Building for the Future
Building for the Future

STEPPINGSTONES

 

 

 

From the Minister

 

Ash Wednesday falls on February 17th, and so commences the practice of observing Lent which will

last until Maundy Thursday April 1st.

Each year I make a ‘stab’ at observing Lent as best I can. Usually a devotional framework helps, but so

too does practical discipline, i.e., trying to do something different. So, if you wish to observe Lent with

me it is important to remember some basics.

1. Lent is a time to mirror our Lord’s ‘exodus’ in the desert/wilderness where he was tempted by the

devil yet was without sin. He endured 40 days of testing at the end of which ‘he was famished’

(Matthew 4:2)! We see the time as a preparatory time on the run-up to Good Friday and Easter.

Sometimes it is to our benefit to be tried and tested.

2. Practically speaking, what can you give up and what habits can I adopt that are different?

 For example, do you eat too much junk food? Could you use Lent to improve your eating

habits and donate the money normally spent on takeaways and the like to good causes?

 How about giving up Facebook for 40 days. Resolve to use the time normally spent idling on

social media as time set aside for a devotional act of prayer of spiritual reading from the Bible

or another writing.

 Communicate differently, by intentionally sitting down to write a letter and send it to

someone who has been very much in your thoughts and prayers, or whom you have not been

in touch with for years.

 Attend church regularly on Sundays – by Zoom if you can, in person once we have been lifted

from lockdown, or by viewing a service online or on the TV – Songs of Praise is still broadcast

on the BBC. Radio 4 (Long Wave) still has a Daily Service mid-morning).

 Take time for self-examination and reflection. Think about how you have journeyed through

life and how things have worked out for you (or not). Dedicate yourself to a more modest and

Godly way of living, letting go of materialism and placing Christ centremost in your daily living.

 Build some good habits during the season of Lent, e.g., being both mindful of, and helpful

towards your neighbours. Greet people on the street. Be kind and gentle in all your dealings,

and so live a Godly lifestyle.

 Remember to share your wealth with others – whether by aiming to tithe your income for

charitable/church giving, by giving away some of your material possessions, or buying your

clothes from charity shops second hand (once they open).

In the end, Lent is your time for God and with God. Trust God’s companionship as you observe Lent

and know that by such observance you are growing deeper into God and God’s purposes.

Resources abound during the season of Lent, so I take this opportunity to direct you to the following,

if you have access, on the internet:

February 2021

 

https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-lent-700774

https://ofthehearth.com/14-simple-ways-to-get-started-observing-lent/

https://network.crcna.org/faith-nurture/lent-christian-reformed-tradition

And if you want a book to read during Lent please go to Eden.co.uk and order:

https://www.eden.co.uk/living-his-story-lent-book-hannah-steele/

https://www.eden.co.uk/holy-habits-in-the-life-and-passion-of-jesus/

 

 

Christmas has come and gone and here we are into a new year, but nothing seems to have changed

and we are still in lockdown just as we were at the beginning of last year! This year has given us a lot

of time to be alone with God and to reflect not only on our memories of worship but also on how

worship has changed for us during the year. During the summer I conducted worship in the church

garden; many people now participate online or over the phone in the Zoom service every Sunday,

while others use the weekly worship sheet in their own homes on their own or with others.

During the past two weeks I was without internet access and had to rely on the worship sheet and my

own reflections, as well as my daily Bible notes. This gave me some insight into how dependent we

now are on modern technology and how we feel lost without it. It also taught me how others may

feel cut off from our fellowship when they do not have access to it. It never ceases to amaze me how

in Jesus’ time, word spread so widely and quickly that crowds of people gathered when he arrived in

their town or village. In fact, whichever Gospel you read, these crowds at times numbered up to

5000. We would be happy these days if our congregations reached three figures, but God has his

purpose to work out in everything. Jesus may have attracted these numbers just as the Billy Graham

rallies attracted large numbers, but only those whose lives had really been touched by God stayed

with him and continued to believe. It was this faithful few that continued to preach his message and

continued his work after the crucifixion. We, too, must remain faithful through these present

difficulties and continue Jesus’ work in the days, weeks, months and years to come, by whatever

means we have, whether it be in a church building or not.

One of my daily Bible readings during my time of being “cut off” was from Ecclesiastes 3, one of my

favourite passages. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a

time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to

heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn

and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a

time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a

time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to

hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” Some of you will remember the song by The Byrds, “Turn!

Turn!” from 1965, which I always find comes into my mind when I read these verses! God has given

us this time to reflect on our current practices of worship and perhaps to think of ways we can better

take his message out to others. Let us pray that we use this time wisely and it bears fruit in the

future.

 

I have started to knit rainbow scarves so that we can wear them before the weather warms up. At the moment I have 3 scarves to knit so they will keep me busy for a while. A nice activity to do while listening to the radio.

My next project is to start a ‘painting by numbers’ picture. So I will let you know how I get on with

that.

 

WINTER

 When Nature is in slumber

 Idle in the deep

 Nonetheless she’s dreaming of

 True promises to keep

 Eventually she’ll awaken

 Revitalised by sleep

 

Message from a member

"I have suddenly got older today (24th January): yesterday I was only a grandfather - but today I am a

great-grandfather: My Granddaughter  entered the world at 9.30 am. Mum and

dad are both theology graduates from St. Peter's College, Oxford. Dad (my grandson in law) is half

Russian and a Church of England curate. My Granddaughter was born today in Hillingdon Hospital and she

weighed 7lb. 12 oz.

Her grandmother, and my son-in-law, live in Bobbingworth. Her mother, my

granddaughter and her husband (a University Challenge team member), live inRuislip.

 

Diary Notes for December/January by a member

There’s not much to say about the Christmas period, with no special food or gifts to buy – no family

gatherings. It was doomed to be rather dull. However the greetings cards that were our sole

decorations, cheered the place with plump robins, donkeys and hatted penguins, there were even a

few nativity scenes! It was also interesting to notice the many different charities people support.

Christmas day passed by with a lone walk and meditation on that lovely sunny morning while dinner

was cooking. And later there was the virtual gathering; though everyone sounded rather sad and

lonely.

The real highlight for me was receiving an invite from my Grandson to take a walk on Boxing Day.

“Would I be available” he asked. You bet I would. So we did. He cycled from his home in Chelmsford,

and then we walked and talked for an hour. He told me about his army training. We both enjoyed the

fresh air and conversation. I felt very grateful for this time together.

Since Christmas I’ve set myself a few more ‘indoor challenges of painting another bedroom/office,

sorting files and photos. Well, the painting is done, Lilac and grey walls; ran out of lilac half way

round! And the arms and legs of a dear Parker Knoll chair have been rubbed down and Button

polished to show off the wood grain colours. It’s looking very well in the new clean room. A neighbour

gave me some lilac and silver curtains, so they are on the list of jobs, to shorten.

Our life continues keeping in touch with family and friends by phone, letters and other technology

and that has been good. Having had our first Covid vaccinations now, we feel things are looking more

positive for a happier year ahead.

We have just picked the first 6 daffodils from the garden and they are beautiful; the palest buttermilk

petals and long deepest lemon trumpets. If only I could paint the picture – but a photograph will have

to do. What a joy to watch springtime happen as if nothing else matters.

‘The earth speaks to you, if you listen’.

 

 

We are located at:

ONGAR UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

HIGH STREET

ONGAR

CM5 9EA

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