March 28th News and Worship
To this week's newsletter containing all the worship resources for Sunday and, as usual, our Church Family News is at the end. Next week is Holy Week and News and Worship will be sent out a day early, on Thursday, with resources for Good Friday and Easter Sunday .
Over the last two weeks Meadowside (the Vicarage) was after a long, long wait finally demolished. Each day Bev and I have walked down to check on progress as bit by bit the house slowly came down. Yesterday the end wall and last chimney were demolished.
We have known for years that it was going to happen and we have known that it was right and the best thing, as the house had major structural problems. The new house will be purpose-built and be the ideal base for ministry as well as a family home.
How did it feel to watch a place so full of memories, where the children had grown up, actually being knocked down? On one visit to see how things were progressing, one of the team from Cheshire Demolition came over to say they had found something in the roof and thought it might be precious. It was a shoe box that had been tucked away in a corner of the attic and that hadn't been spotted when the attic was cleared. In the shoe box were first shoes, a tiny baby grow, scan pictures and other precious items from the children's first days. It would have been easy for the workers to have just thrown the box away. We might never have noticed until finally unpacking everything when moving back into the new house. The builders had taken the time to retrieve it, check the contents, realise they were precious and put them aside to check if they were wanted or not.
What the workers demonstrated was kindness. Kindness is often underrated as a gift, but is one that seems to be bubbling up in our church, and community life, in wonderful and unexpected ways. At the Vicarage, we thanked the team with the gift of beer (much to their surprise) and the kindness was shared and multiplied. This week let us look out for kindness - let's share it and encourage it to multiply!
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.
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
Private Prayer: change of opening time
We have been blessed with many visitors during our church open times since Christmas, both people we know from the village and congregation, and those unknown to us. All are very welcome.
Once church is opened again for worship from Easter we will move the private prayer opening time back to Fridays, so 31st March will be the final Wednesday opening (there will be a service of Holy Communion every Wednesday at 10.30am starting on Wednesday 14th April)
From 9th April
Friday mornings 10.00am – 12 noon
Each session is stewarded by two smiling (albeit behind masks!) and welcoming people. If you think you would like to be one of them occasionally please let Anne know.
07999 862 035
Worship for the week starting 28th March
Together but Apart
Worship resources for Sunday 28th 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
All glory, laud and honour
Glory be to Jesus
Praise to the holiest in the height
Ride on, ride on in majesty
Make way, Make way
Christ Triumphant, ever reigning
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna to the Son of David by Gibbons
Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
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.
True and humble king,
hailed by the crowd as Messiah:
grant us the faith to know you and love you,
that we may be found beside you
on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory.
Have you ever wondered who owned the donkey?
Not the one we follow from the school to Church in the Palm Sunday procession each year, nor the ones on the beach at Southport, but the donkey in the Bible reading. (But don't tell anyone! it isn’t really a donkey!) Scripture tells us the animal Jesus rode into Jerusalem on, in the events we celebrate and remember today on Palm Sunday, is a colt - but I always picture a donkey.
We hear in today's reading Jesus instructing the disciples to go ahead to the next village. He says they are to look around for a colt, untie it and bring it back to him, and there is the added instruction that if anyone says anything, they are just to tell them that the Master needs it.
Imagine the Church Wardens turn up on your drive or your next door neighbour's drive and hot-wire a car (the present day equivalent of untying) and when asked what they are doing, the Wardens answer “the Vicar needs it!”. I imagine there would be blue flashing lights pretty quickly and a lot of explaining to be done.
One train of thought interpreting the bible passage, suggests that Jesus supernaturally knew there was a colt there and then the Holy Spirit told those standing near that it was needed for a special purpose. Jesus, elsewhere in the Gospels, knows things because they are revealed to him by the Father. We read of supernatural words of knowledge, insight and wisdom later in Acts and in the Epistles, as gifts of the Holy Spirit - gifts that are given to believers after the Holy Spirit has come at Pentecost.
