- Bramerton Road
- SS5 4PJ
Minister's Mutterings ....
25th June 2020
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
And a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
This week’s Mutterings are prompted by a conversation I had with Chris B. during the week, about how important it is for us as Church to continue to be together even though we continue to be unable to gather together. So, this week we bring:
Being Together Through God’s Word
Over the next two weeks let us all read the same book of the Bible. There will be a sense of connectedness when we know that we are all looking at the same Word together and there will be a coming together as we can share what we find; our favourite verses, fresh understanding, new revelations. As we can ask one another questions, dig a little deeper, share resources and explore some answers. So, we invite you to read in the New Testament, Paul’s letter to the
It is a real 'go to' of mine. I go to it to be reminded of God’s promises, our life in Jesus and our following as his disciples. Just this time 2 years ago, I was preparing my Ordination Service and Ephesians Chapter 3 was one of the passages I chose for that day.
There are also some wonderful verses of encouragement, reassurance, spiritual growth and living out our faith in practise as individuals and as church. Look out for them as you read. Take a journal or if you have a bible that you journal in, make notes of verses that you:
Particularly liked, or inspired you.
Or that you didn’t like, or which troubled you.
Is there anything that touched you?
Expanded your faith?
Made you think more deeply about your life, and how you live it?
If you have access to being online there are some resources that you may like to use as you read and dig into Ephesians. One I particularly like is The Bible Project: www.thebibleproject.com. Also, from our Bible Course that I started to run for everyone from last year you can also access: Bible Society: www.biblesociety.org.uk/explore-the-bible.
you find out about the history or context of this letter
that Paul (or maybe not!) wrote to this new church at Ephesus?
And as you read through the content
what do you think about its relevance today?
It is no co-incidence, more of a God-incidence, that on Sunday to conclude our series on The Lord’s Prayer our scripture will be from Ephesians Chapter 6. So, stay tuned in!
With Love & Prayers,
18th June 2020
Therefore, since we are
surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith,
let us strip off every weight that slows us down,
especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Photo: Alex Thomson 2017
Mutterings this week are brought to us from Jo W.:
Often my thoughts stray to the early Christians, especially those who wandered through the UK in order to spread the word of Christ, moving from place to place in hostile country. Many of our early Christian teachers came from Ireland.
St. Ciaran, St Aidan and the Venerable Bede, are just a few of them. St Aidan founded Lindisfarne, in 635. The way they celebrated their faith, often on their own. Keeping the services that they could as they moved from village to village, possibly not knowing where or when they would meet fellow Christians.
In our own way, we are much like these early Christians, meeting mostly on our own. Finding our own way to keep our faith. As we watch and listen to Mum sing and pray every Sunday to the services on the BBC, all of which come from churches all over the country with just a minister leading people into prayer, my mind flicks to those men and women who, many centuries ago, only had their own faith to sustain them.
Each day we face a new challenge at the moment; how do we shop, how do we meet people, how do we keep in touch, how do we stay safe, how do we follow our faith. We have all made sacrifices, we have had to find new ways of meeting together in fellowship, new ways of shopping and new ways of talking to people. Mum made her first steps out of the house this week for the first time in 11 weeks. Many other of us have not been out and are still not going out. But we try and find our time to pray and share our faith as well on our own.
We must all find different ways of continuing with our faith, finding new ways of being together and sharing our faith. So how will we find these ways? Of course some churches made the leap to online services many years ago. I have a friend who early in his career as a minster created an online service every week this has grown over the years to a huge online congregation, as well as his regular Sunday one. Others like Bramerton Road and Basildon have just started on the online spiritual journey; it will bring challenges and laughs as we make mistakes, a leap of faith for everyone. For others the journey to the TV is right for them.
So, leaps of faith, journeys into the unknown, we again look like my early Christian heroes; those that had no back up, no protection, just traveled around spreading the word of Christ.
The journeys of those early Christian teachers remind me every day of the struggles we face as the world changes around us.
The path I walk, Christ walks it.
May the land in which I am be without sorrow.
May the Trinity protect me wherever I stay,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Bright angels walk with me
– dear presence – in every dealing.
In every dealing I pray them
that no one’s poison may reach me.
The ninefold people of heaven of holy cloud,
the tenth force of the stone earth.
Favourable company, they come with me,
so that the Lord may not be angry with me.
May I arrive at every place, may I return home;
may the way in which I spend be a way without loss.
May every path before me be smooth,
man, woman and child welcome me.
A truly good journey!
