WWW.Easter

Suzanne Simard, a young Canadian forest ecologist, discovered a curious connection in the 1990s. When paper birch trees were “weeded” out amongst the cash crop of the Douglas Fir trees, rather than benefitting the firs, it hastened their decline. What she went on to discover was that under the ground, fungi sent out super fine threads creating a network weaving the roots of all the trees together. Along these networks the trees exchanged nutrients. Removing the paper birch trees disrupted the connections and removed the nutrients from the Douglas Firs which was detrimental to all. The discovery of this interconnected network became known as the “wood wide web”!


Last week in John’s telling of the gospel story we heard Jesus saying there are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. There was an invitation to follow, to join, to dwell in the presence of God. Following on from that, this week we are now being invited to welcome the Father into our dwelling place: ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.’


There is a mutuality here – an invitation and welcome that is reciprocated – perhaps a bit like a marriage? ‘I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you.’ We are not only invited into the Father’s house, but we learn we are to be the dwelling place for the Father – in Christ through the Holy Spirit.


One wonders what the disciples made of such a statement. The idea that God was not to be found in a particular place like the Temple, but can be discovered in every time and place. This certainly is good news for us at the moment shut out of the buildings where we long to gather. ‘Best of all God is with us’ said John Wesley on his deathbed. This is a constant refrain for the people called Methodists. God does not abandon us but rather God is with us. Our lifeblood flowing through us – we are part of the same Vine. And through the Holy Spirit we are each connected to one another. Perhaps like the wood wide web we may find it difficult to see the connections at the present time, but they are there. When one suffers, we all suffer, when one rejoices so too we join in that rejoicing. Through prayer, cards and conversation we bear with one another and build each other up. A connected community or to put it another way a World Wide Web spun into being by the Creator, every strand infused with the presence of Christ. This amazing gift is present now. A gift for all who desire to belong. Like the Paper Birch and Douglas Fir we may be very different but that brings a great richness to the whole.
I recognise that sometimes it is easier than others to sense this connectedness, but it is always there and I am discovering afresh the importance, not only of this unseen network, but of taking the time to recognise it is there and to give thanks for our connectedness.
Thanks be to God.


By way of reflection I have included an article by Laurence Wareing reflecting on a hymn written by modern hymn writer Andrew Pratt. It is 610 in Singing the Faith and uses that line:
Best of all is God is with us.
Peace be with you.
Nick

Call to Prayer 17th May 2020

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In the days following the first Easter Sunday, the disciples of Jesus would have gone through any number of different reactions, from uncertainty and anxiety to joy and celebration, through incomprehension and fear to recognition and hope. If the Cross had robbed them of his presence, the Resurrection has restored his presence. Surely Jesus will continue to be with them always?

The Gospel of John (14: 1-21) portrays the disciples wrestling with the dawning reality that Jesus will not continue to be physically present to them. It would seem that they are again to be left bereft and ‘orphaned’. Uncertainty and anxiety threaten once more. In response, Jesus speaks into their incomprehension and fear with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus reassures them that they are not alone and that his spiritual presence will be renewed in this world through the Spirit. Jesus, through the Spirit, continues with us always as the assurance of God’s love for us.

Let us pray:

Living God, you are our Creator and our Maker
And the very breath of life is given as your gift.
We thank you for the gift of life
And we embrace and treasure that gift.

Living God, you are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
Whose presence in the world reveals your love for us.
In the giving of your Son,
You reveal the depths of your love.

Living God, your Son embraced the Cross
And the depths of human suffering.
We thank you that you delivered him
On the day of Resurrection.

Living God, as you spoke to the bereft and the orphaned in days past,
Speak to the bereft and the orphaned in days present.
Speak to the uncertain and the anxious.
Speak into the depths of our incomprehension and fear.

Living God, your promise
Is that we will not be left alone to face the world.
We thank you that through the gift of your Spirit
That promise is fulfilled.

Living God, be with all who sustain our common life at this time,
Carers and nurses, cleaners and porters,
Doctors and ambulance staff, delivery drivers and posties.
Through their giving our common life is sustained.

Living God, as you have watched over us in the past,
Watch over us in the present.
As once more we thank you, that through Christ
And by your Holy Spirit, we are not alone. Amen.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)

Call to Prayer 10th May 2020

SUNDAY 10th MAY Prayer @ 7pm

Version for printing

As Scotland locked down in March, so our usual way of life came shuddering to a halt. Travel was restricted to an extent not experienced in any living lifetime. Our way of life changed too. Some faced traumatic, heart-rending personal situations, from illness to hospitalisation, anxiousness for and separation from loved ones. Others experienced new risk through their roles, including those serving in hospitals and care homes, and key workers in other sectors that are vital for life. Yet others faced difficult personal situations: hunger, tension in relationships and worse, and overnight, everyone had to find a new way of living life.

Today’s gospel reading from John Chapter 14, tells of a traumatic time in the life of the disciples and Jesus. After three years travelling together around Galilee, they arrive in Jerusalem amidst an atmosphere heavy with threat. Gathering behind a closed door, in the hour of his own need, Jesus sought to offer comfort and guidance to his followers and friends, telling them of a place in God’s house, and that he was going ahead to prepare a place for them. Thomas, bless him, asked the question which is on the hearts of so many, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. Howcan we know the way? To which Jesus replied: “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

“Today, in these times, we pray that we may sense Christ’s guiding presence:

Come, Jesus Christ, come my way;
showing me your way, through these disorientating days,
and opening my eyes to your accompanying presence.

