From the Manse. Dear Friends,
Someone commented to me earlier this week how surprised they were that Lent had arrived. This edition of the magazine will cover the season until the hope and promise of Easter Day dawns. What is the significance of Lent and Easter for you?
I like to chew things over as I walk around the area, especially as the spring flowers and trees are coming into bloom. I was reminded recently that trees appear in some prominent places in the Bible.
In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, there is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is from this tree that Eve ate the forbidden fruit. As a result, sin enters the world.
The book of Psalms begins with a contrast between an evergreen fruit-bearing tree planted by a flowing stream and chaff (which might be pictured as a dead, dried-up shrub) blown about by the wind.
Here two ways of life, good and evil, and their results, happiness and misery, are being portrayed.
In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, in the heavenly City where God dwells, there is the tree which produces fruit each month with leaves which are for the healing of the nations.
Further, at the climax of the story of Jesus, there is the tree, or cross, upon which Jesus is crucified.
During this time of Lent and Easter, we shall be thinking about the tree upon which Jesus died, the central symbol of the Christian faith.
If the Genesis tree is the means by which sin begins its pollution of the world, then the Jesus’ tree is God’s way of dealing with that sin. Jesus comes to restore our relationship with God which is spoilt by our wrongful thoughts and actions.
Just as the tree in Revelation relates to healing, so the Jesus’ tree is a symbol of healing.
For Jesus comes to cure the disease of our lives, to bathe the wounds we bear, to empathise with us in the suffering we endure. The tree and chaff in Psalm 1 contrast good and evil and the Jesus tree holds together thoughts about these opposites.
For in the death of Jesus we see the inhumanity, evil and hate in the hearts of those who crucified him alongside the humanity, goodness and love in the heart of Jesus.
The Jesus’ tree presents us with hope and a challenge. The hope is of good triumphing over evil and of the brokenness of our lives and our relationship with God being restored.
The challenge is to do with how we respond to Jesus on the tree. Are we going to allow those selfish, destructive aspects of our lives to have the upper hand such that Jesus is metaphorically crucified again?
Or are we going to ask God to help us live self-giving lives which reflect the nature of Jesus?
This Easter, may you know God’s love for you.
In Christ, Rev Debbie
We continue to pray for and remember those who have recently lost loved ones.
We continue to pray for those living in residential homes and we pray for those who are unable to come to worship due to ill health or mobility problems.
We also pray for Our Minister, Debbie, and the other Circuit Staff. The needs of the Circuit, the Circuit Stewards and individual churches in the Circuit and the issues that face the Circuit in the coming year 2019.
LINKS WITH SCHOOLS
Although at the time of going to press dates have not been confirmed, it is hoped that we can continue links with the local schools Cavendish Primary and Spring Cottage Primary during Lent.
We are hoping to visit both schools for an Easter Assembly. This year we are unable to invite the schools to come along and use our Church for an Easter Service as we don’t know exactly when the redecoration work will be completed.
THE CHURCH GARDEN
Doesn’t the garden in front of the church look lovely? If you haven’t noticed yet take a special look behind the hedge and you will see the recently planted colourful polyanthus plants, and signs too that the bulbs are soon to be adding their own colours to the display.
Special thanks to those who have made monetary donations towards new plants, and thanks to Ray and Julie for continuing to put in the physical work that keeps the garden looking so neat and tidy.
SNOW WHITE. THE PANTOMIME
It was not possible to report on the pantomime in the last Newsletter as the performances took place just after the Newsletter went to print. However, we cannot let the tremendous success of this year’s pantomime pass without comment!
In both performances, the audience were bigger than in previous years and the presence of such enthusiastic supporters spurred on the cast and backstage crew to pull out all the stops and deliver the goods!
Practices had started at the beginning of November and carried on right through the Christmas season. Prior to all of this Robin and Helen had been making preparations for months.
Helen made lots of costumes and she knitted hats for the dwarfs whilst away on holiday in far-flung places in the UK. Meanwhile, Robin gathered props, scenery, costumes, electrical equipment and helpers from his wide range of contacts.
Parents of the younger members of the cast were very supportive in ensuring their children attended the maximum number of rehearsals and then, on the day, brought lots of family and friends to swell the numbers in the audiences.
So a big “thank you” to all who helped in any way, from front of house staff to those who helped to set up the hall and prepare and serve refreshments. The success of something is often measured by the amount of money that is raised.
Indeed, the total of £1,435.75, with an additional £150 raised for Lansford’s “Send a Child to School” charity, was a magnificent achievement. However, there was much more to the success of this pantomime than big numbers of £’s. It was the sense of the Church working with the Local Community and for the Local Community.
The whole event brought so many people together and in doing so gave a lot of pleasure too. Robin is already thinking about next year!!
FORTH COMING EVENTS
Easter Egg Hunt Palm Sunday 15 April 2019
This is an advanced notice for the Spring Fair which will be held on Saturday 11th May from 10am – 1pm. Items for this need to be kept until after the Jumble Sale.
Dates for your diary are as follows:
|11th May||Spring Fair|
|5th October||Barn Dance|
We hope to update the Remembrance Book early this year. If you have any names that you would like to add please give them to Rev Debbie Lucas.
FORTY YEARS AGO
Reverend Arnold Johnson’s message in the April 1979 Newsletter read:
My mind was a blank, as was my piece of paper, when I sat down to write this. I wanted to write something appropriate for Lent and Passiontide. Then I remembered that I had to ring someone who had rung me the night before when I was out.
I have just been talking to her and she had rung to ask if 1 could spread an appeal that had been made on ITV in the Calendar programme. This was to raise £25,000 for a laser beam to treat people with brain tumours at the Hull Royal Infirmary.
What impressed me was the reason why this lady felt so keen to do all that she could to help in this appeal. Her daughter had died some years ago because of a brain tumour.
She is an ordinary person (her own words), elderly and has poor health, but she feels compelled to do all that she can to help people and their families with whom she personally identifies because she has gone through their suffering and heartbreak herself.
This seems to me to touch the heart of our Christian gospel. God identifies himself with all the sin, suffering and need of mankind because he has experienced this Himself in the life and person of Jesus Christ He is always working in this world to help His children because He feels for them and with them.
He is able to help us because He gives us His laser beam of love and grace to destroy the sin and evil in this world and bring healing to us and to all mankind. This is the Gospel – the Good News.
Your friend and minister, Arnold S. Johnson