& Castle Square URC
Minister: Rev. Dr Phil Wall
Tel: 01443 300345 Mob: 07855090360
Admin email: firstname.lastname@example.org
21st February 2021
Today is the first Sunday of Lent, and for the next 6 weeks, our online services and scripts will be a bit lighter on sermon content as we give a more discussive service a trial for Lent. We know this won’t be to everyone’s liking– we all have our natural worship preferences (which is one reason for the diversity of worship styles within the body of Christ – from the near-silent services of Quakers to the sacramental focus of the Roman Catholics) but it’s good to try new things on a limited basis and Lent is a perfect time for this as we spend time trying to ‘reconnect with God and the fullness of our own humanity—the good and the bad—in some intentional way’ [Richard Rohr]. There are actually many good arguments suggesting that sermon-centric services don’t emulate the teaching approach of Jesus and don’t enable growing discipleship today (ranging from sermons being pedagogically flawed and inaccessible to the non-churched to them promoting clericalism and a consumerist lay attitude) and whilst Phil has much sympathy with these arguments –don’t panic! – there’ll still be some words from the worship leader each week and we’ll return to our normal post-Covid worship pattern from Easter Sunday.
Church Family and Pastoral News
We include this in the news sheet to inform our prayers.
- We ask your prayers for Cerys who is currently in hospital for treatment, and also Stephen, hopefully it will be a short stay!
- We heard last weekend that Gwyneth Sheryn had passed away on Tuesday 9 February 2021, aged 94. Gwyneth has been part of the fellowship at St David’s since returning to her home town about 20 years ago when her husband, Brian, retired. Many will have known her as Gwyneth Mann. We hold the family in our prayers as they prepare for Gwyneth’s funeral at 3pm on Friday 26th February at Glyntaf .
- Many will meet at Glyntaf on Wednesday 24th February at 10.30 to say a final farewell to Chris Fennell. We continue to hold David, Vicki, Owen and the extended family in our prayers. Phil will lead the Funeral which will be streamed, (details to follow). Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to The Alzheimer’s Society. By post to Alzheimer’s Society, Scott Road, Plymouth. PL2 3DU or on line at alzheimers.org.uk
- We think of all who are housebound and those who care for them, be they family or carers
- We remember all who live alone who maybe struggling either through loneliness or poor health.
Good News~The Park Ramblers’ group has given a donation every year to the Pontypridd Street Pastors. However, because of the pandemic their patrols have been discontinued. A cheque for one hundred and five pounds has been donated instead to the Pontypridd Foodbank.
Birthdays this week ~ There are no birthdays that we know of this week.
..from Christian Aid. ~ I am writing to thank you for your recent gift of £535. We are so grateful for gifts such as these which give hope to our neighbours living in difficulty, Thank you for your generosity and for your partnership in this crucial work. May you have a peaceful New Year. Dr Nathan Munday
‘Where have all the sermons gone‘?
Lent will encompass reflections through our book group, (see below) midweek reflections, Double Vision evenings, Communion services and holy week worship whilst those who might particularly miss a Sunday sermon can access excellent Daily Devotions services from the URC (https://devotions.urc.org.uk/). All this being said, please do give the discussions a go – whether online or on the phone – as God might well speak to you through surprising means and people!
Next week’s passage to read, pray and think about: Exodus 3:1-14. Please give the following questions some thought:
- What is going on in the passage?
- Have you ever had an experience of God that transcends explanation? If so, what did that experience teach you?
- Where are you seeing God’s presence/hearing God’s voice this week?
Off-line Antics Those not online are encouraged to talk through the printed questions with at least one other church member on the ‘phone. In addition to this, as we strive to include all our friends who are not online – whilst reminding everyone that they can phone in to all services – we are creating holy week packs for each off-line member of our communities and if anyone would like to receive the midweek reflections every 2 months by DVD, please let us know.
Lent Book Discussion. Those who would like to share their reflections on the first two chapters of ‘Falling Upward’ are invited to a zoom discussion today,(Sunday) 5-6pm on the usual Sunday morning zoom link.
Stepwise is an interactive and inter-generational URC offering for everyone who wants to develop their faith. These webinars are an opportunity to discover how Stepwise can inspire you and deepen your discipleship. The 5-part series (you don’t have to attend them all) begins with ‘faith-filled life’ on 23rd February.
