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)
Philippians 4 v 8-9 NIV
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”.
At the end of January my son, who lives on Hong Kong island, told me of the impact Coronavirus COVID-19 was having on his life. He was able to leave and came to England at the beginning of February, but as he developed a sore throat, he decided to have minimal people contact and we were unable to see him until, for work purposes, he had to go to Los Angeles. He stayed there before returning to Hong Kong at the beginning of March. Then his company imposed homeworking and banned all travel. He advised me that he thought the virus would be in England very soon, if not already present, but I could not really grasp the fact at first. Then lockdown on 23rd March and our surreal lives began. Now fourteen weeks later and as restrictions are loosening we wonder how different life will be for us now and in the future.
How have we coped? Paul wrote the above words to the Philippians from prison and one of the purposes of his letter was to encourage them to rejoice regardless of circumstances. Not always easy. Routine, exercise and lots of phone calls, Skype and Facetime to family and friends I have found to be of great help. I love to read so sitting in the garden in this beautiful weather has been great as well as doing an online course about large country houses. Trying to focus on my blessings rather than worrying about what is out of my control, taking one day at a time and not letting my mind dwell too much on the news.
Churches are now, where it is safely possible, opening up for private prayer, ours is doing this on a Thursday. The Nursery School is about to reopen with reduced hours and fewer children. As yet we do not know when services will restart, but we do know that, with the psalmist we can say that we depend on God alone and put our hope in him.
Paul finishes his letter “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit”
On behalf of the Eldership.
Geoffery Peterson’s Monthly Message
Easter to Whitsun – then beyond!
Dear Friends at Potters Bar United Reformed Church,
Last month I took the period between Easter and Pentecost, or Whitsun, and followed what happened to the Disciples over those ‘’between times’’. After a recap of Holy week then Easter Sunday we developed the intermediate period up to Pentecost. In particular I followed Peter the man and noted that he was very much ‘’an ordinary man’’ in spirit and manner, a fisherman by trade, making a living on the waters of Lake Galilee (or Tiberius). We noted the change in a man who loved the Lord Jesus, yet then denied ever having known him ‘’when the chips were down’. Have you ever ‘’been there’’?
After the Resurrection he was confused and wanted to go back to fishing, then at Pentecost he was changed into the ‘spirit filled’ Disciple and Apostle. What happened next?
On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to all the disciples, all 11 of them, and filled them with boldness and the gift of tongues. They were able to speak to ‘’all men’’ in their own language, so that many people who were in Jerusalem were able to hear about Jesus and what had happened to Him at the hands of the Jewish authorities. Peter gives a powerful speech and he ends with this statement (chapter 2 vs 38 to 39). Peter said to them,
“Each one of you must turn away from your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will
receive God’s gift, the Holy Spirit.
For God’s promise was made to you and your children, and to all who are far away – all whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Thus a body of believers, a church, was formed. Notice the conditions, to first believe, then to confess and ask for forgiveness, to be baptised (the sign of belief and commitment); then to be Spirit filled follows and Assurance.
On another day we are told that Peter, together with John go to the Temple and heal a man. Trouble follows in the Temple in that the authorities challenge the source of their power and their authority to teach. A Council of the Temple leaders follows and Peter and John speak of the power of the Spirit within them. The leaders ‘tell them off’, tell them not to speak about the matter and release them. The two disciples leave after making the declaration –‘’that we cannot stop speaking of what we ourselves have seen and heard’’.
They return to the larger group of friends and tell them of the outcome of the Council deliberations and the believers are over-joyed. They give thanks in prayer and ask for boldness to continue testifying to ‘‘what they had seen and heard’’ which the Holy Spirit confirms with an ‘’in-filling’’ similar to that first, mighty, one.
Until we re-read the account it is perhaps not so obvious that the Disciples and Apostles take the ‘new faith‘to the Temple and to the Jewish people – not the world at large. This brings about the ‘’head-on’’ collision between the accepted Jewish tradition and the new found ‘’Covenant in my blood’’.
There is more trouble to follow with authority, this time with the Roman governors, the overseers of the Roman Power. Imprisonment follows, a miraculous release at dead of night and repercussions then follow. I leave the story at chapter 8 to follow Peter. I shall skip to chapter 10 missing out the terrible killing of Stephen and the conversion of Saul to Paul – both important steps in themselves. We next find Peter travelling about the province and telling the Jewish people about what ‘’he ’had seen and heard’’. He arrives in Joppa, near Acre and on the coast.
To rejoin the narrative, Peter is praying on the house roof when he has a vision. Do give it a read; start at Chapter 10 vs 9. Two men from a Roman regiment are sent by Cornelius, their officer, to bring Peter to talk with him, he too had had a vision. The read continues to verse 33 at which point Peter realises the message that the angel has for him and its this;-
“I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis.
Those who fear him and do what is right are acceptable to him, no matter what race they belong to”.
The message he sent to the people of Israel, proclaiming the Good News of peace through Jesus Christ
The message was the wonderful truth that Salvation is for all –
that is for you and me! Peter is given the wider truth that the Good News is now far all, whereas in the past the Good News had been given to Abraham and then the descendants of Abraham alone. They were intended to follow it themselves and then to impart it to the ‘’Gentiles’’ as they became to understand that God loved his creation, and mankind, and that in return they should love Him for his goodness to them. Love should be the basis on which mankind lived and developed and their understanding of God the Father evolved. This was the Covenant – the old covenant- between man and his God. This first Covenant betwixt man and God ‘’that you shall love the Lord your God’’ led to the New Covenant ‘’in my blood’’ through the person of his son Jesus. Peter then takes this revelation to the church in Jerusalem and the Good News goes truly world wide. This revelation thus confirmed what Paul had been teaching and what he was soon to report to the Jerusalem church.
This Church News is the last one of the current ‘term’, our Summer Term. This last term has been a somewhat bumpy one in that we have been thrown into disarray by an epidemic of corona virus. When we reassemble in September as a corporate worshipping church we can start again with a new fresh term. As a Church we shall be preparing for Advent and Christmas. As always He will be there to welcome us and His Spirit will be with us – that’s the promise. Are you game to trust Him and trust him totally?.
Are you ready to tell to others of ‘’what you have seen and heard’’ at the feet of the Lord ?
I wish you a good summer, however you might spend it!