Church at Home
Since we have no services at Ladbroke Church at present here is
Thought for Penetecost (31st May) by John Eld
Epiphany – is defined as a sudden appearance of a god; or a more literary meaning – a sudden revelation or insight. It comes from the Greek epiphaneia – manifestation. In the Western church calendar, the word is given to the visitation of the Magi; in the Eastern Church to the baptism of Jesus. In either case, those present would have received a revelation.
Pentecost – the fiftieth day after Passover, or in our calendar, the 7th Sunday after Easter. The day the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples could in itself be said to be a form of epiphany.
Acts chapter 2 is pivotal in the Bible. All four Gospels mention baptism in the Spirit, but don’t say what it is. The letters assume that the recipients would know what had happened after the Gospel stories. Without the book of Acts (written by the only non-Jew whose work has been incorporated in Scripture) we would not be able to fill in the gaps, and therefore wouldn’t know that water baptism and baptism in the Spirit are different things.
God had given His disciples (and by extension, us) the “Great Commission” – to go and spread the Good News and make disciples of all nations. However, they were cowering in an upper room with neither the power nor the ability to obey – and that is what it is: a command, not a request.
And then Pentecost; power came upon them – men and women – and they began to speak in other languages (which some see as a reversal of Babel). They spoke freely about Jesus, but at first only locally and to other Jews. Being filled with the Spirit doesn’t necessarily mean that all weaknesses and prejudices are immediately banished (think of Peter not wanting to preach to Cornelius). Nevertheless, it seems that some Gentiles (non-Jews) had been converted when witnessing the events at Pentecost. We read later that Gentile widows complained that they were not receiving a fair share of the food (the first Christians held all things in common and shared them out as needed). So Deacons were appointed to solve this as it was important that there be no distinction between Christians of different origins and thus it was that Christianity became truly an international faith rather than just a Jewish one.
Philip preached to the Samaritans (hated by Jews) and many were converted. Instead of asking if fire could be brought on their heads to destroy them, as John and James asked of Jesus, Philip was now asking God to send a different fire on their heads!
So we owe much to the events of Pentecost. It surely isn’t possible to have an encounter – an epiphany? - with God without your life being changed. And when the Spirit comes upon you, you will have your own Pentecost. But, just as the Jews were told to tell others what God had done for them after Passover, so we need to tell others what He has done for us – that is the Good News.
A Message from Revd Ann (30th May)
Sunday, May 31st PENTECOST!
The coming of the Holy Spirit!
The birthday of the church!
It’s brilliant that Gemma and Fliss are putting bunting and a banner up outside Harbury Church together with Alison’s red balloons - and Alison has got more balloons for us to collect to put up outside our houses - so although we can’t get into church to celebrate we can still celebrate outside it. Thank you all so much. Such an imaginative idea.
Balloons always speak to me of the difference the Holy Spirit makes. A balloon is just a limp bit of rubber before we blow it up – when we breathe into it, fill it with air, it’s transformed into something so much more. When God breathes his breath into us, fills us with His Holy Spirit, we too as individuals, as a church can be so much more than we could ever be on our own. When you blow up a balloon just stop and look at the difference. So let’s just ask God to breathe his Holy Spirit into us and know the difference he makes in our life.. Jesus has promised that if we ask for the Holy Spirit God the Father will send the Spirit to us. (Luke 11 13 ....“ How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” )
May God bless you all and hold you close in his love.
Keep safe. With love & prayers for you all.
The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.
After Church Chat
As is now usual, we shall be having Ladbroke’s After Church Chat – from 10.50 to 11.30am on Sunday on Zoom and Harbury have one too. Join for as much or as little as you wish, Please email [email protected] for details of how to do this.
A reflection for the week (from Sunday 24th May) by Sue Wright
As I was looking at the reading for this Sunday I was struck by the relevance for today of 1Peter 5 v 6-11 - you might want to read the verses before considering these thoughts.
Peter, the impulsive disciple, who often spoke or acted before he had really thought things through is sharing here the good news of Jesus’ gospel of love. It is a letter to everyone offering encouragement and hope when surrounded by the difficulties of the world. In verse 6 Peter is inviting us to humble ourselves before God - we can understand that as an invitation to be real and be vulnerable-that requires humility but we can do it because verse 7 assures us God cares for us. He understands our current worries of health, finances, businesses, schooling, isolation and loss of freedoms. So we can chat to God about these concerns as we pray in the knowledge that we are under the protection of His Mighty hand (verse 6).
