that we are never alone if we just open our hearts to our Lord.

I read somewhere that we are all like radios, and we have the ability to choose which channel we tune into, one of doubt and fear, or one of hope and compassion. And also like radios, the noise or words we use will depend on what we are tuned into. Freedom of choice is an awesome responsibility!

Our televisions and newspapers are full of division, blame and terrible violence particularly in the USA, it is infectious and has the ability to corrupt our minds. To balance this and cleanse our minds and thoughts, we need daily to tune into, through prayer, the giver of hope and love to all mankind, Jesus Christ our Saviour.

As I am writing this my radio is tuned into radio 2 and playing “Simply the Best” by Tina Turner, let me remind you of one line:

“You’re simply the best, better than all the rest,

Better than anyone, anyone I ever met.”

Who she is singing about I know not, but to me, it resonates with my chosen text,

“I am with you always to the close of time.”

God bless you all,

Stay safe,

Alex


Strain the Brain Time

This week we are focusing on hymns, having not sung any together for a while I have looked back through my records to pick out some of the regular ones we use in our services and also a few from those nominated for our top 10 list. I will give you the first line then see if you can do the 2nd (and maybe more) and also give the name of the hymn. Don’t forget to sing along and enjoy remember they are songs of praise after all. Good luck!

1. ”And can it be that I should gain…” Written by Charles Wesley (588 in Hymn Ancient and Modern)

2. “I, the Lord of sea and sky…..” Perhaps you know the chorus better it starts like this, “Here I am, Lord, is it I Lord…..” (494 in Ancient and Modern)

3. “Lord the Light of your Love is shining……” This was number 4 in our top 10 and again you may know the chorus better “Shine Jesus Shine, Fill this land with…..” It’s 719 in Ancient and Modern and 445 in Mission Praise.

4. “Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the King of creation….” (765 in Ancient and Modern and 564 n Mission Praise.

5. “All things bright and beautiful….” A favourite from our school days I suspect and a hymn even non-church goers know, it even starts with the refrain –which means recurring lines; it’s popular at weddings and funerals and is number 5 in our top 10. (A+M 533, MP 23)

6. “Guide me, O thou great Redeemer….” Sung by Welsh rugby fans the world over and number 7 in our top 10 (A+M 652, MP 201) Strangely in ‘Ancient and Modern’ – the more tradional hymn book it’s ‘Redeemer’ whereas in ‘Mission Praise’, it’s ‘Jehova’!

7. “Come let us sing of a wonderful love….” ( M.P. 94) Orginally this was published in a book of hymns for children.

8. “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound….” Written by the Anglican clergyman John Newton (A+M 587, MP31)

9. “Love Divine, all loves excelling….” Wesley’s phrase, “changed from glory into glory” is almost a direct quotation from 2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV) Anyway it was number 2 in our top

10. “The Spirit lives to set us free….” Now if you aren’t sure or want someone to sing along with have another look at our service for Ascension and Pentecost and you can join the Smith family who sang it for us. (A+M 264, MP 664).


Julia’s Jottings

Saturday
Getting a little despondent , lost at boules and fared no better at croquet on the Vicarage lawn, both my opponents triumphed during the competitions. I blame my glasses, I feel sure I’m aiming the mallet towards the hoop when I hit the ball but it tends to veer off. Don’t like to think I’m a poor loser but it’s getting wearing.

Monday
Very positive half hour, Beetles successfully translated across the landing- not the myriapod variety but a fleet of the four-wheeled range – and I must say they fit well into their new garaging at the top of the stairs, although the landing to the “West Wing” of the Vicarage will take longer to hoover now.

Tuesday
“Blurted out: “Oh I’ve found Tinky Winky!” – hubby, who was curled up in bed next to me, was a little (understandably I felt) perturbed, clearly, on this occasion I’d ignored that very useful maxim of “remember to engage brain before opening mouth” – explained it was one of the names in my Word search!

Wednesday
Very dispirited. Weather has been more than delightful for the last few days, whilst I have been unable to find my hidden, nay lost, summer wardrobe. Decided to dust single bedroom – well, let’s face it, it’s the only area that has escaped my attention over the last few weeks. Eureka! There they were, in a case between the bedside table and wall – oh what a joy, I too can join summer.

Thursday
Feel the need to make a public apology – here I am in my glad rags and the weather has taken a turn for the worst, furthermore according to the Met office it’s set to continue. Feel it’s a hint I’ve done something to displease Him. Will take time to consider my actions.


ANSWERS TO THE HYMN CHALLENGE
1. And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?


2. I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.


3. Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father's glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light


4. Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the king of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
Come, all who hear; brothers and sisters draw near,
praise him in glad adoration!


5. Refrain:
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful,
the Lord God made them all.

1 Each little flow'r that opens,
each little bird that sings,
he made their glowing colors,
he made their tiny wings. [Refrain]

6. Come let us sing of a wonderful love, tender and true;
out of the heart of the Father above,
streaming to me and to you:
wonderful love dwells in the heart of the Father above.


7. Guide me, O thou great redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore,
Feed me now and evermore.

8. Amazing grace (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch lie me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.


9. Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down,
fix in us your humble dwelling,
all your faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, you are all compassion,
pure, unbounded love impart;
visit us with your salvation,
enter every trembling heart.


10. The Spirit lives to set us free
Walk, walk in the light;
He binds us all in unity,
Walk, walk in the light.
Walk in the light,
Walk in the light,
Walk in the light,
Walk in the light of the Lord.



Alex's update Sunday, 31st May, 2020 - Pentecost

Dear friends,

My text this morning is Acts Chapter 2 verses 1-21

Please look it up and read it at least twice.

Pentecost, Whitsun, the birthday of the Church, a time of celebration and a time of rejoicing. I would like to concentrate, just briefly on verses 4, 6 and 17,

“”And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”

“And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language;”

“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;”

Speaking in tongues is a phrase that more often than not confuses people to say the least, and fills them with distrust and fear, as it did for those on that first momentous day; were they drunk? Were they deranged?

It is very important for us to remember that the crux of the matter, so to speak, is that Almighty God wanted to speak and reach out to the whole world, whatever language they spoke. Verse 17 states,

“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;”

“Pour out my Spirit on all flesh” – not just the chosen nation or of the chosen few but all of mankind.

