Author Archives: All Hallows Leeds

Thought for the Day : Monday 8 March

Thought for the Day by Peter Hemming (St Chad’s)

We all love rules! We all want to be ‘right with God.’

We all hope rules will put us ‘right with God.’ “If we say and do all the right things, God will be pleased and do just as we ask Him!” Er, No: as today’s readings in Jeremiah 11 vv 1 – 17 and John 7 vv 37 – 52  illustrate.

These days, we are living under a system of rules: the government depends on our obeying them.

Stay home! Protect the NHS! Don’t go near others! No hugging! No meeting inside! ………

The Jews, it seems, loved rules too. They had the ‘law’ written down or at least recorded, accurately. They knew exactly what God expected of them – and they did just that. Jeremiah was clearly told to ‘tell the people to keep to the covenant’ – the agreement that God had set with them.
It was, however, no good just doing the right things. Legalism wouldn’t work. There had to be a wholehearted dedication to God – alone. They could not also keep burning incense to Baal (Jer.11:17).

Wholehearted dedication to God was needed.

I wonder, are we a bit choosy in our faith: putting our trust in church based or worldly schemes and then God? 

We are all thirsty – for what we should be doing to ‘get things right with God’.

This is the end of the account of Jesus in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7). He would have witnessed the pouring out of a small quantity of water, by the base of the main Altar in the Temple. This was to illustrate the promise in Ezekiel 47, where a little trickle of water would become a great river to support all life – providing drinking water for all Creation and ‘other Nations’.

Doing things that illustrate promises from the past may be helpful to some, but contrast this with Jesus’ opening words here: ‘If anyone is thirsty, come to me and drink.’ (my emphasis).

Answers to the problems we face, the future, financial or economic, health or welfare, are not necessarily found by looking back, or to the world, or to church-based schemes but in Jesus, himself. The Streams of Living Water promised in these words, John reckons were a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost. That was certainly not an ‘expected event’. There is nothing predictable about the work of the Holy Spirit – or for that matter of Jesus’ teaching!

Maybe we need to be far more open to the speaking and calling of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

As we face all the challenges that the future will bring, do we need to look for unexpected solutions?

Sunday Worship 7 March 2021

Today is the third Sunday in the season of Lent and this morning we were very pleased to have Richard Barton share with us his thoughts on Lent and anger with Heston, Lydia and Jan leading us in our worship.

Thought for the Day : Friday 5 March

Thought for the Day by Adriaan van Klinken (All Hallows)

Readings: Jeremiah 10: 1-16 and John 7: 14-24

“You are demon possessed!”

It happened during my first weekend in Nairobi, Kenya. On Saturday, I was taken out by a couple of local young men to whom I’d been introduced by a British-Kenyan friend. They took me out to some gay clubs in Nairobi, and we had fun! (Whoever tells me that there’s no gay scene in those parts of Africa, I can now prove wrong.)

The next Sunday morning, I woke up with a slight hangover, realising that I’d come to Kenya for a research project on Pentecostal churches. So to church I went. Halfway the service, the pastor invited a woman to the stage, introducing her as “the prophetess”. She started speaking in tongues and prophesying, claiming that she’d received messages from God for some people in church. I happened to be one of them. I was the only one being called to the stage. She said she could see an evil spirit in my life, from which I needed to be delivered. I had no choice but to kneel. She started pushing me and praying over me, louder and louder. I quietly wondered whether she might have seen me clubbing the night before. What if she truly was a Woman of God and had a gift of discernment? In any case, the deliverance failed. The gay spirit, or whatever she had discerned, is still in me. 

In today’s reading from the Gospel of John, Jesus is accused of being demon possessed. The reason being that the crowd is upset by his teaching. Jesus had claimed that his wisdom is not his own, but is a gift from the one who had sent him. Apparently, there was something in Jesus – a spirit, or the Spirit? – that the crowd could not place. And as often happens, when people encounter something that is different, they stigmatise it. They label it as strange, as alien, even as demonic. That’s the excuse for them – for us – not to engage with the person we encounter and who, somehow, is other than us.

Jesus corrects the crowds, telling them to “stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” This message goes against our human tendency to label others, and to stigmatise and demonise them on the basis of such labels. Judging people correctly is only possible if we begin by acknowledging that every human being reflects the image of God. As the prophet Jeremiah puts it, God “is the Maker of all things”. If we fail to recognise that, we are “senseless and without knowledge”.

Thought for the Day : Thursday 4 March

Thought for the Day by Clive Barrett (St Michael’s)

Headingley Street Art

I’m ambivalent about street art. Surrounded by graffiti, I feel threatened and unsafe. It’s me; I don’t understand the subculture. Do writers of indecipherable “tags” need to say “I was here” on every corner? I’m more annoyed with negligent absentee landlords, raking in rents but having no time for neighbourhoods, failing to remove graffiti from their walls.