Peter also calls us to be self- controlled and alert - interesting that the government’s new strapline has a similar message! Here Peter is urging us to be alert to the enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion (verse 8). The enemy would love us to feel locked down by fear at the moment and let’s be honest these are frightening times but Peter is encouraging us to stand firm in our faith trusting in our Heavenly Father. It is reported “Fear not” appears 365 times in the bible and 1John 4 v 18 reminds us that “His perfect love casts out fear”.
Peter gives us another key to unlocking fear- by looking around us to others. There is an enormous amount of kindness, goodness and love being shared throughout our nation and the world at this time borne out of the shared threat to our lives and lifestyles. Yes, we are all experiencing this situation differently and the impact for some must be overwhelming but there is strength in a shared experience and a desire to be there for one another in whatever way we can.
Finally, Peter points us to the hope of the time when difficulties will pass. This gives reassurance that God will restore and heal what has been wounded and destroyed by the virus, and its wider impact on our society. As he encourages us to be strong, firm and steadfast we are reminded that these are the characteristics of our God in whom we trust.
He is strong, firm and steadfast and promises “never to leave us or forsake us” Deuteronomy 31v 6.
So let’s be encouraged and encourage one another as we journey through this season- holding on to the hope that as we emerge from this time we will be stronger in our faith and more united as a community.
A message from Rev Ann (23rd May)
The lockdown is being eased a little – first steps towards freedom and normal life but what will the new normal be? This pandemic will have left its mark but I hope and pray, that whatever the future is, that we carry forward all the love, helpfulness, support, community feeling and gratitude of the past weeks into it.
And of course as Sue brings out in her thought for the week (above), we don’t face the future alone but with God beside us. How God is beside us is brought out in the Pew Sheet Acts reading (Acts 1 v6-14) on the Ascension (which we celebrated on Thursday). The disciples had been devastated by Jesus arrest, torture and death, all their hopes for the future shattered but then came the amazing joy of his conquest of death and return to them. But the new normal wasn’t the old. Jesus wasn’t with them all the time. He came and went mysteriously. He spoke of a future they couldn’t understand and now it seemed the final goodbye as he disappeared into the cloud of God’s presence. Life had changed again and they were left wondering what the new normal would really be. But Jesus hadn’t gone to God the Father to abandon them, but so that he come back to them in the love and power of God in a different way in the Holy Spirit (John 14 v 18). That way he could be each one of them wherever they went for ever. That way he can be with each of us wherever we go or don’t go in whatever happens for ever. The Ascension means that whatever our new normal will be, God in Jesus will be there for us.
May Christ, who out of defeat brings new hope and a new future, fill you with his new life.
And may the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and all those you love today and evermore.
May God bless you all and hold you close in his love.
Keep safe. With love & prayers for you all.
A prayer for Ascension Day, 21st May (from the Intercessions Handbook by John Pritchard)
Lord we need the message of Ascension in our own hearts.
Too easily our God is so small. We lift our eyes to the hills instead of the high mountains.
Too easily we fail to expect you to be present in our worship, to speak in our hearts, or to change anything in response to our prayers.
Too easily we remember our weakness, and forget your strange and beautiful strength.
Take us back to the deep truth of a risen crucified, risen and ascended Lord, so that we may fall joyfully to our knees again and taste the wonder and certainty of his love.
A reflection for the week (from Sunday 17th May) by Brian Jones, from the Harbury congregation
In his love God is always trying to speak to us. But even when the events through which he speaks are hard to experience or accept, as in this coronavirus pandemic and lock-down, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). More important than anything is knowing God's will and doing it, even seeking it out in a given situation.
However, our lives are so often full of other things we find it difficult to hear what God is saying in many of the situations we experience. Our ears can be deaf and our minds unreceptive. We do not hear God speak or may be distracted form responding. But, in this period of reduced activity it may be easier to listen for him, to hear his voice and to follow his lead. Even the tentative measures to partially ease the lock-down can be fresh opportunities for God to speak.
When negative things happen to us, it is often unproductive to ask the question why? After all God is not answerable to us. But the question what – is God saying to me in this difficulty, is about God's communication with us. One church minister wrote, “Faith that cannot be shaken comes only from a faith that has been so severely shaken that it is now sure, certain and steadfast.” It is vital that we continue to develop our relationship with God by learning from situations as they arise, especially the present one. And so being willing to embrace healthy God given challenges, intended to bring new growth into our lives. Then, by the accumulation of our experiences, we will increasingly be ready for anything.
