S T A M F O R D U N I T E D R E F O R M E D
C H U R C H
M A Y
The third person of the Holy Trinity is the Spirit, one with the Father and one with the Son. It is creation’s first understanding of the creator and brooded over the chaos at the beginning of time. In Hebrew the spirit is translated as ruach and in Greek as pneuma. Like wind, we cannot see the properties of the spirit but we can experience its effect.
Weather WizKids website tells us that “Wind is air in motion. It is produced by the uneven heating of the Earth’s surface by the Sun. Since the Earth’s surface is made of various land and water formations, it absorbs the Sun’s radiation unevenly. As the Sun warms the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere warms too. Some parts of the Earth receive direct rays from the Sun all year and are always warm. Other places receive indirect rays, so the climate is colder. Warm air, which weighs less than cold air, rises. Then cool air moves in and replaces the rising warm air. This movement of air is what makes the wind blow.”
If the properties of wind relies on uneven heating of the Earth’s surface by the Sun then what might the properties of the Holy Spirit rely upon. Let us say that the Sun is represented by the Creator; could we see good and bad, blessings and curses, faith and sin being representative of warm and cold air, emanating from warm and cold people, resulting in the movement of the spirit within the created order. If the analogy stands up then the spirit is, was and always will be with us but like air we can only recognise and experience it when other elements work within and around.
At Pentecost we mark ‘the coming of the Holy Spirit’, which has always puzzled me. If we accept that the spirit was present before our understanding of creation, how can we say that it comes 50 days after Christ’s resurrection and 10 days after his ascension? Please use the pages of the magazine to respond to my conundrum.
Here is what I offer: In Jesus, as the embodiment of God the Creator Father (and I am okay with Mother), we have an understanding of the Godhead. In his death and resurrection we have a clearer picture of the Holy Spirit than we had before. The coming is not new to God but our understanding has been renewed and refreshed by the Easter event. We have been given new insight into the power and presence of God on Earth because Jesus has shown us where to look for the work of the Spirit in the ordinary and extraordinary existence around us.
Happy Pentecost, Peter
The Beatitudes Explored Tony Barry
The Beatitudes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:13-7:12), are often quoted, and many find them both comforting and confounding. Biblical scholar Dr William Barclay (WB) has provided a helpful guide in his New Daily Study Bible, which are quoted or explained below. He believes that Jesus did not just give the Sermon at one occasion but it was the essence of all that “Jesus continually and habitually taught his disciples.”
· Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
WB: “The bliss of those who have realised their own utter helplessness and who have put their whole trust in God for thus alone can they render to God perfect obedience…”
· Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
WB: “The bliss of those whose hearts are broken for the world’s suffering and for their own sin, for out of their sorrow they will find the joy of God.”
· Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth.
WB: “The bliss of those who are always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time, who have every instinct, every impulse and passion under control because they are God-controlled, who have the humility to recognise their own ignorance and weakness for the whole world will belong to them!“
· Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness (or justice): for they will be filled.
WB: The bliss of those who long for total righteousness as the starving long for food and those perishing long for water for they will be truly satisfied.
· Blessed are the merciful: for they will receive mercy.
WB: “The bliss of those who get ‘right inside other people’ until they can see with their eyes, think with their thoughts, feel with their feelings for those who do will find others do the same for them and will know that is what God in Christ has done. The bliss of those whose motives are absolutely pure for they will, someday, be able to see God.”
· Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.
WB: “The bliss of those who produce right relationships one with another for they are doing a Godlike work.”
Continued next month…
I was so pleased to hear my friend Kathleen Pass, who has been a member of the Boulevard United Reformed Church Nottingham since childhood, was recognised on Maundy Thursday. For years, Kathleen has been a Lay Preacher and a Pastoral Consultant in Nottinghamshire and the surrounding area. Kathleen has served as a secondary teacher for 32 years, Treasurer at Boulevard URC for 65 years, Lay Preacher throughout Nottinghamshire and South Derbyshire for over 50 years, and Pastoral Consultant in the East Midlands Synod for 9 years. She has also long worked as a volunteer at the Bridge Community Centre and served 29 years as a Magistrate on the Nottingham Bench - a richly deserved honour… Louise
On Maundy Thursday this year, I had the honour of receiving the Queen’s Maundy Money by post as the ceremony due in Westminster Abbey, could not take place because of current restrictions. This is the second year the ceremony has not been able to take place and the money sent by post (my postman was intrigued when he delivered a special from Buckingham Palace!). It was a disappointment not to receive the money from the Queen in person, but it has saved me a journey to London and the purchase of a hat!