Some graffiti, though, is the voice of the voiceless, often pre-planned, stencilled political messages. My own peace obsession is partly attributable to anti-war graffiti I saw years ago. Graffiti can make you think, even if you disagree with it. Around the Brudenells you can read “Rent is [expletive]” and “Eat out, spread Covid all about”; in Far Headingley, “Confinement breeds domestic violence”. Whether or not you agree with either the medium or the message, these make you pause and consider diverse viewpoints. Sometimes there’s humour and banter between graffiti-painters: I warm to the anti-anarchist on Ash Road responding to “Abolish the Police” with the question, “Then?”

More aesthetically pleasing is community-owned art. Drab grey pavement boxes transformed into uplifting decorative artworks. These enhance our environment, whether abstract, floral or commemorative (“Stokes 135, Leach 1”, at the Kirkstall Lane end). A Leeds United fanatic, I love the massive gable-end Bielsa mural at Hyde Park Corner. St Chad’s School’s graffiti-like mission statement reads, “In the light of God; we care, we share, we laugh, we learn”.

My favourite community art is the fantastic new mural at St. Michael’s Parish Hall. The angel is at the centre of colourful representations of Headingley, including, of course, the cricket and rugby ground. It’s for all local residents to own: “As one, we march on together”. The acrostic reads: Hope, Equality, Acceptance, Devotion, Inspiration, Nurture, Generosity, Love Ever Yours…

That’s the Headingley I want to live in. Superb.

Thought for the Day : Wednesday 3 March

Thought for the Day by Richard Wilson (St Chad’s)

Readings: Jeremiah 8:18 – 9.11 and John 6:60 – end

Jeremiah is pleading with the Lord to hear the cry of his people and asking where the Lord is. Clearly things have gone badly for some time – the harvest is not stored, a lack of doctors, many slain. They are adulterers, unfaithful, liars. The Lord says beware of friends, do not trust them, they do not speak the truth and they do not acknowledge the Lord. It is clear that the loving Lord is frustrated and angry about how to deal with Jeremiah’s people.

The Lord decides that he will refine, test, and punish them making Judah uninhabitable.

Would we wish to upset the Lord and induce His anger – I think not. What is worrying is how many people are ignoring the Lord and committing sins of a similar kind today and are we being taken in by liars and false truths. This passage  is certainly worthy of careful consideration during Lenten reflections.

Bu this is the Old Testament and the New Testament brings ‘Good News’. Today’s reading starts at a ‘crunch point’ for all of us because in yesterday’s reading Jesus was talking about ‘The bread of life’.

ch.6 v60 ‘On hearing it, many of his disciples said ‘This is hard teaching. Who can accept it?’’

Jesus repeats the following :

  1. How would they react to his Transfiguration
  2. The  Spirit gives life and my words are full of the Spirit
  3. The flesh counts for nothing.
  4. No one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.

Apparently many started to leave so he asks ‘The Twelve’ so do you want to leave too? Thankfully, Simon Peter responds very positively with the words in v 68 ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God’.

I hope and pray that we all can accept his teaching and respond as Simon Peter did, preparing ourselves for eternal life.

Thought for the Day : Tuesday 2 March

Thought for the Day by Hannah Lievesley (St Chad’s)

Reading: John 6:52-59

A few years ago, a course was advertised in the diocesan magazine, entitled:

The Church of England: Passing Strange and Wonderful.

‘Passing strange’ is one of those funny, old-fashioned terms that means ‘surpassing strange’, ‘beyond strange’, ‘stranger even than strange’. What made me laugh about the advert, was that the editor of the magazine had accidentally put an extra comma in the title to make it: Passing, Strange and Wonderful. As if to say the Church of England was a temporary thing about to pass away – on its way out! Not the message any diocese wants to be publishing in its magazine.

I mention this, because the words Jesus spoke in the synagogue so many years ago,  

‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them’,

must have seemed ‘passing strange’ to the people who were listening. At this early stage in Jesus’ ministry it must have sounded to them like he was promoting some kind of cultist cannibalism. Remember, this happened well before the Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples, when he referred to the bread as his body and the wine as his blood. It was well before he died on the cross and rose again. Before the people had the benefit of any of that hindsight.

‘This is a hard teaching,’ they grumbled, ‘who can accept it?

Even today, now we know what happened to Jesus, now we have the benefit of the whole of his teaching and the teaching of gifted apostles and theologians over the centuries, even now, Holy Communion can still seem a strange and mysterious practice – not just to those on the outside of the church but to us too. And yet the teaching has endured across the whole world for 2000 years. Perhaps this is down to us experiencing its wonderful benefits despite struggling to comprehend its meaning.

As we celebrate Holy Communion, and receive the bread and wine, in some mysterious way our relationship with Jesus is sustained, now and into a future of eternal life.