Well does the faith Lord show us a course, a path.
( - Attributed to St. Columba - )
I am sure you will want to, with me, thank Jo for her very insightful reflection and sharing with us her great interest in the early stirrings of the Christian faith.
With Love & Prayers,
11th June 2020
New Pastures and Mission Fields.
We have been unable to meet in our church buildings now since our last Services together on 15th March 2020. We follow our Scriptures; teaching us that the church is not the building, but a group of warm and loving people specially chosen by God, and we quickly adopted to ways of being church without a building, and we have done so very, very well. However, the buildings are still there, and still need to be maintained and the question is arising now of when will our church buildings re-open? What will it be like? Will I feel safe enough to go?
I thought it was the right time now to share with you all decisions made in the meetings of the Elders and myself across the Pastorate this past month. We have looked together at URC guidance papers, listened to the Government Road map, and prayed and pondered and decided in the light of our local church situations.
We shall NOT be opening our church buildings, both at Bramerton Road and at Basildon for worship from 4th July as you may hear that some churches are. But we are continuing working towards a time when our churches WILL re-open for worship and what that may look like.
As life after Lockdown moves on, so we shall all be stepping into new pastures and mission fields and finding a new normal. And we shall all do that at different rates of stepping-out, stepping-forward and feeling-safe. And, most of all, we shall do that as Jesus calls us to do –
Together, in compassionate understanding and love for one another:
Love each other.
Just as I have loved you,
you should love each other.
Our virtual church weekly activities and Sunday Morning Worship remain the same for now.
My Love & Prayers, Gillian
4th June 2020
Give all your worries & cares to God
For he cares about you
(1 Peter 5:7)
This week we have Members Mutterings from Gill B.:
This is a bit of a saga, but I wanted to tell you how gracious our God has been to me over Bank Holiday weekend
On the Friday before Bank Holiday I felt I needed to seek some advice from my GP as I have phlebitis. She wanted me to go to the surgery. Like most of you I haven’t been out for 10 weeks (except to go for a walk) therefore I was a little anxious. I need not have worried; it was very well organised. My GP wanted me to go to the hospital for a scan – on Bank Holiday afternoon.
I had no information or what type of scan it was. I phoned X-ray on Saturday, who had little information and questioned whether I had got the right day. I was confused and very apprehensive – not about the scan just about going to the hospital under these circumstances.
On Saturday evening I was listening to Christian music on YouTube and I found a song that had been a favourite a while ago. I played it a few times and I felt a great calm and peace about going to hospital, being certain that all would be well.
As I went into the hospital via fracture clinic, people were guiding the way to X-ray. The nurse who came with me went to find out where I had to go. Nobody seemed to be expecting me, but they took me up to the first floor and went off to investigate again. It was confusion all round me, but God had told me all would be well. They found some reference and continued with the scan.
As I was advised, I phoned Dowsett ward and they were expecting to see me. The staff were not too busy so had time for me and were reassuring though I was not worried about scan results. I saw a doctor who confirmed there was no added findings other than phlebitis, so I was free to go home.
It’s a bit weird to go into hospital waiting areas to see most of the seats taped off and everyone wearing masks, including me. As I thought about my experiences in the afternoon, everyone was so kind and considerate It was almost a pleasure to be there.
And the song? "Be not afraid"
The chorus goes -
"Be not afraid, I go before you always,
Come, follow me and I will give you rest"
I just want to praise God and thank him for his loving message to me just when I needed it and I also want to thank all you prayer warriors who helped me on that journey.
Thank you all of you and my love, Gill B.
27th May 2020
This Sunday is Pentecost, the day we celebrate the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit upon the Church. In the book of Acts in our bible we read the account:
Suddenly there was a sound from heaven
like the roaring of a mighty windstorm
and it filled the house where they were sitting.
Then what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared
and settled on each of them.
And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues
as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability
This photograph I took, back in January, in the Winter Garden at Hyde Hall, reminds me of the day of Pentecost.
The peace of the blue sky interrupted by the clouds blowing in the wind.
The fiery tongues of red, orange, yellow, and burnt amber in the powerful colours of the plants.
Look around you, what can you see that speaks of the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit can be a hidden member of the Trinity in the language of the Church. Only coming out of the box in the message of Pentecost Sunday. I appreciate, some folk may struggle to understand the complexities of the Holy Spirit, some shy away from often controversial discussions. For others there can be a holding back from experiencing the Holy Spirit as an unwelcomed interruption from comfort or an unnerving supernatural phenomenon. "Well what will it do to me?", "It’s a big risk to be open to where the Spirit may blow", "And what about the speaking in tongues part – what really is that all about?", "We don’t do that here". This is the type of question or statement that has been asked or said to me over a time.
