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Thought for the Month - August


Musings from Rev. Ken

Being a Christian in an increasingly secular nation is a growing challenge. It seems more and more people in the UK have chosen to dismiss God as irrelevant to their lives, without really thinking too deeply about it for themselves. They dismiss God, basing their rationale on the flimsiest of reasons and excuses. When engaging with family, friend or stranger in conversations relating to matters of faith, it’s not long before the objections soon surface. This is nothing new of course. This has always been the way of the world, when evangelists set out to speak the word of God.

A visiting evangelist once challenged the congregation I belonged to with a question, ‘If your church closed tomorrow, would anyone notice, would the world around you be noticeably different?’ The question posed by the evangelist is no longer hypothetical or theoretical, for each church in the UK can now discover for themselves the true answer!! Has anyone noticed we are not there? Has our absence been felt? Im not referring to those who attend weekly services, our coffee mornings or even those who hire rooms within our church buildings. Im speaking about the voice of the church, has it been noticeably quiet? Has anyone noticed the prophetic message the church is called to speak is missing? Are our teachings on moral values and scriptural holiness longed for? Has the lack of preaching increased a spiritual void and emptiness in the lives of the materialistically focussed? These are important questions for us to consider because they form part of our witness as Christians in our communities.

The writer of the book of Hebrews offers really good advice for the Christian saying, ‘Not to give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Heb 10:25). Living in an increasingly secular world poses us with many challenges throughout the week in our witness to Jesus life, love and resurrection. So how important it is for the Christian to maintain their commitment each week to meet together on the Lord’s Sabbath day to worship. The gathering of God’s people should be the highlight of every Christian, as we long to come together again, the gathered body of Christ, to celebrate on the Lord’s Day, to worship the creator of heaven and earth. Do you feel that sense of excitement stepping over the threshold of the church, as we step on sacred ground entering the holy space? To sit quietly before God, preparing our hearts for worship. Are we in awe as the holy Scriptures are read, as we hear the words of Jesus read aloud? Do we pray for those who are leading us in prayers asking the Holy Spirit to minister to His people. Do we long for our preacher to come and bring us the word of God? The Psalmist declares, ‘Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked’ (Psalm 84:10)

The secular world doesn't recognise the wonder of coming together as church but they are in need of the message we have to share. I want to return to the question has anyone noticed our absence? As the remaining churches return to worship in September will anyone notice we have returned? If no one has noticed our absence they probably wont notice our return. If we are not excited about returning with eager anticipation to worship Almighty God as a family to receive Holy Communion and feast on the Word of God how why should anyone else be? Church is much more than singing on a Sunday, our church is a calling of God and what a message we have to share. Let us return joyfully and jubilantly as David did when he danced before the ark of God. May we be in awe as we gather together in the sacred and holy space again. Let us be the people our God is calling us to be for His praise and glory and return joyfully.

Amen.


Thought for the Month - August


Roman's Chapter 8 verses 31-39

Today we're looking at St Paul's words in Roman's chapter 8 and particularly considering verse 35"Who will seperate us from the love of God?"Have you heard or said or maybe thought "where is God ?" when things appear wrong, Many peaople are at present suffering from illness,grief, loss of jobs, depression, fear of the future, and we wonder why God doesn't intervene doesn't wave a divine magic wand and make everything go back to January, , Some people believe God has allowed this to happen to let us see his power, or to give us the opportunity to change, Other's believe that God allows things to happen in order that we might see his glory. These are Biblical. at least fromthe Old Testement But let us remember Jesus came and through doing so gave us salvation peace, hope and love, In the passage we're looking at we read It is Christ jesus .who died, Who was raised and is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us and because of this nothing can seperate us from the love of God. In the darkest of times we can feel closer to him, In my own experience it is in times of deepest dispair that God has come along side me and I have felt his love surrounding me. Paul ends by saying " death ,nor life nor Angels nor rulers nor things to come, nor powers will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" Do contnue to say" Where is God?" but not with dispair in our hearts but in seeking him. All storms come to an end there is hope the rainbow promises this and while we are in a place of uncertainty let us remember our World does not belong to a a virus but to a Saviour who loves us,
prayer; Presious Jesus, Thank you for your love for us, for giving us your grace to draw close to you, We pray today for all including ourselves who are struggling with the concept of a loving God when bad things happen and help us and others to know your almighty love and peace which goes beyond all understanding .Amen.

