Building for the Future
Building for the Future

STEPPINGSTONES

 

 

 

From the Minister

 

Baby Steps
The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining 1 John 2:8
We are wending our way through the government ‘Road Map’ for re-opening the nation.
Although it has been possible for churches to re-open for some time, it was our unified and
sincere intent to remain closed until such time as we felt confident to fling wide the doors.
Perhaps ‘flinging wide’ is not the best way of describing our Easter re-openings; a cautious
approach might be a more honest description.
The Easter message reveals the loud awakening to God’s purposes in the heart of humanity.
In hearing the Good News that death no longer has mastery over Christ and, by faith, us
also, there is a liberating song of jubilation as all the church acclaims: ‘Christ is risen’. Who
would have thought, though, that the Easter message would have had such resonance with
all humanity this year? We have endured the restrictions and sadness’s of a pandemic but
rolling away the stone which sealed the tomb of our Lord has meaning as we roll away the
burden of Covid-19. The pandemic has entombed us, but the wonder-working vaccines have
acted as new life, liberation, and freedom.
The pandemic brought with it a burdensome weight of regulation and control. The liberties
we had hitherto enjoyed, but which are now gladly coming back, had been necessary. The
Church, not just the Government, played its part in this too, with its own restrictive
practices, e.g., not singing anthems and hymns; wearing face coverings; being seated at a
distance; hand sanitising, etc. In the end, Christian communities like so many human
institutions exhibited an ability to respond to a time of crisis. The Church has proved to be
compliant, reliable, adaptable, resilient, and robust in the wake of challenges that it never
knew it would have to face.
But what kind of church is emerging out of the pandemic? Already within the four churches,
I note feelings of joyful anticipation as we return to in-person worship. But I note too, a
degree of sadness that the fellowship shared via Sunday Zoom services are no longer going
to be. We are certainly going to miss our new acquaintances! Also, and I would never have
thought that I would ever be thinking like this, can in-person worship have the intimacy and
variety afforded us courtesy of internet technologies? It seems strange to think that
worshipping using a ‘screen’ could engage us as the Body of Christ. But this it has done!
APRIL 2021

As we stumble out of the dark tomb, blinded by the light of God’s resurrected One, we are
learning to take baby steps once more, which I suppose is no bad thing. God extends his
hand to humanity, and we tentatively reach out to grasp the assurance it conveys. Joyful,
hopeful, tentative, we approach God’s tomorrow.
The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining 1 John 2:8

 

 

From the Editor

The Time is Now


The Time Is Now is a campaign run by the Climate Coalition: Along with its sister
organisations Stop Climate Chaos Cymru and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, the Climate
Coalition is a collective of over 140 organisations — including the URC, Christian Aid, A
Rocha, National Trust, Women’s Institute, Oxfam and RSPB —representing 22 million
people. Supported by organisations from all around the country, the Climate Coalition has
written to the Prime Minister with a vision and plan for a clean and green future that works
for everyone. The UK is at a turning point. As the government leads us out of the pandemic,
we have an opportunity to build back an economy that improves the health of the nation,
protects our environment and creates a fairer society.
The UK hosts the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) in November: We
know that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions urgently to limit the rise in global
temperature. We are already seeing the people, places and lives we love affected by the
climate crisis. What gets decided at COP26 will set a pathway for the global community for
years to come. The UK must lead the world in putting climate action at the heart of our
plans to rebuild our economy and become a beacon for the rest of the world to follow. The
climate summit is a historic opportunity for Britain to become a global leader.
The Climate Coalition is asking for our support: The Time Is Now Declaration calls on the
Prime Minister and the government to unleash a clean energy revolution that boosts jobs
across the UK; to protect, restore and expand our green and wild places; to increase support
to those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change at home and abroad. To make
these bold changes across the nation, politicians need to see the public support them
locally. The Climate Coalition is urging individuals, businesses, organisations, churches,
schools, community groups and people from all walks of life to sign The Time Is Now
Declaration. Please join in sending this strong and unified message that we want to see the
UK forge a resilient recovery towards a healthy, safe and fair world.
The time is now for ambitious action on climate change … sign the Declaration
here: https://thetimeisnow.uk/declaration.
Modern Slavery- Together Free
At the recent synod meeting we had a very interesting and moving talk on the problem of
modern slavery which has been on the rise in recent years. It is prevalent across the whole
Eastern region but is highest in Essex and the Together Free foundation based in Southend
have been providing resources to communities to tackle the problem, offering training to
professionals, students, police and others. They are a free-church network working with
local communities and churches. Visit their website https://www.togetherfree.org.uk/ to
read further about modern slavery and what the signs and risk factors are