The book of Acts celebrates the birth and spread of the Church through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the promised gift Jesus leaves with us as he returns to his Father, so that as believers we may be able to continue His ministry here on earth.
The Holy Spirit is the power of God at work and without the Spirit – we, the Church, wouldn’t exist.
It may be challenging to our thinking and it may take us from our church comfort zone but by minimising the Holy Spirit or to hide it away, we are minimising the power of God and hiding ourselves from our growth and transformation as Jesus disciples.
- Are you hiding from the power of God’s Holy Spirit in your life?
- Is it time this Pentecost to lift the lid, challenge your thinking and be prepared to be interrupted?
- Is it time to pray a Pentecost Prayer?
Fuel my desire
To know You.
Fan into flames
The embers of my faith
And give me a taste
Of heaven on earth;
A glorious rebirth
A renewed vision
So all my decisions
Are earthed in You.
With Love & Prayers,
21st May 2020
See the bigger picture
One of my walks, in the early part of this week, took me on a pathway I hadn’t been on before so everything I saw was for the very first time.
As I rambled along I was struck by this view.
Getting my bearings, I could see that stretching out in front of me was a landscape that took me from where I was standing in Hockley across the miles to Hullbridge and then even beyond. I breathed in the vastness of the picture before me.
As the week has jogged along, I was reminded of this view in the words from Romans 8:28
We are assured and know that all things work together and are
[fitting into a plan] for good and for those who love God and are
called according to [His] design and purpose.
Sometimes when plans are cancelled there is disappointment. When things just don’t go the way that was hoped, there is frustration. When a disaster strikes, there is hopelessness. When decision time comes, making the right one is veiled by 'what ifs' and sleepless nights can ensue.
When this happens remember, God sees the bigger picture when we can only see the through the pin-hole of our own human view. When we stay focused into God’s vision, we can learn to see it from His point of view.
Ask Him ‘What’s the bigger picture?’ and draw on the clarity the Holy Spirit will reveal. Then we will be able to face the problem, the disappointment and the squashed hope, and the decision making will happen in faith.
Author Joyce Meyer says this:
'Just as airplane pilots must maintain contact with air traffic control towers, you and I must stay in touch with God—the one who sees the big picture of our lives and who orchestrates everything that involves us'.
With Love & Prayers,
14th May 2020
I don’t know about you, but I started off this week rather confused. I’d listened to the Government speech on Sunday evening for the ‘Roadmap to lifting Lockdown’ and thought - maybe I’m just tired and so that’s why this is not making much sense!!
Earlier in the afternoon I’d watched the movie ‘The Bookshop’ and loved this line from one of the characters when asked by the bookshop owner if he thought a newly published book would be appreciated by the townsfolk:
"They won't understand it, but that's all for the best.
Understanding makes the mind lazy”
(The Bookshop (2017), Bill Nighy as Edmund Brandish)
Thinking I would use the quote at some point I scribbled it down. Not realising it would be quite so soon! My mind was definitely kept from being lazy for a good part of the night ahead, trying to understand, trying to process what I’d heard and unravel its confusion. When I awoke, I realised that most of the nation were also confused. Ah, not just me then – I took some comfort in that. Monday started with tuning into prayer and into the news, talking with a colleague, phoning family, more prayer, more news, more talking and yes…….thankfully, less confusion.
On reflection, on Sunday, I’d gone straight into a confusion that troubled my mind and tried to quickly form some sort of clarity. Asking myself the question ‘What do I do next?’ and couldn’t find the answer. I think that can happen when we are faced with managing change, especially something that we cannot lean on past experience to help.
I’d missed a vital part out. On Monday, I turned the Roadmap to this page…………
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight”
God wants us to lean not on our ourselves but to lean on Him. To lay our confusion, our troubled mind, our questions before him and He will lay the way before us as we keep tuned into Him.
In the space, in the prayers, in the listening and in the actions of Monday, the pathway started to unravel and now I’m back on track. That confused face above is now back to a reassuring smile!
This week I should have been staying at the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland. This was their prayer that I turned to, on Tuesday (12.05.20):
God of this latest moment, God of this lifelong path:
we are meandering through unbounded time without clarity of an endpoint.
Like Samuel in the night, or Mary in the garden, we remain lost until we know the voice
of the one calling our name, telling us life has won.
