Reflection on the Lectionary

Sunday 14th April (Easter 3, Year B)

Psalm 4;  Acts 3 : 12 – 19;  1 John 3 : 1 – 7;   Luke 23 : 36b – 48

This week’s reflection is provided by Local Preacher Tim Lansdown (Hanham). This reflection is what Tim provided in 2021.

I imagine that all of us at some time in our lives have had an experience which has led us to exclaim “It’s too good to be true.” It may be some stroke of good fortune that, although we want it to be true, seems unreal particularly if it follows a time of trouble and disappointment. Cleopas and his friend had just walked the 7 miles back to Jerusalem from their home in Emmaus, probably having walked there and back earlier in the day. Their expected physical tiredness would be overcome by the sheer exuberance of what they had experienced on that walk with the risen Jesus.

They arrive back in the city to tell the disciples of their wondrous encounter only to find Jesus appearing again among the disciples. Yet the gathered disciples don’t seem to share the returnee’s joy. They thought that what they saw was a ghost. For hadn’t they only two days before seen Jesus’ body removed from that cross and sealed in a garden tomb. No wonder that some of those assembled in that upper room were terrified. Jesus does two things to bring them back to reality.

Firstly, he asks why they are frightened and points to the scars on his body inflicted during his time on the cross. He is reminding them of the suffering he endured and suggests that without that suffering there would be no resurrection. I remember attending an ecumenical walk one Good Friday and one of the Clergy (not a Methodist) said something along the lines that “Today, Friday will soon pass and Sunday will be here.” We cannot and should not downplay the importance of the cross or separate the two events.  When, many years ago, studying to be a Local Preacher I read an article by Rupert Davies, one of Methodism’s great theologians, he made the point that you might need a different sermon for Good Friday and Easter Day but that the message was a continuum.

Secondly, Jesus asks for something to eat. Food is very much part of the Easter story.  Besides the upper room request for food, we read of Cleopas and his friend sharing a meal with the risen Lord in their Emmaus home and in Galilee alongside the lake Jesus prepares breakfast for Peter and the others as they return to their old occupation of fishing. Here, as in the feeding of the 5000, we are led to understand the importance of the sacrament to our everyday lives. In one sense there is nothing so ordinary as eating, we do it several times every day. Yet this very ordinary act can take on a significance far greater than itself and convey the divine presence to us. During the pandemic we have missed the opportunity to eat with family and friends. For those are valued occasions when even ordinary food can seem special because of who we share it with.

Equally through Christian fellowship, whether virtually or physically together the ordinary things of life can become extraordinary through the presence of the risen Lord;

Soar we now where Christ has led, following our exalted head, made like him, like him we rise, ours the cross the grave, the skies.  (STF 298 v 4)

 Sunday News Sheet 10th March 2024

Today’s Service at 10.30 a.m is led by Chris Leese

17th March : David King                

24th March (Palm Sunday): Rev Samuel Uwimana HC

31st March  (Easter Day): Rev Samuel Uwimana HC

Maundy Thursday. March 28th   

7.30pm Watleys End.

We have been invited to join Watleys End for an Agape, Love Feast on Maundy Thursday. This is a service with hymns, prayers and preaching, culminating in Holy Communion. It recalls the meal Jesus shared with His disciples, the Last Supper. It often includes a display of humility, like the washing of feet, but more usually a donation to the poor. 

If you would like to attend, please see me.  We may be able to co-ordinate transport. I know that there is already one space in our car. I will need to give numbers to Margaret Johnson, so I would like a decision by March 17th.

Thank you.  Val

Every Saturday the Times newspaper includes an item about religious faith called Credo.

On Saturday February 24th the article was by an academic called Michael Bird and was titled “Navalny was inspired by the Sermon on the Mount.” 

He writes  “…the one thing that stands out about Navalny was his Christian faith.

Navalny, during his show trial in Moscow in 2021, said: ” The fact is that I am a Christian, which usually sets me up as an example for constant ridicule in the Anti-Corruption Foundation, because mostly our people are atheists, and I was once quite a militant atheist myself.”

He continued:” But now I am a believer, and that helps me a lot in my activities because everything becomes much, much easier.”