God offers us the deep and exhilarating joy of knowing his love in our own experiences. Perhaps especially in the midst of our most difficult times in life. Difficulties of varying kinds and intensities can often produce great depths of character, mature understanding, warm compassion and rich spirituality. They can make us more like Christ. The sparkling radiance of a diamond is caused by a lump of coal subjected to extreme pressure and heat over a long period of time. A beautiful pearl emerges when an oyster has to cover an irritating object with layer upon layer of smooth mother-of-pearl, excreted from its own body. When we suffer in various ways God is able to use all the pressures, the heat and the irritations to reveal something of his radiance, beauty and mature growth in our lives.
Lord Jesus, in this time of extreme uncertainty,
help our faith in you to be sure.
In this time of change and restriction,
help us to be malleable to your will and firm in following your lead.
In this time of having to face huge difficulties,
help us to rise to your challenges that strengthen and change us for the better.
A reflection for the week (from Sunday 10th May) by Reader, Peter
Reading: John 14, 1-14
The reading is the well-known account (it’s a favourite reading at funerals) of Jesus telling his disciples that in the Father’s house there are many rooms, and that Jesus was going there to prepare a place for each of them. He adds: “You know the way to the place where I am going”.
Thomas (who else?) says: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” The answer from Jesus becomes one of his best known sayings: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life’.
Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that this is rather arrogant! What about other Ways, followed by religions of other great cultures?
This kind of provocative claim has led to religious wars and all kinds of atrocities in the past. Shouldn't we accept that no one religion or culture has a monopoly of the truth? Surely we should be tolerant? Well, if you think of religion as a kind of philosophy, with you searching out God on your own terms, I suppose that tolerance makes sense. But surely there is no case to be made for tolerating outright evil! An example of this (among many) would be Hitler and the Nazis.
Neither should we tolerate people simply because our views differ from theirs! We must love, not ‘tolerate’ them! Their views deserve not tolerance but our respect, even when we disagree.
When Jesus proclaimed “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life’, he wasn’t speaking about religions or culture. He was talking about a way of living, a way that leads to God. Jesus’ disciples didn’t place their trust in a set of beliefs, but in a person. That person has done what no other religious leader has ever done, literally giving his life for the whole world. And then - he was raised from the dead. Amazing but true! Christianity is based on historical fact, not on a set of teachings or ideas. What Jesus did is unique.
In the wake of the appearance of the coronavirus calamity, we are currently called upon to tolerate quite a lot! Our lives are disrupted in so many ways, as we strive to cope with self-isolation, restricted freedom of movement, long queues for food, and generally, constraints which most of us have never met before. To some extent, there are parallels here with the experience of the disciples, who had plenty to tolerate. Isolation from their families and friends; restriction on movements as they followed Jesus wherever he went; obtaining food by methods very close to begging, and so on. But - the disciples had Jesus with them, and that was worth considerable discomfort.
And exactly as the disciples had the on-going teaching, and love, of Jesus - SO DO WE! He is there right now, alongside each of us, as we strive to handle the problems we encounter along the road.
The real issue isn’t tolerance. It’s Truth.
1. Please see the Covid Update page for information about the Cof E's FREE daily dial in worship phone line
2. Many of the Ladbroke congregation join Sunday worship on TV or elsewhere via their computer. We have set up Ladbroke’s own After Church Chat – Sundays 10.50 to 11.30am - join for as much or as little as you wish via Zoom or telephone.
3. If you would like our weekly email with our readings, Pew News, links to join in local on-line services, Ladbroke's after church chat group" and Pause and Pray etc, please email Peter at [email protected] to go on the distribution list.
A thought for the week (from Sunday 3rd May) " And God shut them in" by Reader, Alison
Reading Genesis 7
The Old Testament reading for this Sunday is Genesis 7, which tells up about Noah going into the ark. Two things struck me when I read this. The first was that it was God who shut the door of the ark and made sure that everyone was safe; the second was that if you read on into chapter 8 you discover that Noah, his family and a menagerie of animals spent a year cooped up in the ark. We have had four weeks of social distancing and shielding for those who are vulnerable, and are already beginning to hope that it ends soon, and that we can get back to school, work or just seeing friends and family.