There’s a line in the Morning Prayer service which I love, and every time I say it reminds me and helps me to submit of the great mysteries of God’s ways – ways we can never fully understand. It says:

‘Trust in the wisdom of the Lord. Be not wise in your own sight.

Jesus left us Holy Communion as a way of remaining in him, remaining connected to him. The key, perhaps, to our connection with him.

‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them.’ That is his promise.

And yes, it is, ‘passing strange’ but it is also ‘wonderful’.

Thought for the Day : Monday 1 March

Thought for the Day by Kevin Ward (St Michael’s)

Readings: Jeremiah 7:21-end and John 6:41-51

Jesus said: I am the bread of life

Give us this day our daily bread

Our daily necessities.
Manna in the wilderness: renewed every morning.
New every morning is the love    /    New mercies, each returning day

Daily Bread. Our staple food.
Rice, pap (South Africa: maize meal), posho (Swahili),  emmere (Luganda: steamed plantain), millet, sorghum. cassava. Injera (Ethiopian sourdough flat bread).

Food banks. School dinners. Marcus Rashford.
Rainbow Junk-tion
I was hungry and you gave me food

Bread:  Panis (Latin).  Pan (Japanese – from the Portuguese). Le pain (French).
Pannier – a  bread basket.   ‘Bread basket’ – an abundant land.

Companion: literally, those we eat bread with.
Friendship. Intimacy. Trust. Fidelity

Betrayed by a Kiss.
Psalm 41:9:
Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

Jesus at the Last Supper:
‘The one who dips bread into the bowl with me, will betray me’

The Passover: feast of unleavened bread.
Jesus took a loaf of bread and broke it:
            ‘Take, eat this is my body which is given for you’
For as often as you eat this bread you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes

March 1st:  Dewi Sant.      St David’s Day.
            Arglwydd arwain trwy’r anialwch: Lord, lead me through the wilderness.
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah

            Bread of Heaven, bread of heaven,
            Feed me now and evermore

Jesus said: I am the bread of life
This is the bread that comes down from heaven
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.

Blessed are you who are hungry – for you will be filled (Luke 6:20)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  (Mathew 5:6)

Our father in heaven, Thy kingdom come,   Thy will be done,
            Give us today our daily bread
            And forgive us our sins
            As we forgive those who sin against us

Sunday Worship 28 February 2021

Today is the second Sunday in the season of Lent and it this morning we were very pleased to have Sam Crook share with us her thoughts on Lent with Heston, Adriaan and Casper leading us in our worship.

Sunday 28 February 2021 – Second Sunday in Lent

This Sunday is the second Sunday in the season of Lent and Sam Crook will be leading us in her thoughts about Lent. Our readings will be from Psalm 22:23-31 and Mark 8:31-38.

Here is the service sheet we will be using during Lent:

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Thought for the Day : Friday 26 February

Thought for the Day by Tim Ward (St Chad’s)

Readings: Jeremiah 6.22-end and John 6.16-27

“…They sound like the roaring sea…”:

 is how Jeremiah describes the horses ridden from the north to battle against an errant Jerusalem. [Jeremiah chapter 6 verse 23].

“…a strong wind was blowing and stirring up the water…

… is John’s description the threat of the sea.  following the wonder of Jesus’s feeding of the crowds, the disciples had taken to the water and rowed out into the midst of the Sea of Galilee heading for Capernaum. [John chapter 6 verses 19 and 20]

To coastal and lakeside communities, water shaped livelihoods and landscapes. Its power signified an actual and symbolic threat. In response, the psalmist in psalms 65 and 77 points to a God who can overcome the power of the waves

“You calm the roar of the seas and the noise of the waves”

When the waters saw you O God, they were afraid….
You walked through the waves you crossed the deep sea.”

In this context John describes the “sign” of Jesus walking on the water:

“By then a strong wind was blowing and stirring up the water. The disciples had rowed about five or six kilometres when they saw Jesus walking on the water, coming near the boat…”

The description of Jesus walking on the water shows it as a sign not a magic show.  Jesus’s healing miracles were a sign of god’s concern and priorities; not belittling, but rather supporting those involved in healing.  Likewise, Jesus was not making light of the challenges faced by those who work on the water; those with whom he spent his time and made his friendships. The wonders and signs of eternity did not take away from the reality of the here and now.

Leeds’s connection with water has changed over the periods of industrialisation and growth.  One symbol of this continues to be the Leeds Liverpool canal, linking not only the northern industrial communities, such as Saltaire. but also, the east and west coasts.  The Canal and River Trust help to ensure we can enjoy its 127 miles and 91 locks today.

The canal towpath is a good place for Lent, allowing contemplation of water, nature, of industrial skill and endeavour. Its heritage is also one of labour, of the mills, factories and mines whose produce it carried

As we wonder at the miracle of Jesus walking on the water, may we focus too on the dangers and toils inherent in a life on the water.

Click here to visit the Canal and River Trust