The trouble with this explanation is it is not just that Jesus needs the supernatural information of the existence of the colt. The villagers, neighbours and colt owner also need to be told by God to give it to a couple of strangers. The explanation doesn’t seem to fit.
So what are the alternatives for our donkey owner?
Was she one of the supporters of Jesus' Ministry? We see these supporters mentioned numbers of times in the Gospels - often women sometimes of status or financial means whose resource enable Jesus to minister both in and around Jerusalem and up North in Galilee. If this were the case, the loan of a donkey, like offering accommodation, food and finance is one more way that a member of this group would be able to support Jesus' ministry.
Were they a friend from time spent in Jerusalem? Jesus had thirty years before his ministry started, did he study in Jerusalem and have networks of friends and sympathisers established before the time came for his ministry to go public? Jesus could have sent a message several days beforehand explaining his needs, allowing the friend time to get a suitable animal ready and giving details of the message which the disciples would bring.
Was the colt owner a secret disciple of such importance or prominence at the time the gospels were written, that their name and connections couldn’t safely or wisely be mentioned? Meaning what we have left in scripture is perhaps just the bare bones of what happened and we will never know the details this side of eternal life.
There is another option - one that we would recognise today and that was even more true in first century Culture. Was the loan of the donkey a reciprocation of the gift they had received from Jesus? Or, to put it slightly differently, did the owner of the donkey want to say thank you. Were they someone or a family member of someone whom Jesus had healed or helped?
How we understand the idea of a gift is one of the ways modern western culture is different from every other culture today, and from every culture, in every other age. Outside of today’s western culture if you receive a gift you are socially, morally and spiritually expected to give a gift in return. To not do so not only dishonours the giver of the gift, but also dishonours the receiver.
The most amazing gift a person can receive is the gift of forgiveness new and eternal life in Christ. It is an unearned, undeserved incredible gift how do we respond, how do we say thank you?
Before I get a call from the Church office to say there is a herd of donkeys in the churchyard, delivered by Amazon with a note saying, “Thank you gift for Jesus mission work today”.... The donkey enabled Jesus' ministry at that particular time and in that situation. The only way you can know what Jesus wants you to do in response to the amazing gift of life he’s given you, is to ask him: to spend time in prayer, in worship, in listening to the whisper of The Holy Spirit and the Word of Scripture.
Back to the donkey owner, whoever he or she was. I can picture, on that day, long ago, in a village a short distance outside Jerusalem, a donkey owner, whose heart is warmed because he has put his thank you into action.
Prayer focus this week
The focus of our prayer is on the world church and 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
Help us this day, O God, to serve thee devoutly, and the world busily. May we do our work wisely, give succour secretly, go to our meat appetitely, sit thereat discreetly, arise temperately, please our friends duly, go to our bed merrily, and sleep surely; for the joy of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The attribution is: Anonymous Medieval.
Church Family News
This is the last week of the Family Lego Challenge
There is still time to make a scene from the Easter Events out of Lego or Duplo. 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.
Churchyard Prayer Stones
Over the last week there have been some arrivals in the Churchyard (and no, it is not that the owl has had babies or that there has been a donkey delivery!). Nestled across the beauty which surrounds our church are Prayer stones, decorated with a blessing, message or thought to encourage those passing to loiter awhile and respond. There are five at present, but there will be more as we approach Easter. You are invited to enjoy, pray, reflect, or take photos but please leave them where they are so that others may also be blessed. Thank you.
Upton Food Pantry
It’s been a busy week again at the CoRe Pantry. The numbers seem to be going up every week at the moment. The sun has certainly boosted all our moods and our members.
The new food of the week has been hot cross bun 'yumnuts' from M and S. A 'yumnut' is a cross between a doughnut and a yum yum, and overall the feedback was good about them!
Huge thanks to all those who have kindly donated this week. If you wish to make a donation we are still on the hunt for toiletries and tea bags! These can be left with the Parish office between 9-12 Monday to Friday mornings or dropped during Pantry opening hours on a Wednesday or Thursday.