Society today speaks a different language to the worship in our churches, this is a fact we cannot nor must not ignore. Our liturgies may and indeed are beautiful but to the outside world they are meaningless and irrelevant. Our challenge is to take God’s Word of hope, love and forgiveness out into our communities and communicate in such a way that the message is understood and is relevant. In other words we need to speak in tongues of today not yesterday.

To illustrate this I finish with my 3 verses , but this time from the Youth Bible, Acts chapter 2 verses 4, 6 and 17:

“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit had given them. When they heard this noise, a crowd came together. They were all surprised, because each one of them heard them speaking in his own language.

God says: in the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.”


The Spirit lives to set us free, let us walk – and talk – in the light.

Alex


Free Pentecost Prize Hamper
The total number of pictures and plaques hanging in Gowerton Vicarage is: 64

Three people guessed 67 but the name drawn out of the hat was

JAYNE ☺

CONGRATULATIONS


Pentecost 2020

What can you see in the Bible?

We’ve all heard of 2020 vision, some of us are fortunate enough to have had it, many of us need to wear glasses to be able to get anywhere near it, but what does the Bible tell us about seeing and vision? Let’s have a look!

1. Were you paying attention to this week’s message…in Act chapter 2 verse 17 who will have visions old men or young men?

2. In Jeremiah 23 verse 16 why did are we told NOT to listen to the prophets of Samaria?

3. In Numbers chapter12 verse 6 when does the Lord give people visions?

4. In Acts chapter 9 verses 10-12 two men had visions from God but how are they linked? By the way what street was Saul in at the time?

5. Who had a vision in Acts chapter 18 verses 9-10, and what was he told to do?

6. Joel chapter 2 verse 28 should be very familiar to us – why?

7. Revelation chapter 21 verses 1-5 is a sure foundation for hope for us all – what does it say?

8. Isaiah chapter 6 verses 1-9 inspired John Wesley and he wrote about it in one of his hymns “And can it be”, both Isaiah and John Wesley needed to understand and worship before serving God, Think of the words of the more modern hymn, ‘Here I am Lord’, can you remember the chorus?


Julia’s Jottings

Saturday
Stubbed my little toe on one of daughter’s weights left on the floor – absolutely no sympathy shown me in my hour of need.

Note: Toe has gone black and blue (literally), only comment was “you bruise easily”, Wonder if using a crutch and perching toy parrot on my shoulder may encourage a more sympathetic response but suspect will only result in further derision.

Sunday
Suddenly the 2 medics resident in the Vicarage (albeit one “ex” and the other “working towards”) are experts on little toes having, between them, more knowledge than any I have read or heard about in A+P (Anatomy + Physiology) over the last 9 months. Nevertheless after complaining about my hip aching due to limping I hobbled out of the ‘consultation’, was aware of the comment ‘old age doesn’t come on its own’, they clearly hadn’t taken in to account that my injury had not affected my hearing!

Monday
Love hearing the dawn chorus but if Our lord could arrange for the birds to have a couple of hours line in (just occasionally) that would be absolutely dandy, I do feel 6 am is a far more civilised time to be woken.

Tuesday
Rebecca quite astutely noticed her dad always apologises to me even if it’s not his fault. On reflection she does have a point. I must try not to jump to conclusions and point the blame so quickly. However, do feel there is no need for the Vicar to change his ways – I love him just the way he is with all his perfect imperfections!

Wednesday
My dad used to sing the little ditty “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK” – odd really since he was an accountant and had an aversion to gardening, nevertheless found myself singing it whilst watching hubby and daughter give tree a short back and sides – felt working in the hairdressing department meant I was able to offer helpful pointers. As they do say – no experience is ever wasted.


ANSWERS TO THE Quiz on Vision
1. Young men
2. Because they are made up in their own minds, they are not visions from God.
3. In their dreams
4. Ananias was told to go and find Saul and told what to do when he found him, and Saul had seen Ananias in a vision. Straight Street.
5. Paul, he had to talk to people.
6. It’s the verse quoted in Acts chapter 2 verse 17
7. It offers a description of life with God beyond death.
8. Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.



Alex's message, May 24th 2020

Dear friends,

This Sunday Sue and I have done another service for our website and Face book page, the following is the script - so to speak, for those of you who are unable to watch our offering…

At this time in all churches the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost are firmly on our minds and in our prayers, it’s a time when we consider carefully what we believe. Bearing this in mind I begin with a short section of a song from the musical ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ popularised by ‘Boyzone’ in 1998.

“No matter what they call us
However they attack
No matter where they take us
We’ll find our own way back
I can’t deny what I believe
I can’t be what I’m not
I know I’ll love forever
I know no matter what.”

Alongside this 2 readings for you to look-up, Psalm 100 and 1 Corinthians 13 8-13.

I was asked and questioned recently, “Is church closed – where’s your God/ Is He furloughed?” So to answer that 5 words which when combined remind me that God is active to say the least.

I – inspirational work of the NHS + front line workers
A – admiration for people literally risking their lives for us
T – thankfulness that’s being expressed on Thursday evenings and much more
H – hope that the community spirit being expressed now continues
F – family, the importance not just of biological but our family that is St John’s

All of these spell a word: FAITH

Another line from the Boyzone’s song we began with,

“And I will keep you safe and strong and sheltered from the storm, no matter where it’s barren, a dream is being born.”

Faith in our Lord doesn’t mean there won’t be problems and challenges in your lives but it does give you strength and courage to face them and look forward with hope. We believe that Jesus will NEVER leave our side

May God’s blessing be up on you all.

