Every Sunday at 11 am we have a Family Church Service.
We are continuing with a hybrid Church/Zoom Service, with worship led mainly from the church, but occasionally from home (via Zoom) at the discretion of the worship leader of the day. Most of our congregation is now back in Church – as is our organist!
Hymns are played and sung in church (from behind masks) and those participating at home via Zoom can sing along. Those in church can see those at home on a TV screen and can follow the parts of the Service that are “Zoomed” on the TV screen as well.
We distribute an Order of Service and the Service Hymns via e-mail and include the Zoom log-in details which change for each service. If you would like to receive the weekly invitation e-mail, please let us know with an e-mail to email@example.com
On the first & third Sunday of the month Holy Communion is celebrated at this service. Participants in church no longer need to bring their own bread.
An edited video of our weekly Service can be viewed on our Services Page.
April – On behalf of the Elders
Dear Members and Friends,
This is going to be a fairly short and brief letter, keeping to the KISS principle I mentioned at the last Elders service.
The reason: I, like millions of others round the UK and the world have succumbed to Covid 19 and I am writing this while wrapped up warm after having a comfy sleep this afternoon. But it at least gives me some insight into what others have been suffering, so far my infection is relatively mild, just a bad cough and general tiredness. Mainly it is the frustration of not being able to do that which you are used to. For me that is missing golf and eating out on the golf club terrace. But I am lucky, my sister in law was on an respirator for two weeks some two years ago when we first went into lockdown. By the time this is in print it will have been over two years since that hot summer lock down. I am fortunate to have caught it now, and not two years ago, having been triple vaccinated and expecting a fourth in the near future.
The service at St Paul’s will have been held to commemorate those that have died, especially the front line staff, and all the thousands of NHS and Social Care Workers who have borne the brunt of the pandemic. It is to them that we owe a great debt of gratitude that in some respects can never be repaid.
Finally a word on Ukraine and the suffering they are going through and Covid to cope with .We have not seen the like in Europe since Hitler invaded Poland. We can only hope and pray that when the May Newsletter comes out Peace is found.
On behalf of the Eldership
Easter Time and the Good News
We are well into our New Year now, and the month of March has been an unpleasant time with ‘’Wars and rumors of wars’’ making the bulk of our news. However it has brought out the best in so many people too. It is heartening to see the Ukrainean people standing up for the right to decide their destiny for themselves, and chose the leaders that they want. Also it was wonderful to see those pictures of the German folk standing at the railway station to welcome displaced Ukraineans, with placards offering accommodation – rooms or houses or a home – to live in.
This month is the month of Easter time – our most important Christian Festival. Palm Sunday is 10th April and Easter Day is Sunday 17th April and between is Holy Week. The Christian world celebrates the great gift and sacrifice that God made to his children in the body of the Lord Jesus
This year for my QT study I have started on the Gospel of Mark; I shall work slowly through it guided by a New Daily Study Bible written by William Barclay. Steve Chalke is a friend of ours and he records, somewhere, how he cherishes his set of William Barclay New Bible Study Guides. Steve is the Manager and guiding light of Oasis Trust; he also happens to be one of our young people from my Gravesend church days when I was young and a new parent. I shall always remember his account of how Oasis started. He went to the Bank Manager to request a loan – mortgage – in order to set up premises for his vision of Oasis, and the BM turned down his request. Thereupon Steve got down on his knees in the BMs office and asked the Lord what to do and the loan duly came – how’s that for a spot of faith!
The Gospel of Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels, and Mark seeks to put down his recollection – and probably that of Paul as well – of the life of Jesus. In a chronological order he starts with the mission of Jesus and leads the reader through an account of Jesus’ calling, the calling of his disciples, then leads us to the journey to Jerusalem, the events of holy week then the Crucifixion, and Easter day.
Last month, March, in my reading plan from William Barclay’s study guide of Mark, I came to these events and then the expounding of Jesus’ manifesto, the Good News. Here are the words:-
Mark 1:14-15, After John had been committed to prison, Jesus came into Galilee, announcing the good news about God, and saying, ‘The time that was appointed has come; and the kingdom of God is here. Repent and believe the good news.’
