Category Archives: Minister’s Messages

Thought for the Week: The Way Forward

My thoughts for the week are about looking back and ahead. During the last month, my youngest daughter Becky asked me for some photos from the past. Out, from under the bed came the SUNSHINE LAUNDRY BOX, 21” long, 11” across & 5” high, overflowing with photographs. I doubt if you have a similar box, which could be around 150 years old. Looking through the photos brought back memories that made us laugh and from others a few tears, and they reminded us of the changes that had taken place during those years, especially how the world has changed.
I then looked at the Long Itchington minutes book, a huge tome of the history of the Chapel from 1827 to 1931. I was aware too that there were other Congregational chapels with a similar history to Long Itchington; for instance, Marton, Southam, Long Compton, Stockton and Moreton-in-Marsh. I speak now though about Long Itchington, which was going along quite well until the Church meeting in 1913 after which – and I nearly missed an addendum – in very faint writing it said, “lapse of meetings until 1920 owing to the First World War”. My thought was that for most of those Chapels, that would probably have been the only time when the Chapels were closed, except the present lockdown.
It must have been a very sad time for the people during 1913 to 1920 who possibly wondered if they would ever worship in their Chapel again and I can understand that feeling at the present time. However, I have given you this history story because it was not the end. At the Church meeting in 1913 before the close down, there were six people and in 1922 when the Chapel reopened there were twelve people and by 1937 there were so many worshippers that the Chapel wasn’t large enough and was eventually renovated and transformed. And, as is said, the rest is even more history.
Today, many of the Congregational Chapels are on lockdown, not because of a war like the First World War or even the Second World War but another kind of war – a silent kind which is just as dangerous. I ask the question, how did the Congregational Chapels survive? Last week, I spoke about Psalm 124. This week, we look at that again. In the Psalm, David says to Israel, the Lord was on our side. David is speaking to people. not to countries. Some of the people reading this will have had their own battles and haven’t always been able to prevent closure, but like Marton Chapel, the people who were so few they were unable to cope took their enthusiasm to Long Itchington. Psalm 124, saying God must have been with us to help us win the battle, is followed by Psalm 125 that begins with, “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion which can not be shaken but endures forever.”

PRAYERS

Today, we look back to the beginning of many chapels in the 19th Century and we give thanks for the commitment of those who were servants of Jesus Christ and were determined to have places of worship. We pray for our own chapel as we wait for the virus to be overcome when we can once again worship together and show the commitment we have towards God our Father, when we say “Thy will be done”. We pray that we will be ready to follow your Son Jesus our Master and Saviour.

A prayer from the Prayer Handbook by Susan Durbar

Blessed be God,
who is not alone in doing wondrous things, but who inspires and empowers people like us to love with compassion and to desire justice.
Who hears the voices of those in need, the poor and those who have no help and sends you and me to answer them.
Who has pity for the weak and who holds them as precious while nagging us to rise and do something.
Whose glory fills the whole earth, and whose power is shown in the ones who meet our weakness and our need for they do wondrous things.
And blessed be God’s people, who touch the earth with love. May glory fill the world as righteousness and justice are delivered from our hands.

Thought for the Week: God Is With Us

On Sunday, I watched the service online which had been prepared by Rev’d James Church, During the sermon he spoke about two parts of the Bible which explained God’s will that COVID-19 would not destroy the world, which had been the fear of some people. Today, I make a long story short, which begins when Peter and John had healed a man who had been crippled from birth. They had great courage to do the healing and preaching about God and Jesus Christ and, because of it, they were taken into prison (Acts 4). While they were in prison, they continued to pray and preach and when eventually they were released from prison, they did not cease preaching and praying.
First, they praised God and then they told God about their problem. They did not ask Him to take it away, but what they did do was to ask God to help them to deal with it.
We now go to the Old Testament to see what King David in Psalm 124 said. He began by saying if the Lord had not been on their side against the Philistines, Israel knew they would have been swallowed up alive. We all know that there are many stories of wars in the Old Testament, which were the cause of the deaths of many fighting people. What we are going through with COVID-19 is very much like a war and as the Psalm says, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” We must keep our faith; Jesus Christ will return and we will have new lives in eternity through Him.