Alex

********************************************************************************

Thank you to everyone who has returned their bunting ready for the “birthday of the church” which is this coming Thursday on the Feast of Pentecost, and thanks must also go to Sue for coordinating and organising it all. Naturally it is impossible to have a birthday party without a cake, so here is a special recipe for you in place of our weekly quiz, we do hope you enjoy tracking down the ingredients ☺


Scripture cake

(A fruit cake with Old Testament flavour)

Ingredients
200g/8oz Genesis chap 4 verse 4
200g/8oz Jeremiah chap 6 verse 20
4 Isaiah chap 10 verse 14
2tbs 1 Samuel chap 14 verse25
280g/10oz 1 Kings chap 4 verse 22
½ tsp Leviticus chap 2 verse 13
1 tsp 2 Chronicles chap 9 verse 9
350g/12oz 1 Samuel chap 30 verse 12 (continued on next page)
50g/2oz Numbers chap 18 verse 8 chopped
2 tbs Judges chap 5 verse 25

How to make it
1. Preheat oven to 170/150 fan oven, gas 3. Grease and line 20cm/8” cake tin.
2. Cream Genesis and Jeremiah until pale and fluffy. Add Isaiah and Samuel a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Fold in the Kings, which you have sifted with Leviticus and Chronicles, and then the Samuel and Numbers. Stir in the Judges to make a soft dropping consistency.
4. Bake for 2 ½ hours until a skewer comes out clean. With a long, slowish baking of this kind you must use your judgement: check the cake in case it appears to be browning too much, and if so shield it with foil or greaseproof paper. Start testing 20 minutes before the time is up, and don’t omit the skewer test.
5. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 30 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Julia’s Jottings

Tuesday
Mmmm it’s just as I feared wasted energy and zeal at beginning of lockdown – so much that had been achieved will need to be redone- take the dining room already dust is reappearing and to make the situation more serious I now use it as ‘office backdrop’ for “teams” screen when in work, SO dilemma is thus – do I clean it now at the beginning of half-term, or leave it until sessions restart? Denouement: - move computer to another more recently room cleaned room.

Wednesday
Can’t believe a formal complaint was made about the natural divots and ‘forest like floor’ on Vicarage croquet lawn – wouldn’t mind but I was the one losing. Strange how a kiddies set can inspire such competitive spirits.

Thursday
Deployed new strategy for outdoor vista and had luxurious afternoon tea on same lawn – delicacies included delicious homemade fruit cake and English Breakfast tea. Lesson learnt:- for peaceful session employ kitchen supplies not recently discovered treasures from newly tidied garage!

Friday
Can’t seem to get used to having neighbours who can look up (and presumably into) our bedroom window. Must make mental note to draw curtains before undressing. On a positive note, due to church being closed I can’t be blamed for putting them off attending.

Saturday
My butt is filling again, unsurprising really but very satisfying delighted recent thunderstorms have replenished water level even if I did behave like a rabbit in headlights and retreat under duvet with amazing speed – never have been a fan of lightning!



Alex’s Sunday Message, May 17th, 2020

Dear friends,

I am using Matthew chapter 9 verses 37 and 38 as my text for today,

“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

Well, my cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes are sprouting, the grass seed has taken and my bedding plants are blooming. Monty Don better watch his back Agricultural Al is learning by the day! Joking aside I am really enjoying the garden and realise only too well how fortunate my family are to live in a house with plenty of outdoor space, compared to so many who are less fortunate.

Over the past weeks Sue and I have tried our best to keep in contact with as many of you as possible via phone, email and Face book, and can I reiterate that if you are in need, in whatever way, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

It has been very noticeable that our website and Facebook page are flourishing to say the least, ( a little note here to thank Julia for all her work – in particular her ‘Jottings’). Sue informs me that 1,242 people looked at out V.E. Day service (a little note here to thank Dave Rumbelow for his help), and over 500 people regularly visit St John’s website. Which brings me to my earlier text, “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few”, there is I believe a huge evangelical opportunity on our doorstep, so to speak, it fills me with hope and even excitement, perhaps instead of being sowers of the seed it’s time to harvest the crop.

When our church is open again, which it will be, let’s fling open the doors to everybody with joy and acceptance in our hearts, because we have a message for all humanity, a message that is one of forgiveness, acceptance and love, all made possible by the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Saviour.

May God’s blessing be upon you all,

Alex


Parish Puzzle:

That Great British Topic of Conversation: The Weather

1. What sort of weather is mentioned in Psalm 148 verse 8 – tick all that apply:- Snow, wind, sunshine, storm, cloud, mist, thunder, lightning, rain, hail
2. Again what weather conditions are listed in Matthew chapter 16 verses 2-3? Interestingly this is still often heard quoted today! Snow, wind, sunshine, storm, cloud, fair, thunder, lightning, rain, hail
3. Leviticus chapter 26 verse 4 tells us the sort of weather required to produce fruit but what is it?
4. In Job chapter 37 verse 9 which of the following does he mention? Snow, wind, sunshine, whirlwind, cloud, fair, thunder, cold, rain, hail
5. So in Jonah chapter 1 verse 4 what 2 types of weather are mentioned?
6. What sort of weather did Elijah pray for in James chapter 5 verses 17-18?
7. In Job chapter 37 verse 17 from which direction does the wind blow?
8. In Amos chapter 4 verse 7 it sounds like a conversation you’d hear in Wales so what is being talked about?
<>9. Haggai chapter 1 verse 11 is describing another type of weather phenomena is it : Flood, drought, hurricane, blizzard
>10. We are told in both Luke chapter 8 verses 23-25 and Mark chapter 4 verse 39 about something that frightened Jesus’ followers – but what was it?
11. Revelation chapter 16 verse 21 describes yet another type of weather but what is it?
12. John chapter 3 verse 8 tells us about something that is very relevant for us as the it lnks with the feast after Ascension* in the Church’s year .
13. Take heed of this advice in Luke chapter 12 verse 54! 14. We finish with a verse from Matthew which is often misquoted-but what is it ? (Matthew chapter 5 verse 45)

* Ascension is celebrated on May 21st and Pentecost on May 28th .


Julia’s Jottings

Sunday
Daughter requested black out curtains – unable to provide –however solution found by hanging three pairs of curtains on same rail. As they used to say “The need is great the time is short” and anyway triple hung curtains –just as tasteful as thrice cooked chips but healthier as extra calories burnt-off rather than added.

Monday
Oh the pressure of having efficient and clean neighbours I refuse to wash on Sundays but scanning gardens from the rear of Vicarage decide I can’t be the only one NOT to wash for two consecutive days – rummage around to find full load and hang it out high and proud!

