MESSAGE FROM OUR SUPERINTENDENT MINISTER
In the Old Testament there is an important idea which in Hebrew is called Chesed. This can be roughly translated as loving kindness, but it is more than just being nice to people – it is a kind of legal as well as moral obligation to do the right thing.
In their challenging book, Border and Belonging: The Book of Ruth, Pádraig Ó Tuama and the late Glenn Jordan explore this idea of Chesed in the context of this great story which is partly set within the borders of Israel’s despised neighbour, Moab. When Naomi loses first her husband and then her sons she is left in Moab with her Moabite daughters in law, Ruth and Orpah. Within the moral code of the time, she owes them Chesed and she must find them new husbands, (literally she must herself give birth to new sons for them to marry) but this is clearly impossible and so she tells them she is going home to Israel and gives them permission to return to their fathers’ houses.
Ó Tuama and Jordan wonder if Naomi’s real intention is to go off into the wilderness and die. She is in a foreign country and has lost everything - her husband, her two sons and her whole family’s future. And now she cannot fulfil Chesed. She has nothing to live for and surely the wilderness will welcome her? But
Orpah and Ruth work out what she is doing, and they have a plan to save Naomi. Orpah will return to her father’s house and Ruth will stay with Naomi to stop her doing harm to herself. You know the rest of this extraordinary story – Ruth eventually becomes the grandmother to the greatest in Israel’s history – David.
I like this interpretation of the story as it reminds us that we can all find ourselves in situations where we just cannot fulfil our obligations to do loving kindness. There are many parents who, despite working hard cannot afford to properly feed their children. There are medical staff in our hospitals who do not have the resources to give the full treatment to every Covid patient. There are care home staff who have to watch their residents deteriorate from sheer loneliness because they cannot allow them to see their families. We may not call it Chesed but we understand Naomi’s predicament. It is a predicament of our times too.
As we prepare for what will probably be our second Easter in lockdown we are reminded that the disciples were also faced with a predicament that overwhelmed them. Although they had assured Jesus that they would follow him to the ends of the earth they probably never thought that this would mean facing death. They wanted to follow him but in the end they ran away, denied him, and even betrayed him. Chesed was beyond them too. Jesus faced arrest, trial, torture, and death alone. There was no Ruth to walk with him.
Yet the story of Easter, and indeed the story of Ruth, reminds us that new possibilities can emerge from hopeless situations. The disciples ran away but when Jesus rose again they were understood and forgiven; when Naomi could not fulfil Chesed she instead, found it offered to her. Easter is about God’s love overcoming our stultifying predicaments and finding unexpected and new ways to make loving kindness possible.
My hope and prayer are that this Easter we will discover new signs of loving kindness in our lives, communities and in our world. Indeed, my hope and prayer are for more than that – that as we emerge from Lockdown and hopefully find life resuming a new normal - that we will have discovered that despite our hardships and pain God has been working miracles around us.
May God bless you this Easter
With my love and prayers
CIRCUIT LENTEN BIBLE STUDY (via Zoom)
Session 1: Into the wilderness
23 Feb – Tue @ 12:30 – Rev. Dart
24 Feb – Wed @ 7:30 – Rev. Dart
Session 2: On the mountain top
02 Mar – Tue @ 12:30 - Rev. Dr. Lyons
03 Mar – Wed @ 7:30 - Rev. Dr. Lyons
Session 3: Turning the tables
09 Mar – Tue @ 12:30 – Rev. Markay
10 Mar – Wed @ 7:30 – Rev. Markay & Rev. Jackson
Session 4: No Condemnation
16 Mar - Tue @ 12:30 – Rev. King
17 Mar – Wed @ 7:30 – Rev. King
Session 5: A grain of wheat
23 Mar - Tue @ 12:30 – Rev. Dr. Jackson
24 Mar – Wed @ 7:30 - Rev. Dr. Jackson
Session 6: Passion – Anointing & Betrayal
30 Mar - Tue @ 12:30 – Rev. Dr. Lyons
31 Mar – Wed @ 7:30 - Rev. Dr. Lyons
To download the Lent course materials please see link below…e0f447_6b26d60d868c4925bca5c44380040427.pdf (filesusr.com)
LENTEN BIBLE STUDY ZOOM LINKS
To join see Zoom link for Tuesdays - 12:30 p.m.
