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Thought for the Month -  October


I think my hair is becoming more and more like leaves on an autumn tree! As I get older it is changing colour and falling off.

We can mark the changing seasons by the trees; from the bareness of winter through the first flush of green in spring to the darker greens of summer and the golden tints of autumn. You can tell the type of tree by the outline of its silhouette and the shape of its leaves. Without trees our countryside would be bare and barren, trees give height and depth to the hills and dales.

Trees are an important source of many of creation’s gifts - the fruits, apples and pears, of harvest time; the bark for tanning and cork making; the trunk and branches are gathered for the fire; the leaves that fall return to the earth as humus. Every part of a tree plays its part in the great cycle of life.

From Eden at the beginning in Genesis to the new city of Jerusalem in Revelation trees have an important place in the Bible too. They carry the fruits of a harvest to be gathered, but also are a symbol of the fruits of good and evil. It was the fruit of a tree that was used to tell of humanity’s downfall (Genesis chapter 3 – but note that the Bible never mentions the much maligned apple!). Yet in Revelation (chapter 22 v 2) it is the leaves of the tree that will bring healing to the nations (an early form of sticking plaster?).

When you see a tree standing tall and strong remember that God creates each one. They bend with the wind and become daily stronger. They provide for our needs. Whether it is a single tree in a field or one lost within the depths of a great forest without that tree the world would be a lesser place. So emulate the trees, bear good fruit, be a healer for the nations, and whether you are one alone or part of a crowd do what you can to stand strong and tall for others.

As the fruit unto the fig-tree,
As the dew unto the grass,
So, Lord, art thou to me.                               Hymns & Psalms 30

God bless you this harvest time.

Peter

Rev Peter Sheasby


Thought for the Month -  September


Isaiah Ch 40 v 31. Those who trust in the Lord will soar on wings like eagles.

We all have times in our lives when we find it harder to trust, We are desperate, waiting for a diagnosis or getting one which throws our lives into turmoil, Needing money to pay a bill. being made redundant, retiring,being berieved So many circumstances which bring fear to us and a sense of hopelessness. but those are the very times we need to trust, We need to have the Lord to turn to. and we often say how do those who don't know the Lord survive. And yet there is still the feeling of dispair I always pray for people that in their dispair they will feel the Lords arms around them. and that is it also in your loss and dispair and fear and hopelessness. turn to the one who wants to comfort you and provide for you and lift you so that in that turning to him you can feel as though you are on wings like an eagle held on the wind safe in his arms.

God bless you all
Linda



Thought for the Month -  August


“50 ways to say Goodbye” was a song recorded in 2012 by an American rock group, and it feels as though over the last few weeks Geoff and I (and perhaps Revd Tanya too), have been finding at least 50 ways to say goodbye to so many precious people here in the Ryedale Circuit. My mind also goes to the Sound of Music, and the Farewell Song: So long, farewell, Au revoir, auf Wiedersehen, Adieu – are all words used to say good bye. Ciao can be used for hello and goodbye – a dual greeting – as is Shalom for the Jewish people.


According to the dictionary Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquillity and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.
When we share “The Peace” in a service of Holy Communion it can, of necessity, be hurried and perfunctory. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our greetings were instead a heartfelt prayer for the peace, harmony, wholeness etc (as described above) of the other?
So Shalom, farewell, from those of us who are leaving the circuit, and Shalom, hello – to Revd Peter and his wife Christine as they arrive –  and may Shalom/Christ’s peace rule in your hearts and minds – now and always.
Ruth






Thought for the Month -  July


Wimbledon!


It’s here – the fortnight that tennis lovers enjoy!


For some it means a grandstand seat and strawberries and cream. For others it means queuing outside all night in the hopes of buying a ticket for just one match on Centre Court. For yet others it’s about watching the telly and later blowing the dust off the tennis racquet and having a knock about on the local courts.


But for the players it means the culmination of weeks, months and years of training, practice and hard slog. It means injuries, big dreams and crushing disappointments. In some ways the Christian life is similar. Some seem to sail through with enjoyment and little hardship whereas others struggle. Some come to worship God only once or twice a year whereas others come almost every week. Some make a supreme effort now and again and some faithfully try to live out God’s wishes all life through. The Christian life isn’t just a supreme effort now and again…it’s about a life-long struggle to be faithful. It’s not a one-off event – but life-long training, with our training manual – The Bible!


I’m sure many of us will remember the tears of those who lose out in the Wimbledon final. But it reminds me, that sometimes our best efforts can leave us in tears, wishing that life had turned out differently. But God is ALWAYS faithful and is always here for us and will not let us down. Let’s praise him for all that is past and trust him for all that’s to come!


