Message from your Rector

WHILE WE ARE IN INTERREGNUM THERE WILL BE A WEEKLY REFLECTION

This weeks reading is from Norman Hailes

John 6:22-29 22The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the LORD had given thanks. 24Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. 25When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

To put the reading from John Ch 6 in perspective it is useful to consider the context. The day before this narrative Jesus had worked the miracle where the crowd of 5000 were fed from 5 loaves and two fishes with masses of food left over. and the narrative continues with the reading above. One question that arises is why were so many people gathered in one place? A possible explanation is shown at the beginning of the chapter where John indicates that the Passover was near. This may explain why so many people were on the road to Jerusalem as people travelled from all parts of Israel to Jerusalem to celebrate how the LORD had saved his people from slavery in Egypt.
Our reading informs us that following the feeding of the crowd only one boat was seen to leave with the disciples, and Jesus was not in the boat. However, the next day after searching along the shore they failed to find Jesus and continued their search for him by sailing to Capernaum where they found him.
They had witnessed the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and the fishes and had partaken of them. They were clearly amazed. The crowd may well have equated this miracle of Jesus with the bread of heaven or manna that God provided during the journey of the Israelites in the wilderness and may well have seen Jesus as the new Moses.

Jesus knew that the crowd who followed him did so because he was able to provide food for the body not for the miraculous signs he had performed. Jesus calls them to something higher. “Do not labour for the food which perishes,” Jesus tells them, “but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” So, Jesus has come to give a sign in the multiplying of these loaves that he himself is the bread of life. The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him.
Jesus reinforces these concepts later in the chapter by telling the assembled gathering that they need to ask for the true bread from heaven that gives eternal life. When they ask Jesus for this bread, ” Jesus startles them by saying, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35 is one of the seven “I am” statements of Jesus. “I am the bread of life.”

This is a remarkable statement where bread is used as a metaphor to include all food and this expresses his relationship to the world. Firstly, by equating Himself with bread, Jesus is saying he is essential for life. Secondly, the life Jesus is referring to is not physical life, but eternal life. Jesus is trying to get the Jews thinking away from the physical realm and into the spiritual realm. He does this by contrasting perishable and non-perishable bread. He is spiritual bread that brings eternal life.
This passage of scripture is perhaps encouraging us to reflect on our spiritual life. Do we need the food that endures into eternal life, which the Son of Man can give?

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Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line.
The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
More details on the CofE website:
https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-parishes/daily-hope-phone-line
Do please pass this information on to anyone who you think may be interested

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In response to reaching the terrible milestone of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are inviting us all to call on God in Prayer.’ Starting on 1 February we invite you to set aside time every evening to pray, particularly at 6pm each day. More than ever, this is a time when we need to love each other. Prayer is an expression of love.’
They give us a suggested prayer to use but the important thing is that we keep praying – as they suggest for those affected – but also for God to step in and heal our country and bring us through safely and quickly as changed people.

Gracious God,
as we remember before you the thousands
who have died,
surround us and all who mourn with your
strong compassion.
Be gentle with us in our grief,
protect us from despair,
and give us grace to persevere
and face the future with hope
in Jesus Christ our risen Lord.
Amen.

Please click the below link for an opportunity to light a candle and join the Archbishops in this daily evening prayer at 6.00 p.m.

https://www.churchofengland.org/

BELOW IS THE LAST REFLECTION FROM REV KATHRYN

Colossians 3
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
When I arrived here almost ten years ago, one of the things I noticed and admired about the area we live in here is how much people value family life. Family ties are very strong and a lot of people still live quite closely to their extended family.

A married couple was celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. At the party everybody wanted to know how they managed to stay married so long in this day and age. The husband responded “When we were first married we came to an agreement. I would make all the major decisions and my wife would make all the minor decisions. And in 60 years of marriage we have never needed to make a major decision.”
Being part of a family is very important to us all – even if at times they might drive us mad! There is a saying that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relations. And, of course, things can and do go wrong in families – people fall out and let one another down but the bond that exists between members of a family is a very unique one, which is no doubt the reason why we are hurt so much when relationships do go wrong.
But on the whole, being part of a loving supportive family is an incredible thing.
When I looked up the word family on the internet I came across another definition – a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation.
When Jesus called his 12 disciples each of them belonged to a family.
He called Simon and Andrew, James and John from fishing families.
Simon was a member of a political group when he was called by Jesus.
Matthew or Levi belonged to a group of tax collectors who banded themselves together because they were ostracised by other people.