Tuesday
Very impressed when daughter receives a letter with a wax seal – hubby got Church Times in recyclable bag –it would appear the generation gap gets ever more recognisable.

Wednesday
Local cleric decided to reorganise pictures on Vicarage walls – was blissfully unaware of this until heard a none to reassuring crash – the Prodigal Son had fallen. He was replaced quite unsubtly (I feel) by The Arc d’Triomphe print.

Thursday
Without appearing disrespectful, after studying the story of creation with unprecedented detail I have been unable to discover any mention of the fact that dandelions show grow 50 times as quickly as grass in the church grounds, nor do I consider it one of those plants “that bear grain or fruit” – clearly God is having another laugh!

Friday
Sleeping more soundly nowadays do wonder if this isn’t a result of a cheeky nightcap snifter –alcohol donated by a friend, however will discover conclusive results about sleep theory tonight as finished final miniature last night.


ANSWERS to the Biblical Weather Puzzle

Hail, snow, mist, storm.
Stormy
Rain
Whirlwind/wind
Wind/tempest
Rain
South wind
Rain
Drought
Storm/windstorm
Hailstones
Wind
Cloud/shower
Sun and rain


Update for Sunday May 10th

Dear friends,

Hind sight or fore sight, which would you prefer? The Gospel according to Matthew tells us in chapter 6 verse 34,

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

On April 1 st it was to have been our Annual Vestry Meeting, and the following was to be my address;

“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held I honour, but we in disrepute.”

1 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 10

The dictionary defines a fool as someone who thinks or acts unwisely and according to the dictionary to be foolish is ‘lacking good sense or judgement’, and foolhardy means ‘delighting in needless risks’.

The very core of Christianity seems foolish to our world – the Virgin birth – miracles – the Resurrection – life after death…..

And yet Christianity has survived for over 2000 years, it still plays an important and vital role in our world, it still attracts new people because of the message of Jesus Christ, that of love, hope and forgiveness.

So, the question is, are we fools for Christ? Are we willing to be foolhardy in the face of aggressive condemnation and apathy?

Here in St John’s the coming year will be full of challenges with regards to the maintenance of our buildings and on-going financial pressures.

Our west wall urgently needs to be repaired and the process has begun with regards to grants and quotes, I am expecting it to cost between £20-30,000.

The parish share continues to be our largest outgoing, and recently, on your behalf I spoke at length at the Area deanery meeting about the stark reality that the make-up of the share could not be met, which resulted in the recommendations being returned to the DBF for further investigation.

On paper these issues seem insurmountable, and logically it would appear foolhardy and foolish to even attempt to climb these figurative mountains. And yet (for the second time), scripture comes to the rescue:

Strength:1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 12, “”I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by pointing me to this service.”

And hope: Romans chapter 12 verse 12, “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

In the face of challenges it is our faith in Jesus Christ that gives us strength and hope.

We have much to celebrate here in St John’s and if we stand united and, dare I say, defiant, no hurdle is too high for us to clear.

We must never lose sight of our primary function in this community which is to be an open and welcoming place of worship, prayer and comfort in times of need; as a place where people can come and experience the love of God through our actions and our words.

I commend this parish report to you with heartfelt thanks to all who make this church a vibrant expression of God’s love.

What a different world it was then, however some challenges remain and I am sure you agree our priorities have become more focused.

Alex


The Weekly Puzzle

This week we are looking at how one number in particular occurs time after time in the Bible; indeed over the last few weeks the number ‘40’ has been discussed and mentioned in lots of different contexts. So let’s check some of them out

1. Who said Ninevah would be overthrown and after what period of time (Jonah chap 3 verse 4) ?
2. Deuteronomy chapter 9-18, -who was where and for how long?
3. Exactly how long did Jesus fast for (Matthew chap 4 verses 1-2)?
4. In 1 Samuel chapter 17 verse 16 are we told happened for 40 days and nights?
5. What are we told happened for 40 days in Acts chapter 1 verse 3?
6. Judges chapter 3 verse 11 informs us the land had rested for 40 years and then who died?
7. 2 Samuel chapter 5 verse 4 tells us David became king when he was 40 years old and reigned for 30 years - or is it the other way round?
8. 2 Chronicles chapter 9 verse 30 reports which king reigned for 40 years?
9. The same book (2 Chron) tells us a second king also reigned for 40 years in chapter 24 verse 1, but who was he?
10. Let’s pop back to the book of Acts, in chapter 13 verse 21 which king do we learn about?

GOOD LUCK!


Julia’s Jottings

Friday
Very confused by ‘Gardeners’ World’, every week you are given a list of jobs to do- can only assume I’m doing something VERY wrong because if I was compiling ‘Jobs for the week Ahead’ it would read: Week 1: Mow Church and Vicarage grounds Week 2: potter- weeks 3+4 repeat previous two weeks. N.B. Very pleasing to be able to check a signing protégé was receiving designated Hands Together homework from her Grandma (a more senior member of signing group) . Proving God does indeed work in mysterious ways –the CWR (Church Wheelbarrow Run) –doubles up as depositing grass cuttings and progress check on student out for daily walk opposite side of local by-pass.

Saturday
Used out of date cans to prop old baking trays containing plastic seed cups on window ledge as my cleric doesn’t have a green house. Bonus: Newspaper said tinned foods are fine to consume 3 years after date on tin – therefore slow growing seeds are fine QED

Monday
Dishwashing duty is more pleasant now there are blooms to appreciate along fence and back wall, washing-up has also become an excellent way of burning calories as it involves the VSA (not to be confused with CWR). Necessitating quick sprint and war cry to deter brazen squirrels, consuming hubby’s grass seed, saves doing couch to 5k run! (VSA=Vicarage Squirrel Alert).

Tuesday
Concerned little cheeky nightcap had taken more effect than I cared to admit, so called “Smart Speaker” in bedroom bing-bonged and proceeded to announce all older adults in the Vicarage should be tucked up in bed – just about to toss the thing out of the window when younger offspring declared it was her! My Luddite instinct tells me modern technology is definitely dodgy.

Wednesday
Grated thumb on cheese grater, drew blood; in-house first aider moaned she was unused applying plasters – I considered her very derogatory about stemming my blood flow.