Every blessing,
Tanya



Thought for the Month -  June


Lifting up our eyes …



On a trip to Madeira earlier this year, we were shown a beautiful valley, completely encircled by extinct volcanoes. These steep and beautiful mountains surrounded a place now known as Curral das Freiras or ‘The Nuns Valley’. It got its name because this is the secret, hidden place where centuries ago, nuns took sanctuary and hid from rampaging pirates. Here they were safe in this amazing place of peace, beauty and serenity. This brought to mind the words of Psalm 121 which will be familiar to some, and begins: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills…”. Like the psalmist centuries earlier, we felt drawn to lift our eyes to the hills, and to know that our help comes from God. The towering mountains reminded us of the enormity and majesty of God, with his enormous and majestic love to match! Back at home, I pondered how we can all experience that feeling of safety and of being held as we ‘lift our eyes’ from the immediate, obvious, sometimes painful situations we may find ourselves in, and try to see life from another perspective- appreciating those who love us, those who look after us and minister to us daily in our various settings, and not forgetting the God who created us and loves us completely and eternally. What a comfort and relief that knowledge gives us!

Life is constantly changing, (like the circuit staff and ministers!) and from our limited perspective, this has the potential to raise feelings of anxiety or apprehension in us – but the truth is God is constant, and is lovingly present with us in the person of the Holy Spirit, and we can always ask for God’s comfort and peace, even in the darkest and most difficult times. May we be able to experience this truth and then affirm confidently with the psalmist:




The Lord keeps you from all harm
  and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
  both now and forever.
(Psalm 121: verses 7 and 8)

Love and peace,
Deacon Fiona



Thought for the Month -  May


As a child I wasn’t good at waiting.

· The days before Christmas barely limped by, not just dragging their feet, but the days, hours and minutes with them! (It’s unlikely
Mum and Dad agreed).
· The countdown to the freedom of school holidays felt interminable, while the holidays themselves sprinted by (my parents probably felt the opposite).

We’ve just celebrated Easter - contemplating that rollercoaster of emotions Jesus’ family and followers experienced. Those broken dreams, shattered expectations, the trauma, their fear, guilt and grief, and then,
suddenly, the wonder… “He is not here – He is risen” Luke 24:6a NIV

    During May we share, with those who love Jesus, the accounts of how He meets them and meets their needs: revealing, restoring and reviving.

On Thursday 30th May we’ll celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, Jesus leaves his dismayed disciples with a promise and a command: “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 NIV

“Wait” He bids - there will be gifts!
“Wait” He says – you will receive the Spirit of God - freedom from fear, power from above, and equipping to be witnesses to God’s grace and favour.

  As the disciples return to the city to watch and pray… to wait for the gift, for freedom from fear, did the time drag? Probably, expectation and longing have a way of slowing time.

  So this year, let we who would be His disciples, allow the Risen Christ meet with us (and our needs) revealing, restoring and reviving.

  Then, from Ascension, might we set aside some time each day to wait, watch and pray? Perhaps we can recover something of that expectation and longing - even if it does mean the days drag until Pentecost.
Because, trust God, there is always more – so much more.

Shalom Tony

PS.  For those of us that like  a "spring board" into prayer - there are some "Thy Kingdom come" resources produced for the period between Ascension and Pentecost - "I hear you differently" and a separate small prayer journal. These should be appearing in your churches after Easter - first come, first served!!!


 

Thought for the Month -  April


When Spring comes, we delight in seeing gardens burst into life. We have had snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils and the leaves on trees and hedgerows, bright with new life. This is perfect for Christians contemplating the miracle of Easter; everything seems dark and dead before surprizing us with new life, brighter than we could ever imagine.
It also serves to remind us that things can seem dead and lifeless before they spring into life with new vigour. Not just our gardens do this, with long forgotten bulbs and seeds sending up new shoots, people and situations can seem like a lost cause sometimes, but God often has plans which we do not know about. Under the surface of a church which often seems to be out of touch and old fashioned is a vibrant and life-giving God just waiting for people to respond to his word and cultivate the garden he has planted.
We must not be discouraged if things go through a dormant phase but should press on with the work of loving and serving our neighbours for Christ’s sake, to show them the love and forgiveness of God, freely given, so they may have life, bright green and full of vigour, Spring life in all its fullness.

Karen Pattison



Thought for the Month  - March


What’s it worth?

A frequently asked question on TV Antiques programmes or in a household of teenagers when they are asked to perform a small task! Sometimes it is difficult to put a value on ‘it’ – whether that be an object, a task, a skill or a person’s life. Insurance, including “life insurance” is big business.

So what is our life worth? The Bible encourages us to see ourselves as God sees us. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is speaking to His disciples when he says “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26) He takes it a step further in chapter 10 when in sending out his disciples to preach the message of the coming kingdom, he tells them that even the hairs of their heads are numbered. In the light of the opposition that they would face he speaks words of reassurance: “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (verse 31).

