Recently, I have been trying to devote a bit more time to Bible-reading, starting with selected extracts from the book of Ezekiel. I wonder, how much of Ezekiel you have read? It is a rather strange apocalyptic style book. Ezekiel experiences a number of
powerful visions of God in all glory, which affect him deeply. But it is quite heavy going, and full of strange imagery, hence my decision to read selected extracts!
The overarching theme of the book concerns the relationship between God and his people. A priest and a prophet, Ezekiel was living in exile in Babylon, denouncing Jerusalem’s poor moral and spiritual life, but at the same time offering hope for the future. The prophet foresees God’s kingdom established in perfect form.
I feel this is a timely theme for us in our times today. We need to be Kingdom people, willing to heed a prophetic voice. Recently, crowds have taken to the streets expressing concerns over racial justice. And the government has been obliged to yield to Marcus Rashford’s campaign to offer more help to children growing up in poverty.
In the midst of this, and other news stories, God speaks through the prophet: ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’
I pray that God will put a new heart and a new spirit in all of us to help us to move forward in faith and in trust.
Your friend and Minister, Anthea
On the afternoon of Pentecost Sunday, 31 May, Wessex Synod of the United Reformed Church will be holding a special online service. The service will be available to join live at 4 pm and the recording will be available afterwards for those unable to take part at the time. See wessexsynodurc.org.uk/synod-worship-for-pentecost/ for further details and a list of things to find beforehand for the interactive part of the service.
‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39)
God of heaven and earth,
in these times of isolation,
apart from loved ones
distant from friends
away from neighbours
thank you that there is nothing
in all of creation,
not even coronavirus,
that is able to separate us from your love.
And may your love that never fails
continue to be shared
through the kindness of strangers
looking out for each other,
for neighbours near and far
all recognising our shared vulnerability,
each of us grateful for every breath,
and willing everyone to know the gift
of a full and healthy life.
Keep us all in your care.
What uncertain and confusing times we are living through. Just as the need for prayer is greatest due to the coronavirus pandemic, Churches are obliged to close for Sunday worship (often for the first time in their history.) Even during the war, Churches remained open. Being currently frustrated in our calling to share the good news of gospel hope in the normal manner, Ministers and Elders have rushed to set up new and innovative ways to achieve this. We encourage you to take advantage of the inspiration provided by some of the URC’s leading lights, such as URC General Secretary Rev. John Proctor. We have also set up new procedures to ensure pastoral care and prayerful support in these new circumstances.
As we continue our journey deeper into Lent, the powerful imagery of the shadow of the Cross falling across our path takes on a new significance this year. However, we Christians know how the Gospel narrative unfolds: we know that beyond the passion of our dear Lord, there is the joy of Easter resurrection. We serve a living Saviour, even as we dwell in dark days of uncertainty. There is a Redeemer! He lives! Don’t ask me how I know He lives…He lives within my heart! Why not take this time of relative isolation to read the Good Book, especially Matthew’s Gospel account of the events leading up to Jesus’ time in Gethsemane and his arrest, unfair trial and Crucifixion? But don’t stop there…read on to the end of the Gospel. As the hymn goes:
All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew,
me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown, he alone
calls my heart to be his own.
Pride of man and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil he buildeth,
tower and temple fall to dust.
But God’s power, hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.
May God richly bless you all and keep you safe in his loving hands,
Your friend and Minister, Reverend Anthea Wickens