 

Ongar Churches Together


By the time you read this Easter will be over and we will be back in our churches. I hope,
however, that you have enjoyed the fellowship we have shared with the other churches in
and around the town. We started off with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which
proved possibly more successful than holding a daily time of prayer in our individual
churches. Certainly, due to no other activities taking place, I was able to participate each
day and enjoyed the different slants given to the theme. We then continued with a time of
devotions each Wednesday at noon during Lent, led by a different church each week.
Despite some problems with broadband reception, these too were well attended and, again,
people expressed their appreciation, not only of the devotions but also of being able to
meet people from other churches. This was extended into Holy Week with devotions each
day Monday to Thursday, finishing with the Walk of Witness done virtually on Zoom on
Good Friday. As we had cancelled this last year, I felt that it was important that we
continued even though on Zoom and hope that some of you may have taken the
opportunity to walk round the churches in Ongar some time during the day saying, perhaps,
a small prayer at each.


Throughout all these ‘remote’ acts of worship, I have felt that the churches have come
together more as the numbers attending have increased over times when we have been
able to physically meet in the different churches. Even though we have not met in person
the fellowship between the churches has grown and we have experienced a variety of
approaches to worship. I hope and pray that this will continue into the future and that we
will be able to show to the town around us that, despite our differences in styles of worship,
we are all one in the body of Christ.
Freedom
By the time you read this we will be nearing the end of this period of lockdown and looking
forward to an easing of restrictions but it has made me think whether our freedom has
really been curtailed by lockdown. It seems to me that we have had freedom throughout,
the freedom of choice. Some have abused this right as was shown by the violence at
demonstrations, particularly in Bristol. It could be argued that these people have restricted
the freedom of others particularly those who have lawfully demonstrated, wearing masks to
stop the spread of the virus rather than to disguise their faces, and maintaining social
distancing. Others have emerged as anti-vaxxers, refusing to have the vaccination due to
various, often spurious reasons, and have chosen to risk putting their lives and the lives of
others at risk, restricting the freedom of others. Those of us who have stayed at home only
venturing out for permitted activities have chosen to do so, not only to protect ourselves
but also others. We have willingly given freedom to others to make choices as to their
behaviour. Once we emerge from lockdown, we have the freedom to make the right
choices, by not drastically altering our behaviour, continuing to wear masks and maintain
our distance from others.


This freedom is not born out of any Government legislation but is God given. Just as God
gave Adam and Eve the freedom of his garden, he also gave them the freedom of choice.
They didn’t have to eat the apple but they chose to do so. Similarly throughout the Bible
God speaks to people and asks them to do things. Sometimes they choose to do their own
thing, often the opposite of what God intended, such as Jonah sailing away in the opposite
direction from Ninevah where God wanted him to go. God chose to send His Son amongst
us knowing what the end result of His life would be but ultimately the people were given a
choice in that they didn’t have to call for His crucifixion. We cannot imagine the glory and
peace there would have been in the world if the people had not made that choice.
Once we emerge from lockdown let us remember the choices we have and let us follow
always the commandment whose importance Jesus stressed: “Love your neighbour as
yourself”, second in importance to “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12: 29-31), My prayer is
that we will regain our freedom with this in mind remembering that our choices, our actions
do not only affect us but all those around us, all we meet and all people around the world
who have suffered from this pandemic. May God keep you safe and guide you to make the
right choices.