As we approach and live through Lent, let us receive the assurance of God’s grace: The God who knows all about us – and still loves us – this is grace at its fullest. A priceless, but costly love that Paul speaks of in Romans 5:6. “….God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God says to each one of us: ”You are worth it – because I love you.” How much do we value what God has done for us in Christ? May we respond with Isaac Watts in his famous hymn “When I survey the wondrous cross…”

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine

Demands my soul, my life, my all!

May Christ’s Love and Peace fill you anew this Lent

Ruth


Thought for the Month  - February


Dear Friends,
February has arrived dark, miserable,  snowy and we can feel a bit down. As I thought of this I remember a time many years ago when I was 16 years old. I lived in Liverpool at the time and we were experiencing a terrible smog much deeper than a fog, you couldn't see all around you. I was on my way home from work, all buses and trams had stopped running and I was all alone. I was very frightened and had no sense of direction, I didn't know what dangers were out there waiting for me,  whether I would fall over or somebody would attack me. I prayed "Please help me" and suddenly a powerful light came out of the darkness and a voice asked if I was alright and where did I live. It was a policeman and he led me right to my door, to the light and warmth and love of my home. As I remember this,  I also remember how Jesus has always been beside me even in the darkest smog. Even when I was too lost to really know it, he was leading me onwards to light., warmth and safety and doing it with love. He is doing the same for you. Just breath "Please help me" and he will.
Blessings and peace to you all.

Linda




Thought for the Month  - December


Dear Friends,

Christmas time will soon be upon us again – an important time it seems for the commercial world. Decorations and advertising are already well under way in the shops; I have heard some carols being played. It’s an important time too for families; family reunions and giving of gifts are so much part of the season. Christmas cards are also important; they are a means of keeping in contact with friends we rarely see.

In fact, Christmas is an important time for the entire human race; Jesus came for everyone. His coming is so significant that, for most countries, the years are dated from his birth; His coming is God’s indelible mark on our human history.
As you have read these words, you may well have been nodding in agreement with me. Yet haven’t I forgotten something? What about the build-up to Christmas? What about Advent?

Of course, Advent is of vital importance. During the days of Advent, you will no doubt make many preparations; order a turkey, send out greeting cards, buy presents, put up decorations and lights, prepare special food. But let’s not forget the most important preparation to make for Christmas is to prepare your own heart for God, to be ready for the second coming of Jesus.

Do you remember playing “hide & seek”, and how the ‘seeker’ usually began the hunt with the words “Coming, ready or not!”? Well, that’s just what Jesus says to us with his words: “.... stay awake, because you do not know the day or the hour when your master is coming...”

This Advent, prepare your heart to meet God, because one day you may hear those words: Coming – ready or not!
In love and peace

Rev Tanya




Thought for the Month - November


Remembering, reflecting and re-telling our stories

November is here! Outside, things are changing – evenings are darker now the clocks have gone back, leaves are rapidly changing colour and falling, and our lawn at the manse is covered with windfall apples, with shiny green and red skins, still edible if gathered quickly. Nothing stays the same, but we know that the year’s cycle will turn, and new life will come again.

November is a month for remembering – Remembrance Sunday has an added significance this year with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. November is a special time for Tony and me to remember our fathers – Tony’s dad’s birthday was the 10th and my dad died on the 5th five years ago. I remember the evening of the day he died, driving to a house group about 8 miles away, and seeing the sky filled with fireworks. It felt surreal, and yet somehow fitting, as I believed that my dad was being welcomed into Heaven. It was devastating to lose him, but somehow I knew that God was in it, that God was with me, and that my dad was with God.

November can also be a month for reflection – a time to reflect on the past and give thanks for the people we love, those still with us and those who have gone ahead of us, and also to thank God for the many blessings we’ve received through the years. I find myself looking through photo albums, remembering holidays and family gatherings, special times with friends, and maybe some sad or difficult times too. In all of this, it is really good if we have a chance to share memories and stories with others. We can often find things in common with others, important and profound things, especially in the community of believers. We know that God has been there with us throughout our lives, sharing in our experiences, walking beside us and somehow ahead of us too. He is a constant presence, a faithful friend and a very present help in times of trouble, as the psalmist says (Psalm 46:1).

Each of us has our own stories to tell and it can be a great encouragement in our Christian faith to hear other people’s testimonies! Testimony simply means telling the story of a ‘God-moment’ in your life. The word ‘testimony’ may conjure up a picture of a ‘road to Damascus’ life-changing encounter with the living Christ, (Acts 9) or a ‘road to Emmaus’ realisation that Christ has been walking beside us (Luke 24:13) … but some testimonies can be subtle and non-dramatic, and yet still be life-changing. I’ve always loved hearing people’s stories and enjoyed being a pastoral visitor years before I felt called to diaconal ministry. It is still my privilege to hear lots of people’s stories as I visit them at Mickle Hill, or in their homes elsewhere in the circuit or in hospital. People share their God-encounters - maybe it came as a sense of deep peace, or of unexpected and overwhelming joy, or something that happened which clearly wasn’t a co-incidence but was a God-incidence.