LOOKING AHEAD…

On SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12th WE WILL HAVE TWO TABLES OUTSIDE OF THE CHAPEL FROM 12 to 2pm. This is the Sunday before we would have been celebrating our Harvest Thanksgiving. As the rules are at present, we are not able to have our usual services in the Chapel. The tables are for us to bring and buy items of food for charity. The non-perishable foods will be for the Food Bank, while the fruit and vegetables will be sold for Christian Aid and jars of jam and marmalade will be sold for the Chapel. Please tell your family and friends about this charity giving.

PRAYERS

This Prayer is taken from the Prayer Handbook and was written by Neil Thorogood
Eternal God, ruler and shaper of time, hear the prayer we offer.
For we know the limits of our lives: imagines which cannot hold your truth,
Hearts that struggle to contain your grace, years that seem too brief,
Futures unclear and unpredictable, we confess our fear that life is not in your hands
And that we are in danger. We confess the sense that this world is out of control
And rushing deeper into chaos.
Into our fearfulness bring your reassuring truth.
Remind us that all things exist within your will and purpose.
Sooth us with the knowledge of your will shaping our days.
Inspire us to trust that you are taking all we are each moment
And shaping our lives into a great mosaic of your purpose.
Bless us and renes us with hope,
We pray in the name of Jesus and through the power
Of the Holy Spirit Amen.
From Bread of Tomorrow
God of creation, the earth is Yours with all its beauty and goodness, its rich and overflowing provision.
But we have claimed it for our own, plundered its beauty for profit, grabbed its resources for ourselves.
God of creation forgive us. May we no longer abuse your trust, but care gently and with justice for your earth. Amen.

Thought for the Week: Rejoice Always

Last week I mentioned what some of us were doing during Lockdown. It was a very brief list and I’m sure that if I made a full list of how we have kept busy it would be very interesting and would probably fill a whole page. As I was giving it more thought with prayer, I was led to think about Paul when he was imprisoned in Rome and how he reacted to being away from the church of the Philippians, which he had begun at an earlier journey.
Paul’s reaction was to write to the Christians there for two reasons. Firstly, he wrote a thank you letter for the gift that Epaphraditus had brought to him from the church and from which he had felt great encouragement. Secondly, he wanted to encourage the people that he felt great love for. His letter was particularly about joy.
Paul had joy in his relationship with Jesus Christ and he was encouraging the people to find that same joy. He believed that Christians should be joyful always no matter what they were going through. While some of us are still under Lockdown we would all get help from Paul’s letter for, as well as writing the joyful letter, he says that he had learned to be content and have joy in Jesus Christ. Many of us have been away from those we love and might find his words comforting when he says, “in all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel”. So, even if the pandemic prevents us from being together, we share in the grace of God which gives us the loving affection of Jesus Christ.
I heard someone recently suggesting that there would soon be no place for letters because of emails and other ways of making contact with others. I would be very sorry if I could not send or receive post, such as letters, post cards, and birthday and Christmas cards. I know I am old fashioned, but I am quickly to the door when I hear something coming through my letter box. I also, going back to Paul, love to get a thank you card. I always get thank you cards from my family and one of my friends teenaged granddaughters sends me thank you cards with all about her life and I cherish all of those cards.

PRAYERS

Beginning with well-known words of Paul who said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice”. EVER LOVING GOD, hear our prayers and help us, through the Holy Spirit, to show joyfulness at all times.
Then Paul says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” We admit that we are not always gentle in how we help others. Forgive us if we have been harsh in word or in our actions. Thank you Lord Jesus for the words by which we are led.
Once more in the words of Paul we come to you. “Do not be anxious in anything but in prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God.” Father we thank You for Paul and his leading words. We pray for help when we are afraid of the future. We pray again to find joyfulness in Jesus Christ, and we thank you for the promise of your peace.
Loving Father there are people throughout the world who need help. There are children dying of the lack of food and medicine and the virus is making their lives even worse. We pray for them, that they might be shown the love of Jesus Christ and that the peace which transcends all understanding will be for all people so that they might find out what it means to be joyful in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Saviour. Amen.

