Every Sunday at 11 am we have a Family Church Service. On the first & third Sunday of the month Holy Communion is celebrated at this service. (Please note that occasionally services take place at Brookmans Park URC – check our Calendar page)
Farewell Nick & Pam
Nick wrote in last month’s magazine: “ I have served at Potters Bar since 2012 and wish the congregation well as thy enter the vacancy process.
Pam and I will continue to reside at Brookmans Park for the time being. I anticipate retiring when I leave Brookmans Park.
God called me here but my ministry is not ending as I wish. My faith is that it is a success in God’s eyes even if not in mine. Our shared faith in God should lead us to believe in success even where we see failure.
Goodbye and God bless you.” Nick & Pam
Geoffery Petersons Monthly Message
Two Amazing Encounters
The September News marks the beginning of the Autumn semester, the term when we enter the autumn equinox and which ends with Advent.
At Advent we start the church cycle all over again reliving the Christian story and this takes us into 2020. The June Newsletter marked the end of the Christian calendar year which ends naturally at Pentecost, and I offered you two challenging threads from the Easter story to ponder upon over the summer.
Towards the end of the Gospel of John there is a record of two amazing encounters with the risen Lord, so here are two further strands from John’s Gospel with a common link.
For the first let us Join Mary on that momentous day, it is early in the morning, it is Just before the sun comes up, marking the time when the Sabbath ends. Mary will have been totally heartbroken and distressed over the treatment that Jesus had suffered and the manner of his death. Yet she wanted to see him and touch him as soon as the Sabbath law allowed, so she goes to the tomb. The account tells us that the stone had been taken away from the entrance and that the tomb was empty. These two facts compelled her to go back to the house to tell the disciples what had happened. Peter and John run to the tomb and enter, and the record tells us that John believed that Jesus had risen. They both then went back home to try and understand the meaning of what they had seen.
Mary returns to the tomb on her own and is crying outside. She has an encounter with two angels. She hears a question; she turns to see a man¬ – perhaps the gardener? – and a conversation ensues. Then Jesus identifies himself with that one word ‘Mary’. The tenderness of that one word must have been electric. Mary understands that her Lord has risen and in joy goes back to the house with the words ‘I have seen the Lord!’
My second strand occurred a week later. During that time Jesus had met with most of the other disciples, and that meeting changed many of them into bold and daring men of God. Not so for Thomas or Didymus, one of the twelve. We first meet Thomas the twin, when Jesus was preaching on the east side of the river Jordan, a comparatively safe place. Jesus had received a message that his friend Lazarus, had died and that Mary and Martha who lived with him where distraught with grief.
Jesus waits for several days before deciding, and then telling his friends that he would go up to Bethany to see them. Bethany is close by Jerusalem and the disciples knew that a confrontation with the religious leaders was likely to ensue. This could well be dangerous for all of them. His followers counsel him not to go; Thomas is resigned to going to Judea and is prepared to die with Him if it came to a showdown. In the event Jesus died on Calvary’s cross and as a result Thomas had probably gone into hiding in deep grief for his leader, Jesus.
Thomas meets up with the others a week later and will not believe that Jesus is alive without seeing and touching the evidence. Now turn to John Chapter 20 and read verses 24 to 29. Here you read that Jesus meets Thomas, who gets him to touch the wounds in his body and hands. Again, the result is electric. Thomas believes and cries out ‘My lord and my God!’
The tenderness and the love shown by Jesus toward these two close friends of His are the two strands that are worthy of our attention this month. There was the deep bond of love between Mary and Jesus – remember the story about Mary and Martha and the preparation of a meal (Luke 10-38-42) that we read in church recently? There is love too in the fact That Thomas had to see ‘the evidence’ before believing.
Yet there is more! Jesus tells his followers that they believe because they had seen Him alive in front of them and that many more followers to come will believe without a visual encounter. He follows this by stating that later believers who will not have seen Him will be the more blessed and the more happy because of this. Their faith will replace seeing– that’s you and me!
After the Resurrection Jesus ascends to his Father and sends his Spirit to stay with his disciples for all time. Again, that’s you and me! Faith is born.
The concrete evidence for the faith that we hold is the Resurrection records. Our daily experience of living with the Lord follows – yet that is concrete evidence too. So too is the love and the tenderness that he extends to each of us as we progress in our Christian journey. So what are you waiting for? The steps are; believe in what is written, confess that you trust and understand, and then your salvation is at hand, oh happy day!
For some time now I have concluded with a song or hymn that is related to my subject, this month I offer you:-
Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus, my Saviour,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus, my Saviour,
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus, my Lord!
Death cannot keep his Prey, Jesus, my Saviour,
He tore the bars away, Jesus, my Lord!
Robert Lowry (HON 326)
You may remember this song from April.