March 21st News and Worship
To this week's newsletter. There is lots to explore: worship updates, Lenten challenges, all the worship resources for Sunday and as usual, our Church Family News is at the end.
It is with great sadness that I need to let you know that Margaret Tate died peacefully this morning (Friday 19th March) at the Beaumont. We have only just heard, so it will be in next week’s newsletter that we will be able to celebrate her life and the over fifty years of faithful service she gave to our church.
May she rest in peace and rise in Glory.
As we delivered the Mothering Sunday posies of flowers, I was reminded of the same delivery on the first days of lockdown last year and how quickly the last year has gone past.
It is a good opportunity to stop, reflect, remember and give thanks for all that we have done as Church over this last year. One of the dangers in Church life is that, those who don’t see or know what is happening might assume that nothing much is happening at all! - the truth is very different.
Let's start with communication: Over the last twelve months a new newsletter has been designed and written, produced, edited and published both electronically and on paper. Over 1,500 have so far been delivered by hand to those unable to access it electronically. The most popular edition (November 8th) was viewed 513 times online. There were also 17 separate weekly worship sheets containing, in the early days, the liturgy, hymn, prayers, resources and sermon for people to create their own Sunday Worship Service. As time moved on and worship moved on-line, a Worship at Home booklet was produced and the other worship resources were incorporated into the weekly St Peter's News and Worship newsletter. Many people have expressed their thanks for the newsletter and many others have contributed with photos, articles and creativity. Looking through the archive, these contributions have shown the amazing breadth of church activity.
Each week the worship sheet and paper newsletter have been hand delivered but there have also been many deliveries of different kinds: Mothering Sunday flowers with their handwritten tags, Christmas gifts, Family Service worship packs and Advent Calendars in addition to many socially distanced visits with gifts of pastoral flowers.
Communication through our Church Facebook page has grown and receives over 3000 monthly views and has 513 likes/ followers. One unexpected ministry into the village community has been the prayer bowl, which receives prayer requests for including in prayer on Sunday night. Over 200 people have been included and God has done some amazing things in answer to those prayers.
Pastoral care has been very important at this time - the ministry team have made somewhere in the region of over 5,000 phone calls, visits, texts and messages sent. Funeral ministry has continued in these challenging times, as have visits to pray with those on the edge of death in hospital and care homes (which have been allowed at times, but sadly not at others). A variety of small group gatherings have also taken place Brew, Craft and Share, Holy Dusters virtual coffee, Tuesday Museday, Advent Reflections, Bible Study, Upton Coffee and Bible Group have all taken place on Zoom and have been places of shared pastoral care as we have looked after one another.
At the heart of our Church life is prayer and worship: a pattern of Tuesday and Thursday morning prayer on Zoom became established early on in the pandemic with over twenty people participating. In this 800th anniversary year, this regular gathering for prayer has echoes of the monastic patterns from St Peter’s earliest years. A growing number of people have engaged in Zoom Sunday worship with over 120 of our congregation having done so since Christmas. Our Wednesday reflections and Sanctuary have been popular too. Our youngest Church members joined over twenty gatherings for God’s Story Live and many more parents and children have zoomed in for our weekly community worship with school.
Worship in church has been supported by teams of welcomers, cleaners and musicians. Our tech team has enabled many of those needing to self isolate, to attend worship and participate from home. A congregation spread far and wide has joined live or watched later our worship services, with over 110 watching the Service for those who mourn which took place in November. We were also able live-stream a funeral enabling those unable to be there in person, to be there virtually.
As the Epistle of James reminds us, faith without deeds is dead. Church was contacted in the early days and provided help and volunteers in many practical ways. The most exciting of these (and one that is on-going) has been the evolution of the Food Pantry from which, in the early days of lockdown, 1160 food parcels containing sufficient food items to provide 17,400 meals, were delivered. From September we opened a new Food Pantry distributing a further 30,000 meals. The generous support for the Food Pantry with donations of food and money and the hard work of the team of church and community volunteers has enabled this wonderful success.
The church grounds and building have been an oasis of peace and tranquillity, and ministered to the community in new ways, through banners, prayer stones and the beauty of creation. The church building has opened for private prayer and through the autumn and at Christmas, for in-person worship. All these things involve hard work by those who have facilitated and enabled these to happen.
There may be many things that have been missed out on this list but not my huge thanks to the ministry team and volunteers whose commitment and care have meant this year has not been fallow or wasted. Instead it is one in which we have sought to live out the love of God in all that we do and have done so abundantly.
The Week Ahead
Sunday Worship at 10.00am
This Sunday our worship continues on Zoom.
The code is: 255 545 2161. If you are new to Zoom or have any difficulty getting into the Service, please let us know.
