On Monday April 10th we had the Bible study group. We were studying the York course but we had only completed the first session in two studies. We began session 2 on the theme of ‘Receiving Christ: in the stranger and the needy.’ We listened to the CD with the comments by Margaret Sentamu, Ken Howcroft former Methodist Conference President, Bishop Nick Baines Bishop of Leeds, and Theodora Hawksley RC Sister & Theologian who gave the reflection at the end. We then discussed half the questions on the topic. We were challenged as to how we would respond to man or woman begging on the streets? We were challenged to consider whether it was right for a Christian GP to take early retirement and volunteer long-term at a leprosy hospital in Africa, leaving her increasingly frail, elderly mother in the early stages of dementia to be supported by friends and neighbours. It was difficult to discuss such a complex situation but we explored varying reactions in the group. We discussed how some churches stay open at night to provide accommodation and breakfast for those on the margins of society and what our church could do. In fact our chapel provides a low cost meal most Thursdays in our church hall; that meal is provided free on Christmas day for those on their own and needing a meal; transport is provided to and from the venue on the day. Our previous caretaker lived in a house on the site, but decided to buy his own property, so we made the house available free of rent as the homeless manager set it up for a drop in for the homeless or vulnerable people who needed a shower, a meal, and advice about what else they could do. The homeless shelter was initially set up by a former minister, the late Gordon Lister to provide help. That was I believe twenty-five years ago. We all need to realise how fortunate we are and be ready to help with food, bedding and clothing if needed. We were also challenged about whether we could see Jesus in other people, in particular in the poor and marginalised. We discussed the challenging issues felt by a working Christian mother who had taken in a blind, destitute Iranian political asylum seeker. I admired her strength especially as she had an autistic son, but found it very moving that they had gained from the experience.
On Thursday April 13th we had the meeting of the Guild. Helen Watkinson, a retired social worker, who had been the previous year for 3 months to Malawi to help with the children in the orphanage there; her husband joined her for the last month to do any practical work needed. She had found it daunting in the heat but so rewarding to work with the children. She shared some photos with us of some of the children they were involved with. It was an interesting talk and I admired her for the work she had done. She and her husband had paid their own flights and raised money for the orphanage to take needed items with them.
On Good Friday I went down to my chapel for the Good Friday meditation our minister Trevor led. I always find it moving as we have time to stop, listen, pray and concentrate on the suffering Jesus went through to show us how much God loved us. We heard meditations from people there at the time, such as Peter the denier of Jesus and Barabbas, the murderer set free instead of Jesus, who did not deserved to die. I always feel more prepared for the coming of Easter after the Good Friday meditative service.
On Saturday I relaxed whilst I treated myself to a massage. Beth came round later and we had a chat and short walk with the dogs, before she took them off for a longer walk. I enjoyed spending time relaxing with my beloved as we listened to music, watched TV or films in the evenings.