Updated: Apr 7
In these COVID-19 times, when there is challenge, fear & change all around, what might we do? As followers of Jesus, we do all of life with Jesus, truly all of it... and so we best respond by Keeping watchful for God’s activity. God is always at work around us! But He often does His best work in crises. When facing a deadly pandemic, people may be more open to talking about how they live & why they choose what they do. Our own fragile mortality, is more easily front and centre in people’s minds. Might you keep your spiritual senses attuned, seeking, praying, serving, caring, resting & trusting! Make the best of changed routines. We each need them, and they can vary so greatly. What are the good & better things that you can be about. Mine includes a brisk walk led by Julie and governmentally approved ... it was described as 'an awkward march' from a near neighbour! How will you & I not waste this crisis? How might we not bemoan what's lost, so much as journey in the the possible gains... And, check your spiritual vital signs. When you test the health of your heart, you don’t monitor it while you’re sleeping. Doctors put you on an inclined treadmill. How your heart handles adversity reveals what it’s made of! Crises have a way of exposing us for what we really are. Some in the community are making a special effort to check on the elderly and vulnerable. What has the crisis revealed about you?
The Church has tended to grow most in times of crisis, not in periods of prosperity. While there are losses galore, at the same time, keep your spiritual eyes and ears alert, for we may be at the brink of one of the greatest movements of the Spirit of God in recent history.
In our Monday night PCC mtg by the power of Zoom, we covered much engaging with the real challenges faced by the church at this time. For us there is the reality of significant loss of income approaching £3k per month in loose monetary giving & rental income. Wider than this we agreed that two of our staff members including Emma-Jane would be furloughed workers for April & May, and our Parish Administrator would be on reduced hours. This will be kept under review in line with government guidelines. More details and information will be available in the church family email.
Those who walk past our St Peter's church building will have noticed that building work has commenced; this is being funded by dedicated monies that cannot be used for any other purpose in church life.
As some have messaged me this week, aware that we can't put money into Sunday collection bags, and it will be some time until we are back, how can we give to the work of God in the parish? Here are the details for one off and regular direct debit giving: the bank details are Swanley St. Paul PCC Acc: 80859710 Sort code 20-25-42. We are all faced with uncertain times ahead and adjustment to a new way of life and of working. Many of you, I know are facing worry about your jobs, income and future stability, and giving to the church may be a financial stress that you could well do without. For those who choose to take a break from tithing or giving to the church, please know that we understand and pass no judgement; these are hard times for many and we would not wish to add to your burden. For those who wish to continue giving we say thank-you and please know how very much we need and appreciate it. As you will be aware the income from the weekly Sunday giving and rental of our church space have stopped completely, so any offerings that come through by standing orders are really significant in these days. Please email Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and we will gladly assist. Although our church buildings are temporarily closed, God is very much on the move in our communities and we are here to support, encourage and resource you wherever we are able.
Our ongoing online resources accompanying this weekly blog piece, are as follows: daily Encouragements from Ephesians at 12noon by Johnny on his Facebook page, Wednesday Worship with Adam at 6pm on our church Facebook page as premiered this week, and Sunday word & worship at 1030 on our church facebook page for all. This Sunday sees the first of our 'hospitality at home ' after church via an 1115 Zoom group church conversation; sign-in details are in the church family email from Sue. Along with so many other things our regular Overflow congregation won't be happening this weekend or for the foreseeable future. In this new-normal on social media particularly, comment, affirm & dialogue with what is being shared as it blesses & helps so many more! For your encouragement our very patchy three part Sunday offering from last weeks has had over 1400 views! Lots of kingdom life & encouragement!
We will have a midweek blog with resources & input for Maundy Thursday onwards... As Johnny shared consider posting a #PalmCrossSelfie on social media, sharing your Hosanna despite whatever hardship & challenge! Pray on for our NHS and frontline keyworkers esp...
Please pray on for the extended families & friends of Betty Smith & John King following their burials this week, and for Johnny and the staff team in the continued care & compassion load with other funerals pending.
Sadly the rise in scams in our community at this time is real: please note the ABC of scam awareness from Kent County Council. A - Never assume a caller, email or text is genuine. B - Never believe a caller, email or text is genuine. C - Always confirm by contacting a trusted number, family member, friend, your bank’s fraud department or the police to check if it’s genuine. If in doubt, don't!
Today in our scattered life we'll explore the reach of Palm Sunday with Johnny our vicar speaking from Matthew 21:1-11, Adam will bring 'How Great thou art', 'Goodness of God', and 'All Hail'... Youth resources for this Palm Sunday, & Children's & Family's input too. Enjoy church in your slippers!
Plotting & betrayal bring Jesus to the cross!
Standing up for right often means pain; pain of rejection and persecution and developing a willingness to suffer to bring about redemption.
"This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee."
The tragedy of Palm Sunday always confronts us with a choice.
God is always working through contrasts and opposites.
Take heart when you suffer.
Our God is a God who works under opposites.
Palm Sunday is such a big deal because it says: "...this is Jesus!"
He is working on you and me to give us new life and a fresh start!
A kingdom that changes everything - the way of Jesus bring change!
The preaching of Jesus upset everything.
The truth is Jesus did not need exaltation.
On this Palm Sunday are you willing to give Jesus something other than just a good word?
Would you give Him your life and join Him on the road?
All the city was stirred, saying, 'Who is this?'
There are times when some of us are tempted to take the easy way…
Palm Sunday reveals a proper response to Jesus?
On that Sunday we ask who was Jesus? Good man, mad man, bad man or God man?
On this Sunday we are asked who are we ... observers, pharisees, followers or disciples?
Palm Sunday confronts us with this truth.
The King of Kings is here facing us in our own Jerusalem.
"What shall I do with Jesus?"
Palm Sunday paints a realistic picture of our response to Jesus
Here is tragedy and triumph
For the joy set before Him Jesus embarked on the costly journey!
Questions for discussion
Read the passage aloud - what immediately strikes you from this familiar passage?
This was the first time Jesus went to Jerusalem; He could have chosen not to, but He was obedient to fulfil the Scriptures (Zech. 9 v 9) and God's calling on His life. What might our 'Jerusalem' be at this time?
Why did Jesus wait for the Passover festival to proclaim that “ His time had come”?
Think about some of the great journeys in Scripture (Gen 12 v 1, Ex 14 v 1-4 and 26-29, Matt 4 v 8-12); what are the hallmarks of these journeys?
What do vs 1-3, 5, 7 and Mark 11 v 2 tell us about the donkey?
What does this passage tell us about Jesus? What does it tell us about the disciples?
'The triumphal entry was a parade, a protest and a funeral procession.' In what ways are we similar to the Palm Sunday turned Good Friday crowd?
v8 why did Jesus declare Himself to be King in this way when in the previous chapter He talks of being a servant? (Matt 20 v 28)
What does it mean to cry 'Hosanna' given the original intent of scripture is that it means 'to save'? Where do we need to cry out 'Hosanna' today?
Is Palm Sunday a tragedy or a triumph? Why does it matter?
How can you explain to a new Christian what Jesus did by walking the way of Holy Week?
Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week; what will we do differently this week to sacrifice or 'make sacred' in these days?
Are we happy to waive palm branches and sing ‘Hosanna’ but not so keen to kneel at the foot of the cross?