Navalny went on to stress that he was especially motivated by the words of Jesus:” Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” ( Matthew 5 v.6 )

The article’s conclusion calls on us to hold on to the following promise:

“The powers will be pacified, the lost will be found, the darkness will be cured by light, the world’s injustices will be undone, and God’s love will reign supreme.”   Nicky

Please send material for next week by Thursday evening, if possible, to pathares@talktalk.net 01454 778683

Reflection on the Lectionary

Sunday March 10th (Lent 4)

Numbers 21 : 4–9; Psalm 107: 13, 17-22; Ephesians 2: 1–10; John 3 :14–21

by Ruth Marshall (Hanham). Originally prepared for 2021.

The depiction of the snake on a rod is often seen on ambulances around the world. Although it’s said that this sign is the “Rod of Asclepius” the rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine, I cannot but help seeing it as a representation of the snake on a rod made and held up by Moses to cure people of poisonous snake bites. While both are symbols of healing and medicine, the bronze snake is also a reminder of the desire of God to bring healing and restoration.

As I pondered on the bible passages, the words “It’s started but not finished” came to mind. Moses made the bronze snake and put it on a  , as God had instructed but that was a start not a finish, it required those that had been bitten to look up to the bronze snake in order to be healed.

Nicodemus came to Jesus to ask questions and seek understanding, which was a start but not a finish. Nicodemus did not understand Jesus’s instruction of “being born again” and there was no indication at that point that Nicodemus was converted to Christianity. Jesus was informing Nicodemus that the son of man must be lifted up, referring to his own death on a cross. At that point Jesus had started His earthly ministry but had not yet finished it.

Thinking about snakes I recalled the process of the skin shedding that all snakes have to undertake in order to release their growing bodies. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources describes snake skin shedding as: “prior to shedding, the snake’s skin begins to turn bluish and its eyes become opaque, hindering vision. Within a few days, the snake will rub its head on something abrasive to tear open the outer layer. It then works on crawling through the tight quarters, sliding out of the skin, leaving the old skin inside out. This process can take days to a couple of weeks. It’s critical that the snake remains undisturbed during this process. Snakes have eye caps instead of eyelids, and if these thin layers of skin do not properly shed, blindness can result. Remaining skin can also harbor parasites, possibly leading to disease. Intact segments may restrict blood flow, potentially leading to the loss of body parts, and even death”. (iowadnr.gov)

As we enter into this fourth Sunday in Lent we are in a progression towards Easter, that progression has started but has not yet finished. This period of Lent gives each one of us time to reflect. If spiritual growth is to flourish we need time to close our eyes to worldly things, like the snake eyes being opaque during the shedding of skin and focus on God and spiritual things. To take time out from daily routines and to set time aside just to be with God, to be undisturbed like the snake. We need to renew our spiritual body’s, we need to rid ourselves of all that which hinders us from giving our whole self to God, like the snake ensuring that all the old skin has been discarded.

Paul reminds the Ephesians, we are saved, not by good works, but by God’s rich mercy, abundant grace and amazing love. Paul continues “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ, and seated us with him in the heavenly realms, because we are united with Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2 vs 6) Our position in Heaven is already established because we are united in Christ Jesus. It is required of us to inform others of God’s incredible grace, kindness and love. Jesus’s earthly life may have finished, but hiswork in this world although started is not yet finished. As we go through the period of Lent, may we gradually emerge stronger in our faith, and with God’s help, shed off all that may hinder us from following through with God’s will, so that we may continue God’s work on earth towards God’s completion.

Sunday News Sheet 3rd March 2024

Sorry, Everyone, but no reflection was available for this week, and I couldn’t find anything suitable in my limited saved ones.

Today’s Service at 10.30 is led by Rev Samuel Uwimana, and includes Holy Communion. 

March 10th Chris Leese (Mothering Sunday)       

17th David King                                                          

24th Rev Samuel (Palm Sunday )                              

31st Rev Samuel (Easter Day).

The Lent Course begins on Wednesday 21st February at 2.15 in the Prayer Chapel.

On Wednesday 6th March the Circuit are holding an event at Holy Trinity Church, Broad Croft, Bradley Stoke BS32 0BD.