Take our fear and confusion. Give us purpose and peace. Replace this anxiety with joy.
Place us again in this world that you love so this moment reopens our eyes.
Our pathway to prayer this week:
We pray for the leaders of Governments and States across the world as they walk the pathway of decision-making, in the ways ahead now to manage the Covid-19 situation. In our situation here in England as some restrictions on lockdown are lifted, some folk return to work and being ‘out and about’ more for exercise and fresh air can increase.
And we pray for protection. We pray into the anxiety and uncertainty and misunderstandings that this may bring. We hold the differences between our UK government bodies and confusion this may raise.
We pray for the leadership in our churches nationally and locally as we discern the way ahead. Please hold the Elders of our Pastorate here in Hockley and Basildon, and for myself, as we begin to walk the pathway of what it may mean to re-open our church buildings.
Coffee & Prayer Group – Saturday 16th May 10.00 – 11.00 am.
The way of prayer is the way of life….
There is a huge growth and need for prayer over our world at this time of the global pandemic of Covid-19. I really encourage you to join the Coffee & Prayer group this week. Don’t worry if you are unsure of praying aloud, you can bring the silent prayers on your heart. You may want to bring a written prayer – one that you have felt led to write or one that you have been drawn to pray from a book or website that you have found. God’s desire is that we meet with him in prayer together, He loves it when we show up.
Click onto the Zoom link that I shall email round on Friday. We will share some time talking over our coffee and then pray together. Prayer group will end at 11.00 am.
Or if you cannot be online, I encourage you to join your prayer-hearts in the unity of the Holy Spirit and use this time- Saturday 16th May 10.00 – 11.00 to pray in your homes.
Here is a link to print a page for colouring in - for prayerful meditation on God’s word: https://urc.org.uk/images/philippians4-6.jpg
With Love & Prayers,
7th May 2020
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person's
strength. (Proverbs 17:22)
This sign hangs in my study, it was a birthday gift to me last year from a friend; one of those "I saw this and thought of you" gifts because when we meet up we normally end up in giggles.
A couple of years ago we were travelling on the top deck of a bus in London and, immersed in chatter, we totally missed our stop only realising our distraction when the bus halted in its final parking place in Bow Bus Garage, to our total surprise and, more so, that of the driver as we scurried down the stairs. We had to be escorted through the security barrier and back out into the world! We still giggle about the experience now.
When was the last time that you had a real giggle?
There is so much going on around us right now as we are immersed in the news – international – national – local and personal – that the virus pandemic brings and we may not feel like laughing. Our minds can be taken over some days by too much thinking and far less giggling. Or maybe you feel guilty if you are laughing when you know others in the world are crying.
The wisdom in Proverbs tell us that cheerfulness and rejoicing is a gift of God's healing for us. When we are feeling weak and run down, God prescribes laughter for us.
How can you pick up your prescription of laughter or be a dose of good cheer to someone else this week?. Here’s just a few suggestions...
- Make a phone call, or Facetime or Zoom to someone and lift your spirits together as you chat.
- Watch a comedy movie or TV programme or YouTube clip and enjoy laughing out loud.
- Go to a memory of that time you just couldn't stop laughing and feel that memory bringing your smiles back again.
- Write funny jokes in a card and send to someone you know.
- Smile and say "Hi" to everyone you pass when you are out on your daily walk – see how many smiles you receive back.
- And at the end of the day, Thank God for the giggles and cheeriness He has administered to you and the opportunities he has given you to be the smile in someone else's heart.
Be cheerful because we can pray
Thank God for the technology we can use to keep in touch with one another.
Thank God for those within our Pastorate who are taking care of others, as they work in hospitals, and for charities supporting folk in their homes – especially the carers.
We pray for teachers in our schools as they work so hard continuing to educate and support the children through teaching online and pastorally caring for families.
We lift before God this week, those in their grief of losing loved ones. Especially Janette and Andy S. Andy's dad died on Monday and our love and sympathy surround their family at such a sad time.
Be cheerful because we can create something together
Let's create something together even though we are apart. The idea is that we make a wall hanging for our churches using the theme of Psalm 23. Use a 6” x 6” square of fabric with an interpretation in some way of Psalm 23. Your fabric could be knitted or crocheted, or cross stitch or embroidery or appliqué for example. It could be a piece of fabric from a pillow case or shirt you no longer need and paint a design with fabric paints or acrylics. You could collage with buttons, braiding or bows, or patchwork or lace. Take an image or a word or an abstract of colour that you receive as you read the Psalm. And you don't have to restrict yourself to just one square - make as many as you feel led with your creativity.