Answers to Quiz:

1. Jonah, 40 days
2. Moses 40 days and 40 nights
3. 40 days and 40 nights
4. For 40 days and nights the Philistine came forward.
5. The apostles saw Jesus for 40 days after he was raised from the dead.
6. Othniel.
7. David was 30 years old and reigned for 40 years.
8. Solomon reigned in Jerusalem for 40 years.
9. Joash.
10. Saul.



Update Thursday 7th May

For VE Anniversary celebrations, there will be a short VE Day service (filmed at St John's) put on the St John's Facebook group tomorrow.

Also, Christine's concert is shown below.



Update Sunday, May 3rd

This week I have two texts for you, the first is Psalm 23 verse 4:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

And secondly, the Gospel according to John chapter 10 verse 7:

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”

You will all have heard of the sayings, “Home is where the heart is” and “Home sweet home”, both of which are particularly relevant to us all during the lockdown we are all experiencing at this present time. The author Catherine Campbell, in her daily reflections book ‘Journey with me’ states the following:

“Home. The place we feel safest, where danger is usually kept outside the door. Where we can kick off our shoes and be ourselves; where the stress of life is replaced by the comfort of the familiar. Home. Where we are known and loved. Home. Jesus promises to meet us there. In the routine of ordinary everyday life is the very place we should wait for Him. He’ll turn up for sure.”

John’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus is the entrance door for His sheep, which we sometimes interpret as the door to our churches, which are open to all who are in need of peace, friendship and guidance…..and yet our churches are closed!!

In the 1980s Paul Young had a song entitled ‘Where ever I lay my hat That’s my Home”, which today reminds me that if we invite Jesus into our homes he will indeed “lay His hat” and stay with us to sustain and give hope and assurance in these scary times, Psalm 23 verse 4 sums this up perfectly,

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

So, in our new daily lives at home Jesus is with us, in our lounges, in our kitchens, in fact in every room! Which brings me to a little prayer for you all,

All that I am,
All that I do, All that I ever have,
I offer now to You.
All that I dream,
All that I pray,
All that I ever make,
I give to You today. AMEN

Alex


Last week’s puzzle was all about names of road and streets within our parish, well this week I am being more specific and I suspect there is nothing you won’t have heard of before, but nevertheless it is another way of helping us find out a little more about what’s in our Bible so this week …….

It’s All in the Name

1. Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6 – a good place to start with 4 names in one place!
2. If you’ve read my message this will be easy: John chapter 10 verses 7 and 9.
3. Very apt for the season we are in 1 Cor. 15:3-4
4. Luke 1:32
5. Something to remember in our present situation 1 Tim. 1:1
6. Let’s return to John - John 8:12
7. Even Job knew Him by name: Job 19:25
8. Our Christmas story gives us this name, Luke 2:11
9. But Luke gives us another name too: Luke 19:10
10. Back to John for another title: 1 John 2:1
11.Even in the last book of the Bible we find another name: Rev. 1:8
12.Another name provided in the Gospel according to John: John 6:35
13. Matthew provides us with another descriptive name: Matt. 9:15
14. The Psalmist was right: Ps. 118:22
15. Perhaps one of the most familiar names: John 10:11

There are numerous other names for Jesus perhaps you can find the references for them yourself; in the meantime can you explain what the following names actually mean – match them with the following definitions:-

Emmanuel
Jehovah
Alpha and Omega
Messiah
Redeemer
Advocate

Definitions:
• The beginning and end
• One who speaks in our defence
• God with us
• Eternal, unchanging, self-existent
• The anointed one
• To tear loose, to rescue

We hope this helps you to keep those “little grey cells working”.

Until next week!

Alex


Julia’s Jottings

Friday
Well I’ve heard of the saying, “I could crush a grape” but in all honesty it’s not something I expect to witness –especially on what was my CLEAN kitchen floor. Father (in the biological and ecclesiastical sense) dropped a green one on the floor and simultaneously as he shouted, ‘Opps grape on floor” –or something similar - daughter stepped on it. Guess kitchen floor is clean no more.

Saturday
Daughter and boyfriend slipped behind chest, resulting rescue mission involved pulling said pine chest from wall, recovering photo and performing full spring clean on that section of skirting board, which evolved into full scale operation around entire bedroom. And to think “it started with a kiss”.

Sunday
Husband asked if we could provide suitable gift for a 2nd birthday for a boy who liked diggers - tomorrow! And there was I thinking miracles were his department. Visited present drawer under spare bed……and lo! There appeared within a miniature JCB with a label announcing from afar “suitable for 2+”. Lesson learnt – faith can provide presents.

Monday
Leant out through study window to greet kindly friend and her pal on their perambulation, crucifix fell from window ledge with quite a racket – could it be a sign of retribution from above? Replaced crucifix after cleaning study windows, local rep said his boss indeed worked in mysterious ways, stating my penitence had made his view clearer

Tuesday
Voice from above declared triumphantly it wasn’t everyone who had a ‘national countdown’ to their 20th birthday. Valid point, but suspect transition from teenage to 20s and conclusion of second lockdown, in actuality, have little differentiation!


Update Sunday, 26th April

Dear friends,

My text for this week is Zephaniah chapter 3 verse 14:

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart O daughter of Jerusalem.”

Those of you who know me well, will know that music is not one of my strengths, (an understatement if ever there was one), however I do love to sing, whether it be in the bath or shower, and most of all in church at the top of my voice. We all have favourite hymns we like to belt out, one of mine is the following:

Give thanks to the holy one,
Give thanks because he’s given
Jesus Christ His son.
And now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich,
Because of what the Lord has done for us REPEAT
Give thanks.

Even in our present situation we have so much to give thanks for, and also remember the blessings we have received through the grace of God. Make a list and put them up in your kitchen. Then make another list of people who have helped and sustained you during this lockdown, and through your life, and then contact them and say “thank-you”.

Bearing this in mind I would like to thank Rev Sue, ‘my little dragon’, for all that she has done for our parish and for me. We are indeed blessed by Sue’s ministry and friendship. So, this Sunday, at 10 am, choose your favourite hymn of thanks and sing it at the top of your voices…I will be listening!
May His love enfold you,
May His strength uphold you,
May His light shine upon you and
May His peace surround you.