The money came in two lovely, small leather pouches, one red and one white. The red one contains a sum of £5.50. In the past this was an allowance for clothing and provisions, formerly given in kind to the poor. This year it contains a £5 coin commemorating the Queen’s 95th Birthday and a 50p coin - given as it is 50 years since decimalisation was first introduced into the UK. The white pouch contained newly minted silver 1, 2, 3, and 4 pence coins totalling 95 pence, corresponding to the Queen’s age. The envelope also enclosed a letter from the Queen.
The first I knew about this was when I received a letter from Buckingham Palace dated 26th February informing me that my name had been submitted to be one of this year’s Maundy Recipients and would I accept this honour. I thought it might be a scam and, like Thomas, I had doubts which needed to be resolved. Revd Chris Ford assured me that it was real, as some weeks before he had been in the group which were invited to make a nomination.
The origin of the service relates to the last Supper in the Upper Room when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and said “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”- John 13:34. The Latin words mandatum novum - meaning ‘new commandment’ - give rise to the word Maundy. In England it has taken place since at least the 6th century. The first Maundy ceremony was led by King John in 1210 at Knaresborough Castle in Yorkshire.
The practice of the monarch washing feet lapsed in the 18th century. This year 95 men and 95 women have received the symbolic Royal Maundy Gifts. During our Queen’s reign the ceremony has taken place in every Church of England Cathedral and it is the only occasion when her Majesty goes into the congregation to give out the gifts to the recipients rather than them going to her. Although I have not received them from the Queen in person, I look forward to being able to show you the pouches, coins, and letters. Thanks to all of you for your support, encouragement, and sharing in the things I have been enabled to do.
Friday Coffee Mornings
I hope everyone will be pleased to hear that we hope to resurrect the Friday Coffee Mornings on June 4th. To start with there will be social distancing, sanitising etc and we also hope to have two tables outside at the pavement entrance. However, hopefully, by the end of June we may be totally back to normal. We shall probably need some extra helpers, so if you are interested or know of someone who may be, please let me or Ishobel know. Really looking forward to seeing some of you at this reopening.
Blessings to all, Pam
Once again we have Christian Aid Week, May 10th to 16th May. Like last year, we are going to find it very difficult to raise money for this charity - which is the charity for
our church and Churches Together. Usually we collect money in envelopes in church and donate the coffee morning takings but with no church service to attend and no Coffee Morning open we are in a difficult position but one that still needs attention.
This year Christian Aid week will focus on the plight of drought which numerous countries around the world face. It recognises that droughts have become more intense and more common because of the changing climate. The impact on the world’s population is great as it means that millions of people around the world struggle to get the food and water that they need. As the Christian Aid representative, I am asking all of you to see what you can do, how much you can spare to support our charity. Due to Covid-19 we will not be collecting envelopes, though perhaps later in the year we might be able to think about Christian Aid at a
church service and maybe collect money at Christmas. However, in the mean-time, while we can still turn on taps and flush our loos, huge numbers of people all over the world are dying because a lack of water.
You can look up Christian Aid online to read more and you could leave a donation in an envelope in the church when there is a service on Sunday 23rd May or even drop an envelope at my house - 38 Priory Road - if you are passing, I can send that on through Churches Together. Please give some thought as to what you can do.
Thank you, Ishobel Macnab
Message from the Treasurer
The church’s financial situation remains under pressure. At a recent Elders’ meeting the Elders made the difficult, but necessary, decision to move some of our savings held in a Charity Investment account into the current account for the day-to-day running of the church. I hope that this is only a temporary measure and as the church begins to reopen its doors to more regular, in-person worship, more hall lettings, and the restart of the popular coffee mornings, I hope our financial situation will start to improve.
A huge thank you to everyone for continuing to pay your offertory – it is very much appreciated!
Thanks go to Anne Thompson for the front cover design.
WE HOPE EVERYONE IS STAYING SAFE AND WELL