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Bill’s Letter for May 2016

It is hard to believe that we are into May, when we recently suffered from heavy frosts and snow showers. It feels rather strange after such a mild winter.

It is not only the weather that seems in chaos in the world around us. There are atrocities in Syria and ones not so well publicised in South Sudan as well as many other countries. People are fleeing for their lives into difficult and deadly situations, creating a crisis for their care. We watch in astonishment at the build up for elections in the USA where extraordinary rhetoric gains people’s support.

In our own nation it is difficult to find out the actual implications of staying in or leaving Europe. Our own government freed of the restraint of coalition partners and maybe an effective opposition is exercising a rather bullying power, imposing a contract on junior doctors and a policy for all schools to become academies. The implications could be doctors leaving their jobs so there is a dangerous shortage. Already junior doctor posts are over subscribed in Scotland (that still has the old contract) and posts in London are under subscribed for the first time ever. School head teachers are considering strike action.

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming and leave us feeling helpless. At the time of Jesus, when their nation was occupied by a Roman army and people of power were acting in appalling ways, Jesus came with a message of hope and challenge. This has been a guide for His followers ever since, especially in times of persecution. It is a message to love, to be especially concerned for the poor and marginalised. But also to speak truth to those in power. When faced with issues that seem too big and difficult to manage, we can decide to do what we can where we are. As a former Bishop of Wakefield once said while visiting us, ‘bloom where you are planted’. Small acts of love and kindness can transform situations, together these small acts can transform a nation.

Rev Bill Henderson

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Film Club – May 2016

Friday evening, 13th May 7:30pm

‘The Lady in the Van’ (2015)

Two-time Oscar winner and star of “Downton Abbey”, Dame Maggie Smith, recreates one of her most celebrated roles – the singular Miss Shepherd – in ‘The Lady in the Van’, Alan Bennett’s big-screen comedic adaptation of his own iconic memoir and honoured stage play. Based on a true story, Miss Shepherd was a woman of uncertain origins who “temporarily” parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years. What began as a begrudged favour became a relationship that would change both their lives. Filmed on the street and in the house where Bennett and Miss Shepherd lived for all those years, acclaimed director Nicholas Hytner reunites with Bennett to bring this funny, poignant, and life-affirming story to the screen.

Doors open 7pm, film start 7.30pm

Free admission, tea & coffee; bring your own popcorn!

 

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Bill’s Letter for April 2016

Easter is always a special time for the followers of Christ. We have walked with Jesus through the ups and downs of his last week on earth: the excitement of the crowds welcoming Him into Jerusalem; His weeping at seeing what would happen to that city; His anger at the profiteering in the temple; then the quiet sadness of the last supper, when He knew he would be betrayed. Nevertheless He did the slave’s job of washing the disciples feet, and used it as a lesson for us to sacrificially love one another. Then he memorably gave a new message with the bread and wine of Passover, so we would have something tangible to remember Him with; followed by the sham trial and cruel crucifixion; then the world changing glory of His resurrection.

Remembering this story encourages us to think about our lives and how we live. One of the dangerous gifts God has given us is free will. We can choose how we act and how we behave towards each other. Our choices do a lot to define us as people

As I said in my letter last month, after Easter we are looking at how as a church we might live with the priorities that Jesus taught. This will help us make choices that are in line with God’s will for us as we seek to be people shaped like Jesus.

There are different important areas of life to study and think about; how we respond to each other as people; what we believe and teach; how we work together; how we pray and finally how we speak truth to those in power and seek justice. It’s quite a challenge, but this is a special opportunity to seek God together and be more effective and fulfilled in our daily lives. This is true for us as individuals and for us as a church.

The course will be launched on 10th April, when Gordon Dey who wrote the course is coming to help us. Please see the page on our website for the details of the discussion groups that will be meeting during each week. There is lots of choice, so I hope, if you are interested, there will be a time and place to suit you.

Rev Bill Henderson

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Film Club – April 2016

Friday evening, 8th April 7:30pm

‘After Earth’ (2013)

“After Earth” is a science-fiction thriller film directed by M. Night   Shyamalan, starring real-life father and son Will and Jaden Smith as Cypher and Kitai Raige.   A crash landing on Earth, 1,000 years   after cataclysmic events that forced humanity to abandon the planet, leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his father General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) stranded. With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help so they can return to humanity’s new home Nova Prime, facing   uncharted terrain, evolved animal species that now rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash. The father and son must learn to work together and learn to trust one another if they want any chance of escaping Earth and returning home.

Doors open 7pm, film start 7.30pm

Free admission, tea & coffee; bring your own popcorn!

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Easter 2016

Please join us at St Peter’s Church on Lake Lock Road and at the Methodist Chapel on Mount Road for our Easter services this month: we will be very happy to welcome you.