The accompanying reading from the William Barclay Study was a gem about faith in its inner and deeper meaning. I believe that too often we do not think deeply enough about our faith and what it means. Sometimes our believing is rather too shallow, yet we have been given a brain to think matters through. Remember, that the parables of Jesus were said in such a fashion as to set the recipient thinking – sometimes quite deeply, too. Perhaps a deeper spiritual understanding of the Word and the Faith would make our church more attractive to outsiders leading to our church growth. William Barclay in his accompanying notes said the following, I leave it in its entirety for you to think on.
‘’There are in this summary of the message of Jesus (Mark 1:14-15) three great, dominant words of the Christian faith.
(i) There is the good news. It was pre-eminently good news that Jesus came to bring to all. If we follow the word evangelion, good news, gospel through the New Testament, we can see at least something of its content.
(a) It is good news of truth (Galatians 2:5; Colossians 1:5). Until, Jesus came, it was possible only to guess and grope after God. ‘O that I knew where I might find him,’ cried Job (Job 23:3). Marcus Aurelius said that the soul can see but dimly, and the word he uses is the Greek word for seeing things through water. But with the coming of Jesus we see clearly what God is like. No longer do we need to guess and grope; we know.
(b) It is good news of hope (Colossians 1:23). The ancient world was a pessimistic world. Seneca talked of ‘our helplessness in necessary things’. In the struggle for goodness, humanity was defeated. The coming of Jesus brings hope to the hopeless heart.
(c) It is good news of peace (Ephesians 6:15). The penalty of being human is to have a split personality. In human nature, the beast and the angel are strangely intermingled. It is told that once Schopenhauer, the gloomy philosopher, was found wandering. He was asked, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I wish you could tell me’’ he answered.
Robert Burns said of himself, ‘my life reminded me of a ruined temple. What strength, what proportion in some parts, what unsightly gaps, what prostrate ruins in others!’. The human predicament has always been that we are haunted both by sin and by goodness. The coming of Jesus unifies that disintegrated personality into one. We find victory over our warring selves by being conquered by Jesus Christ.
(d) It is good news of God’s promise (Ephesians 3:6). It is true that the tendency has been to think of a God of threats rather than a God of promises. Non-Christian religions think of a demanding God; only Christianity tells of a God who is more ready to give than we are to ask.
(e) It is good news of immortality (2 Timothy 1:10). To the pagan, life was the road to death; but Jesus came with the good news that we are on the way to life rather than death.
(f) It is good news of salvation (Ephesians 1:13). That salvation is not merely a negative thing; it is also positive. It is not simply liberation from penalty and escape from past sin; it is the power to live life victoriously and to conquer sin. The message of Jesus is good news indeed.
(2) There is the word repent. Now repentance is not so easy as sometimes we think. The Greek word metanoia literally means a change of mind. We are very apt to confuse two things – sorrow for the consequences of sin and sorrow for sin. Many people become desperately sorry because of the mess that sin has got them into, but they know very well that, if they could be reasonably sure that they could escape the consequences, they would do the same thing again. It is not the sin that they hate; it is its consequences.
Real repentance means coming not only to be sorry for the consequences of sin but to hate sin itself. Long ago, that wise old writer, Montaigne, wrote in his autobiography, ‘Children should be taught to hate vice for its own texture, so that they will not only avoid it in action, but abominate it in their hearts — that the very thought of it may disgust them whatever form it takes’. Repentance means that anyone who was in love with sin comes to hate sin because of its exceeding sinfulness.
(3) There is the word believe. ‘Believe’, says Jesus, ‘in the good news’. To believe in the good news simply means to take Jesus at his word, to believe that God is the kind of God that Jesus has told us about, to believe that God so loves the world that he will make any sacrifice to bring us back to himself, to believe that what sounds too good to be true is really true.’’
So, I leave these thoughts with you, meanwhile I wish you a great Holy Week and these deep thoughts about the Good News of Jesus Christ.