I work as a pharmacist, so have continued to go into work. The roads are quieter, making the journey to work much quicker than it used to be. The only shops open in the centre of Leamington are the supermarkets and pharmacies. There are very few people around, the pavements and roads are nearly empty and it feels very strange. The first few weeks we were frantically busy as people rushed to stock up on medicines, but things have settled down now and the stress has abated. It as if after the rush and hurry of the torrential rain and the water springing up from the ground, we are now bobbing along on the flood, waiting for the water to go down.
The gospel reading this week (John 10 v1-10) is a familiar one where Jesus describes himself as the gate for the sheep to come in and go our through. Coming in to find safety and going out to find pasture. This reminds me of the lovely promise in Psalm 121 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and for evermore. (Psalm 121 v 8)
Whether we find ourselves confined to our homes or still having to go out to work, whether we are resting or busy working from home while home schooling, what ever we are doing God is watching over us and keeping us safe. Jesus is the gate to home and the gate to the wild places beyond. Our coming and going are all experiences of God. Just as God closed the door of the ark to keep Noah, his family and all the animals safe God has closed your house door to keep you safe and is watching over it. Then when you do need to go out God goes with you to guide and guard you.
In the last eight weeks both my mum and my younger brother have died. There have been times when I have felt like a little boat bobbing around on a large sea, unable to steer or control the boat, much like Noah floating on the flood. Yet God was in the flood, using it to achieve the purpose God intended. So I do believe that God is here with us now, using everything to work together in his plan. That is the message of Easter that even the worst that humankind can do is transformed by God into the means by which we experience God’s love and grace.
May the God of hope fill you, with all joy and peace in believing
and may the blessing of God Almighty Father, son and Holy Spirit,
be among you and those you love and remain with you always.
A reflection on this week’s gospel reading, the Road to Emmaus (for Sunday 26 April) by Reader, Gemma
Reading Luke 24:13-35
The events in Luke’s gospel reading this Sunday take place the evening of the Easter Sunday – the evening of the Resurrection, and the reading seems to resonate more this year than ever before.
The phrase that spoke to me is, “they stood still, looking sad” (Luke 24:17). For these two followers of Jesus, it seems that their world has come to an end. Their faith has been totally shaken and their hopes shattered. Inside them is an emptiness, a vacuum.
Many of us, locked down in our homes, can understand what they are feeling. Our world has changed. We are facing problems and challenges we could never have thought possible. People are dying from this awful virus, but there are those still coping with heart problems, cancer, and leukaemia. We are sad because we cannot reach out to family and friends to give them a hug of support; with that I have particularly difficult.
Jesus’ friends had enjoyed his company. They had worked, eaten, worshipped, laughed, walked the length of Palestine together, spreading the Messianic message. Such expectations! Suddenly, it all ends, and Jesus dies a traitor’s death on the cross…… and they are left with nothing.
Their story is our story. But then these two sad and puzzled disciples meet a stranger and tell him of their sadness. The stranger listens and then gently, lovingly and patiently explains the unravelling plan of God through Jewish history. Eventually they understand, all then is clear and they can see light ahead.
We need to listen for Jesus’ voice, and we need to open our hearts to the immensity of what Jesus did on that Easter day. He opened up new life to us, an eternal life, a life worth living.
Each one of us is walking along our own Emmaus road. Maybe the problems and restrictions at this present time weigh us down with anxiety. But look at the positives. One of the most precious gifts that this lockdown has brought us, is “Time”. We can use that time more fully to listen to the voice of Jesus in the Scriptures. We have time to contact and pray with friends, by phone, FaceTime, Zoom, email and all the wonders of modern technology.
As we walk along our Emmaus road, we are not alone. Jesus is as present today as he was for Cleophas and his friend. Listen for the voice of Jesus. “That still small voice of calm”. When we look back in months or years, I hope we will see this time as a time of spiritual growth, when the light of Easter shone more brightly on our road than ever before.
who created us for and from love,
in this time of social distancing,
hold us close in your arms.
Comfort those who are afraid,
enliven those who are bored,
give courage to those who are distressed,
and warm those who feel the cold touch of loneliness.
Breathe in, with and through us
as we walk uncertainly into a new future
knowing that you are with us now and await us there.