When we are all back together again, Laura M. will gather in all the squares and machine them together and make it them into wall hangings. We will be able to remember this time, marking a point in history. We will remember Scripture that led us through this time and how although apart we were together joined by the Holy Spirit and in our Christian love for one another.
If you are short of fabric and would like to receive ready cut squares please let Jane S. know by Monday as she can order a pack of ready cut squares and distribute/post them out (No cost to you involved). Jane also has fabric pens if anyone would like to borrow them.
Be cheerful because we are Church Family
– Bramerton Road and Basildon Pastorate
Sunday 10th May: Sunday Morning Worship (Zoom) 10.00am for 10.30am
Tuesday 12th May: Ashingdon & Hockley Community Choir (Zoom) 7.30 pm
Wednesday 13th May: Chris B.'s House Group (Zoom) 10.30 am
Wednesday 13th May: Cuppa & Chat (Zoom) 3.00 pm
Thursday 14th May: Ministers Mutterings Circulated
Saturday 16th May: Coffee & Prayers (Zoom) 10.00 am
Be cheerful because we can give
Bramerton Road's Charity of the Year for 2019 was Hoveraid and this week we have been able to send the final amount of £1447.45. Andy Mayo, who we all met when he came to tell us about the work of Hoveraid, sent me this message "Thank you all so much. Once things get some semblance of normality I'll come and say thanks properly to you all".
We are supporting Southend Foodbank with donations of food & toiletries. If you are able to contribute please contact Katie P. who will pick up any donations from you. Katie's next trip will be next Tuesday 12th May.
Equally, Jo W., is happy to collect any donations of Food and Toiletries to take to HARP.
If you are able to continue to give your church offertory by setting up a standing order with your bank or arrange bank transfer here are our bank details:
Sort Code: 20 70 93 Account No: 20468657
Sort Code: 16 12 33 Account No: 10029178
Keep connected through:
- Pastorate "Church Chat" Whatsapp group
- Email prayer chain at Bramerton Road
- Prayer Tree at Basildon
With Love & Prayers,
30th April 2020
As they talked and discussed these things,
Jesus himself suddenly came and began
walking with them (Luke 24:15)
The verse above is taken from the account in our Bible of Jesus walking with the two disciples on the road, as they journey to Emmaus. This is one of Jesus' appearances after his resurrection and it was the scripture reading that we reflected on during our Sunday Morning Service. The disciples weren't expecting to see Jesus, and then when he shared scriptures with them and later broke bread at supper, they recognised him as their risen Lord.
As we walk in our journey, wrapped up in the events of life, maybe at the moment in our times of sadness, anxiety and uncertainty, we too can be suddenly aware of Jesus beside us sometimes in quite unexpected ways. And like the disciples we come into that place where suddenly "our eyes are opened as we recognised him and our hearts burn within" (v.31-32) and we are comforted in his presence.
Jane S., this week, brings our Member's Mutterings as she reflects on another journey. I think that Jane's message works well with our theme of how we can recognise God speaking with us, and his presence revealed in our everyday ... this time when watching a movie.
Jane says .....
"The Wizard of Oz".
Just a thought as the film has always been known by the song "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and rainbows seem to be so special to us all during this time.
The film turns black/white at the beginning during the storm and Dorothy finds herself in Oz. She is given the red shoes to keep her safe.
We all need to follow the Yellow Brick Road to take the right path in life and on that road, we meet others who need our help to travel. When we stray off the path we may walk into danger/bad times but God is there to see us through.
Dorothy meets a scarecrow who needs a brain, a tin man who needs a heart and a lion who needs courage (all the qualities we need in life) A brain to think and make the right decisions, a heart to show love to others and courage (especially now in our lives).
Dorothy wants to go home and she doesn't realize with faith that she could do just that, if she clicked her heels together 3 times!
They all journey together to find the Wizard of Oz (which I think represents God) to grant their requests.
They find the Wizard but they think he is so big and powerful and they are frightened of him and lack the faith they need. He asks them to bring the broomstick of the bad witch to him which they do. I think the Wizard is testing their faith and strength. When they arrive back the Wizard shows them he is just a normal person like them.
The Wizard tells them that all along they didn't need his help if they had had enough faith they would have had a brain, heart and courage which he grants them. Dorothy also gets her wish by saying "There is no place like home" which is so very true and our safe place at the moment from the world around us.
