Welcome to St John's Church, Gowerton
Croeso i Eglwys Sant Ioan Tre-Gŵyr
Alex's message, May 24th 2020
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.
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 ☺
(A fruit cake with Old Testament flavour)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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,
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 .
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Sun and rain
Update for Sunday May 10th
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.
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?
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
7. David was 30 years old and reigned for 40 years.
8. Solomon reigned in Jerusalem for 40 years.
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
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:-
Alpha and Omega
• 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!
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.
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”.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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’)
Mount Pleasant (For ‘Mount’ there are 3 mentioned in the Bible: Mt Sinai, Mt Zio, Mt Olives –so climb all 3!)
Roseland Road (I could only find one reference to ‘rose’, some translations have ‘lily’ instead.)
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
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 ☺.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
Washed my trendy 'paperbag' waisted trousers. Emptied washing machine to discover a fiver hanging out of one pocket – is this money laundering??
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.
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'!!
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
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
|11.1 Sam: 31:13||liver||teeth||ankle||bones|
|12.2 Sam 18:9||kidneys||head||skin||tongue|
|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.
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
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.
P.S. I am starting in Canada, how far can you reach?!!!!
Update 2nd April
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:
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.
Alex, Julia and Rebecca
Update 30th March
Journeys in the Bible
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.
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.
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?
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
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:
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.
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
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.