In the name of Christ Jesus,
A thought from Peter Rigby, (for Sunday 19th April)
Reading John 20:19-end
Today, the first Sunday after Easter, is traditionally known as “Low Sunday”. The reasons for this are a bit obscure, but one suggestion is that it is in contrast to the “high” of Easter Day, which we celebrate as the greatest day in history.
Life is not even. It is full of highs and lows, of ups and downs. Indeed, we would not know what a “high” is if we did not have a “low” to compare with it with. Right now, with the continuing stresses and strains of the lock down, worries about our or our loved ones’ health, our finances or our relative loss of liberty are causing many to feel low.
You might have expected the disciples to have still been on a high a week after the first Easter. On what we now know as Easter Day, Jesus had come to ten of the disciples (not Judas or Thomas) through a door locked for fear of the Jews and had said “Peace be with you”. Understandably, the disciples had rejoiced (John 20:19-20).
But then Jesus had left them, and they do not appear to have seen him for a week. The disciples (this time with Thomas) were again behind locked doors, still afraid, and again Jesus came into the room anyway and again he said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:26). Then he went a step further and said to Thomas (although perhaps the other disciples needed to hear it too) “Stop doubting and believe” (v. 27).
Today, our Church doors are locked, with us on the outside. But just as 2000 years ago, locked doors are no barrier to Jesus. He comes to us, wherever we are, and says “Peace be with you”. And as we believe in Him, we will know His presence with us, and He will defeat our fears as light defeats darkness.
For whom no door is locked, no entrance barred,
Come stand among us.
Awaken us to your presence,
Open to us the gate of glory,
Show us the path of life.
Help us to know you are with us now and always. Amen
(from David Adam)
Easter Message from Rev Ann (12th April)
We’re in our third week of lockdown and one thing that has struck me is the tremendous amount of community spirit, the tremendous amount of helpfulness, care and love just pouring out in these 3 villages – and in the nation as whole. Thank you all so much and I do thank God for you. It is amazing just how God is working in love through people often without them recognizing him.
Easter Sunday is going to be so very different this year - no bells ringing out through the villages, no cheerful groups of people greeting each other happily as we meet in a much fuller than usual church to celebrate in words and triumphant uplifting music that Christ is risen, no physical sharing of communion and that is sad and many of us will be feeling that loss even though we can listen and watch great services on BBC and online. Yet when I was reading over the gospel passages on the living Jesus Christ first coming to his followers after his resurrection it struck me that our situation now is much closer to that very first Easter. After all, the risen Jesus didn’t first appear to happy cheerful crowds in religious buildings. Crowds and churches came later. He first came in very personal ways to isolated people.
Jesus came to a brokenhearted woman on her own weeping by a grave for the person she lost. John 20 10-19
He came to two walkers, going along by themselves, whose dreams and hopes had been shattered and who didn’t know what the future would hold. Luke 24 13-32
He came to a man burdened by failure and guilt whose faith in himself had been broken. Luke 24:34
He came to a small of group of friends in lockdown for fear of the danger outside. John 20 19-21
He was waiting with help and a hot meal for a small group of workers finishing a tiring and frustrating nightshift. John 21 1-14.
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed and because of that he comes to us as we are today, this Easter, whether in lockdown at home, or walking by ourselves, or working perhaps to exhaustion with coronavirus patients and other essential work, He comes to us in our grief and loneliness, our fears and uncertainties, our hopes and dreams. He comes to us in the love we receive from others and in the love and care we give. We can’t share bread and wine but we can ask Jesus to come into our hearts and minds and lives and so feed on him by faith with thanksgiving.
Jesus is always with us (Matthew 28 20b)
Lets hold onto that and allow that to come part of us. Lets give time – even if its only a few snatched moments at the start of or end of a busy working day for those at work – time to think of Jesus saying our name in love as he said “Mary” to her. Let’s read the Easter gospels and ask Jesus if he will make those meetings with him come alive for us, become real for us in our lives now in the situation we are in today, Easter means Jesus is alive, he is with us now in wherever we are and in whatever we go through. Lets ask him to help us to know that more certainly, more powerfully so that this Easter – whether at work or in lockdown or shopping for other people we can say with conviction, courage and hope for the future. “Christ is risen He is risen indeed.”
May Christ’s light shine in your hearts and lives this Easter even through the darkness of the present time and the blessing of God Almighty, Father Son and Holy Spirit be upon you and all those you love and care for this Easter and always.
With love and prayer
Reverend Ann Mulley