Topic: Lambeth Circuit Tuesday Lent Study
Time: This is a recurring meeting Meet anytime
To Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 912 9647 0608
To join see Zoom link for Wednesdays - 7:30 p.m.
Topic: Clapham Methodist Bible Study
Time: This is a recurring meeting
To Join Zoom Meeting
Please contact Rev. Dr. Eleanor Jackson on 07905 128121 or email her on email@example.com
CIRCUIT HOLY WEEK SERVICES
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MAUNDY THURSDAY - SERVICE OF TENEBRAE
Via Zoom Rev. Dr. Lyons
Topic: MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE
Time: Apr 1, 2021 - 8:00 p.m. London
Join Zoom Meetinghttps://zoom.us/j/95456347310?pwd=aDRQWEhTNzFIcFEwNFJlR2pFY1RPUT09
Tenebrae is from the Latin word meaning ‘darkness’. The medieval Roman Catholic Church practice held this ceremony each day of the Holy Week while the Protestants dating back from the 19th century only do this once, on Holy Thursday or Good Friday. United Methodist Churches mostly do this on the evening of Maundy Thursday while some do this very early in the morning of Good Friday, using 14 candles plus the Christ candle which are lit before the Service starts. The Tenebrae is used to conclude the Holy Communion Service on Holy Thursday.
The Service uses section readings on the story of Jesus’ trial (mostly from John’s gospel) – His sentencing, His execution, His crucifixion, His death, and His burial – after each reading a candle is extinguished, on the 15th reading the last candle is extinguished then a loud sound is heard (from the dark) indicating the death of Jesus – while the congregation are contemplating on the experience of total darkness on the death of Christ. The burial which is the end part is read in the dark (light for the reader only) and the congregation departs in silence from the dark. Some members continue their individual prayer vigil at home or with families - awaiting to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
Our pandemic situation does not even match the pain and suffering Jesus did for us, so as we reflect and contemplate on the deeper meaning of our relationship with God and Christ’s unconditional love, we leave you with this verse 1 Peter 2: 24 - “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed”. May we all have a meaningful Holy Week and joyful Easter!
GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE
Via Zoom Rev. Dart
Topic: GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE
Time: Apr 2, 2021 - 10:30 a.m. London
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60/40 NEWS OF THE CIRCUIT YOUTH
We are sad to report that after almost 2½ years Nathaniel is leaving us at the end of February to move on to pastures new. In the time that Nathaniel has been with us he has done a great deal to encourage and support the young people in the circuit as well as reaching out to the community. His work has connected the project with schools, other youth groups and the local communities around the Kings Acre hub.
Those of you who know him will know that BMX is a big part of his life and he has opened this world to our young people as well as encouraging their Christian discipleship through the work of YUW. Before the present Covid crisis he had also started a Wednesday night youth club at Kings Acre and had encouraged some of our young leaders to take on more responsibility.
During the lockdowns he worked hard to keep in touch with our young people and provided them with much needed support and encouragement. Nathaniel’s mature faith, his great communication skills and his easy way with young people and adults alike, will all be greatly missed. We wish him well in his new post at Kings University.
There will be a special service led by our young people via zoom please see link below…
Topic: Farewell and Appreciation Service
Time: Sunday – 28 Feb 2021 – 5:00 p.m.
To Join Zoom Meeting
Please contact Rev. Dr. Eleanor Jackson on 07905 128121 or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org
After the service, the adults will go on breakouts while the young people will remain to continue the with games and music.
Please come along and join us as we say goodbye to Nathaniel and wish him well for the future.
The 60/40 steering group are now engaged in the process of recruiting a new worker for the project and we will let you know when someone has been appointed.
Two of our Ministers are due for their Sabbatical leave, Rev. Rita King and Rev. Kristin Markay.