“The Last Taboo- conversations on Death & Dying”

Time: 10.30am-12.30pm

The aim is to help us to have conversations on this subject with people of all ages more confidently.

Booking is recommended. Please see Hilary if you need help with this.

Prayer Meeting Monday 4th March 11.30-12 noon – meet in the prayer chapel to pray for our church and the world.

Ruth Eagle’s funeral is on 8th March 1pm at the church and then at 2.30pm at Westerleigh Crematorium for the cremation. 

The Coffee Rota needs a few more volunteers to take a turn helping on a Sunday Morning.  If you think you can help, please contact Pat Hares.

Please send material for next week by Thursday evening, if possible, to pathares@talktalk.net 01454 778683

Sunday News Sheet 25th February 2024

Today’s Café Church Service at 10.30 am is led by Veronica Jackson.

2024 WORLD DAY OF PRAYER

FRIDAY 1st MARCH 2.30pm

The Salvation Army, Staple Hill, 21 Broad Street,  BS16 5LN

The service has been prepared by the Christian Women of Palestine.

Theme “I beg you, bear with one another in love”.

Refreshments  – Car parking behind the Salvation Citadel

COME AND JOIN US  –

The Lent Course begins on Wednesday 21st February at 2.15 in the Prayer Chapel.

Ruth Eagle’s funeral is on 8th March 1 pm at the church and then at 2.30 pm at Westerleigh Crematorium for the cremation. 

The Coffee Rota needs a few more volunteers to take a turn helping on a Sunday Morning.  If you think you can help, please contact Pat Hares.

Please send material for next week to pathares@talktalk.net  01454 778683

Reflection on the Lectionary

25th February 2024

Psalm 119 : 1 – 8; Deuteronomy 30 : 15 – 20; 1 Corinthians 3 : 1 – 9; Matthew 5 : 21 – 37 by Christine Jones.

This Gospel reading encourages us to think about Jesus’ attitude to some of the Ten Commandments. Was he picking ones he liked best? Or ones he felt were especially forhim? Or were they ones he knew were the hardest to live?

v 21 – You have heard that it was said to those of old times ‘You shall not murder.’

Jesus changes it from something that is hard – don’t kill – to something even harder; don’t be angry with people, don’t insult people, don’t call someone a fool. I have to admit that’s one I break almost every day – usually it’s the other motorist. No, Jesus is saying I’m to be reconciled with them. I may still think they are wrong or mistaken, but they’re not fools.

Jesus is pointing out the Best Way to live with those we disagree with.

v 27 – You have heard that it was said ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

Jesus isn’t just saying ‘don’t break your marriage’; he’s going wider and deeper than that. He’s looking at the whole area of relationships. Marriage is only just a part of that. He’s also focusing on thoughts and feelings as much as on deeds. I can feel quite smug that I’ve never committed adultery, never even wanted to. But how good are my relationships with people? Maybe not very. Jesus is pointing out the Best Way to relate to people, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. v 33 – Again you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times ‘You shall not swear falsely.’ Jesus isn’t just saying ‘don’t lie,’ ‘don’t bear false witness’; he’s going further and deeper than that. ‘Let your Yes be Yes and let your No be No’. It’s hard, but it is the Best Way. God didn’t give us 10 easy things to do; he gave us 10 Best Ways to live.

Nobody seems to have asked Jesus if there was any commandment we could leave out and still have all we needed; but somebody did ask him which was the most important. I’m sure you remember what he said and which was the one he said was second. Again his definition of neighbour was much broader than his audience. He gave another Best Way. It wasn’t like the 11th Commandment – don’t get found out. It was again far reaching. ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ Love God, Love people, God loves us.

A prayer from the Methodist Prayer Handbook by Amelia, age 9, Elston All Saints Anglican Methodist Primary School, Newark.

Father God, I promise to love my friends, my family and the Lord Jesus. I will love them with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind. I will keep all the ten commandments and I will worship you. Amen.

As no Reflection was available for this week I have reused one by Christine Jones.

