Some of my favourite conversations this week have circled around how we 'live like the kingdom is near!?' In all times, in every situation, and right-now. This Covid-19 challenge is not forever, but its very much for now. Some of you have shared how you are praying through your phone list and, as you're sorting all your old photos praying over each life, texting and email distant friends or family, and seeking a word, scripture of picture for them. These are precious & courageous things...timely & faithful things!
There are two surveys we've designed to help us hear and understand the mood of our church family and help PCC make wise choices in these unique times. Please contribute to one: if you're longstanding church family or one of the many newcomers to us! Your response in a brief church family questionnaire is eagerly desired! Only requiring approximately 4-5minutes, and it'll help us keenly assess the mood of our church family regarding the future-normal of gathered church! Perhaps you're one of the many guests and newcomers we've welcomed at this time, and we'd so welcome your views regarding our online and future-normal gathered church life! If this is you, your response is welcome.
James Lawrence of CPAS offered the four very helpful questions regarding life after lockdown! I'd welcome your reflections on these four questions if you wish directly to me by email: email@example.com
1 What have you gained that you'd be happy to lose?
2 What have you gained that you'd like to keep?
3 What have you lost that you'd be happy not to see again?
4 What have you lost that you miss and want back?
Yes homework if you will! Contribute to our shared life, by one of the two google form links completed and an email with further reflections please... here's other resources for your consideration: A tweet summary of some of the compassion shared in our parish! a guest blog post I've written about uncertainty and our buildings, Thinking about our buildings and heading back to the future in this! New Wine this summer will be different: here's the links and resources, this Tearfund vision for a rebooted world: read, share & take action, and a wider summary on how might trust God in these times.
Sung worship with Adam at 6pm on our church Facebook page, Sunday word & worship at 1030 on our church facebook page for all, and the ongoing John gospel daily series, 12noon each day on Johnny's personal Facebook page, Each Sunday we'll continue our 'hospitality at home' after church via an 1115 Zoom group church conversation; sign-in details are in the church family email sent by Sue.
We await further government, national and diocesan church guidelines before we consider our return to gathered-church. It will be some time! More details next week are promised. There are ongoing limitations that mean only 15 persons at one time at St Pauls, and only 27 persons at St Peters' even with the revised 1-plus metre rulings!
If you or others you know are struggling, do be in touch with Pauline Pearson our Pastoral Care Team leader. Direct any queries if you wish to firstname.lastname@example.org
The CofE offer a free-phone whereby older, non-techy people can dial-up for a sermon, hymn or prayer. It’s refreshed daily. 0800 804 8044.
Our next preaching series begins next week, exploring Defiant Joy
Here are the details for your giving: the bank details are Swanley St. Paul PCC Acc: 80859710 Sort code 20-25-42. Please email Sue at email@example.com with any questions and we will gladly assist. Although our church buildings continue to be closed, God is very much on the move in our communities and we are here to support, encourage and resource many more at this time.
Keep on recording your daily thankfulness... yes in every season!
Today in our scattered 1030 online offering, Ian will speak on courage from our fourth and final part in our Esther series: Maggie is sharing an all age moment with Jane sharing an everyday faith segment! Here's the link to the series resources, and a calling & courage spotify playlist to accompany this series in Esther! May faith and courage be yours in the Holy Spirit!
Esther chapters 8-10
Turning the Tide with Esther pt-4
"Time and tide wait for no man!" Geoffrey Chaucer
Esther and Mordecai Turn the Tide and Change the Times for the Jewish Nation.
What was the result of their bravery before the King?
Victory for the Victims – The fog lifted for the Jewish people and they realised that God had been at work through Esther and Mordecai.
Assurance for the Afraid – It’s time for the strong to speak up and make a difference to those who are struggling.
Restoration for the Ruined – Allow the Master Builder to restore you and fill you with hope rather than following the gospel of ‘not enough’.
Security for the Insecure – Where are we searching for the ‘real deal’? Are we remembering to breathe in and out allowing space for God to provide our security?
Praise for the Persecuted – The Jewish people turned from persecution to praise. Allow your ‘what if?’ to become your ‘even if’ and be thankful to God.
Questions for personal reflection & life group sessions
Part 4 - Esther 8
1. Read chapter 8 in two different versions of the Bible. What strikes you from here?
2. How do we come to terms with the bloodthirsty events in this story? Was this an act of self-defence or murder and plunder? See 9: vs 5-16. Is Holy war acceptable?
3. vs 8-14: the King issues a reversal of the law despite the potential of public embarrassment. How easy do we find it to publicly change our minds? Can you give any examples of where this has happened?
4. Are there situations where we might want revenge in pursuing justice? How do we confront the unforgiving spirit within our own hearts? How are we doing in following Jesus who calls us to forgive - Matt 8 v 22; turn the other cheek – Matt 5 v 39; and love our enemies – Matt 5 v 43-44?
5. Mordecai became second in the kingdom. Should Christians aspire to political positions of power? What can we learn from this book about handling power and position well?
6. ‘The relationship between petitioning prayer and divine providence is a mystery. Do our prayers move God to change the sequence of events?’ Discuss!
7. The events are recorded to aid memory. Can we compare the festival of Purim with our celebration of Holy Communion? Could our celebrations of the mighty acts of Jesus' triumphs be celebrated with more joy? If so, how?
8. God fulfils His covenant promise from age to age through your life and mine. How do we faithfully pass on the story of what God is doing in our lives?
9. The story of Esther is a story of people finding the courage to intervene in dangerous and difficult situations. Where might we be called to find similar courage today?
10. What did you read in the book of Esther that touched you, expanded your faith or made you think more deeply about your life and how you live it?
Pray for God's help and strength in making changes; Praise God for His providential workings in our lives. Points to ponder - ‘The author of Esther calls us to trust in the power and presence of God even when, and perhaps especially when, He seems absent and we cannot imagine how he could possibly do what he promises in His word.'