Rev. Rita will be away on March, April and May. Covering Rev. Rita for…
Springfield: Rev. Dr. Andy Lyons
Contact: 020 7735 5814
Stockwell: Rev. Dr. Eleanor Jackson
Contact: 07905 128121
Rev. Kristin will be away May, June & July. Covering Rev. Kristin for…
Brixton Hill: Rev. Andy Dart
Contact: 020 8769 6223, email:
Mostyn Road: Rev. Lena Ali
Contact: 020 8889 5691
CIRCUIT PROPERTY UPDATE
For those who do not know yet, the circuit has three properties that we rent out for income to help pay our ministers and circuit administration. Many years ago, Chancellor Grove church in West Norwood closed and has since been rented out to a nursery school. We’re currently settling a new lease for another ten years.
Its nearby manse in Chestnut Road was let to L’Arche charity to house some of its volunteers, but they had to pull out a few months ago. We are currently getting the house refurbished to allow for a commercial rent. L’Arche is a very good Christian-based charity supporting adults with learning disabilities. Brexit meant that they are less able to recruit volunteers from the EU, and as they are in our patch we’d encourage you to support them in other ways.
The third property is in Daysbrook Road in Streatham Hill. It was the home of Revd David Musgrave, but when he retired and Revd Markay joined us, we did a manse swap, so that the Chaucer Road manse could be shared with Southwark circuit to also accommodate Revd. David Markay (our minister’s husband). The Daysbrook Road manse is now let to a group of young professional guys at a commercial rate.
Submitted by: Robert Smyth
NEWS FROM OUR CHURCHES
LAMBETH MISSION SPRING NEWS 2021
I’ve always been a keen photographer.
I love to capture the sun between the trees, a bluebell wood springing forth and showing its glory, the bark of a tree in the New Forest, happy children’s faces making a sandcastle and the brilliant red sunrise.
But so often I take the photos and they lie on my phone pleasing only me and those who were with me at the time of capture.
But the pandemic has opened new opportunities to share them.
On the Lambeth Mission WhatsApp group, we share birthdays, spiritual insights, prayers, important notices and photos!
Over the year it has given me much pleasure and, I think, pleased others, to share…
- New buds heralding springtime and new life and lifting spirits
- The glories of the hibiscus tree, delighting those, particularly from the Caribbean, with memories of that wonderful land
- The sun on the River Thames on walks around Westminster
- Scenery from the Dorset coast where I spend holidays giving others opportunities to venture there in their imaginations
- Snow, and building snowmen, rapturing children after so many days of lockdown and no school
I enclose a couple of the shots in the hope it will inspire others to share their special moments and delight church friends and others.
Submitted by: Ursula Ovenden
RAILTON ROAD NEWS
For the Lord's sustaining and providing grace over the past year of Coronavirus infections and three lockdowns; we praise and thank God. Our world is turned upside down and we struggle to find a new way of life. It is a so lonely, difficult, and most unsettling. Many people are ill, unemployed, anxious, traumatised and reality is drawing closer as we know people and families who have lost loved ones.
At RRMC, Mrs. Shepherd's niece, Jean Fraser died in Guyana from the virus and two long standing members; Daphne Hunter and Margaret Headman died from natural causes. Romans 12:15 says ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep’. We send our sincerest condolences to their families and pray that God will bless them with strength and courage in their time of greatest need. And although we rejoice that no one at RRMC has contracted the virus or lost loved ones, we are aware that some of our sisters and brothers from the Circuit have lost loved ones and friends. You are in our thought and prayers.
Whilst there is much doom and gloom around, let us look at what is positive and remember that not everything is in lockdown. Sunrise and sunset, fresh air, family time, friendship, creativity, prayers, hobbies, hopes and dreams, kindness, learning, conversation, imagination, hope and God's love and mercy abound.
We are all extremely grateful to Rev. Dart for preparing the Worship @ Home Service Sheet every week and to Shirley for forwarding them to us. It has been most appreciated by those of us who are not savvy with the Internet. We are also delighted to get the last quarter’s newsletter as it made us feel that we are still connected to the circuit. We miss our weekly worship in Church, and we are really happy that Rev. Ali has returned to her Ministerial duties. It will be a day of great rejoicing when we return to normal life and worship.
