From the Sanctuary
Life seems to have thrown a ‘curved ball’ at us recently as a congregation. One minute, we are preparing in our mind-set for the arrival of a new minister and planning for my leaving; and then in the next minute we have to re-adjust to a different set of circumstances. For, it seems that I am staying after all – at least for a while. Whilst, for some who like stability, the unexpected change may be a good thing, it also carries with it the loss of what might have been, e.g. the injection of fresh blood, the bringing of new ideas, younger energy, different gifts, etc. It is important that we grieve the loss of this potential, and the passing into higher service of the person who was to be our next minister.
Yet, if we stop and think about it, it isn’t the first time that we have had to make such a significant, unexpected adjustment. We have unexpectedly lost key, active members through death, and the pandemic forced us to change tact and consider new ways of worship and being. Life is full of changing and unforeseeable circumstances – and adjustment.
So, what can we learn spiritually from nature and scripture about how to deal with sudden, unexpected change. Well, nature largely accommodates such change, and takes it in its stride. This year, we have had a mild spring, so the snowdrops and tete-a-tetes, and even some daffodils, have taken advantage of the unexpected change in climate, and blossomed forth early. Biblical characters, like Joseph and Jonah, faced sudden upturning in their lives. Both took the sudden upturn in their stride, after first experiencing the trauma and grieving the loss of their former lives, hopes and expectations. Both eventually blossomed because of it – once they had adjusted to walking through the new doors that had opened, beyond the traumatic events.
Sometimes it is easy to reach for spiritual platitudes in an attempt to make things better and to hold onto a sense of hope. There is great truth in such sayings as ‘You may make your plans, but God directs your actions’ (Proverbs 16:9), ‘Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the purpose of the LORD will prevail’ (Proverbs 19:21); ‘I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not his own; no one who walks directs his own steps’ (Jeremiah 10:23); and ‘The steps of a man are ordered by the LORD who takes delight in his journey’ (Psalm 37:23). However, we must first face the reality of our grief, and work through the loss of our hopes and dreams, before we are able to adjust fully to the changed situation, and then accept, and live, the truth of such wisdom. Maybe the season of Lent, which is now upon us, can be used in this way, before the hope of resurrection is released at Easter.
Wishing you every blessing, Peter
March is generally a busy month in the Church calendar but moreso this year, or so it seems. Everything of note is listed on the calendar. We are looking forward to welcoming as many of you as possible to our events.
Please note the concert by St John’s Mossley band who are coming to entertain us with Songs from Musicals. Get your ticket early as space is limited.
A prayer for Lent
Dear Father in Heaven, In this month, when Lent begins, we remember Jesus’ experience in the wilderness. The world today can seem like a wilderness. So many difficult, incomprehensible things going on. It is tempting to turn away in horror or denial, tempting to look out for ourselves, tempting to take the easy path, to pay attention to whatever the culture dangles before our eyes.
Lord, please help us. We need your word to guide us. We need your Holy Spirit to fill and strengthen us. Help us to give our attention and our worship only to you. Lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Thank you, Father, for Jesus, who by his death and resurrection, opens the way to you. Help us to renew our trust in him and through him, to walk with you every day. In his name, Amen. By Daphne Kitching
Mothering Sunday is a day of mixed emotions. For many it’s a happy, joyous day, but for others it’s one of pain and grief. A day to celebrate love, while acknowledging those who cannot have children or have lost them and those who have no relationship with their mother.
In the dying moments of His life, Jesus honored Mary his mother by showing her love and care. He entrusted His mother to John’s protection: ‘When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.’ (John 19:26,27). While affirming the importance of mothers, Jesus reminds us that the love we show on Mothering Sunday is just a token of our continuous appreciation of them.
Jesus also creates a new way of being family, marking the beginnings of the church. In the past, people would go back to their ‘mother’ church on this Sunday, to acknowledge its importance in their lives. Jesus invites us into this new family of love and mutual belonging, where we can find a place, irrespective of our own family circumstances.
Church is not always an easy place to be, because we are shaped by our own experience of mothering. We may find it hard to give or receive love without ourselves getting in the way. However, God’s help is available to change things, ‘because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’ (Romans 5:5)