 Sunday News Sheet 18th February 2024

Today’s Church Anniversary Service at 10.30am is led by Rev Sharon Lovelock

25th February, Veronica Jackson, Café Church

Lent Course

‘February Journeying through Lent ‘is a booklet which we will be using during Lent. It contains  Bible verses, comments and questions to think about and it costs £3 and can be obtained from Beryl or Val.  We will be using the notes as a basis for our Lent course, but if you don’t want to join a group, you may just like to follow it at home on your own. The Lent course will meet for 5 weeks on Wednesdays starting on 21st Feb at 2.15 in the prayer chapel.

ALL WE CAN

February is the month I send a reminder out to those who put aside 50p per week for ALL WE CAN for their PARTNER CHURCH Scheme.  Every 6 months each of us pass on our 50p, ie £13 ( not £26 for 6 months.  £26 is for the whole year.)  or thereabout, to Margaret, our treasurer.  (by bank transfer, cheque or cash)

I have just received a certificate from ALL WE CAN to say we donated £760 in 2023. When we signed on to the scheme we promised £500 per year.

So VERY MANY THANKS TO ALL OF YOU. Julia

2024 WORLD DAY OF PRAYER

FRIDAY 1st MARCH 2.30pm

The Salvation Army, Staple Hill, 21 Broad Street,  BS16 5LN

The service has been prepared by the Christian Women of Palestine.

Theme “I beg you, bear with one another in love”.

Refreshments  – Car parking behind the Salvation Citadel

COME AND JOIN US  –  ALL WELCOME

Sadly, Ruth Eagle died this week. Her funeral is on 8th March 1 pm at the church and then at 2.30 pm at Westerleigh Crematorium for the cremation. 

Please send material for next week by Thursday evening, if possible, to pathares@talktalk.net 01454 778683

Reflection on the Lectionary

18th February 2024

Bible Reading Mark 1:9-15

Dear Friends,

Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is a journey we share with Christ as he approaches the end of his earthly life and the cross looms near. It is also a time of individual journeys when we consider our Christian faith and commitment and that of our church communities.

The reading is from Mark’s gospel. Jesus is baptised by John in the river Jordan and God, as a voice from heaven, affirms Jesus: ‘You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.’ Immediately after this pronouncement Jesus journeyed into the desert to be alone and where he encountered tough temptations. God’s assurance and presence guided him through this torrid time. When Jesus left the wilderness, he was sure of who he was, God’s much-loved Son. He then began his ministry.

We too are loved by God and knowing this will help us cope with the difficult and uncertainties we all encounter from time to time; a time we might consider our desert time. As we age, we may not travel as freely as we would wish to meet with friends and families but worshipping together if we are able, as a group of Christians, enables us to journey together in faith and friendship. The weekly sheet gives us opportunity to be connected to folk we cannot meet. The thoughts expressed may enhance our belief or challenge our thinking but if we remember Jesus was challenged in the desert and made personal decisions so too, we can reflect and make choices.

As people loved by God, we can pray to him giving thanks for the good things such as friendships and families, we can pray for those we are un-able to meet with and maybe lonely, depressed or ill, pray for our church and neighbours.

As Lent continues its journey perhaps join with those meeting at church on a Wednesday afternoon sharing a Lent study booklet. All are welcome.

To hear another voice and have conversation especially for singles and those without close family is a godsend. God loves us and those we contact and those who contact us. Jesus was alone in the desert and trusted his Father; God is always alongside us. We put our trust in him.

Jesus faced a difficult and harrowing journey to Jerusalem. We journey with him in thought and prayer. Our journey may not be easy but we can still journey in hope.

God bless us on our journey through Lent and beyond, wherever that journey may lead us.

God you love us,

This coming week whatever we experience, wherever we find ourselves, help us to know as Jesus knew, that you are always with us.

Amen

Vivienne Lear

Sunday News Sheet 11th February 2024

Today’s Service at 10.30am is led by  Brenda Isherwood  

18th Feb. Rev Sharon Lovelock 

25th Veronica Jackson – Café

Ash Wednesday Labyrinth 14th February.

Zion Methodist church Frampton Cotterell.