The film then returns to colour when she is home with her family again.
It is a nice thought if we follow the Yellow Brick Road to happier times and say to ourselves "There is no place like home" when our faith is being tested so much right now.
I am sure you will all want to thank Jane with me for bringing her Reflection to us this week. If you have mutterings you would like to share, please just email or post to me, it really is good to share as we Journey in our faith and grow together.
With Love and Prayers,
23rd April 2020
Suddenly Jesus was standing there among them
"Peace be with you" he said
At our Sunday Morning Service this week I was able to share this photograph taken in my garden. During the service, I reflected how this beautiful plant that I know as a Peace Lily became a most timely symbol of peace for me over the past couple of weeks. I imagine most of us have symbols or images, maybe even a photograph that bring to our minds and our hearts the essence of peace. What would you say your definition of peace is?
I can express peace and have sought peacefulness as being a state of quietness and stillness. An inner calmness and harmony. Where everything is ok and things are going well. But what about when things go askew? Can there still be peace?
I give thanks that Jesus gave us the gift of Peace – left us with his Peace.
"I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don’t be troubled or afraid"
And I can give testimony to feeling "The peace of God, which passes all understanding" as Paul writes to the Philippians (4:7). God’s peace, promised as we pray with thanksgiving. Even with life in a storm I was able to feel at peace. What happens in that mystery of peace?
I've been able to reflect on that this week and God led me here...
Peace doesn't mean the tears won't fall
Peace is knowing God is there to catch each tear
Peace doesn't mean you won't have a wobbly day
Peace is knowing God is there to hold you in the arms of another.
Peace doesn't mean you won't miss the ones you love
Peace is knowing God is there, looking after them when you can't.
Peace doesn't mean you won't lose the threads of what's going on
Peace is knowing God is weaving something beautiful
Peace doesn't mean the absence of tough times
Peace is knowing God walks the tough times with you
Peace doesn't mean there won't be any noise at all
Peace says listen to the bird song,
the woodpecker as he taps,
the rain as it falls.
Peace doesn't mean there won't be global suffering, pain and brokenness
Peace says God is in the process of mending the world.
Peace doesn't mean you won't feel the blues some days
Peace says God is arching His rainbow over you
– reflecting the whole spectrum
of His love.
(Gillian Thomson 2020)
With my prayers for you all, my love and God's blessings,
15th April 2020
This week is not Minister's Mutterings but I am delighted to say it is Member's Mutterings as Chris Butcher shares with us her reflection time:
Pebbles for Lent
During Lent, we remember Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days and was tempted by the devil. Many Christians chose to give up something during Lent such as biscuits or chocolate or other favourite food or occupation such as watching television. I've never done this but soon I shall tell you what I did during Lent
The desert or wilderness in which Jesus was tempted would have looked barren. No shade, no water, no resting place, no people. He was about to begin his ministry and he had 40 days in which to think and pray about what was going to happen, in the years leading up to his crucifixion. Have you ever wondered what emotions Jesus went through during these 40 days?
That made me think about the emotions I feel every day, not just during Lent but during the whole year. These are coloured by my activities, people I meet, jobs I do, physical problems and many more triggers.
I had an idea. Whether it was from God or from my imagination I don't know, but I knew that the aim would be to see if any of my feelings would tally with the emotions of Jesus, not just during his time in the wilderness, but also during his ministry and especially during Holy Week. My plan was to get 40 pebbles, one for each day that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and number them on the back. On the front I would write the dominant emotion I had felt that day.
We are all going through such a devastating time in regard to coronavirus that emotions could well be different from those another year. There are many emotions that Jesus experienced recorded in the Gospels:
Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus; he had compassion on the crowd of 5000 so he healed them and fed them. His compassion led him to heal blind Bartimaeus, Jairus's daughter, the widow of Nain's son, the leper and many more. At the Last Supper Jesus said to his disciples (minutes before he was to be arrested, tortured, then killed) I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Jesus also said 'This is my commandment, love each other as I have loved you.'
He often went up into the mountains to be alone with his Father God because he was exhausted in mind and soul. Jesus got frustrated when his disciples couldn't turn out evil spirits, he was amazed when the Roman Centurion asked Jesus to heal his daughter but told Jesus he need not actually go to his house, but just to say the word and she would be healed. Jesus was angry at the money lenders and traders in the temple.
I could go on and on. Jesus was part human and part divine so he had various emotions as we do.
