Church at Home
Although we are back in church some weeks and meeting by Zoom the others, here is
Thought for the week (18th October) by Peter Took
Disciples and apostles. What’s the difference? Well, there’s a clue in the word “apostle”. In the middle there’s another word - “post”. If you post something you send it, and that is what apostles are for - Sending. Disciples follow a master; apostles are the master’s messengers, sent out by him.
The Gospel reading for this Sunday is Luke 10: 1-9. Jesus draws his many disciples to him to teach them, and then sends out seventy of them. The Bible has no other direct references to this particular incident, but various writers at the time reported the event, some talking about seventy, others seventy-two. There are numerous actual listings of the details of the individual members, for example by Hippolytus (in the early third century). His work in this respect was well known to historians, but considered lost until 1854, when it was discovered in Greece. His detailed list has seventy names - plus a postscript of five more!
Such discrepancies simply show that the number is symbolic rather than literal. The point is that we are all included; the mission of the Kingdom is not restricted to 12, 70, 72, 75, or any other number. In the Christian church, there is no select band. We are all disciples and apostles, called to serve, often willingly, but sometimes reluctantly!
I am not advocating that you should necessarily stand on a street corner and shout praises to the Lord. But I am saying that you should take opportunities whenever they arise. Opportunities to stand up and be counted. Opportunities to say: "I am a Christian".
We can all do this by our words and our deeds. By setting an example. But it is also important to realise that when an opportunity arises, and we let it slip by, we will have fallen short of the standard required of us. The standard expected by God.
When those teams of two were sent out, as lambs to the wolves, they were given power. As you eye-up the wolves in the secular world, you may be saying to yourself - where is that power for me, today? And I will say to you, the power is already yours, if you have the faith to use it.
PRAYER FOR THE WEEK
Sometimes we seem to be in a waiting time – waiting for what is going to happen next with the virus, waiting for a vaccine, waiting for an end to this strange time so this prayer by John Bell from Iona may speak to your situation too.
You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time;
Want us to wait
For the right time in which to discover
Who we are, where we must go,
Who will be with us, and what we must do.
So thank you ......for the waiting time
You keep us looking.
You, the God of all space,
Want us to look in the right and wrong places
For signs of hope,
For people who are hopeless,
For visions of a better world which will appear
Among the disappointments of the world we know.
So thank you...... for the looking time
You keep us loving
You, the God whose name is love,
Want us to be like you
To love the loveless and unlovely and unlovable
To love without jealousy or design or threat
And most difficult of all
To love ourselves.
So thank you God .....for the loving time
And in all this
You keep us
Through hard questions with no easy answers;
Through failing where we hoped to succeed
and making an impact when we felt we were useless;
Through the patience and the dreams
and the love of others;
And through Jesus Christ and his Spirit,
You Keep us
So thank you ... for the keeping time.
And for now and for ever. Amen
The wisdom of the Wonderful Counsellor guide you,
The strength of the Mighty God defend you
the love of the Everlasting Father enfold you,
the peace of the Prince of Peace be upon you
and the blessing of Almighty God,
Father Son and Holy spirit be upon you,
and all those you love and care fo. Amen
MESSAGE FROM REVD ANN
A very, very warm welcome to Andy, Julie and family - now living in the Rectory. It’s so good to have you all with us. I’m really looking forward to Andy’s licensing by Zoom on Wednesday, 21st October. We do pray for Andy, Julie and family as they settle in and ask that God will bless them all and inspire, lead and support Andy - and Julie - and show them his way for them here.
A big thank you for the lovely Harvest decorations in church last Sunday that gave that extra Harvest feel to the service
Andy will take over the pew sheet next week so this is the last time I’ll write my weekly message with prayer for the week and blessing. I don’t know if Andy will continue with the Thoughts for the Week by different people but many, many thanks to all those who contributed and shared their reflections and insights over the past months.
I would also like to thank very much all those who given me so much help and support during the sometimes difficult months for us a church since Craig left – seems like another world back in June ’19!!
May God bless you all and hold and support you.
With love and prayer for you all
LOVE IN A BOX CHRISTMAS SHOE BOX APPEAL 2020
Would like to contribute to this year's shoebox appeal? Details can be found on Team4u website - teams4U.com/ shoe box appeal. Each box will make a huge difference to a child or family in need especially in these particularly challenging times.
The drop off point for completed boxes from Ladbroke Harbury and Ufton is Wed 4th- Sunday 8th November Cherry Trees, School Lane Ladbroke CV472BU
If you have any queries or need further information please contact Sue Wright.