Drop in any time between 2pm and 8pm The labyrinth is a pathway offering points for prayer and reflection at the centre is the opportunity to make an ash cross on your forehead as a sign that God comes to us in the midst of our human frailty and weakness. 

ALL WE CAN

February is the month I send a reminder out to those who put aside 50p per week for ALL WE CAN for their PARTNER CHURCH Scheme.  Every 6 months each of us pass on our 50p, ie £26 or thereabout, to Margaret, our treasurer.  (by bank transfer, cheque or cash)

I have just received a certificate from ALL WE CAN to say we donated £760 in 2023. When we signed on to the scheme we promised £500 per year.

So VERY MANY THANKS TO ALL OF YOU.

2024 WORLD DAY OF PRAYER

Friday 1st March 2.30pm

The Salvation Army, Staple Hill, 21 Broad Street,  BS16 5LN

The service has been prepared by the Christian Women of Palestine.

Theme “I beg you, bear with one another in love”.

Refreshments  – Car parking behind the Salvation Citadel

COME AND JOIN US  –  ALL WELCOME

Lent Course

‘February Journeying through Lent ‘is a booklet which we will be using during Lent. It contains  Bible verses, comments and questions to think about and it costs £3 and can be obtained from Beryl or Val.  For ease of accounting, the church has paid for all the books and if you would like to use one, please just put your £3 in the weekly offertory basket. We will be using the notes as a basis for our Lent course, but if you don’t want to join a group, you may just like to follow it at home on your own. The Lent course will meet for 5 weeks on Wednesdays starting on 21st Feb at 2.15 in the prayer chapel.

Please send material for next week by Thursday evening to pathares@talktalk.net                       01454 778683

Reflection on the Lectionary

Sunday News Sheet 11th February 2024 (Ordinary 3)

Psalm 50 : 1 – 6; 2 Kings 2 : 1 – 12; 2 Corinthians 4 : 3 – 6; Mark 9 : 2 – 9

The reflection for this week is by Local Preacher, David Bainbridge (Horfield).

Affirmation is I believe at the very heart of this episode in the life of Jesus. It was a validation of his ministry and would give him the courage and the confidence to continue. It was also a reinforcing experience for those three disciples. Whatever doubts they may have had from time to time about this man they’d become so attached to, this man who’d fired their imagination and whose ministry was causing such a stir, those doubts at least for the time being were being allayed. Furthermore, long after the event they would look back and draw strength from what they had shared that day on the mountain.

About a week earlier at Caesarea Philippi, Peter had made his great affirmation of faith when He said, “You are the Messiah.” It was there that Jesus had told his disciples that he would suffer. He was all too aware of the dangers and pain that lay before him on the journey he had to make to Jerusalem. We know it was his practice to take time out, when he’d find a quiet place and spend time in prayer. More than ever now he needed to have communion with his father and this time he needed to take his closest companions with him. There on the mountain, the disciples saw a change in his appearance, his face was shining. Then they saw Moses and Elijah talking with him. Moses the lawgiver, Moses who was the mediator of the old covenant, and Elijah one of the greatest of the prophets who helped to persuade people to return to the old covenant; two great figures of salvation history. What better endorsement could he have for his mission, but there was more. As Peter tried to prolong the experience a cloud came down and they heard a voice say, “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased, listen to him.” What was affirmed at his Baptism was now being reaffirmed. And what powerful words of affirmation they were.

Affirmation is not a word we use a lot these days. Maybe it’s because we don’t engage in a lot of affirming action. We find it easier to criticise than to praise and that is probably made worse because we live in a blame culture. We are often quick off the mark to tell someone if we think they’ve done something wrong but tend to drag our feet when it comes to saying well done. We all need those positive strokes as it draws out the best in us and can give us the confidence to face life’s more difficult challenges.

There on the mountain, Jesus heard those words of affirmation from his father. What a thing to know before embarking on the most difficult journey of his life. A journey which he made to demonstrate God’s love for all humankind. Through him and all that he accomplished; we hear God saying to us my daughter my son whom I love and, as we in turn affirm each other may it give us the strength we need for the hard parts of our journey.

If we could bear your brightness here and stay forever in your light, then we would conquer grief and fear, and scorn the terrors of the night.

Alan Gaunt