Every Lent day the emotion I wrote on my pebble was one which had been on my heart for most of the day. Did Jesus approve, I asked myself. Was he pleased or disappointed with what I had written? Was he waiting for me to say sorry for being negative or did he praise me for being positive. I hope I pleased him. I hope I learned a lesson through this exercise. I am certainly now more aware of how my emotions control me, rather than me controlling them. I hope I shall think more seriously from now on and let my positive emotions drive out my negatives and then I shall know that I have made God happy.
9th April 2020
Jesus got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciple's feet, drying them with the towel he had around him ...
And since, I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you…. (John 13:4-5, 14-15)
We all have different ways of learning. You may prefer reading and writing things down. You may prefer listening and absorbing what is being said. You may prefer using logic, reasoning and systems. You may prefer to learn in a group with discussion or to work alone and use self-study. I am one of those people who learn by doing. Kinesthetic, the experts call it. Preferring to use body, hands and sense of touch. Show me what to do, let me learn through experience.
So, I welcome Jesus’ style of teaching to the disciples as they met for Passover, on the night that we now call the Last Supper.
Jesus was preparing his disciples for earthly life without him and for the purpose that they have before them - to be his hands and his feet and his heart in continuing to spread the Good News to everyone. And so he shows them what to do. Do as I have done to you. Serve as I came to serve.
And he gives them a new commandment. ‘Love each other, just as I have loved you......’.
Why is today called "Maundy Thursday"? The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for command and refers to just that commandment of Jesus. Love one another. Do as I have done to you.
Through this time of virus pandemic, Jesus’ teaching and practise is coming into fullness. People everywhere are giving of selfless service and love to one another; maybe more so than the world has seen for a long time.
My photograph this week was taken when I spent time in India in 2018. Our feet often got very dirty and dusty and it was good at the end of the day to take off our shoes and refresh our feet from a bucket of very precious (often brown!) water. There, on the streets of Kolkata, I was very much reminded of the selfless servant heart of Mother Teresa. The commandment of Jesus 'to love one another as I have loved you' is what Mother Teresa did all through her life, and the words are engraved on her tomb.
My prayer is that, when we come through this time, the world will be a different place, as the values of loving service to one another continue ... God is using this time to bring humanity further into the people he created us to be.
Mother Teresa once said: Let us love one another as God loves each of us. And where does this love begin? In our own homes. How does it begin? By praying together.
On this Maundy Thursday let us reflect on the words of a couple of verses of a hymn by Richard Gillard:
Brother, sister let me serve you
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let you be my servant, too
We are pilgrims on a journey
And companions on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and share the load
On Good Friday: we have a time of Meditation, using Zoom, at 11.00 am
Easter Sunday: we can join together in Celebration, again using Zoom.
Services held using Zoom may be accessed online using the Zoom app,
or listened to over the telephone, for those without a computer.
I shall be in contact with more details.
With my prayers for you all, my love and God’s blessings,
1st April 2020
This is a photograph of the clock on the wall in my lounge. A friend of mine has asked why it is so large. He says maybe it’s because my eyesight is deteriorating or the bigger the clock, the less chance I have of being late. I forgive him for his thoughts! In truth, it is so large because, simply, when out shopping I saw it and thought “Yes, just right to fill a big space on the wall”. Time and space.
Just now, in this season we are in, due to the coronavirus pandemic, time and space can be at the forefront of our minds and as I moved the hands forward an hour this week, to Spring time, my clock drew me to the Old Testament, to the book of Ecclesiastes. It's a book of wise sayings – the writer has looked long and hard at life on earth and has seen it is as made of seasons and opportunities – a time for everything.
God has given us a context of rhythm and order, of crisis and change and we take our place in the unfolding purpose ...
A time for everything is something that we can find tensions in accepting. We gladly accept the nice, happy parts; of new birth, of laughing and dancing - but when it speaks of there being a time of loss, to weep, to mourn and a time to die, we can find that hard to accept.
We are encouraged to look to God at all times, and to His wisdom which is far above ours. To seek through these words a comfort that God is with us through all things, through all seasons.
In God’s order, there is a time for turmoil and we will weep and it’s OK to not be OK. But God also gives us the reassurance, through his word and his wisdom, that there is also a time for comfort & embrace, for love - there will be a time of healing and rebuilding. We shall come through this time of fear, isolation and grief and we shall laugh and dance again.
Here are the words of the writer in Ecclesiastes and below that, in blue, my words of time and space this week. You may like to reflect on the words of Scripture and what God is saying to you in this season. You may also like to write your own ....
