August 2015

Dear Friends,

I am sure that a number of you will have visited Carnforth Railway Station, which has become a Mecca for fans of the film Brief Encouter. The buffet, where the encounter between the Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard characters began, has been restored. To go there now, you feel you are walking into the film. It’s a monument to the kind of unrequited longing that the two lovers’ chaste and impossible relationship epitomises. The passion the pair felt for each other was intense but it was in the final scene in the buffet that it became clear it could not be fulfilled. Even so, I suspect that even without the ending they wanted, the relationship was something they would not have missed.

The popularity of the film reflects the familiarity of that experience, in many areas of life. We long passionately for something to happen, perhaps even work hard towards that end. It doesn’t work out the way we wanted. But then, sometimes, a different but unexpectedly satisfying outcome surprises us. But even if not, the longing, though unfulfilled, has its own value.

The Biblical prophets speak of a longing for a more just and peaceful world. They express the deep yearning we all feel for an end to human violence and self-destructive behaviour. The birth of a child in a stable was not the outcome the prophets expected. Because this child was special, his coming added new power to the hope. But it hasn’t, not to the human eye anyway, brought the fulfilment to completion.

Today, even if our dreams for ourselves and our world seem far from becoming reality, let’s give ourselves with renewed energy to working towards them. There may be an outcome which is different from what we expect and the process, even without the fulfilment, might have a value all its own. There is a poster that remains for ever in my mind, which says ‘Let God and let God!’ I like that – do you?!

God Bless
Rev Michelle Ireland

July 2015

Dear friends

Easter is long gone, Pentecost is over, what now? Well maybe the following poem might help answer that?

God Bless, Rev Michelle

The U in JesUs

Before U were thought of or time had begun

God even stuck U in the name of His Son

And each time U pray, you'll see it's true
You can't spell out JesUs and not include U.
You're a pretty big part of His wonderful name,
For U, He was born; that's why He came.
And His great love for U is the reason He died.
It even takes U to spell crUcified.
Isn't it thrilling and splendidly grand

He rose from the dead, with U in His plan?
The stones split away, the gold trUmpet blew,
and this word resUrrection is spelled with a U.
When JesUs left earth at His upward ascension,
He felt there was one thing He just had to mention.
"Go into the world and tell them it's true
That I love them all - Just like I love U."
So many great people are spelled with a U,
Don't they have a right to know JesUs too?
It all depends now on what U will do,
He'd like them to know,
But it all starts with U.

June 2015

Dear friends

Last month we were all given the opportunity to vote – did you?!

I’m sure we are all familiar with the phrase ‘X marks the spot!’ When we hear it, we tend to visualise dark wooden ships with the skull and cross bones flying from the crow’s nest, the wheel operated by a wooden legged, eye-patched pirate, parrot on shoulder, eagerly following the tantalising directions of a curling brown paper map, seeking the chest of gold wherein lie those pieces of eight! Aha my hearties. Great adventure - all because of the letter X!

But the letter X is used in many other ways, and has many connotations. When used as a Roman Numeral it has the value 10, when put by the side of an answer in an exam it means something is wrong. For those of you who enjoy a game of noughts and crosses, 3 crosses in a row is a welcome winning line, but if you happen to be a contestant on the very entertaining television show Britain’s Got Talent, that’s the last thing you want, as it means you won’t be returning for another round and a chance to appear at the Royal Variety Show. What power that little X has!

Of course many thousands of X’s were placed on ballot papers, as men and women were chosen to represent us in the political realm.

Many of you who have ever spent time abroad will know how great a privilege we have in being able to vote, to be able to place an X and know that it will be treated properly and results will be fair.

I wonder how you felt when you cast your vote, how do you feel now that the results are through. Perhaps the person or party you wanted to win have done so, perhaps they haven’t. Whatever the outcome - they now have a role to play, one is that very public and often demanding - it can be so easy to place a negative cross by things that those in power do - but they need our support, we should work together.

And maybe that leads to the most powerful way in which an X can work - one I‘ve not mentioned yet. Think of any birthday or thank you cards that you have received recently, or that you have sent. Were there any little crosses? I’m sure there were. a sign of love When we send birthday greetings or thank you cards we express appreciation, thankfulness to people who have helped or cared for us. They are positive and mean such a lot.

The most significant cross of all - the cross of Jesus was the ultimate sign of love.

So, a month on, we won’t all be totally satisfied with the results of the recent elections, but let’s not allow those crosses to become critical ones, let us do all we can to support those who work on our behalf and maybe that will be our contribution to helping the world go round just a little bit smoother and together we may be nearer finding that treasure.

Every Blessing
Rev Michelle Ireland

May 2015

Dear friends

Do you sometimes feel that you never stand still, that you are constantly on the move to the next event in your life? It’s a bit like that with the church calendar, no sooner have we celebrated Easter, than we are well on the way to Pentecost Sunday which falls this year on May 24.

But what is Pentecost about ? Why is the day special, what is celebrated. Unlike Easter and Christmas, when colourful eggs, Easter bunnies, Christmas trees and Santa Claus are harbingers of the upcoming Christian holidays, there are no such social markers by secular society ahead of Pentecost. So here’s a few thoughts about what Pentecost Sunday is and some Bible references that point to these thoughts.

  1. Pentecost Sunday marks the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles.
  2. Pentecost Sunday occurs 50 days after Easter.
  3. The Bible records the Pentecost in Acts 2:1-13.
  4. Pentecost comes 10 days after the Ascension of Jesus Christ. The day he went back to Heaven.
  5. Pentecost is also known as "the birthday of the Church".
  6. Pentecost fulfils Jesus' promise to send the "Counsellor" and "Spirit of Truth" in John 16-5-15.
  7. Pentecost launches the large-scale spreading of the Gospel after Jesus' ascension. Acts 2:41 records that after Peter spoke to the crowd after receiving the Holy Spirit, some 3,000 people were baptized.
  8. The Pentecostal movement derives its name from the New Testament event in Acts 2.
  9. Jews also celebrate Pentecost, but not for the same reason as Christians. The celebration by Jews of Pentecost is to observe God giving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai 50 days after the Exodus. The Pentecost in Jewish tradition takes place 50 days after Passover.
  10. In Western Churches, Pentecost is usually represented with the colour red, which symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Every Blessing,
Rev Michelle Ireland