Linda Stannard


Thought for the Month - May


Peace in the midst of the chaos.
What strange and unprecedented times we are living in. Many people are consumed with anxiety and fear about Covid 19, others are lonely, or struggling with ill health, or mourning loved ones; many are hating the lockdown and longing to get out, and yet others would love to be confined to home, but instead have to continue to venture out and go to work, as they are key workers. For everyone then, it is a challenge, one that is harder to navigate through for some people than others, and as we have never faced this before and we don’t know how long it’s going to last, we have to find a way through. Christian faith is a great help and encouragement, as we can lean on Jesus when our own strength fails.
     Even though the virus is new, the experiences of fear and uncertainty are certainly not. Have you noticed how many post-Resurrection stories in the gospels demonstrate this? Here are three examples: the two weary, discouraged travellers on the road to Emmaus meet a stranger who explains the Scriptures to them, and they invite him in for a meal – and as He gives thanks for the food – they see that it is Jesus! (Luke 24:13-32) Then the disciples are cowering behind closed doors, when Jesus stands amongst them and says “Peace”. (Luke 24:36). The disciples who went fishing, catch nothing but then a stranger on the shore speaks to them, their nets are suddenly full of fish and then the stranger invites them to have breakfast with him - again, it is Jesus! (John 21)
      I wonder how many times Jesus is with us and we do not recognise him, do not hear him say ‘Peace’ and do not pause for a moment and allow ourselves to experience that peace that he gives – the peace that passes all understanding.
     If you like me have moments of anxiety, read one of the many beautiful resurrection stories in the gospels- the references for three of them are above. Imagine yourself there in that story, speak to Jesus, listen to Jesus, hear him say “Peace” to you. Although I’m a Christian minister, I am nevertheless prone to anxiety and fear, and can only share with you what has helped me. May God bless you, protect you and keep you safe. Amen


Fiona De Boltz


Thought for the Month - April

  
Message from Rev. Ken (March 2020) It feels a little strange that I'm not greeting you at the church doors but bringing a service of worship to your doors! This is indeed an unprecedented time we are living in.  

As  government  guidance  changes  daily  and  restrictions  are  added  daily,  how  we  live  our lives will continue to be very different for the forceable future.

Is there any good news?                                  

  Its good news indeed to know, although the world around us changes, God does not! For He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore, this provides us with a  great  confidence,  God  doesn't  change,  He  is  a  mighty  rock  on  which  we  can  take  our stand.

  As  we  enter  this  season  of  unprecedented  change,  we  can  use  this  season  as  an opportunity  to  deepen  our  faith  in  Jesus  and  take  up  the  challenge  of  loving  God  with  all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbours as ourselves.

  There  are  many  promises  in  Scripture  which  we  can  claim,  one  of  these  is  strength  and another  is  joy  which  God  provides  us  through  the  Holy  Spirit,  especially  in  the  midst  of times of unease and times of testing, (Psalm 28:7).

Testing times                    

  This is certainly a time of testing and shaking of the nations which provides us with  an  opportunity  to  reflect  on  which  path  we  are  walking  in  life.  Tests  and  exams  are actually  helpful  to  us,  they  provide  us  with  an  opportunity  to  see  how  much  we  have learned in our walk as Christians and when times of testing come we can see how much faith we actually have.

  Thinking about exams do you remember the conditions? It was always quiet, sitting alone at your desk. This was always an uneasy feeling. Then the exam would begin.

   The exam clock slowly ticks away, counting down. As we sat alone we had to draw deep from within ourselves of all that we have learned in order to answer the questions.

  So  in  the  quiet  time  we  find  ourselves  in,  open  up  the  Scriptures  and  begin  reading,  its great preparation for the tests that come our way. You may want to begin with the book of Luke and follow on with the book of Acts to see how the early church started and how the  first Christians trusted God for all they needed and how their faith was strengthened while facing many challenging situations and circumstances.

  If you have any questions from you're reading of Scripture I would love to hear from you, please  give  me  a  call  or  e  mail  me  with  your  questions  and  I  will  do  my  best  to  answer them.

  So  brothers  and  sisters,  until  we  are  able  to  break  bread  together  once  again,  keep  the fires of faith burning bright, remember God is with us and will never leave us.

  Please keep in touch.  

  God bless.                       

  Rev. Ken Gowland 01439 770300 or e mail gowlo@hotmail.com




Thought for the Month - March


Lent
I am writing this on the first day of Lent, and I'm wondering what to do for Lent. What I mean by that is do I give something up, sweets maybe? or crisps? or something else I like.? Or do I do something that would take commitment?
,A few years ago a friend wrote a letter to a different friend each day through Lent. I was thrilled to receive mine as she told me that she valued our friendship and that she loved me. Maybe, each day, I could either visit, write or phone somebody who would appreciate it.  The C of E website suggests doing something to help the environment each day,.No wonder I'm confused!
They are all good ideas and maybe I will do some of them, but I've got an idea of my own, or rather one Jesus did himself in the wilderness. No I don't mean to fast,  though you can do that  if you're called to, but to pray.  I need to pray more. and more meaningfully.   Jesus says in Luke ch 4 v 8 ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’
So this Lent I'm going to set extra time for prayer each day and worship him, and then set aside all that stops me serving him , not just for the season of Lent but for always.
I will try.