Sunday 20th March,

10.30am

Palm Sunday Parade Service:   The service will begin at Mount Road Chapel: half-way through the service the congregation will walk to St Peter’s for the rest of the service.
Sunday 20th March, 7.30pm Holy Space: a relaxed and informal evening service during Holy Week with time for prayer and contemplation.
Thursday 24th March,

7:30pm

Maundy Thursday service: A special evening service at St Peter’s church to celebrate the Last Supper. All welcome.
Friday 25th March

10am

Good Friday Hot Cross Bun service: a popular service at St Peter’s for all ages, followed by crafts and refreshments.
Friday 25th March, 2pm Hour at the Cross at St Peter’s: an hour of prayer and contemplation on Good Friday.
Sunday 27th March 10am & 10.30am Easter Day services: There will be family services on Easter Sunday at 10am at St Peter’s Church or at 10.30am at Mount Road Chapel, where the preacher will be Dr P Muir. Everyone is very welcome.
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Film Club – March 2016

Friday evening, 11th March 7:30pm

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ (2015)

From acclaimed director Ridley Scott comes this epic adventure; the story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire.   In ‘Exodus: God’s and Kings’, Scott bring new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses (Christian Bale) as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 400,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues. Also starring John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley, the film uses special effects with great impact: resulting in sweeping shots of the pyramids, an impressive parting of the Red Sea, and battle scenes. Whilst not necessarily a faithful adaptation of events as described in the Bible, the film is nevertheless an enjoyable interpretation of this significant period in history.

Doors open 7pm, film start 7.30pm

Free admission, tea & coffee; bring your own popcorn!

 

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Bill’s Letter for March 2016

This year, from Lent through to the end of the summer term, we are looking at how as a church we might live with the priorities that Jesus taught.

In Lent we are looking at the story of John the Baptist, and after Easter looking at how we might become ‘Jesus shaped people’. There is more about that on pages 14 and 15 of this magazine.

John the Baptist, like Jesus, had a miraculous birth. His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were beyond child bearing age and had had no children. So when the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and told him that his prayers had been heard and Elizabeth was going to have a baby, he did not believe it. However, true to God’s word, Elizabeth did become pregnant and John was born. From the very beginning it was clear that John was going to be special and have an important job in preparing people to receive Jesus. He preached with power, so that people responded. He was not afraid to speak out against injustice or wrong doing, even though in the end it cost him his life.

John’s story teaches us a lot about God and challenges us about how to live. We see God’s faithfulness as John’s birth was part of a long term plan and the fulfilment of promises made in the Old Testament. We see God’s love and compassion; he chose Zechariah and Elizabeth who had longed for children, but had been disappointed. What joy they must have felt, when after giving up hope, they had their own child.

We are not all called to live John’s lifestyle; living in the wilderness, eating locusts and honey and avoiding wine and strong drink. But we have the opportunity to be filled with the Holy Spirit as he was. This was part of John’s message; that Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire. Being filled with God’s Spirit is what can give us wisdom, strength and direction. If we want to receive the Holy   Spirit all we have to do is turn to Christ and ask. I would love to talk with anyone who wants to know more.

Rev Bill Henderson

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Bill’s Letter for February 2016

This is the first magazine of 2016, so I would like to begin by wishing you a Happy New Year.

This is the season of Epiphany when we think again about   Christmas, but through the eyes of the ‘Magi’, mysterious visitors from the East. Epiphany can mean “revealing of Christ to the nations”, and these visitors are a powerful symbol of that. Matthew’s gospel gives us a brief crafted account that tradition has built upon. Matthew does not tell us how many there were or what gender or which was their country of origin or even their status.

Art through the ages has developed the scene to depict three men; sometimes all from Persia, sometimes including an African, sometimes giving a range of ages from young to old. We even have given them names and the status of royalty. The range shown is very inclusive. That Matthew includes the story shows how important he thought it was to record the visit of people from another land with another language and a different faith. This gives a powerful picture of the Christ who draws ALL people to him.

But it is a picture with a dark side too. The outward journey was long and arduous and led them into the dangerous company of Herod.

The Magi have a moment of calm and serenity when following the star again they come upon the Christ child. They bow their knees offering their gifts and return home transformed; using a route to avoid the power hungry Herod.

Their encounter with Herod was to bring disastrous results as out of his fear of another king, Herod massacres the boys in Bethlehem. Matthew tells us how warned by an angel, Joseph leads Mary and Jesus to safety in Egypt.

What a contemporary story this sounds; families fleeing to safety as refugees in fear of their lives because of the unbelievable cruelty of people to each other. In the midst of the horror there are signs of hope. There are groups now working to bring relief and help to those in need.

These visitors from the East remind us that Christ does draw all people to himself, even us. We are challenged to be open and welcoming ourselves.

Rev Bill Henderson