Come, Jesus Christ, come my way;
teaching me your truth, through these confounding days
and opening my mind to your living Word.

Come Jesus Christ, come my way;
revealing to me your life, through these bewildering days,
and opening my heart to the fulness of your being.

Amen.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
    Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)

All We Can Emergency Coronavirus Appeal

The Methodist Relief and Development charity has launched an Emergency Coronavirus Appeal in support of its work with partners in areas especially affected by Covid-19, ie places without access to running water or soap & where social distancing is an impossibility.  This is true, for example,

  • among the Rohingya refugees in camps in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh,
  • for internally-displaced families in Cameroon,
  • for families unable now to access food in markets in Uganda because of the current banning of public transport.

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Easter keeps going

(Read John :10-10 and Acts 2:42-47)
In the days long before Sat Nav, smart phones and the like on the long car journey from Cumbria to East Anglia, Dad decided to take a short cut in the back roads of East Anglia. Suffice to say the short cut took us a lot longer and when you’re cramped in the back seat with two older brothers, Dad was not very popular at that point. Of course, it wasn’t the first or last time such a thing happened!

As Jesus points out in the gospel there isn’t a short cut to the sheepfold – a point exemplified by Jesus as he travels the cross before experiencing resurrection. We can’t just jump over the wall as indeed we can’t suddenly find a short cut out of the present situation. The Apostles in the early church took this advice to heart summed up in the phrase, ‘Day by Day’.

It feels like Day by day is about the only thing we can do at the moment and maybe some days we are not even sure if its yesterday, today or tomorrow. Certainly, I am learning patience, seeking to focus on the risen Christ but it’s not always easy.

But the early church gives us some good advice. There was a lot of fear around about what might come next (remember Jesus hap appeared in a locked room – locked because of the disciples’ fear). The Romans had crucified Jesus. The future of the early Christians was very uncertain. So what do they do?
Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

This is not bad advice for the lockdown. Seeking out teaching (Bibles) and fellowship (giving someone a ring or ‘Zooming/Skyping/FaceTiming’). Breaking bread – taking time to eat, remembering those around us in the world, giving thanks for all those who still make it possible for us to have food on our tables and maybe recognizing something of the risen Christ in this, and praying. This is a good time for prayer – there is no need to rush, no need to present a list but trying to find time to place ourselves in the presence of God. There is no shortcut to this and sometimes it comes easier than others, simply listening for the voice of the Shepherd.

The suggested Psalm for this Sunday is Psalm 23 – perhaps the most well-known Psalm to all of us. A Psalm that reminds us there is no shortcut but that God is faithful and walks with us even in the most difficult places – in the challenges of the shadows and uncertainty. Christ bears testament that such situations do not have the last word. There is hope and life and love. The early Christians found a way, we too will find a way and the time will come when we can gather physically together again. In the meantime let us holdfast, not seeking shortcuts but spending time as the first followers did.

If you read the passages at the start, you’ve already done some Bible reading, by reading this you have spent time in the company of others in the churches and maybe Psalm 23 can lead you into a time of prayer. And then look, you are already following the example of the early Christians!

Keep on keeping on, and may the peace of the risen Christ reign in your hearts.

With love, Nick

Call to Prayer 3rd May 2020 @ 7pm

Photo by Lionel Titu

Version for printing

In these challenging days: Is there anyone watching over us who really understands who we are and what we are experiencing at this time?

The imagery of the Lord as Shepherd and of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd is woven into the heart of Scripture. The resonance of the ancient, yet immediately present, words of the Psalmist can be sensed, such that even now we can hear those words in the very depths of our being: ‘The Lord is my Shepherd…Even though I walk through the darkest valley…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me’. (Psalm 23) The imagery is taken up in the Gospel of John where the Good Shepherd watches over us and calls us by our name. He does so because he knows us and knows what we are experiencing at this time.(John 10)

Jesus said: ‘I am the good shepherd’ and so we pray:

Good Shepherd, watch over us today
In all we face and experience.
Never leave us or forsake us
And journey with us always.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know us
As no-one else knows us.
Guard us and keep us,
As you guard and keep those whom we love.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, we pray for the sick and the lonely;
For the anxious and the bereaved;
For those whose pain is beyond our comprehension.
We stand with them and commend them to your care.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, we pray for the carers in hospitals and in homes
And for all who serve the needs of others.
May the example of living compassion
Inspire us in our care for others.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know the depths of our heart
And the fears which are ours.
Speak into the depths of our heart
And calm our fears.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know us by our name
And our identity is not hidden from you.
Gather us to yourself as a Shepherd gathers the sheep,
That we might know your Name.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

Rt. Rev. Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)

Vote for the Pollokshaws CAP Job Club

Pollokshaws Methodist Church has been running a Job Club for the past 5 years, helping over 400 people into work.

They were nominated for the Church Volunteer Awards competition, run by Methodist Insurance, and have won the Scottish regional award. They now go on the the national final, and would like your vote.

Look at the competition and cast your vote online by 15th July 2020.

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