Jesus called all of his disciples out of the group they belonged to in order to become part of another family.Now I’m sure that when he did this Jesus didn’t expect or ask them to abandon the people they loved or the affiliations they felt were important. He didn’t say, like some of the rather strange and disturbing sects we hear of, that in following him they had to cut themselves off totally from the people they loved.
We know that isn’t the case because there are references at other times to the disciples’ families. Matthew tells us of an occasion when Jesus was visiting Peter’s home and his mother in law was very ill with a fever. We are told that Jesus touched her hand and healed her completely. Family life and other connections carried on for the disciples but now they were becoming part of a new and different sort of family. The family of God.

But there was a sense in which each of the disciples experienced rejection when they decided to follow Jesus. The fishermen brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John were walking away from the family business to take up a new career as preachers. I wonder how that went down with the family? Would the family members understand that this was something the brothers had to do?
There was sure to be hurt and disappointment that they were walking away from the family firm. And it wouldn’t be an easy decision for those disciples.
Simon the Zealot was walking away from an organisation whose aim was to overthrow the Romans – probably by any means – and follow someone whose message for changing lives and circumstances was one of love. He would no doubt be rejected by the group he had been part of for going soft – losing his vision for freedom from the Romans.
Matthew’s life was changed when he decided to follow Jesus. He was rejecting a life of deception and living off illegal earnings – and his colleagues wouldn’t take that very well because by him rejecting that way of life he was openly criticising them for continuing to live that way.

The traditional view of Jesus that he was a carpenter like his
father.
However when we look at the original word in the Greek used to
describe Joseph’s profession we see that it is the word tecton. This
word tecton means house builder. When the Bible was first
translated into Latin from the Greek the primary building material
for housing was wood. So translators used the word carpenter
rather than house builder because it made sense to them. But in
Palestine, where Joseph lived, the houses are built out of stone

and always have been, so the likelihood was that Jesus was trained by his Dad as a stone mason, master builder. Quite a radical thought when we have the picture of him as a little boy learning to be a carpenter like his Dad. What is far more likely is that he learnt from an early age about cutting stone and the rudiments of building
Which then gives a completely different complexion to various events in Jesus’ ministry– Jesus talking to Peter about being the rock n which he would build his church. The story he told of the wise man building on the rock while the foolish man built on sand. His constant references to himself as the corner stone on which the church should be built.
Jesus is calling the disciples to join his family firm and their business is building. But not deluxe houses or even blocks of flats. He is building his church and in that building the disciples then, and we today, are the living stones that make up the structure and he, himself, is the foundation – the corner stone.
When Jesus called his disciples to follow him he was asking them to do something which was counter cultural – to take a radical step. And in many ways today we are being asked to do the same thing in following Jesus. He is asking us to take on a new set of standards and priorities.
He tells us to love our enemies, to give without expecting anything in return, to put other people before ourselves – these are not the norms in our society today. People have become suspicious of anything for nothing in life.
But when we become part of the family of God we have a new identity. We are fully loved by God and we are fully known by God.
It’s what we proclaim at baptism, that God sees us as the children of God and that we are marked as his own forever. And nothing at all can break the sacramental bond. We are Christ’s forever, loved forever.
And that is our identity. And it is why we say I am baptised, not I was baptised.
God’s love is inclusive enough and wide enough to upset those who want to limit love to a chosen few who follow certain rules and regulations about beliefs and traditions. Because God’s love is radical enough and dangerous enough to threaten our own safety and security. It forces us to confront who we are and the wrong we have done. Not to make us feel guilty but to show us a way forward into a right relationship with God and with all of God’s children. It asks us to see our worth not in our wealth or in what we have but in what we give away and in how much we love.
And nothing can separate us from God’s love.
Each one of us has an identity based on our nationality, our family and our interests and that forms us and makes us who we are.
Thank you for allowing me in to your individual families in the last ten years and making me feel so welcome. But thank you also for being fellow members of the family of God and loving and supporting me as we have worked and grown together.
As Christians our identity is that we are loved and valued by God so let’s go with confidence into whatever lies ahead in the coming months and years with that confidence and may it affect all that we say and do.
And remember…..we are still and will always be family, so keep in touch!

Two links to songs today – one to make you smile and one to bless you!

https://youtu.be/ijlmXiyIbW8

https://youtu.be/vKSU-6ETreg

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Zoom services will be available every evening for Compline Service at 9.30 p.m,

Morning prayer will be held by Zoom on Tuesday mornings at 9.30 a.m.

For details to access Zoom services please contact Church Office. 01785 822820 churchofficegnosall@gmail.com

The Church will continue to be open for private prayer.

It will be open on Monday to Saturday from 10.00 am to 4.00 p.m.
Only the Lady Chapel will be available. The toilet will be closed
Sanitizers will be available

CORONAVIRUS

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR OUR CHURCHES

Our church is still here – our clergy and church leaders are still here but most of all Since God is in her midst, she will not be shaken.

“Every hand we don’t shake must become a phone call we make,”

Every inch and every foot of distance we put between ourselves and another must become a thought about how we could help that other should the need arise.”

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