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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!!!


 

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





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