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Sunday Worship 9 May 2021

Our service this morning was led by Hayley and Catherine with Hayley sharing her thoughts with us on “Mary and Elizabeth – God exalts the lowly” based on the picture panel of the Leigh Russell Memorial Panel. You can read more about the panel on our website 

Sunday 9 May 2021 – Mary and Elizabeth – God exalts the lowly

On Sunday we will be looking at “Mary and Elizabeth – God exalts the lowly” in the fifth of our series of services reflecting on the Leigh Russell Memorial Panel which hangs on the north wall of the church. You can read Mary’s song which we call Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55

Hayley Matthews will be leading our service sharing her thoughts on Mary and Elizabeth. Our service will be streamed live on Facebook at 10:30am and we will be meeting in our virtual Zoom cafe for a socially distanced chat after the service. Do join us if you can.

Thought for the Day : Friday 7 May

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Thought for the Day : Thursday 6 May

Thought for the Day by Bob Shaw

Reading: 1 Peter 2:11-25

Today’s NT reading from 1 Peter was sent to some mainly Gentile slaves who were suffering intense persecution in Asia Minor. The writer has clearly decided not to challenge the dominance of slavery within the political and economic structure of the Roman Empire. To have done so might have resulted in the total annihilation of the early church outside Judea. This might explain why the readers of this letter are being encouraged to follow the self-sacrificial example of Jesus by offering obedient service to their masters as well as honouring the Roman Emperor. This sounds totally unacceptable to us today. Surely there can be no excuse for slavery but perhaps we should be thankful that those Gentile slaves grew in such numbers that the Christian church eventually became the worldwide body of which we are members today instead of remaining simply a Jewish sect?

Today as you all know is Election Day here in Leeds and country-wide where we are free to vote for city councillors and a new Mayor of West Yorkshire. We tend to take our universal suffrage for granted but we might recall that less than 100 years ago women in this country were not allowed to vote and less than 200 years ago there were people here with no rights at all because slavery had not yet been abolished. Civil rights have taken hundreds of years to become established and so today we should be thankful for the likes of Emily Pankhurst, William Wilberforce, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and all others who have taken a courageous stand against inequality. On this Election Day we have an opportunity to reflect on these positive achievements and to be thankful for our own freedom. We need political leaders who are committed to the elimination of modern slavery such as trafficking and other forms of human exploitation. Of course we also need political leaders who will prioritize the mitigation of environmental pollution which is already affecting the very poorest of people on our planet.

Today we might also give thanks for the Christian devotion of our sovereign Queen Elizabeth who, unlike Emperor Nero and dictators like him, deserves our honour because she has kept her promise and given us such a precious example of selfless service to all of her people here and throughout the Commonwealth. She is deserving of our continuing prayers particularly after the death of her consort Prince Philip.

Today and every day we can say ‘Thank you’ to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, our ‘Wounded Healer’, who gave up his life for the freedom of all humanity and the redemption of all creation. The bottom line is that we have all been called by Him to love God our Heavenly Father and all of our neighbours as we love ourselves. Let us therefore respond with generosity.

Thought for the Day : Wednesday 5 May

Thought for the Day by Katherine-Alice Grasham (All Hallows)

Readings: 1 Peter 2:1-10

“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2: 5 (NIV)

I moved house in January, and honestly, things have been a bit of pig sty ever since!! The living room is still full of unpacked boxes, and there is just stuff everywhere. I did spend some time, however, tidying the kitchen over the bank holiday weekend, as that’s where my desk is for when I’m working at home. I was struck by how different a space it became with a bit of time and attention, and how much nicer it is to work in now that it’s clean and tidy!!

I love the imagery of building in today’s passage from 1 Peter. We are being “built into a spiritual house”…I always think that sounds so cool!! Attempting to make my own house somewhere comfortable, clean, tidy, and somewhere that I enjoy being has been an interesting undertaking, and one that definitely does feel a bit spiritual. After all, it is the place where I spend most of my time, especially at the moment, and I want it to be a place that honours God, as well as serves me and the things I need it for.

I have taken to lighting incense or candles around my house (safely under observation of course!!) as a way of marking out the space in each room as holy, a place where God can come and work alongside me. I think that perhaps that is a kind of spiritual sacrifice to God, and a way of inviting Her in.

I wonder if your house feels like a spiritual house, like the metaphorical one that Peter described us as being? Perhaps there are things you can do to make your home feel like a “house where God can dwell”, as the song goes. What sacrifices can you offer up to Her today? Maybe candles and incense work for you too, or maybe you want to do a mini prayer walk around your house, praying in each room and asking for God’s blessing for the things you do at home? I hope that for you, creating a physical spiritual house can also help you to be a living stone – part of the metaphorical spiritual house we are all building together!!

Thought for the Day : Tuesday 4 May

Thought for the Day by Toby Parsons (All Hallows’)

May the fourth be with you

Happy Star Wars Day!

If you’ve been on social media this morning, you’ll probably have seen plenty of May The Fourth greetings already.

But how do you feel about science fiction writing? About novels set in parallel universes? About books based on magic?

We might be uneasy that God isn’t identified in these stories.  Perhaps we worry that God is being replaced by something else.

Looking towards God means accepting there’s something more than our immediate and physical world.  We have to embrace mystery.   We’re called to believe in something that can’t be fully known.  Every Christian has to come to terms with that.  And it can be difficult.  But maybe stories of totally different worlds help open our minds to things we can’t see?

And there are other points we can draw from Star Wars and similar works of fiction.

