Weekly Pastoral Letter - 28 May 2021

Please see the letter from the Revd Catherine Bowstead about Bible month in June.

Mr Mike Bowstead will be leading the live and online worship this Sunday.  The readings will be Isaiah 6: 1-8 and Romans 8: 12-17.

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 21 May 2021

From Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

The further easing of lockdown meant that it was wonderful to be able to welcome people back to Café Mosaic this week – big thanks to Nancy, Claire, Tina and Ann who have worked so hard to make this possible. 

This coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday.  We will remember how the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit which emboldened them to start telling others about Jesus.  In our worship on Sunday, we’ll be using the account from Acts 2: 1-21, so do read the passage before Sunday and see if anything particularly strikes about what happened that day.  And as you prepare for worship take the time to pray that the Holy Spirit might fill you once more and embolden you to tell others about Jesus.  You might like to use the words of Edwin Hatch’s hymn as a prayer:

Breathe on me, Breath of God;
fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love
and do what thou wouldst do.

Some of our congregation read Hannah Steele’s book Living His Story (SPCK, 2020) during Lent this year.  It’s well worth a read as the author writes about evangelism in a very accessible way.  Her gentle encouragement is that we should become more confident in sharing our faith story with other people so that they might realise something of God’s love for themselves.  One of the things that I found particularly helpful in the book was her explanation of the four important questions that lie at the heart of human experience:

  • Who are we?  We are created and loved by God and we are capable of loving and being loved and can know God.
  • What is wrong?  Humanity has a tendency towards wrongdoing. Putting ourselves in God’s place has disastrous implications for our relationship with others and with God.
  • What’s the solution?  God has intervened in the world by sending Jesus to rescue humanity.
  • What’s the future?  Jesus speaks of eternal life which can begin now.

This is a very brief summary, so I would urge you to read the book for yourself to discover more.  Hannah Steele very helpfully suggests that we might look for these four questions in films, TV and novels and use these as a way of discussing issues of faith with our friends and family.

Coming up in June is Bible month when we’ll be exploring the whole of Mark’s Gospel in our Sunday worship.  You might like to get a head start by reading through Mark now; we have some study guides available, so please let me know if you would like one.

I hope that you have a good week,

With every blessing

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 14 May 2021

A Reflection from Angela Burrell

In what was once a small village in Leicestershire, where I was born, the only shops on the High Street then were a Butcher and a Chemist.  There were three churches, and still are, the Methodist chapel, a small hall, and the Baptist and Anglican churches, somewhat larger.

At some point the small Methodist ‘Hall’ was extended, keeping the original hall and extending from it on the same site.  They decided to include a restaurant which they named ‘Zephaniah’, which became affectionately known as ‘Zeph’s’.  They employed a staff to run it.  It soon became a meeting place for the village and the menu was a good one.

When we go to visit our cousin, who has always lived in the village, we go to Zeph’s for lunch.  She told us that, sadly, although the restaurant is always busy, the church has very few members.  I went to look in the church and felt so sad that this beautiful building was rarely, if ever used fully, and wondered why.  How does a restaurant translate into church membership?  Is the preaching not biblical, is there no outreach?  Where is the link? 

Wondering why the restaurant was called after a biblical prophet I read again this short book in the Bible.  This minor prophet had a strong message to the people of his time and this is the same message for us today.  This message, given to the prophet by God, is that God will destroy the sinner and his sinful ways, but there is hope for those who repent and chose God’s way.  A short, strong message and worth reading, one of warning and hope.

My cousin sang in the Alto section of the Leicester Philharmonic Choir and invited John and I and other members of the family who were interested, to go to a concert in Leicester’s large DeMontfort Hall.  The choir were performing Faure’s Requiem, followed by John Rutter’s Requiem, and John Rutter was the guest conductor.

As many of you will know, a requiem is a Catholic Mass for the dead.  Fauve wrote his in the 1800’s with the emphasis on “Faith in eternal rest”.

We enjoyed both, but found John Rutter’s more ‘uplifting’.  This was written in the 1980’s.  It included parts of the Latin Mass, but also Psalms and biblical passages in English, ending on a note of rejoicing in the resurrection.

As Christians we need to heed the warning of the consequences of sin, rejoice in the promise of forgiveness and show to our world our joy.

Do we smile at a stranger who looks so sad?  It could make his/her day.  We have much to celebrate because we have experienced God’s love.

Angela Burrell.

From Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

Angela is writing our reflection this week so it’s just a short letter from me.

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer initiative which runs from Ascension Day until Pentecost (13th – 23rd May this year).  You might like to take a look at their website for resources to join in: www.thykingdomcome.global.  The resources include videos and a Prayer Journal that you can download to use.  Alternatively, you may simply commit to finding some time each day to pray the Lord’s Prayer, and to pray for three of your friends that they might know God’s blessing and find faith.

Our All Age Worship this week has been prepared by Mike Goddard, and Claire, Kim and Liz are working together to lead the service.  Using Psalm 1 and John 17: 6-19, they will be exploring how we can encourage our faith to flourish and about praying for and support each other through difficult times.  Do remember to book a place if you’d like to join the congregation in the building or you can listen to the service on our website.

Our Café Mosaic re-opens in the Rose Room on Tuesday next week – do pop in for a cup of tea or coffee and a warm welcome.

And please do remember to pray for our Church Community as we emerge from lockdown and seek God’s will for us in the days ahead.

With every blessing

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 7 May 2021

From Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

I wonder what you’ve been up to this week.  It’s been a bit too cold for socialising outside, so it’s good that it won’t be too long before we can meet inside once more. Whilst it’s good to celebrate the easing of lockdown and the roll out of the vaccine programme, I’m sure that like me, you were concerned by the distressing news of how the Coronavirus Pandemic is affecting the people of India.  Please remember to pray for their situation and maybe you’d also like to donate to an agency such as All We Can or Christian Aid who are seeking to bring relief and help.

This Sunday marks the beginning of Christian Aid Week.  Do look at their website www.christianaid.org.uk for information about the projects that are highlighted this year and information for making a donation.  You might like to read the stories of Rose and Florence and the challenges that they face as a result of climate change.  In last week’s notices, Judy shared with us the plans for marking Christian Aid week locally this year, including the delivery of collection envelopes and the Quiztain Aid Quiz.  We will be using some of the Christian Aid resources in our worship this week and I would encourage you to support the work of Christian Aid, by praying for their work and making a donation.

I am leading our worship on Sunday with the assistance of Malcom Souter.  If you want to take a look at the Bible readings we are using, they are 1 John 5: 1-6 and John 15: 9-17.  We will be thinking about what it means to be “Friends of God” and the implications of this for our relationships with others both near and far.  Jesus’ command to love each other seems so simple, and yet we know that it is not always easy to work it out in practice.  Do we love one another because we like each other or is it because we genuinely want the very best for others?  And how do we love people when we find them difficult or if they don’t seem to like us?  These Bible passages give us reassurance about realising God’s love for ourselves and guidance for showing God’s love to others.

Sharing God’s love with the people in our local community is a top priority for our church, so it’s good news that our Café Mosaic has plans to re-open on Tuesday 18th May.  This will be in the Rose Room initially until the vaccine programme is complete.  As the café plays such a key role in our outreach work, it will be good to be able to offer hospitality and friendship once more.  Hopefully, it won’t be too long until the café is back to its usual place and times and that some of our other regular activities can also resume.

I hope that you have a good week and I look forward to seeing you soon,

With every blessing