We have just experienced one of these in our own family. Some of you know that a dear relative of mine, Win, recently died aged 96 in an MHA care home in Wolverhampton. As she lay dying, I wasn’t able to go to her, but my brother & his wife who live in Devon ‘just happened’ to be driving through the Midlands that day, on their way to visit their daughter in Manchester. They spent time with Win, reading the Bible and praying with her. I was so grateful that Win had some family with her, and it blessed my brother Mark and his wife Carolyn too. As Mark said, it was a “God appointment”. Wow – thank you God!

So as you travel through November, reflect on the God-encounters you have had, and thank him for them. If you struggle to remember any, open up your heart and ask God to make his presence known to you. I would love to compile a book of testimonies from across the circuit, so if you want to share yours, please get in touch with me (email: tandfidb@gmail.com)

May God bless us as we remember, reflect and re-tell our stories, and in the words of one of my favourite hymns: We’ll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that’s to come.’ (Hymns and Psalms 277 by Joseph Hart)

Peace and love, Deacon Fiona


Thought for the Month  -  October

Temptation

Ive been wrestling with temptation over the last couple of weeks. It all started when I preached from the book of James. I found myself parked in the first chapter of this wonderful letter for the next 4 weeks. Spending time in this passage really took hold of me and finally led me to the issue of temptation.

I doubt there has ever been a person who has not been tempted. For those who yield to temptation after 5 minutes have no idea of the power of temptation and the strength it takes to resist it.

Even Jesus himself was tempted. Only those who resist temptation know how strong it is.

We must never make the mistake of saying, ‘God tempted me’ or that, ‘God made me this way so Im only doing what he has made natural for me to do’. This is a big mistake.

James, clearly tells us God tempts no one. “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then after the desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin when it is full- grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15).

Have you noticed when we are tempted we start pondering the idea and then we begin talking ourselves into it and finding ways to justify it!

Jeremiah was right when he said,  ‘the heart is deceitful above all things.’ (Jer 17:9).

Temptation however can be a useful teacher when we recognise it for what it is. Temptation pinpoints the weak areas of our moral character and magnifies the fl
aws in our inner nature. If we recognise these weak areas we recognise our propensity to sin and the need for a saviour.

A person’s inner nature (thoughts and secret desires of the heart) determines how they can be tempted in their outer nature. Thus the temptation reveals the possibilities of their true nature. This means temptation will only come to each of us in accordance with the level of our controlling inner nature.

Oh how we need a saviour. What joy there is in knowing we have a saviour who ‘was tempted in every way as we are yet without sin’. (Heb 4:15)

We know temptation is not something we can ever be totally free from in this life. However if we keep our focus on Jesus our Lord and Saviour we begin to see him as a greater worth than the transient desire of the temptation . We have been given the Holy Spirit which makes us conquerors, more than conquerors through him who loves us.

Keep your eye on Jesus and not on the temptation…. Hope this helps

Watch the funny clip below from Francis Chan about temptation

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YtH9pxFDmug God bless.

Rev. Ken


Thought for the Month  -  September


As children start school in September, a new year, a new class and often a new school, they usually have new uniform and bags full of stationery. I remember this start to the new school year as scary and exciting in almost equal measure and one of the things that I loved about it was getting new exercise books. Oh! the promise of those pristine pages! I was always so sure that I would fill this book with neat, lovely work. I was always so hopeful that this book would be the one that was full of correct answers with no mistakes.


 Needless to say, this was not to be. Every book of mine has neat writing for a page or two, then it descends into chaos as I sacrifice legibility to speed. Despite my best efforts, mistakes were made and, helpfully pointed out by the teacher, in red! This happened every year, and it is still the same if I buy a new notebook now (except for it being marked by a teacher)


 It is the same in life. We face new challenges as things change for us; new starts which are a mixture of scary and exciting. We often face these challenges telling ourselves that we will be wonderful and hardworking, and we will not make any mistakes. But in our heart of hearts we know that this is not the case. We all make mistakes and it is never very nice having them pointed out to us.


 But the good news is, Jesus knows this. He knows us all and he knows what we are like. So full of good intentions, so prone to failure in so many ways. But if we acknowledge our mistakes to God, Jesus promised us forgiveness. What a fantastic gift. A fresh start, a new beginning, forgiveness from God. Even better than a new exercise book!


Karen Pattison



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