HARVEST (11th October)
This week we celebrated Harvest at Ladbroke Church. A team of ladies gave up their Saturday afternoon to clean and beautify the building. The stonemasons are working in the chancel now so despite the screen that had to work hard to clear the film of stone dust that had permeated through the building and inevitable muddy footprints. Our ladies created some wonderful flower & produce arrangements using Dawn's amazing dahlia's and foliage, fruits and vegatables gathered from gardens, allotments and field boundaries. Eileen lent us intricate corn dollies she had made to add to the decoration. This website has some photos of how the building looked but unfortunately cannot convey the lovely smell that greeted us when we arrived on Sunday morning.
People had brought along symbols to remind us of Gods gifts : topsoil, grain, dairy products, leeks, flowers, bread, blackberries and also an empty bowl as a symbol of harvests that fail and all those around the world who go hungry or starve.
The order of service which includes the prayers said about each of these gifts is on the link at the bottom of the page.
Thought for the week (11th October) by John Eld
Today’s readings include Philippians 4:1-9. Much can be learned from this passage, but I’ve always been intrigued by the otherwise unknown Euodia and Syntyche who seem to have had a bit of a ding-dong. Verse 3 tells us that Paul values these women who have contended “at my side” (so much for Paul being misogynist!) so he pleads with them individually and asks someone to help and encourage them to sort it out. Disagreement itself is not wrong (indeed can be useful) but how we disagree and whether we bear a grudge certainly can be, as well as being infectious and divisive, and Paul is anxious not only for these women, but for peaceful unity of the church. He then encourages the Philippians to rejoice, present their prayers with thanksgiving and to think of whatever is admirable or praiseworthy, letting their gentleness be evident to all.
The thread of encouragement runs through the whole letter. Paul wrote (2:1-4): “each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”. This reminds me that JOY stands for Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last. Despite being in prison, he experiences joy hearing of the work of others; telling them this is itself an encouragement to keep up the work . In other letters, Paul writes that encouragement is a ministry in itself, but to what end? There should be a common purpose in sight, long or short-term.
The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to meet together to encourage each other; that is not easy today. Then, they could only really communicate by meeting – but we have so many ways (albeit less satisfactory) – telephone, emails, Zoom and many more. Because of lockdown, many feel lethargic, unmotivated, and I recognise this in myself at times. This may be the reason that some seem to have put “on hold” relationships and things they used to do, rather than find new ways to do them. Constantly thinking about our thwarted plans and what we can’t do won’t have helped.
There is often talk about going back to pre-COVID “normal”, but consider: if we can’t go back to Eden (God’s locked us out) and Lot couldn’t go back to Sodom and Gomorrah (destroyed), why should we expect to go back? We can only stay where we are, try to find a way in our own power - or go forward into the unknown with God. Well, not entirely unknown: see Revelation 21 and remember that Jesus said He’s prepared a place for believers there – a long-term goal to be encouraged towards.
Yes, we now have Andy to lead and encourage us. But it still falls for each of us to encourage others (hopefully, now, including across the three parish boundaries); and not only that, but to encourage Andy and his family – even encouragers need encouragement!
So, welcome Andy, Julie and family. May you be a blessing to us and may we all be a blessing to you.
PRAYER FOR THE WEEK
Lord, Open my eyes that they may see the deepest needs of people;
move my hands that they feed the hungry;
touch my heart that it may bring warmth to the despairing;
teach me the generosity that welcomes strangers;
let me share my possessions to clothe the naked;
give me the care that strengthens the sick;
make me sharein the quest that set the prisoner free.
In sharing our anxieties and our love, our poverty and our prosperity
we partake of your divine presence. Amen
Canaan Banana, Zimbabwe
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: HOPE (4th October) by John Stringer
Many of you will know that our eldest son died in 2013 of leukaemia. He was a fit and active man of 37, successfully managing a responsible role, with two small children. A year later, his wife took our grandchildren to her home country, making it perfectly clear that we would never see them again. Six years later, we have not heard a word from them. We don’t know where they are living, what they look like, or what they are doing. We never will.
For me, this experience raises questions about hope and about forgiveness. I want to tackle hope this time, and maybe later write about forgiveness, in the light of these terrible experiences. Because for me, neither is easy to comprehend.
Friends comfort us by saying that the children will want to see us one day. Even assuming that we live to an age when the children can make an independent journey to the UK – a minimum of nine years for our elder grandchild – we shan’t know them. We will have no memories of their growing up, no shared experiences – nothing. Their mother never showed us any warmth or sympathy, and it is unlikely that she mentions us to them. (You can see why my other theme would be forgiveness!) We won’t recognise them - or them, us. We may not even like them.
So where is hope in all this? I have no hope of seeing my son again in this life. I have no hope of seeing my grandchildren, either. Many would reply that the answer is prayer – and of course there has been prayer – through my son’s illness, his death, the loss of the children, and ever since – not just from us, but from many people we know, and others we don’t. We are eternally grateful for this silent support.
But what are we praying for? It would take immeasurable faith to believe that our son will return from the dead. There has only ever been two instances of this; and the circumstances were unique.