Meanwhile, let us observe the Lenten season with fasting, praying and charity. Wishes for a very Happy Easter to all our Ministers and their families and our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can still sing: "Christ is alive!
Submitted by: the Railton Congregation
TULSE HILL NEWS
Tulse Hill congregation were glad be opened for worship but for a brief period before the national lockdown again. During this period, the church had made sure that all Covid-19 safety measures were implemented and maintained week after week. To mention a few precautions that Tulse Hill implemented, this included the use of an automatic hand sanitiser that individuals were met with when first walking into the church, also, the church had separated seating, allowing for attendees to be seated 2 metres apart - keeping to government guidelines. Many members of the usual congregation were unable to come to services during this period due to their evaluation of it being too ‘high risk’. This meant that the congregation during services were half the size at sometimes. In the positive light, it was nice meeting the church family in person again and being able to share a service as a physical congregation as oppose to over the internet. It was unfortunate that Tulse Hill members were unable to have their usual chit-chat after the service with refreshments being served. This usual routine has been put on halt as a result of maintaining the Covid-19 guidelines.
During this lockdown once again, the decision has been made to hold church services over Zoom in order to avoid the increased risk that is now being reported across the nation. The protection of the Tulse Hill members was paramount in making this decision. Tulse Hill unfortunately, lost a member to the virus recently (on Monday 11th Jan) with condolences going out to the family. Many have been lost over the last year and we continue to pray for all who mourn. They will be dearly missed.
The movement of church services over Zoom led to Tulse Hill’s covenant service being hosted over zoom. Moreover, the meeting with the architect who is planning the innovation of the church building re: its current development (of the church project) will still go on but will be held over Zoom this week. The members of Tulse Hill will be updated on any new development plans for the church building in this meeting. We pray for God’s guidance on this big undertaking that we endeavour to do in the very near future.
Submitted by: Michael Adjei
HOLY WEEK & EASTER REFLECTIONS
For all Christians, the celebration of Lent, Holy Week and Easter has a unique significance as we commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. This year, it will be very different in a world which is turned upside-down by the coronavirus, which continues to wreak havoc in the lives of so many people.
Last year, I had to limit my movements and an Anglican Vicar sent me some resources which were invaluable during Holy Week and Easter Season.
It focussed on the Upper Room, Holy Week and Easter. The Upper Room was the place where the greatest drama in human history was played out; it was a place where jealously, betrayal and fear abound and how these were replaced with trust, service, healing, and hope. For the disciples of Jesus, it was the place of the Last Supper. The place where they encountered the Risen Christ. The place where they welcomed the Holy Spirit, and the Church was born.
If we cannot go to church during Holy Week, we need to improvise. Holy Week is exciting because it is not a passive celebration. People are actively involved in the ceremonies for Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday. As we eat and drink, we can ask Jesus to transform our dining room into the Upper Room through the gift of his presence. If we feel anxiety and fear, we can invite the Risen Christ to transform our own Upper Room into a sacred space through the gift of the Holy Spirit and of peace.
The two actions of Jesus during the Last Supper - the washing of the feet and the breaking of bread - is a ministry of service to one another around the kitchen table and more generally around our home.
On Easter Sunday, hold onto the promise of Easter, the promise of the resurrection, of death being conquered, of new life in Christ, of reconciliation with a loving God who cries with us in the pain and the brokenness. The point of Easter is to see beyond the grave and celebrate the fact that God moved Christ beyond the Cross. The Risen Lord is the source of all our courage, hope and love.
Alleluia – Christ has risen! Alleluia!
I wish you all a Happy Easter.
AND THE WORD WAS SILENT…
Meditation for Maundy Thursday by Revd Eleanor Jackson
'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.'
I want to say I would have spoken words of comfort Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane; that I would have seen and felt your pain, your torment, your struggle; that I would have stayed awake and borne it with you.
But can I honestly promise that I would, I could be there when you needed me? That you would not have needed to say to me, 'Could you not keep watch for one hour?'
What was it like that night Lord, for you, in the Garden of Gethsemane?
The Word of God, through whom all things were made;
the Son of God who alone has seen his Father and made him known.