Alex


The Weekly Puzzle

This week we are joining the ‘virtual’ world, have you noticed that since the lockdown everything happens in the ‘virtual world’? We have virtual parties, virtual meals, and yes even virtual services. So, you are now invited to do a virtual tour of Gowerton – oh, and we even dip our toes into Waunarlwydd.

This is how it works. Below are a list of Biblically linked street names in Gowerton, in alphabetical order, the part of each name that is underlined is spoken of in the Bible! There is also a list of Bible references referring to each road, all you have to do is match them up, be aware most of the thoroughfares have more than 1 quote. When you have done them, if you have a friend on any of the roads why don’t you ring them to say hello as you pass on your tour of the area.

Good luck.

Alex

Street names in Gowerton

Barnabas Place (Waunarlwydd- but very close to Gowerton ☺)
Cae Dafydd (we’ve interpreted this as David! Both the English and Welsh versions mean ‘beloved’)
Cedar Close
Church Street
Ffordd Butler
Oakwood Drive
Mount Pleasant (For ‘Mount’ there are 3 mentioned in the Bible: Mt Sinai, Mt Zio, Mt Olives –so climb all 3!)
Ravensfield
Roseland Road (I could only find one reference to ‘rose’, some translations have ‘lily’ instead.)
Willowbank

References

Ephesians chap 5 verses 25-27     *Isaiah 41:19
Genesis chap 14 verse 13     *John 8:1
Job 40:22     *Solomon 2:1
Genesis 40:1     *Acts 13:22
Genesis 8:6-7     *Galatians 2:1
Hebrews 12:22     * Galatians 4:25
Revelation 14:1     * Luke 12:24
Isaiah 44:4     * Psalm 37:35
Genesis 40:5     * Genesis 12:6
Zechariah 14:4     * 1 Kings 4:33
Isaiah 15:7     * Matthew 22:42
Acts 4:36     * Psalm 125:1
1 Chronicles 18:14     * Colossians 4:10
1 Kings 17:4     * Matthew 24:3
James 5 14-15     * Luke 1:32
1 Corinthians 9:6     * Leviticus 27:34
Deuteronomy 11:30     * 1 Chronicles 14:17
Leviticus 11:15

I hope you enjoyed our virtual walk around our parish can I suggest you now put your feet up and have a REAL cup of tea ☺.

Julia’s Jottings

Monday
Bloomin’ heck this work lark really does get in the way, here am I trying to get all those ‘little extras’ done, I’m already behind on ‘normal’ housekeeping chores and now I’m moving between 2 computers –hubby’s in study (which in all fairness he does need to use occasionally) and daughter’s in dining room which rather restricts her jigsaw campaign. And yet, college continues to demand (and rightly so) my time. Ahhhh well at least I’ve confirmed I’m a people person and not a computer boffin, yep decided it’s much easier working alongside real people than faces on screen, I mean have to make sure background is suitable and my wardrobe appropriate.

Tuesday
Deciding to pace myself with my panel of the Bayeux tapestry if I’m not careful I’ll have a full scale replica, slight snag don’t have enough wall space in Vicarage and not sure local cleric would want it to adorn the church walls.

Wednesday (evening)
Younger offspring noted the wheelbarrow and gardening tools had been left close to the bluebells in very much of a Monty Don style, had to agree and what a wonderful gardener he is (Alex I mean)! Opposites clearly attract, he plants but I prefer destructive stuff.

Thursday
Welcome phone call from little brother (erm decided to find new label well at 6ft and 56 years young and greying ‘little/baby’ no longer seem appropriate terms suppose younger is still valid) anyway wanted to speak to Vicar professionally!! Know when one is not required adopted semi-professional secretarial tone and handed him over.

Friday
Ooops seem to be doing lots of things but none that are on my original list, does this mean I prioritised incorrectly or I’ve just put off the important things mmmm, see hubby hasn’t even realised glass cupboard has been reordered – had to explain pint glasses, then ½ pint then tall hi-ball followed by short ones, suspect I stand no chance with reorganised condiments!

Saturday
Daughter stepping up to mark and helping with church grounds, initially sceptical about input - upon returning from emptying wheelbarrow she passed on tip that if wheelbarrow handles rest gently on the bench you sit on you can put your feet up without said gardening item tipping over. Having tested theory it does work. Ask myself why it took her so long to prove the theory – by the time she took over mowing I had completed three quarters of largest grass area.

N.B. So pleased she wasn’t in her greens – what with green mower on similar coloured surface I’d have never been able to keep check on her movements around lawn.



Update 18th April 2020

My text for this weekend is John chapter 20 verses 19 and 21:

"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the father sent me, even so I send you."

I hope and pray that you are all coping as well as you can with our present situation. I personally have never done so much gardening in all my life, and last week I re-ordered my study! I found books I didn't even know I had, and others I'm not sure why I bought in the first place. Also Julia has sorted out my sermons into season order, 26 years of perspiration; again some I am quite proud of and others made me wonder what planet I was on when I wrote them!!

All of this seems to have affected my times of reflection and prayer profoundly. Scripture is speaking to me in a very different way, and I have spent quite a considerable time contemplating my ministry to date, and how the Church needs to change, or dare I say revert to the priorities of ministry, evangelism and sacramental worship that is relevant to today's world. We are called to be peacemakers and to spread hope and forgiveness in Jesus' name.

One of the books I found was by one of my favourite authors, Rabbi Lionel Blue, entitled 'Blue Horizons', it has lifted my spirits greatly and enable me to focus on what really is important.

There is a great deal of humour in this book which has helped a lot, however alongside this there are passages of prayer full of theological truths, one example is the following:

"The past is too dead to do much about, the future is only a glint in God's eyes, but the present is precious and holy because you can change it and use it to do good to yourselves and OTHERS."

Our Lord said, "Peace be with you" and then sent his disciples to share this peace and hope with all mankind.

This is our call today, perhaps more than ever before, and we all have the ability to do it in our own special way.


May God's blessing be upon you all and I look forward to the day when we can join together to worship and sing praises to our saviour, Jesus Christ, the source of all goodness, love and forgiveness.