 

 

A Prayer 


I would like to share this prayer with you all which I heard on my morning meditation on the
Lectio 365 App. Sometimes we may feel our prayers aren't answered but our Father knows
our needs better than we do. "Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need
before you ask him" Matthew 6:8
I thought this prayer summed up that verse from Matthew's Gospel


A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER’S PRAYER


Author Unknown,
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed

 

 

 


Alone but not lonely - Thanks from a fiend


We are reminded in many ways that we have come through a very difficult trying year.
I wish to say a very sincere THANK YOU to all those people who have helped me in various
ways throughout this trying time.
For the phone calls to ask if I require any shopping etc. or just simply to get in touch for a
chat.
For the many gifts of produce from gardens and kitchens, sometimes in person or just left
on my doorstep.
I have appreciated all of the various literature that I have received, Orders of Service,
Stepping Stones, etc.
I do hope and pray that you have been blessed by all of your thoughtfulness.
God Bless You All.

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts From a member

 

. Needless to say, we now have lots of jobs to keep us busy. So perhaps this is why the
time is passing by so quickly.
I think we are all looking forward to being able to see friends and family again when we are
able to meet outside and in gardens. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us so that we can
enjoy outside visits with each other.
We are still looking after our daughter’s puppy on the days she is working. She is good
company for us. As she is now house trained we are not constantly watching for signs that
she needs to go out. Much more relaxing!
We are now looking forward to visiting National Trust Properties again, to see their Spring
flower gardens, when we are allowed out of our local area.
I have just walked past the front entrance to our Church and saw the wonderful display of
Spring flowers Colin has planted for us. So a big ‘thank you to Colin”.
Hope you are all keeping safe and looking forward, to seeing you all soon.

 

 

 

 Diary notes for March

 

1st March got me making Welsh cakes & picking daffodils from the garden to celebrate
St.David’s day, plus ringing friends in Wales. Strangely, on the same day a neighbour asked if
I’d like some of her homegrown leeks. So we swapped cakes for leeks.
The greenhouse is now tidy, with new paving stones down the centre & widened shelving
for all the seedlings. So, busy times ahead as we look through the seeds we already have &
decide when to plant.
We watched our Grandson’s Passing out parade with pride by video link. Sadly no one was
allowed to attend, they weren’t able to wear their official uniform as tailors weren’t allowed
in for fittings which was disappointing, also no band allowed either!! There was music of
course & plenty of drill. So we have a Soldier in the family. The next phase is a 10week Royal
Engineers Training
I am feeling most sad for our dear Queen going through such family dispute & only hope she
can rejoice in the happiness other members bring her, such as Princess Eugene & Jack’s
baby August Philip & now Zara & Mike’s new offspring Lucas Philip.
Jim & I sort of celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary, Emerald! But I didn’t see any
emeralds. Instead we gratefully received lovely cards & gifts plus a couple of visitors which
was very special. It was a beautiful sunny day to tour our garden with friends. A treat from
the local fish stall of Avocado, prawns & crab starter dish for lunch & Chinese takeaway
delivered later (with help from Angie) & so a happy day was had.
One of my recent walks was along the High Street. Although the empty & closed shops are
rather depressing to see the splash that took my breath away was the wonderful display of
flowers in tubs & troughs everywhere. Ongar is definitely In Bloom! Make sure to go & look.
I hope you are all finding continued support from friends & relatives & hanging on in there!
The message on my little granddaughter’s tee shirt today blazoned “Make today
Awesome” & I think that’s a good challenge.
Happy Easter to you all. 

 

 

Quiz


Insects (If you use Google just remember whose watching!)


1. L------- (8)     11. M--- (4)
2. M------- (8)    12. E----- (6)
3. L----- (6)        13. M----- (6)
4. C-------- (9)    14. B-- (3)
5. F-- (3)            15. L------- (8)
6. S----- (6)        16. D--- (4)
7. C------ (7)       17. W--- (4)
8. F------ (7)       18. H----- (6)
9. A--- (5)          19. M---- (5)
10. G--- (4)       20. W----- (6)


Answers for Chemical Elements from last month

1. W Tungsten
2. H Hydrogen
3. I Iodine
4. Al Aluminium
5. Sn Tin
6. Ag Silver
7. Kr Krypton
8. As Arsenic
9. Zn Zinc
10. Cu Copper
11. Ni Nickel
12. Co Cobalt
13. Fe Iron
14. Ti Titanium
15. Ca Calcium
16. Na Sodium
17. O Oxygen
18. Ar Argon
19. C Carbon
20. He Helium

We are located at:

ONGAR UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

HIGH STREET

ONGAR

CM5 9EA

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