It hurts Lord, to know that you wrestled, to know it wasn't all easy and pleasant and assured and joyful for you; to read and hear those words,
'Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will but what you will.'
And to know that because of God’s love for the world, for humanity, for me – the answer was 'No'.
Yet I find hope in knowing that when things are tough for this world, for its people, for me, as they are now, this night – then you understand.
You said there, in that place, what I long to say so many times, both in honesty and obedience; what this world wants to shout out right now – ‘Take this cup from us…’
And then you are tried Lord, and I always amazed at your answers and your silence.
How did you do it Lord?
You who taught with authority and power, who saw into peoples’ hearts and spoke to their need so often?
How did you contain yourself? How did you not answer back?
As lies and give false testimony are given, and you are accused of blasphemy.
Your answers are short, to the point.
The time for explanation, exposition, evangelism is gone.
No words can halt this now, and you do not want them to.
But I do!
I want to shout out... Leave him alone? Stop beating him?
This is the Son of God, this is the Living Word, this is the Messiah!
This is another human being… my brother...'
I want to say to Pilate, 'Let him go you fool! Don't be manipulated.'
I want to say to the people, 'No! Don't shout Crucify. Stop! Stop, before it’s too late!
I want to say to God, 'Do something!'
And then I realise this is what God is doing.
The Word is silent,
letting their accusations and fists and whips rain down upon him because God is doing something; something costly, something painful.
The Word is silent.
because this is the only way to say, 'I love you.'
And so, I am silent in His presence –
I will watch, I will bear, I will listen,
so that I can hear the silence of the Word speak to me.
(c) Eleanor Jackson
GOOD FRIDAY MEDITATION
By: Revd Eleanor Jackson
Today we have a different sort of Easter garden -
an Easter garden on the edge,
outside the city wall,
where people have thrown their rubbish,
the things they no longer need, or want, or have a use for –
discarded things, tossed aside and left.
Things which are unnecessary now, unloved, surplus to requirements.
A place we might want to pass by quickly,
because it is messy, chaotic, smelly
on Good Friday we are asked to stay and contemplate and consider.
And in amongst the rubbish, the detritus,
the crosses – symbolising what on this Good Friday?
Perhaps the place of Christian faith today – no longer necessary in a world of reason and technology and superstition and consumer spirituality.
Pushed to the margins, discarded by many, no longer necessary,
surplus to the requirements of contemporary human life.
Perhaps the things which can so easily be discarded in the fight for survival in our world – justice, mercy, kindness, gentleness, faith, hope and love?
Perhaps the things over which we mourn in the world -
hate, cruelty, violence, fear, misuse of power, sin and death?
Perhaps the things in our lives which we want to discard –
the negative experiences, loneliness, pain, the suffering of others and our own difficulties and problems
which bring us pain and anxiety, the facing of death.
As human beings today we are exhorted not to toss things aside thoughtlessly but to reuse, recycle,
but we remember today – that it is only God who can resurrect
God in Christ came down into the mess and chaos of our human life
and was willing to go as far as being tossed aside, discarded,
hurt, and killed,
a life destroyed and seemingly wasted,
treated like rubbish,
so that we, and all humanity, in all times and ages
might know the extent of God's love for this creation
and for his creatures, made in his own image;
might know that Jesus' words and actions
were not empty.
He really meant love your enemies,
he really trusted God, the Father,
he really was willing to lay down his life
for his friends, for his flock.
So that we, and all humanity, in all times and ages
might know the power of the love which God gifts to us;
which willing faces and goes through death,
the most painful and tortuous death
to bring resurrected life
in the midst of the mess and the chaos and the pain
and the rubbish of life.
God in Jesus Christ,
did not come to that which was perfect,
he came, he lived, he died
in a human life so that we might know
that there is no place, no depths,
which are beyond the reach of God's love,
We may be able to reuse, recycle, refurbish
but it is only God who can resurrect life from the dead.
And we are here because we have faith that this is true
with God, nothing is lost, nothing is wasted,
nothing is beyond redemption,
and this is something which should not be discarded,
for this offer of life and hope and love
is something our world and we still need
and in which we still trust, and stretch out our hands, heads and hearts
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