Thought for the Week: Keeping Busy

Family and friends: Gwen is knitting; Becky is puppy training; Lisa does jigsaws; Angela is baking bread rolls; Hazel makes jam; Tony grows vegetables; Lucy makes masks; Sally raised money for Carers; Rachel made cards; Marion tries the keyboard; and John sings. These are some of the different activities we do during Lockdown and I could have mentioned many more things that people are doing, but this week I want to focus on singing.
Many of us would like to get together to sing but it’s on the ‘not allowed’ list. If its importance is questioned one would only need to count up the number of choirs in Warwickshire to realise that singing is enjoyed by a large number of people throughout the country. Not long before COVID-19 raised its evil head, I had to leave the choir I had enjoyed for years due to ill health and I had just joined the Harmony singing group. Sunday came, the Chapel was closed, so I went for a walk along country roads and I sang. I sang to the sheep, I sang to the cows, I even sang to a cyclist passing by who probably thought I was strange but what I was doing was lifting myself out of the sadness that had come over me on that first day of Lockdown.
My suggestion for this week is to sing. Why? Because it is uplifting, and research has shown that the benefits to our lives are great and overwhelming. Each Sunday during lockdown I have enjoyed the church service arranged online by the Reverend James Church, which gives me the opportunity to sing along in my lounge. I then turn on to Songs of Praise and sing along again. I know that until the pandemic is over, I will sing as much as I can and I urge everyone to try to do the same.
In Psalm 40, King David, after he’d been through the mire writes, “God put a new song in my mouth”. James wrote, “If anyone of you is in trouble he should pray. If anyone happy let him sing” (James 5 v.13). Even Job who had been through terrible times said people don’t ask the question ‘Where is God’ because he showed them by his faith that God gave him songs in the night (Job 35 v.10).

PRAYER TIME

All the prayers this week will be taken from hymns that we love to sing.
PRAISE: “Praise my soul the King of heaven, to his feet thy tribute bring. Praise Him Praise the everlasting King!”
“Sing praise to the Lord all people on earth; in tuneful accord sing praise; praise Him for His grace from above.”
FORGIVENESS: “Dear Lord and Father of mankind forgive our foolish ways, reclothe us, in purer lives thy service…”
“O for a heart to praise my God; Gracious lord, write thy new name upon my heart, thy blest name of love.”
DISCIPLESHIP: “Hushed was the evening hymn, when suddenly a voice divine rang through the silence… O give me Samuel’s mind, a sweet unmurmuring faith, obedient and resigned to you in life and death.”
“Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy; in joyful obedience your tasks to fulfil, your bondage, freedom, service strong.”
FAITH: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, seek and ye shall find, ask and knock to open…”
“O Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end. O guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end.”
HOPE: “Sometimes a light surprises a Christian while he(she) sings. It is the lord who rises with healing in his wings”
PROCLAIMING: “Colours of day dawn into the mind, the day hast begun. So light up the fire & let the flame burn.”
FOR THE WORLD: “Brother, sister let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you, I will hold the Christ-Christ light for you, I will share your joy and sorrow, when you laugh, I’ll laugh with you, till we’ve seen this journey through.”
FATHER & SON: “To God be the glory, great things He has done! So loved he the world that he gave us His Son.
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice! O come to the Father through Jesus the Son and give Him the glory- great things He has done!”
The parts of the Hymns speak for themselves when read as prayers.
Have you recognised twelve Hymns? If you need a hymn book, ask me and I will deliver one to you.