Alex


Julia's Jottings

Monday
A little indulgence viewed 'Escape to the Country' – lovely but extremely happy in uptown Gowerton, nevertheless the show does provide parish with fundraising opportunities; for all those who want a large garden this Vicar's wife would generously give BBC the opportunity to bring along escapees to do church grounds and Vicarage lawns – after all experience is education for the soul, and my experience tells me God DOES have a sense of humour :–

large ecclesiastical grounds +summer growing season = Wife mows grass

Hubby (local cleric) who has hay fever

Therefore charging BBC for privilege of giving others an a reality check that small lawns are beautiful raises church funds and gets job done  QED

Tuesday
Washed my trendy 'paperbag' waisted trousers. Emptied washing machine to discover a fiver hanging out of one pocket – is this money laundering??

Wednesday
Never have my knobs been so shiny (or indeed any of the other door furnishings). Do feel lockdown could have averted a potential disaster – after wandering into dining room spotted several cobwebs and realised a little more than a flick round with a duster was necessary, and eureka-task completed. Now have to hope current situation is resolved so that delayed Easter coffee bash can be held in Vicarage before it's necessary for me to repeat the whole cleaning process again.

Thursday
In accordance with plumber's instructions tested new boiler by turning on every radiator. This included the one in my “signing cupboard” pastor Pye asked whether I was now 'cooking the books'!!

Friday
Resolved to reorganise seating for 'Hands Together' signing group when we resume, every member will be seated facing the window so they admire the ivy-free wall and because I will be outside they will have opportunity to practice and develop their receptive signing skills.



Update 14th April 2020

Puzzles

This Week's Teasers ☺

Hopefully everyone is beginning to find their way around the Bible quite easily now and having a bit of fun too. Alex

Body Parts in the Bible
1.Prov. 3:3 tongue neck skill skin
2.Gen.49:24 arms fingers kidneys sinews
3.Gen 3:14 ankle liver belly skin
4.Judg. 5:26 neck kidneys arm head
5.Ex. 12:22 nostrils liver blood bones
6.Lev. 8:16 nostrils liver hair teeth
7.Ex. 29:13 tongue skin teeth kidneys
8.Jer. 13:23 skin liver belly ankle
9.Is. 3:16 ankles teeth neck tongue
10.Gen.49:12 hair arm teeth belly
11.1 Sam: 31:13 liver teeth ankle bones
12.2 Sam 18:9 kidneys head skin tongue
13.Job 10:11 nostrils sinews arm blood
14.Judg. 7:5 fingers skin tongue sinews
15.2 Sam.22:9 liver nostrils teeth arm
16.2 Sam 21:20 fingers blood belly Skull

Answers are below This quiz was taken from: '80 Bible Puzzles' by Tony Spiller.

And your next task – should you choose to accept it – is to write down every letter in the alphabet and then think of at least one thing for each letter, but it must be something that makes you happy. The 'things' can be people, pets, objects, absolutely anything!

Don't forget the Vicarage still has a variety of jig-saws (free of charge) . Please contact us on 927158 if you would like one.

ANSWERS
1..Neck 2. Arms 3.Belly 4. Head 5. Blood 6. Liver 7. kidneys 8. Skin 9. Ankles 10. Teeth 11. Bones 12. Head 13. Sinews 14. Tongue 15. Nostrils 16. Fingers



Easter Day Message

John Chapter 20 Verse 8

"Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed."

"And he saw and believed", following on from our Good Friday text with regards to the centurion stating that, "Truly this man was the Son of God", it has struck me how privileged those individuals were to actually witness the life-changing events of the first Easter. 'Seeing is believing' is a statement you will have all have heard before, and it's very true. I am also reminded of Thomas needing to see the holes and scars on our Lord before he could believe.

The question now arises – what is the message for us on this glorious day of the Resurrection?

It is, quite simply, that we are called as believers, to express our faith through action and word, so that people can see and experience the love of God in their lives.

Ae we all, united, continue to keep the faith in these trying and difficult days, it is vital that we all continue to reach out with acts of love and compassion to all who are struggling and anxious.

I finish with a prayer from the Mothers' Union

God Almighty, we praise your holy name in this joyful Eastertide. We thank you, Lord, because through your death and resurrection we have won the victory and your redeeming grace and love. Loving Father God, fill us with new life so that we may love one another and do what you want us to do in sharing your love with those who don't know you. In Jesus' name we pray.

Happy Easter and may God bless you all.

Alex, Julia and Rebecca




Good Friday

Mark 15 verse 39: "And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God."

This year as we are not able to have a Walk of Witness, I would like to give you all a different opportunity to be a witness to the events of the first Good Friday, verbally this year rather than visually.

Instead of walking I want you to phone (NOT email, Facebook or text)as many people as you can and read the following short verse from the Gospel of Mark chapter 15 verse 39

"And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, ""Truly this man was the Son of God."

And then say, "The centurion believed. (Pause) I believe. (Pause) Do you believe?"

Make a note of how many you phone and let's see how many people we can reach out to on this special day, let me know on Saturday.

Alex

P.S. I am starting in Canada, how far can you reach?!!!!




Update 2nd April

Palm Sunday

Dear friends,

Our reading is Matthew chapter 21 verse 9

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"

Holy week 2020 will without doubt go down in history as a week when many will state that the church was closed – no worship, no prayer, no joyous celebration on Easter morn. This is so far from the truth, it shows a lack of understanding of what the Church is, and what Christians seek to proclaim in their lives.

The church building is just a structure where we gather, to collectively sing praises, receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, pray for those who are in need and give thanks for all the gifts we have all received through the abundant love of God. However, we must never forget that our calling is to express our faith in every aspect of our lives; at this time it is a challenge I grant you, we are, perhaps, not in the mood to sing, "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Matthew 21:9) on Palm Sunday or walk with our Lord towards Golgotha, and yet as people of faith we are sustained and comforted by the words of Holy Scripture, and in particular the words of the Gospels that tell of Jesus' words and actions leading up to his crucifixion on that first Good Friday.