They will begin at 7pm and last about 1 hour. More details about the programme can be found at (https://urc.org.uk/introducing-stepwise.html) and anyone interested in attending a webinar should email here Marion.email@example.com
Christian Aid online conference
All next week, Christian Aid is putting on a series of workshops and worship sessions, all designed to enable us to reflect and act on issues of social justice across our world. For more information about these free online sessions, https://www.christianaid.org.uk/get-involved/events/changemakers-conference
Midweek Reflection and Challenges
The midweek reflection (on Ash Wednesday) was recorded in Castle Sq.
Phil posed the question What is Lent all about? It’s many things, essentially though it’s the season of preparation leading up to Easter when traditionally Christians would be baptized on Easter Sunday and so Lent was a period of learning, preparing and fasting, some still do this, remembering the 40 day’s Jesus spent in the wilderness.
One word that is often associated with this period is Repentance! – A word that means very little beyond the Church, and maybe not much to those within it either.
When you hear the word repentance you might think of John the Baptist, we might say these days that John was a character! He went around baptizing people, including Jesus, saying ‘Repent, the kingdom is nigh!’
That’s where the word repent comes from – it comes from the Greek Metanoia – change of consciousness, change of direction, change of mind. If we look at it that way it can be exciting. Change your mind – God’s new world is coming. Change your mind and believe good news,
So if you think it’s OK to keep consuming the planet as we are and destroying God’s creation, If you think true security comes with taller border walls and weapons of mass destruction, If you think someone’s sexuality or sex or gender or ethnicity or religion makes them any less human or deserving of dignity, if you think you are unloved or unlovely. – Believe in the Good news and change your mind! Open your mind, be free of new discoveries, liberate yourself, it can be dynamic and daring and dangerous and Richard Rohr points it out in this year’s Lent book. He notes there are two particular groups of people that find it hard to change their life’s direction or change their minds, the very religious and the very rich – hmmm – we might consider ourselves as neither but I wonder….
But whether you’re giving up something, taking on something or joining our Lent discussions, or not, for the next 40 or 46 days now is a good time for us all to think about how we might repent, about the areas in our lives we might want to change – particularly as some of our restrictions are eased. So that’s the question for today In what ways could Jesus’ command to change our mind affect our personal journey – we’re encouraged to spend time thinking about the difficult situations and relationships in our lives and how might they be challenging us and inviting us to change our minds.
A REMINDER of our on-going lockdown challenge, to send in a photo depicting your new norm, what sums up the lockdown to you, plus a photo of yourself. Hopefully we will be gently and gradually getting out of it soon. Please send to Marca or Phil
Climate coalition -We are challenged to create green hearts out of re-used or recycled materials and display them in our windows, take a photo and send it in to Phil or Marcia. They will be used later in the year!
The British Red Cross can help if you’re feeling lonely or worried, finding it difficult to access food or medication, or are concerned about someone else who is. Call their free and confidential coronavirus support line on 0808 196 3651 to chat to a friendly British Red Cross volunteer. They can: ● help with practical information and advice ● give you emotional support ● connect you with support in your area. The phone line is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Tel: 0808 196 3651. Free and confidential. For more information please visit: www.redcross.org.uk/coronavirus-support-line
COVID-19 vaccination enquiries: Our health board has now opened up a CTM Vaccination email address and phone number for anyone who has any queries. Email: CTM.VaccinationEnquiries@Wales.nhs.uk Tel: 01685 726464 You will find the latest frequently asked questions on CTMUHB’s website in its COVID-19 vaccination section: https://cwmtafmorgannwg.wales/covid-19-vaccine/ Visit Public Health Wales’s website for useful information and FAQs: 3 https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/immunisation-and-vaccines/covid-19-vaccination-information/
Thought for the week
‘I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world,’ Mother Teresa
ZOOM SERVICES: Log in opens at 10.30 for pre service chat. Services will start at 10.45 or as advertised. Zoom service link – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89461145366?pwd=S3ExNTVjdGVGdXlGVlNQc2k3eldudz09
To join by phone (call 0203 901 7895. then, when asked, type in the meeting ID – 894 6114 5366; followed – when asked – by the passcode – 8453605) Calls are charged at standard UK call rates.