Could you find a single quote from George Lucas’s work, or even a short passage, that summarised and explained the entire series?

Do you see different things when you watch one of the films for the Nth time?  Do you notice subtleties you missed on the first viewing?

Do inconsistencies in the plots worry you?  Or do you accept that the detail doesn’t always add up, and focus instead on the bigger storyline?

The Bible, that library of books that underpins our faith, poses as many challenges as any sci-fi writing.  And perhaps thinking about how we read and respond to the scriptures is something we can ponder on Star Wars Day.

Because, as a character in a certain set of trilogies might say – sight of God’s bigger picture, we must not lose.

Thought for the Day : Monday 3 May

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

Readings: Deuteronomy 16:1-20 and 1 Peter 1:1-12

Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you. (Deuteronomy 16:9-10)

The book of Deuteronomy includes lots of rules for living. Many of them were intended only for a particular group of people, in a particular geographical location, at a particular time in history. The food laws, for instance, were often more about hygiene and health in a hot climate than moral edicts. Some rules, however, were intended to endure. They were about our relationship with God and each other. God wanted his people to live lives that were distinctive form their brutal neighbouring nations. He wanted them to become a ‘kingdom of priests’ (Exodus 19) whose distinct way of living – in love of God and obedience to God’s commandments – would set them apart as a living example of God’s justice and blessing in the world.

The Festival of Weeks called God’s people to celebrate what God had done for them by giving a freewill offering back to God in proportion to the blessings they had received from Him. It was about recognising that all good things come from God and of his own do we give him. Importantly, it wasn’t enforced. Rather, it was an invitation to give with a ‘free-will’. It was about offering back to God, in a spirit of celebration and joy, a proportion of the bountiful blessings he had poured out upon his people. This call to give back to God is not something that was specific only to God’s people in ancient Israel, it’s a call to his people in all places and all ages through history. The Apostle Paul encourages the people of the early Christian churches to do the same in order to fund the spread of the gospel. “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income” (1 Cor 16:2). We are called to do the same today.

At St Chad’s, we’ve just come to the end of our Generosity Week when we have all been challenged to review our giving and consider whether what we give is ‘in proportion’ to the blessings we receive from God. What would be ‘proportionate’ giving for you?

  • Let’s remember that all good things come from God.
  • Let’s rejoice with gratitude the many blessings He pours down upon us.
  • Let’s challenge ourselves to give back in proportion to all we have been given.

Sunday Worship 2 May 2021 – Ruth – Harmony of family, society and nature

Our service this morning was led by Heston with Richard Barton sharing his thoughts with us on “Ruth – Harmony of family, society and nature” based on the picture panel of the Leigh Russell Memorial Panel. You can read more about the panel on our website 

Sunday 2 May 2021 – Ruth – Harmony of family, society and nature

On Sunday we will be looking at “Ruth – Harmony of family, society and nature” in the fourth of our series of services reflecting on the Leigh Russell Memorial Panel which hangs on the north wall of the church. You can read about the story of Ruth in Ruth, it is only four chapters long!

Heston will be leading our service and Richard Barton will be sharing his thoughts on Ruth. Our service will be streamed live on Facebook at 10:30am and we will be meeting in our virtual Zoom cafe for a socially distanced chat after the service. Do join us if you can.

Ruth – Harmony of family, society and nature

Thought for the Day : Friday 30 April

Thought for the Day by Hayley Matthews (All Hallows)

Readings: Deuteronomy 12:1-14 and Ephesians 6:1-9

Mary Ramabai

Mary Ramabai, or Mistress of Learning as she was nicknamed, had an unusual grasp of Sanksrit for a young girl, which was how she immersed herself after losing both of her parents on a pilgrimage to a sacred Hindu Shrine. Mary grew up challenging traditional Indian culture, fighting for female emancipation through political activisim. Widowed very early in her marriage, and with a young child, Mary began to study the Bible and Christianity while continuing to fight for widows and women in general opening education and welfare centres. Anglican Nuns invited Mary to England for further education where she and her daughter were baptised.

On her return to India Mary’s work expanded to include unmarried mothers and young girls. She faced a great deal of criticism – from Hindus for denying her roots and from Christians from not trying being overtly religious in her work. In 1891 she experienced an evangelical conversion, adding evangelism to her social work. Mary founded the Mukti Institution at Kedagon near Poona. This small school quickly developed into a much larger institution where lower-caste women, widows and orphans found care and support. This demonstration of practical Christianity resulted in many of these women came to faith.

Mary remained a ‘Mistress of Learning’ until her death in 1922, translating the Bible into Marathi, the language of educated Hindus and lecturing widely on social issues.  This extraordinary women overcame the loss of her parents, being ostracised over her lower-caste marriage; being widowed as a young woman, finding herself an almost destitute single parent, to become the founder of an educational and welfare establishment that transformed the lives of many women and girls who might otherwise have floundered against the rocks of tradition. Remember, whatever you have – or are – facing, God’s got you, and you’ve got this; with God, anything is possible.

  • Let’s sit quietly and remember to Whom we belong; now let us bring our own losses before God and release them. How might what we’ve been through be of benefit to others?
  • Let’s think about that one thing we’d love to do for God/others if only…
  • Listen to God and hear what the Spirit says to you about what you are being called to do and what the next step might be. Perhaps start a skeleton plan on a piece of paper?
  • Let’s pray for ourselves as we set about our first tentative step towards whatever we are being called to, and let us pray for those whom we are being called to serve, that they would know God’s loving gaze and unending delight as we minister to them. Amen.