During next week I invite you to follow with me the words found in the Gospel according to John:

Monday    John chapter 12 verses 1-11

Tuesday    John chapter 12 verses 20-36

Wednesday    John chapter 13 verses 1-17

Maundy Thursday    John chapter 13 verses 21-32

Good Friday    John chapter 19 verses 1-30


After each section set aside some time for a prayer (with a coffee/tea and a biscuit I suggest) and remind yourselves of the fact that God loves you, and will walk with you every moment of your day, if you just open your hearts and minds to His words.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all, now and evermore.

AMEN

Alex, Julia and Rebecca



Update 30th March

Journeys in the Bible

Journey 1.

1. Name all the people on this road that we are told about ((Luke Chapter 10:25-37).
2. The distance from Jerusalem to Jericho is approx. 17 miles/25 km so you need to do that number of steps on the spot!
3. Solve these anagrams they all relate to the passage you have just read.

beguhinor
ejnoruy
bbeorry
deginor
aaaimnrst
deehlp
emnoy
acimnoopss
abeent
eehrt


Journey 2.

a) Genesis chapter 11 verses 26-32. Name his 3 sons and any other relatives that are mentioned.

b) Ur to Canaan is about 600miles (950km) – obviously you DO NOT have to do the journey all at once, but count your steps so you know when you arrive! You will be following the route of the River Euphrates.

c) Using the letters from the names of Terah's 3 sons a b r a m n a h o r h a r n I have made 32 words of 3 letters or more – see how many you can do.


Journey 3

Read Luke 24:13–35. This journey is about 10-12km (7 ½ miles) – don't forget to pace it out, to make it longer you can do the return journey.

1) On this road Jesus listened to the two people he met, take time to pause, listen and reflect.
2) Answer these questions- test your knowledge on Paul.

What was Paul's name before he became a Christian?
What city was Paul traveling to when he heard Jesus speak to him?
Was Paul originally a Pharisee?
Paul wrote a number of the books in the New Testament. Where was Paul when he wrote many of them?
Where was Paul born?
Which one of these books in the New Testament did Paul NOT write?
Paul spent most of his life after becoming a Christian in what occupation?


Journey 4

Who travelled from Moab to Bethlehem? The journey was about 80km/nearly 50 miles (don't forget to do the equivalent number of steps).

Read the book of Ruth.

Now match the women's names with the correct Bible references.

A. ELISHEBA    B. JEZEBEL    C. BATHSHEBA    D. RACHEL    E. ZIPPORAH
F. ELIZABETH    G. SARAI    H. JOCHEBED    I. HANNAH    J. ASENATH
K. ACHSAH    L. EVE    M. HAGAR    N. REBEKAH    O. ADAH
P. ANINOAM    Q. PREISCILLA    R. RHODA    S. DAMARIS    T. KETURAH
U. EUNICE    V. HUSHIM    W. DINAH    X. EGLAH    Y. TAHPENES

1. 1 Chronicles 8:8    2. Genesis 25:1    3. Genesis 16:1    4. Luke 1:36
5. Genesis 29:6    6. Exodus 18:2    7. Genesis 34:1    8. 1 Samuel 14:50
9. Genesis 22:23    10. Genesis 11:31    11. Numbers 26:59
12. Exodus 6:23    13. 2 Samuel 3:5    14. Acts 18:2
15.Genesis 36:2    16. 1 Chronicles 2:49
17. 1 Samuel 1:2    18. 1 Kings 1 16:31    19. 1 Kings 11:19
20. Acts 12:13    21. Acts 17:34    22. Genesis 3:20
23. Genesis 46:20    24. 1 Kings 2:13    25. 2 Timothy 1:5

Answers:

Neighbour, journey, robbery, ignored, Samaritan, helped, Three, Compassion, beaten



Update for Sunday, 29th March

The text for today is from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 4 verses 14-16

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

Can I begin this message with a big thank you to all who were able, for following Archbishop John's suggestion of lighting a candle in their windows last Sunday as a sign of hope and prayer.

A well-known Christian folk singer called Garth Hewitt wrote a song entitled 'Light a Candle in the Darkness', the chorus of which is as follows:

Light a candle in the darkness,
Light a candle in the night,
Let the light of God unite us,
Light a candle in the night.

The song itself has little relevance to our present situation, however the chorus shouts our message from the rooftops.

My chosen text from Matthew's Gospel underlines our responsibility:

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

"Good works" in today's closed-down society involves staying in contact with each other, being constant in prayer and following the Government's advice to stay at home other than to shop for necessities. It is our collective responsibility to adhere to the guidance.

As Christians we believe in faith that our Lord never leaves our side whatever our predicament. The following is well-known to all of you, let it speak to you today and always:

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
The Lord replied:
"My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."


May God's Blessing be upon you all.

Alex

Don't forget on Sunday morning there are a variety of televised services available on the internet as well as on BBC 1 at 11.30 am.



Update 20th March 2020

Can everyone please put a single lighted candle in their front window on Sunday as a Candle for Hope.



Update 19th March 2020

Dear friends,

This is the first of our weekly messages from St John's which will continue as long as the situation requires.

2 Corinthians chap 1 verses 3-4

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

In these challenging and worrying times there is a need to take the recent words of the Bishop of Norwich to heart, "We continue to be the church just in a different way, to be a people of hope, to be a people of prayer, to be a people of kindness, to be a people of loving service. Because WE are the people of God."

This Sunday is Mothering Sunday, a day in which we give thanks to God for all mothers, and focus our prayers on Mother Church, the bride of Christ. The characteristics of mothers resonate with special significance at this present time, to comfort, protect, guide and feed.

As we all brace ourselves to face the coming weeks it is vital that we remember we all have a role to play with regard to reaching out to the isolated, the lonely and distressed.

I have been heartened and encouraged by the number of people who have asked, "What can I do?" Councillor Sue Jones is being very pro-active in her efforts to set up a support system for those affected by our present situation, can I encourage you all to keep in touch and contact Sue or myself if you know of anybody who is in need of help. (Cllr Sue Jones 872561, Rev Alex Pye 927158)

I will finish this edition with a prayer by Michael Ramsey,

"Most merciful father, you have called us to be a caring Church, reflecting in our lives your infinite care for us your children.

Help us fulfil our calling and to care for one another in an unselfish fellowship of love; and to care for the world around us in sharing with it the good news of your love and serving those who suffer from poverty, hunger and disease."

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.