My letter this month is a simple prayer – a prayer for peace in Gaza. It could of course be a prayer for many places at this time. Wouldn’t it would be wonderful if this letter became out of date and I needed to produce a new one before the end of August. If the fighting nations were to make peace and move on.
We do of course this month remember the centenary of the start of the First World War. We remember with great sadness at the loss of life, we remember with humble pride those who gave their lives. Could such a reminder trigger the pursuit of peace in people today?
Many people around the world now have the technology to know what is happening hundreds of miles away – we have the ability to pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world. Sometimes our prayers are answered straight away, sometimes time elapses, sometimes we don’t see the answer. (Not the answers we thought should occur!)
Please will you join in praying… we do believe that prayer is powerful, in the Bible we read the words of Jesus …
‘Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.’
John 14. 13-14.
It is the tuning into the will of God that we as followers of Jesus today, must endeavour to do.
Lord God of compassion,
whose will is for peace built on righteousness,
we pray for peace in Gaza and Israel:
for an end to hostilities,
for comfort and help for all who suffer,
and for reconciliation between Palestine and Israel,
through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Rev Michelle Ireland
Some of you may well be planning your holidays, now that the Summer months are here. It may be a day trip out, or a week away. One of my favourite places is Blackpool, a place I guess that you either like or loathe. I love going there, there is something atmospheric about it - the sand, pier, cafes and lots of smiling faces. Blackpool doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is.
For those of you with a nostalgic leaning, the Tower Ballroom with its dance floor and Wurlitzer organ evokes many wonderful memories I am sure.
For others, who like a little more excitement, there is of course the Pleasure Beach - it is always great watching people, seeing their faces change from panic to pleasure and back again! On the Pleasure Beaches Website it says this, about the ride called The Big One.
‘Brace yourself for The Big One. The Pleasure Beach’s biggest, fastest, scariest rollercoaster will have you shaking in anticipation and screaming in delight. At a towering height of 235 ft it holds the crown as one of Europe’s tallest rollercoasters offering three adrenaline packed minutes of coasting.’
I personally leave that to others to test out!
But, we don’t have to go on a pleasure beach ride to have a roller coaster of a time though do we! Life can have its ups and downs - sometimes we find ourselves sky high, squealing with delight at how things are going, sometimes we feel that we are right down in the depths, at other times its almost like we are looking over the edge of what seems a terrifying precipice, and we just wish we could get off and regain our balance. The thing is whereas we can choose to go on these rides we can never quite predict how smooth or not our life’s journey is going to be. However, the one thing I firmly believe, is that we do not travel that path alone, there is one who travels with us, who had a roller coaster of a life himself and that is Jesus.
God Bless you all.
Rev Michelle Ireland
June this year holds for Christians one of the most amazing days in the calendar, June 8th is as you may well know, Pentecost. The day when the Holy Spirit (the power of God) came to the Apostles and the "tongues of flame" appeared over their heads. You can find this account in the New Testament in Acts chapter 2. In artwork this is usually depicted as a small orangey-red flame hovering over their heads. I'm sure you've seen this type of illustration many, many times... This year we will be holding our Pentecost Parade, thank you Tom M. for your vision for this day.
Seeing some candles the other day, it suddenly occurred to me that a flame is not a little orangey-red blurb hovering there, it's a small piece of blinding light. (Sometimes is takes a long time for us to see the obvious!)
I started to imagine being part of your typical Jerusalem market day crowd, and seeing a dozen men suddenly appear with what looked like flame over their heads. With a light shining on each of them that blinded one to look upon it.
And then it occurred to me that as bright as it must have been, as bright as the candles were that I was actually looking at, that this was the Light of the Spirit, and the rays of light must have streamed forth, like the sunbeams do sometimes, and I always call that "glories". Glories streaming from Heaven above, right in the middle of a mundane day... and just stopping everyone in their tracks as the light pierced their hearts, so they could hear the Word of the Lord being preached for all to hear.
What an amazing day that must have been! Imagine that happening in our village! My prayer today is that we all become filled with that Light, everyday, with the glories that stream from Heaven above, and that we are filled with His wisdom, His grace, and His peace.
Have a wonder-filled day, everyone!
Rev Michelle Ireland
Do you ever feel that you are going round and round in circles and getting nowhere! A few years ago six people did that on purpose, they spent three days going round and round in circles in order to claim a place in the Guinness Book of Records, the world record for consecutive hours on a Ferris wheel. The riders got off the wheel twice during the ride due to lightning. They ate and slept on the wheel, and had privacy curtains and portable toilets!
Clearly everything was done to make their ordeal as comfortable and safe as possible but it can hardly have been fun. Probably only the incentive of achieving the record kept them going.
In life too, going round in circles can make life feel frustrating, boring and unfulfilling. Only if there seems to be some purpose to it does it seem bearable. In the Bible we find people doing just that, in the Old Testament the people who left Egypt with Moses complained that he was leading them nowhere. Yet in retrospect, their time in the wilderness was very formative for them as a people. It was a time when their relationship with God deepened and they learnt about trust and living as a community.
Now after Easter, we have the disciples who have been told to wait for the power from on high to come to them. With all that happened to Jesus their friend, they must have wondered what the future really did hold for them. Perhaps they felt that they were going around in circles and getting nowhere. It was to be a necessary time for them, I am sure that they grew together as a set of believers, gaining strength from one another. And when the power came at Pentecost it was well worth the wait!
If you ever feel that life doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it may be worth exploring what value it might nevertheless have. Sometimes it is only afterwards that we realise what has been learnt from apparently unproductive periods in our lives. Occasionally, if we try, some purpose can be found in them even while the wheel’s still turning.
Rev Michelle Ireland