Thought for the Week: Choices

In the prayer time last week, I pointed to Romans 8. V.28 where Paul said, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him”. This week I want to say a little more about that sentence. I don’t need to tell you that we are going through tragic circumstances which are not made by God but by evil that is prevalent in the world. At the beginning of Paul’s statement, it says, “we know”, so if we know what is good, we also know what is bad and are therefore led to make choices. In order to make the right choices we need the help of the Holy Spirit who deals with what is true and good for us. We had all hoped that by now we would be out of Lockdown but sadly that has not happened and I feel strongly that our prayers must be for what that means for us now and also what we are afraid of what we think the future will be.
As a lover of wildflowers, I move now to share with you something that has uplifted my recent days. On the day before Lockdown my daughter Lisa went to a funeral of the sister of her friend from Plymouth. When she came back home, she gave me six packets of seeds and on the packet were these words: “Let wildflowers grow in all the places I could not and every time you see them flower think of me.” Then it added, “Please scatter these seeds in memory of Del.”

I planted them in twenty small pots and spread the others in a part of the ground which needed weeding. I then watered the pots and after a week or two some little green shoots were seen and gradually, we saw some strong green plants but no flowers. They were overgrowing the small pots so then I transplanted them into the old plastic dog basket with a prayer that they would survive. Then, about ten days ago, there were signs of small white flowers and following, day by day, different flowers popped up and we now have corn flowers, lesser spear wort, fox and cubs, sand wort, ox eye daisies, willow herb, dog rose and others.
What a lovely way for the family and friends to remember their loved one.

PRAYER TIME

AMAZING GOD we praise You for all the ways You help us to cope with sadness. As it says in Psalm 30 v. 11 “You turned my sorrow into joy!”
Today Lord we are facing more sadness as thousands of people are losing their jobs and are afraid of the future because they will be unable to feed their children and some families are already in that situation.
Lord, You know that many people have died because of the pandemic and are distraught because they have not been able to be with their loved ones as they died. FATHER GOD, we place all of those people into Your hands.
LOVING GOD, we have heard that You overturn the bad to make it good. When Mary was told that she would give birth to Jesus, the Angel Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, for nothing is impossible with God.”
FORGIVING GOD, during recent days people have made choices which were against the law and in doing so have made danger for other people. We all at times fail to follow the way Jesus Christ showed us how to live and how to show our love for one another. Lord we ask for forgiveness for our wrong choices in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
CREATING GOD, we thank You for the abundance of wildflowers in the countryside as well as the varieties of beautiful flowers in our gardens and in hanging pots in our cities and towns.
CARING GOD, we ask help for the problems made by COVID-19. For instance, that the children can return to school safely and that the teachers will be ready to restart lessons for them. We pray too that if another spike occurs, the NHS will be able to cope with those who are ill and have all that is necessary to keep the doctors, nurses and carers safe.
FATHER GOD all our prayers are in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who gave us the Holy Spirit to intercede in our weaknesses and our choices. We reach out for the hands of God to hold us in safety. AMEN

Thought for the Week: The Peace of God

It was Monday, the 14th Monday of Lockdown. Monday is often not good for me and I have at times been very reluctant to get out of my bed! However, I prayed to God for inspiration for the THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK and at first, felt lead to the United Reformed Prayer Book of 2010 and when I opened it I nearly laughed out loud as I read the heading which said, ‘LOOSE OUR CHAINS AND SETTLE US IN PEACE’.
Suddenly I saw a light in the tunnel, my Monday grumpiness went, for God had answered prayer immediately because. the words in my mind which I had had as I woke up were almost the same: ‘LOOSE THE LOCKDOWN AND GIVE US OUR FREEDOM AND PEACE’.
This followed the reading in Galatians 3 v.23 where we are reminded that before we had faith in Jesus Christ we were imprisoned by our past mistakes and by the wrong things like sins that we had done even though we knew they were wrong. We also might be craving the wrong things today and all of it would have been forgiven due to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The other part of our wish to be free is peace.
You may have heard the verse from Philippians 4 v. 7 many times but it is a special gift from God and is as follows:
“AND THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS”. God’s peace is different from the peace we talk about so often, especially when It is used at times of war or some other kind of conflict.
There are many commentaries regarding people’s understanding of God’s peace. One wrote, “God’s peace is the smile of God reflected in the soul of the believer”. Another wrote, “It is a very special gift from God, founded on Grace and the love of Christ which is explained in Ephesians 3 v,18 where Paul wrote, ‘I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’”. What more can we ask for?
Going back to freedom, if you can find one of my favourite hymns which begins with, “And can it be” and read verse 4 you will find an explanation on how in believing in Jesus lives are changed.
As we come to Prayers for the week, I copy that verse:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.
My chains fell off, my heart was free
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