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die
A time to plant and a time to harvest
A time to kill and a time to heal
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones
A time to embrace and a time to turn away
A time to search and a time to quit searching
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend
A time to be quiet and a time to speak
A time to love and a time to hate
A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:7)
And from me.....
A time to
and a time to do chores.
A time to
read in the sunshine
and a time to watch the clouds.
A time to
and a time to reach desperately into His silence.
A time to
make pastoral calls and a time to receive one that says
‘And what about you?’
A time to
receive a refund for a cancelled Beefeater Distillery Tour
and time for a large G&T!
when it all seems to happen
and then a time when nothing happens at all.
A time to
laugh with my kids on Facetime
and a time for tears when I miss them.
and a time for reality.
for learning something new
and a time for recovering unspent gifts for God.
and a time for distance.
and a time for arrival.
and a time for complete emptiness of mind.
for something sweet
and a time for something savoury.
A time to
and a time to pray....
and a time to pray....
and a time to pray……
Time for the Notices!
A time to say thank you ....
I say thank you to you. In the love of Christ and for one another. The way you are keeping in touch with each other by phone and message, by cheery chats (at a social distance) by shopping and volunteering. By delivering Ministers Mutterings and notes of encouragement. I believe love and faith are growing through this time throughout our churches.
Just a note to let you know from Debbie - Berries greengrocers are unable now to provide the ordering and collection provision.
A time for Sunday worship ....
I encourage you to use the resources from the URC, especially over Holy Week: https://devotions.urc.org.uk. You will find daily devotion & meditation.
Premier Radio have a Worship at Home programme starting at 10.00 am
And I really hope to bring you a Palm Sunday Service of a new style using Zoom into your own homes on Sunday at 10.30am. I shall send you all an email tomorrow (Thursday 2nd) with more information.
A time for Prayer for our Pastorate ....
We give thanks for healing. Our prayer ministry is strong – please continue to use the prayer email, prayer tree, and the "Church Chat" Whatsapp for prayers. Praying for folk over the phone also is very powerful.
With my prayers for you all, my love and God’s blessings,
26 March 2020
The rainbow that I have put in the sky will be my sign to you and to every living creature on earth. It will remind you that I will keep this promise forever. (Gen 9:12-13)
I have just been for my walk today and noticed rainbows popping up in windows and along the pathways. The photograph above cheered me as I walked along Plumberow Avenue. The rainbows are a response from children, crafting them to cheer and lift people’s spirits as they go for a walk or look from their windows. Have a look from your window now – can you see a rainbow?
Maybe you would like to craft a rainbow over the next few days for your window or use it as a prayer point each day – remembering God’s promises to us – His promises of love, protection and peace, arching over us all. You may just need to be assured of those promises right now – You are loved and His promises are for you.
Share God’s rainbow……..
Sharing our love
I give thanks for the love and kindness that you are all sharing in phone calls and texts to one another. The Church Chat Whatsapp group I know is a life line in communication and prayer. If you are a part of our church and would like to join this group let Jane B. know and she will welcome you on board.
A special thanks to Debbie B for collecting and delivering fresh fruit and vegetable orders to folk, from Berries Green Grocers.
The prayer chain administered by Anne C. continues to be valued by all. Contact Anne to be a part of this.
Sharing our worship
I hope that you were all able to tap into worship last Sunday morning in some way. I know some of you are already keen listeners to BBC Essex and that has worked for you. Premier Radio also have worship at home from 10.00 am that I too would recommend.
The URC are producing a service each Sunday that you can access online. It’s free to subscribe at https://devotions.urc.org.uk .
I am working on being able to bring you worship by Zoom but this is new technology for me and I’m learning as we go, so bear with……
Sharing our gifts
This is always a sensitive subject to raise and none more than a time like this…
I would be so grateful if we could all give some prayerful thought and action to be able to continue with our weekly offertory for God’s work at Bramerton Road. Even though we aren’t able to meet for worship together on Sundays basically we still have to pay the bills of our ministry…
If you are already familiar with online banking you may like to set up a standing order for your offertory giving or make the church a payee to transfer a weekly or monthly gift to. Bramerton Road's banking details if you feel you are able to do this are:-
Account Name: Bramerton Road Community Church
Sort Code: 20 70 93
Account No: 20468657
Sharing our Prayers
Lastly today, but by no means least – and most importantly what we can do is pray. I hold you all in my prayers every day. My candle is alight on the hearth each evening for you all.
With my love and God’s blessings,