Linda



Thought for the Month -  January


As another New Year starts, at Pickering, we are celebrating moving into our newly refurbished church hall. After the initial joy at seeing the building in all its newness, we are left wondering about how things will work in practical terms. How will we fit things in to our new space and how do we work in the kitchen where things are set out so differently? What new things might we do in our new building and how will they fit in around the things we already do?
But this is no different to any other church in some ways. Each church is challenged to ask themselves “What should we be doing in this place?” and sometimes it is also necessary to ask if there are things that we are doing simply because we have always done them and not because they are still effective. Do these need to be updated or changed?
Our buildings, like everything, are given to us by God as a gift and a resource, to use to His glory and to bring people closer to knowing Him. We must be prepared to try new things and even to fail sometimes in our new ventures, as we seek to fulfil our calling and show God’s love to the world.
Our New Year’s Resolution could be to try something new in our churches, because God delights to meet new needs as we have found in Pickering, the things we needed to refurbish the church were provided once we committed to going ahead with the scheme. So “Be brave, be strong, for the Lord, your God is with you” and do something new and exciting for God in your church.
Happy New Year

Karen Pattison
Lay worker - Pickering

Thought for the Month -  December


It’s Advent again! Some people greet the arrival of the Christmas season with delight and others with sadness, especially when we have lost love ones. What is Advent about? Advent comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning ‘come’, and during Advent in particular, Christians look forward to the coming of Christ. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said that Christ comes three times: in the past to Bethlehem at Christmas, in the future at the end of the age, and in the present day lives and hearts of believers. So how do we prepare for his coming? There is the almost inevitable bustle as we buy and wrap presents, put up decorations, write cards and get in touch with people we’ve had no contact with since last Christmas (or is that just us?). Sometimes all this can seem overwhelming, especially when we are already beset by other issues at the moment – worries over the environmental crisis, Brexit, the General Election, and the increasing levels of crime and poverty in our society. We all need some good news! What better news could there be than the news that God is with us in all this? Yes – he really is! In order to let these tidings of comfort and joy sink in, why not pause for a few moments each day to calm our hearts and minds, and prepare to welcome Jesus afresh. As we pause and ponder the Christmas message that the God of love took on human flesh and ‘moved into the neighbourhood’ (The Message), we give ourselves an opportunity to marvel and to become aware of the quiet whisper of God.


So I invite you to pause with me – to re-read the story of the first Christmas, to find yourself listening to the song of the angels, worshipping with the shepherds, travelling with the Wise Men, and marvelling with Mary and Joseph as we gaze at God in human form lying in a manger: a vulnerable yet utterly wonderful baby Jesus.


I am going to try to take a few moments every day in December to do this, and I invite you to join me.


Peace, Joy and Christmas blessings,


Deacon Fiona


Thought for the Month -  November


Extension of more time!!!!
                             As British summer time ends we had the once in a year advantage of gaining an extra hour of time.

King Hezekiah was probably the first person in scripture to watch the clocks go back, or the shadows at least (2Kings 20:8-10). God had heard Hezekiah's cry and granted him an extension of time to his life.

Unfortunately for the king he lacked wisdom using his extra time by showing emissaries from Babylon around his palace, his treasury and armoury, not realising one day they would rise up in power to return and take it all.

Many of us may want more time in our day but I wonder if it is more prudent to ask God not for more time but for wisdom, to know what to do with the time we already have, so we can be more useful to His Kingdom!

Our politicians would do well to humble themselves before God and seek His wisdom rather than continually seeking extensions of time.

Hezekiah during his extension of time fathered a son who became Judah's worst king in its history. Mannaseh led the nation into idolatry bringing about its downfall and eventual exile.

Seeking more time does not always produce the outcome we had hoped, but asking God for His wisdom to know how best to use our time we have now would be more beneficial. If each of us asked God for wisdom to know how to lead our families in Godly ways in these days of confusion, wisdom to manage our home life, wisdom to build the church and wisdom in our witnessing of Jesus, we may well be surprised to see how our time has become more beneficial to us and the Kingdom of God.

James 1:5-8 NIV
[5] If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. [6] But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. [7] That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. [8] Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

If there was ever a time the church and politicians needed wisdom it's in our generation today.

Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened to you. Let's knock on heavens door requesting Godly wisdom, this would be an hour of time well spent.

God bless.

Rev. Ken Gowland
Ambassador of Christ
2 Corinthians 5:20


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!!!





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