There may be a chance that our grandchildren’s mother will have a massive change of heart – but given her mindset, I’ve been advised that this is next to impossible. So I have no ‘shopping list’ of prayer – a concept I struggle with anyway – ‘Lord, change her mind, ‘God, bring my grandchildren back’, or even ‘Lord, strike her dead’. Doesn’t an all-seeing God already know our problems better than we do – and the right answer for the right time? How can my understanding of what is right for me (or you) compare with God’s? Why ask for specifics?
My hope is that God will present us with something totally unexpected. I have had experience of this. Stuck in a job I hated, I prayed simply to escape. Had I but known, God planned to give me much more; a career that didn’t even exist before and that took me all over the world, and where I could make a modest, but useful contribution. So I am not without hope. Not that we shall be a complete family again any time soon, or ever. I simply hope and pray that God has us in mind, and I wait on his love.
PRAYER FOR THE WEEK
I believe, although everything hides you from my faith.
I believe, although everything shouts “No! to me
I believe, though everything seems to die.
I believe, although I no longer would wish to live,
because I have founded my life
on a sincere word,
on the word of a Friend,
on the word of God.
I believe although I feel alone in pain.
I believe although I see people hating.
I believe although I see children weep,
because I have learned with certainty
that he comes to meet us
in the hardest hours,
with his hope and his light
I believe, but increase my faith. Amen
From “ Livros de Cantos” Porte Alegro, Brazil. Translated in “All Year Round” British Council of Churches.
May Christ, who out of defeat
brings new hope and a new future,
fill us with his new life.
And may the blessing of Almighty God,
Father, Son and Holy spirit
be with us and all those whom we love
this day and evermore, Amen
Thought for the week (27th September) from Rev Ann
Ed and I spent a few days in Bath last week. On Sunday I went to 8am Communion in Bath Abbey. The sermon, based on the gospel (Matthew 20 1-16, the labourers in the vineyard,) was mostly on stewardship. We’re all called to labour for God - a good point.
However, the priest first spoke about the labourers in the story who’d worked all day and couldn’t understand the landowner’s generosity to those recruited late and felt it unfair. He said a dog often can’t understand its owner and why he/she does the things they do, and yet the difference between us and a dog was far less than the difference between us and God.
That got me thinking. There’s a lot about life I don’t understand. Why does life seem so complicated, sometimes very unfair, in the world God’s made? Why do some sail happily through life and others suffer all sorts of tragedies and disasters often not their fault. Why does God seem to answer some prayers immediately, and yet at other times leave us praying day after day apparently unheard? Why does God ask us to do things that seem impracticable, even impossible? And so on.
To our dog Whitney, perhaps Ed seems all-powerful, he produces her food, turns on lights in darkness, opens doors and gates she can’t, drives strange contraptions that take her to totally different places. Yet she often can’t understand him – why does he utter cries of disgust and stops her eating delicious stuff on the playing fields or half rotten plums in the garden. (She can’t associate the pleasure she gets then with the terrible tummy upset she gets later). Why does he get cross when she’s on the nice comfortable sofa when he isn’t even using it. Why can’t she chase cats when it’s such fun. What’s the point of a constraining lead and strange exercises – sit, stay etc. Worst of all why does he go out with me and leave her behind alone, sometimes for hours – or even worse still, take her to the kennels and leave her not knowing when she’ll see him again. Days? Weeks? Ever?
What Whitney does know is that Ed loves her and cares for her. He is her person. She loves and trusts him and is obviously happy when she is with him.
God is so much more incredibly great and wise and loving that we can be or imagine, yet this picture of Ed and his dog gives us a glimpse of God and us. There are times we can’t understand God or rebel against what he wants of us. There may be times when our prayers seem unanswered, when we feel God is ignoring us or gone from us, that he’s left us alone and we don’t know why. But Ed hadn’t ever really abandoned Whitney and God won’t ever really abandon us. He loves us more than we can imagine and will never leave us. We can trust God and know that, whatever happens, in the end all will be well.
Prayer for the week
God of surprises,
when I think you are not present in my life,
you reveal yourself in the love of friends and family
and nurture me in your never-ending affection.
God of surprises
when we think you are not present in our community,
you labour to make us of one heart
and cause us to share gladly and generously.
God of surprises
when people think you are not present in our world,
you bring hope out of despair
and create growth out of difficulty.
God of surprises,
You are ever with us.
When the days go by and our vision fades,
keep surprising us.
When our hope dims and our patience wears thin,
Keep coming to us.
Teach us to keep our lamps lit
And to be prepared,
That we may see your loving presence among us. Amen
By Francis Brienen in the the SPCK Book of Christian Prayer
Trust in God
Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things pass:
God never changes
He or she who has God
Find they lack nothing,
God along suffices.
And the blessing of Almighty God
Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon you
and all those who love, care for and pray for now and forever Amen
A blessing based on the bookmark of Teresa of Avila’s 1515-82