Sanctuary 7.00pm Sunday Code 255 545 2161
Tuesday Morning Prayer at 9.00am
Code 503 346 024
A short service of about 30 minutes to start the day.
Wednesday Lenten Reflection, Coffee and Chat
Code 255 545 2161
We gather on Zoom at 10.30am for prayer, Bible reading and reflection which is followed by an opportunity to share in conversation and fellowship. Throughout Lent we will listen to the days Reflection, from On the Bible's Backroads, written by Rob Green.
Wednesday Opening for Private Prayer
Wednesdays 12noon until 2.30pm.
Thursday Morning Prayer at 9.00am
Code 859 930 994
A short service of about 30 minutes to start the day.
We will be back in church on Good Friday at St Peter's, Easter Sunday at CoRe and at St John's the following week.
Good Friday Worship
All Age Service 10.00am
Meditation on the Cross 12noon
Easter Sunday Services
Service of Light 6.30am
Family Service 9.30am
Holy Communion 11.00am
Holy Communion 9.00am
Family Lego Challenge update
We have had a few entries for this Lenten Challenge, but are looking for more! Can you make a scene from the Easter Events out of Lego? It may be that there are three Duplo Bob the Builders or two storm troopers as disciples, Jesus might be a Jedi or Batman in your imagination - creativity is half the fun! Take a photo and send it to the newsletter and we will see if we can tell the whole story using the pictures. Go on, be creative! Pictures submitted will be kept safely until nearer to Easter.
Praying for the Climate: Challenge
This year is crucial in the struggle for climate justice, with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP256) taking place in Glasgow this November. A coalition consisting of Christian Aid, Tearfund and CAFOD are asking people all over the world to fill every day with prayer for a world where everyone can flourish and creation can breathe easy again. Prayer that will amplify prophetic voices and transform us and the actions that we take. Prayer that will help us to understand God’s care for those who are most affected by the climate crisis, acknowledge our role in causing it and start anew. Prayer that will act as a deep source of energy for the struggle ahead.
It's a simple commitment to make, you just visit the website and sign up on the calendar to fill a time-slot to pray. You can commit to pray by yourself or with others. You can sign up for a regular prayer slot or for a one off session. There are plenty of resources to guide your prayers too so please get involved and ensure prayer underpins all that we do in this critical year.
The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Worship for the week starting 21st March
Lent changes gear as we move this week into Passiontide, not a new season but a continuation of Lent with a deeper focus on the works of the cross.
Together but Apart
Worship resources for Sunday 21st March
Below are the worship resources for this coming Sunday and the Prayer Diary for the week.
For use with Worship at Home booklet and reflection.
Musical Resources for Worship
Hymns for Worship at Home
Just as I am Tune 1
Just as I am Tune 2
Lead us heavenly Father
Here is love vast as the ocean
When I survey
This is the story
Good and Gracious King
My Song is love unknown Kings College Cambridge
Most merciful God,
who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ
delivered and saved the world:
grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
you gave up your Son
out of love for the world:
lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,
that we may know eternal peace
through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Numbers and Patterns
The number 42, what’s it mean to you? I ask because it must be significant for some people. For example:
Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert died aged 42; they had 42 grandchildren and their great-grandson, Edward VIII, abdicated at the age of 42
The game of Cricket has 42 laws
A single Big Mac from McDonalds contains 42 per cent of your recommended daily intake of salt.
Musically, Mungo Jerry's 1970 hit "In the Summertime", has 42 beats per minute
In the Toy Story films Buzz Lightyear's spaceship is named 42
And if ever you find yourself in Stalybridge and fancy a King Prawn and Chicken Foo Yung from the Kwong Hing Chinese Restaurant and takeaway that you’ll find in that town; well it’s dish number 42 on the menu there
Oh, and then there’s this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8190ziL5v-k
There you have it 42 is significant – it’s the answer to the ultimate question posed by Douglas Adams when he wrote his novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Adams says that he added it as a joke. "The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42." That was his joke; and as we’ve seen from that clip from the film of the book, it became a central joke which, perhaps now, is even more famous than the novel itself. And over the years serious, possibly geeky, fans have devoted significant time and massive effort trying to ascribe some deep, symbolic significance to the number and its occurrences.
Is this wise? A good use of their time and effort? Well I think I’ll defer direct comment on that and instead answer with a couple more quotes from Adams who also said: “I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer.” And: “It is a mistake to think you can solve any of life’s major problems just with potatoes.”
Adams was a funny man but is his jokey “42” really the answer to the secret of life? I think not. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide Adam’s ultimate question was obviously a very complex one. It took his super computer nine million years to answer it. Now we don’t have nine million years today, we don’t even have 42 years or 42 minutes, but we are going to look at the question what’s the secret of life?
What’s more we’re going to look at the answer to that question and the thing is you probably already know it.