PRAYERS FOR THE WEEK

Jesus teaches us to pray. Give us our daily bread;
As we give thanks for our food, our homes, our security,
We remember that many are hungry, or homeless, or in danger.
Help us not to be complacent with what we have,
But to look for ways to make a fairer world.
Jesus teaches us to pray, and keep on praying,
To ask and search and knock.
O God, who always hears our prayers
Accept these and all our prayers in the name of
the one who taught us to pray. Amen ( Prayer taken from “Teach us to pray” by Sue McCoan )
Father God, We have been through a time of trial caused by COVID-19. Paul wrote, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him”.
Heavenly Father as we pray in the name of your Son, we might see good coming from what has been a very difficult time throughout the world. We ask now that the terrible times many have suffered by losing their loved ones will end and they will find peace. As we search for a better future, we pray that those who are still suffering from the virus will be healed and able to enjoy their lives again.
Lord Jesus Christ as we reach out to you we would pray that as we get used to our changed lives we might be given your special peace which we have been thinking about and may we be used to help those who, as yet, have not taken you into their lives that they will be blessed by finding you as their saviour. Amen

Thought for the Week: New Normal/New Life

As the constraints that we have all lived with for twelve weeks are beginning to be eased I have heard people talking about getting back to normal and then talking about ‘THE NEW NORMAL’ meaning, as they look back over that time, they have realised that their way of living has changed in ways that are better. I know that I have been surprised that I have used the time in ways that have been better for me.
As the poet W.H. Davies wrote “What is life if full of care, we have no time to stop and stare.” For the first time in years I have sat in my garden in the lovely sunshine eating my lunch instead of trying to fill my time with unnecessary activities.
I know that I took that quote of the poem out of context when using “full of care”. In today’s news programme it said that for many people life in the near future is going to be full of care. During lockdown, the parents of children with severe special needs lost their carers and thousands of people who have already been on part pay will discover that there are no jobs for them.
The reading for last Sunday was about a man who had been crippled from birth and who was taken daily to the Beautiful Gate of the Temple so that the people leaving worship would give him some money. When he saw Peter and John coming from the Temple, he asked them for some money. Peter answered him by saying, “Silver or gold have I none but what I have in the name of Jesus I will give to you.” Peter touched the man and he was healed. What this story says is that because we are Christians, we have been given a new life in Jesus Christ. To give money is helpful but more important is to spread the love of Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. We may not have the gift of healing but by leading someone to Jesus gives them a new and eternal life. The whole story is in Acts 3.v 1-10.

PRAYERS FOR THE WEEK

Abba Father, Almighty God, during this very difficult time, our strength has come through the children’s hymn “He’s got the whole world in His hands”. Soon after the lockdown began we were unable to be together to live once again through all the suffering that Jesus endured for His people, like the Passover, Good Friday, and His crucifixion followed by being able to share in the celebration of the Resurrection. Loving Father our strength came from You then and it will continue to come via the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus the King.
Lord Jesus, we know how you loved both children and people with disabilities, our prayers are for the many in the world who suffer, their families and their carers. Lord we pray that there will be many with the gift of caring who feel able to help them.
Dear Lord Jesus, because of COVID-19, thousands of jobs have been lost causing people and families to become desperately poor. Lord Jesus, we may not have the answer to this problem but we know that you will have it and so we put it at the foot of the cross.
Holy Spirit, our prayers now come to you as we ask for your intervention to make the words of these prayers acceptable. In the name of Jesus, the Son, Father creator and Holy Spirit, Amen
Near Santiago there is a statue of Jesus Christ. It has no hands because they disappeared many years ago. It was discussed about replacing the hands, but it was decided not to. On the plinth of the statue there is written: I HAVE NO HANDS BUT YOURS.