Every Sunday at 11 am we have a Family Church Service.
At the moment our Services are a hybrid of Church and Zoom, with worship led either from the church or from home (via Zoom) at the discretion of the worship leader of the day. Our hymns are played and sung from home and those of us 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 bring their own bread.
An edited video of our weekly Service can be viewed on our Services Page.
March – On behalf of the Elders
Dear Members and Friends,
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”
These words were on a card given to me by a friend many years ago and I have always found them inspiring and comforting.
They were written by Julian of Norwich who lived from 1342 to 1429, her book ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ was the first book to be written in English by a woman. She was an anchoress, someone who withdraws from the world entirely in order to contemplate God without disturbance. She lived through two periods of plague, the Black Death, a viral pandemic in England, which first arrived in June 1348 causing the death of 40 – 60 % of the population. She nearly lost her own life and experienced the deaths of those close to her. She taught about the need for perseverance in prayer. She speaks of a God of compassion and love, her message brings joyful optimism and hope in times of danger and pessimism.
As I write this we are hoping for a relaxation in the lockdown rules and looking forward to when the churches are able to open again and we can spend time with family and friends. I am missing visiting London, and to learn more about the city signed up for a Zoom course on ‘Norman and Plantagent London 1000 -1350, which is very interesting. We have studied documents about this period and found that the last lockdown for churches in England was in 1208 when on 23rd March ( the same day that the government imposed lockdown last year ) the Pope suspended the celebration of Mass. This lasted until 1214 but had nothing to do with a pandemic but due to disagreement between King John and the Pope. The interdicts differ in certain respects but churches were closed without all the benefits of our electronic age. We are now reaching people who would not normally be able to attend our services and this must be multiplied all over the country.
Julian of Norwich also wrote
“Our life is grounded in faith, with hope and love besides.”
on behalf of the Elders
Believe ….. and be saved!
Currently we are living in trying times and it is the above truth that keeps Christian folks going, keeps us sane, and gives us the hope of better times to come – both here on earth and into eternity. By the time that you receive this Church News, the festival of Pancake Day will have passed, we shall be in Lent and looking forward to The Good News of Easter and Resurrection Sunday.
One of the difficult things for me, in these trying times of ‘’lock-down’’ is remembering what day of the week it is – as each day seems the same and the weekend ceases to exist. The first day of the week, when we ‘’go to church’’ has ceased to be the day of the fresh start, as all days seem to be the same! Right now the only ‘’special’’ day that I have is when I go to my evening class – albeit via ZOOM! This happens to be a Tuesday, so I prepare for it on Tuesday morning then ‘’join’’ my class on Zoom in the evening. Here I meet with my teacher or mentor, and my class, get ready to think hard and perhaps join in a class discussion. I begin to wonder if my classes ever prepared beforehand for what ‘’Sir’’, or ‘’doc’’ was going to teach them about the wonderful world of Chemistry and mathematics when I was ‘’on the other side’’! Yes, I am enjoying a study in the Education Department of our Abbey, and the study is centred on some aspects of Paul’s theology and thought. Thoughts like ‘’what is belief’’ and ‘’to believe’’, and ‘’to be saved’’. I listen attentively then am suddenly woken up by the command or invitation “now break out into small groups and discuss, then we will reconvene’’.
Now look at my header again, can you answer the question ‘’what does this mean in your own life?’’.
The header is actually a contraction of the Bible verse, because to use the full sentence would stretch to two lines and might put you off continuing !. It comes from the letter of Paul to the church at Rome (see Romans 10 v 9) , the full sentence being :-
‘’ If you confess that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved ( GNB )‘, or ‘’if thou shalt confess with thy mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (KJV)’’ .
It is a powerful statement and it goes to the root of our faith, or our trust, or our belief in the person of the Lord Jesus. To analyse it we first have to define the word ‘’believe’’ or ‘’belief’’ A Dictionary has the verb as meaning ‘to regard as true’’, to judge as true’’, so, here is another thought for you; how do you understand the words ‘’belief’’ and ‘’believe’’? Actually as a Christian the ‘’truth’’ is that which you would put your trust in; it is central to your faith; you stake your life on it that it is true.
In one of these Tuesday classes we examined the phrase ‘’to be saved’’ in depth and finally defined ‘’to be saved’’ as being synonymous with ‘’to be joined with God’’. Wow! that is both a thought and a privilege.
Now look closely at the sentence structure in Paul’s letter to Rome; consider the use of the word ‘’if’’ and the (implied) ‘’then’’. It tells us that a commitment is required from us, you and me.
Another place where we find the word ‘believe’’ or ‘’to believe’’ is in the Creed of the Church, where we find three uses or groupings of the phrase ‘’I believe in …’’, perhaps you remember chanting it at school or Sunday school (!) Do look it up and refresh your memory, because we in the Free Churches do not use it weekly, as the Anglicans and RC’s do in Sunday worship. You may well find a copy in your hymn book or if not simply Google ‘The Apostles Creed’’ then print it off. What do you make of the assembly of items that make up our agreed basis of belief in the Lord Jesus?
Our Elders are currently discussing our church growth for when we exit ‘’lock-down’’. This will likely be from quite a small membership base, I offer you the above as a basis for ‘’Preparing to Grow’’ as we all think forward. And let us do our preparing in the spirit of that great song by Francis (Fanny) Crosby (published in 1875), to God be the Glory:-.
To God be the glory, great things He hath done,
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done
Oh, perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
I wish you every blessing for the Lenten period as we approach and prepare for the time of Easter.