Now you may not have thought of it as the secret to life but it’s something you’ve seen and experienced over and over. It’s a secret hidden in plain sight. It’s also a secret that can trouble us, so we often turn away from it or close our eyes to it.
But it’s there none the less and when we look we find that answer in the words of Jesus, in verse 24 of today’s Gospel reading.
Here Jesus says: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”.
So there it is.
The secret of life is death.
Death. It’s not an easy topic is it? Yes, we acknowledge it when it happens but for the most part it’s not a topic many us could talk about with any real enthusiasm. So in the main we ignore it and avoid it. And for good reason, the death of those we love is too painful, thinking about our own death can be too scary and thinking about those parts of our life that may have died, the things we’ve lost, relationships, status, abilities; well that can be just too difficult. In our society we shy away from talking about death because it can bring us down and let’s face it we live in a culture that mostly wants to feel good, to be happy and avoid difficult realities.
I suspect it wasn’t that different in Jesus’ day. I suspect the Greeks in today’s gospel reading who were in town to worship and to partake in a feast; I bet when they approached Philip and said: “Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?” I bet they didn’t go to him expecting to talk or hear about death.
But Jesus is telling them and us that the secret to life is this pattern of loss and renewal that runs throughout our lives and our world. Even if you’ve never thought of this as the secret to life, you’ve lived and experienced it, sometimes by choice and other times by chance. Either way it’s there. The Christian writer Michael K. Marsh puts it like this:
Look at the way this pattern is present in your life. Have you ever fallen in love and committed your life to another? If so, you had to let parts of your old life go and something of your single life died so that you could be with that other person. How about parenting? If you are a parent you know that there are sacrifices of yourself and your life to be made in order for the new life of your child to emerge and grow. We give up parts of ourselves for the other. Parents are continually letting go of their child so that that child can grow up. Have you ever been a carer, the caretaker of another? If so, you could name the parts of your life that died so that another might live with dignity, compassion, and love.
And we see this same pattern all around us in creation. In the daily setting and rising of the sun. Today is the first day of spring - it’s the changing of the season, we’ve left the dead of winter and the falling leaves of autumn behind and now we look for new life in the new blossoms and blooms of a season that brings light, hope and promise.
That’s how our world works and today’s passage shows that when Jesus spoke to his followers he knew this and more. In John’s gospel Jesus says that change is coming and he foretells of his own death on the cross saying that this will draw people to him.
Last Week's Preacher
For those who were unable to join us on Zoom, here is a snap shot of what Zoom worship looked like with a rather different guest preacher.
Prayer focus this week
The focus of our prayer is on the world church, for Christians who are persecuted and martyred for their faith.
Those who have asked for prayer
Paul Nadin Salter
Those who have died
Prayer from yesterday for today
May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
- Against the snares of the evil one.
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.
Church Family News
Upton Food Pantry
This week we have gone through 100kgs of potatoes at Pantry! We also welcomed the second pantry baby, a healthy baby boy, who is absolutely adorable.
The new vegetable of the week from Fareshare has been chicory and has not proved popular! We have been enjoying our new van and have been out and about doing deliveries and collections. We will hopefully get some Pantry Logos for the van at some point so you can see us when we are out and about and give us a wave!
A huge shout of thanks to all those who have donated and volunteered this week. We are struggling with keeping up with the demand for sanitary towels especially with the growing Pantry numbers. If anyone is interested in donating we would be very grateful! The Prestbury Co-op are collecting, there is a box outside Prestbury School and donations can also be left at the Parish Office between 9am and 12noon.
It’s been a busy but happy week and the sunshine has been most welcome. It especially helps with the deliveries! The daffodils coming out has also helped to brighten all our moods. The arrival of Spring reminds us of the progression of the Pantry as we reach the one year anniversary of our first delivery on the 1st April! It shows that despite it being a crazy and difficult year, there has been positives which have come out of it. How as a community we have progressed: from twenty little bags of fruit and vegetables to the full Pantry, open on two days, we have today. It clearly demonstrates how working together as a community we can achieve great things, along with the big brothers of Your Local Pantry and the amazing team at Fareshare Manchester. It makes us excited for what we can achieve together over the next year.
Pantry Manger - 07495350167
Craft, Brew and Share
Craft, Brew and Share is a small and friendly group who meet, on Zoom, every couple of weeks to chat, put the world to rights and share the things we have been making whilst spending all this time at home. Sometimes we are the makers, and sometimes were are the ones inspired by the things others have made. Ownership of a button box is not required, just arrive with a brew for a friendly hour of chat and share.
We meet this coming Monday, at 2pm on Zoom - using the usual code, just for an hour - and you are very welcome to join us.
Beverley and Ruth
Articles and photos for inclusion in the newsletter are welcome and should be emailed to the vicarage before Thursday lunchtime. Patrickangier@btinternet.com