Sunday Worship at Harlow Hill Chapel

On Sunday June 25th I led worship at Harlow Hill.  We sang, ‘Praise my soul the King of heaven’ as the opening hymn and I led the opening prayers.  For the children’s address I asked them what they were afraid of and shared my fears of heights and even being in Stump Cross Caverns.  I reassured them that God had told his people they were precious and that they were not to be afraid as Isaiah told them, Isaiah 43. 1.  Jesus told his disciples that God cared even for the sparrow, whose life was so short, so how much more does he care for each one of us.  We sang, ‘In heavenly love abiding,’ before we had a dramatised reading based on Genesis 21.8-21 and Matthew 10.24-39 was also read.  We sang, ‘Rejoice and be glad!  The Redeemer hath come:’ before I preached.

The Psalmist in Psalm 86 called confidently on the Lord for help. He trusted God to come to his aid, as he was devoted to him.  He looked forward to the time when all nations would worship and acknowledge God.  When Abraham and Sarah celebrated the weaning of Isaac, Sarah saw her son playing with Ishmael and was afraid that Ishmael might share her son’s inheritance and told Abraham to expel Hagar with her son Ishmael.  God confirmed to Abraham that it right to reject Ishmael and reassured him that he would make him into a great nation, as he was his son.  Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away early the next morning with food and water.  When the water ran out Hagar put her son under a bush to wait to die, as she felt totally abandoned, but God showed her a well and reassured her that Ishmael would become a great nation.

The disciples needed to listen to Christ talking to them and reassuring them that if God cared for the Sparrow, how much more he cared about their welfare.  God cares for each one of us, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised.

God spoke to say that the Kingdom of God belonged to those who are persecuted; those who had the courage to speak up for Jesus and Jesus would then tell his Father, that his disciples belonged to him.  He warned his disciples that they would suffer as he did, because they served him.  Are we prepared to love Jesus more than our families, as Jesus challenged us to do?  Are we prepared to give up our most treasured possessions or our own comfort to care for the vulnerable and marginalised people around us?  Are we prepared to show our love by being ready to welcome the stranger, the refugee and asylum seekers into our homes or do we just want to make ourselves and our families more comfortable?  When life is difficult we need to remember how Paul told us that nothing could separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We then sang ‘Lord of all hopefulness’ before Brian, the worship leader, led the prayers of intercession and the offering.    Worship closed when we sang ‘Ye servants of God, your master proclaim.’

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Beth’s Accident and Recovery

On October 4th I had a phone call from Owen, Beth’s lodger to let us know that she had had a bad accident on her bike and had damaged her face.  I waited to hear how it was going as I did not know when to go to the hospital.  The ambulance people called me to say they were taking her to the hospital. It took them 45 minutes to get Beth into the ambulance.  I went there to wait for her.  She arrived after me, but I waited till we could see her.  She looked better than I had expected as her face had been washed and she had a bandage on her chin.  She was obviously in a lot of pain and could not move her arm.  I waited till she was admitted at 10pm.  We were back visiting the next day; I went and met Cathy and baby Alexander with Beth.   We were glad to be there to give her support.  She needed morphine to cope with the pain of a fractured jaw and her fractured right upper humerus.  She was awaiting transfer to York for her jaw fractures to be repaired.  Originally she was to be transferred on the Thursday, but it was not until Saturday she was finally transferred.  On Sunday she had plates fitted to her right jaw in two places and her left jaw was left to heal on its own.  She hoped to be transferred to Harrogate hospital as she was still in a lot of pain, but they discharged her to us on Tuesday 10th October.

On October 7th I had had my flu jab and the pneumonia vaccination and the next day I felt so ill that I had to stay at home on Sunday.  I rang the doctor on Monday as my left arm was swollen and painful, but found that it was not infected, but that I had had a bad reaction.  The doctor on the phone told me to take antihistamine to deal with the symptoms.  It did help a little, but it took months to feel normal again.  It was sore to the touch for a long time.  I was then unable to go to collect Beth from York hospital, so she was brought to us by an ‘Age UK’ driver.  She could hardly move as she was in so much pain.  We rang her surgery to ask for help with the pain; we explained she could not manage to go to the surgery as she was in so much pain.  A doctor came and prescribed Tramadol and morphine, which I had to collect from an afterhour’s chemist.

I had to dress, undress and wash for the first 4 weeks, as she could not move her arm and had to keep it still in the sling.  For me to help her dress she had to lean forward, so her arm fell forward, and it was very painful.  After 4 weeks she began physiotherapy and gradually that helped her to dress herself, wash herself and finally undress herself, so she could return home after 7 weeks with us. We took her to various appointments with the orthopaedic consultant, physiotherapy and for checkups for her jaw.  Cathy’s hubby’s mum, Margaret helped with taking Beth to some appointments which was good.

Beth’s wonderful lodger looked after her 4 cats and Beth’s bungalow, whilst she recovered with us.  Her dog, Chase was looked after by her dog walker, as we could not have coped with another dog here as well as Piper.  She then started on a phased return to work, gradually increasing her hours, but needed to travel by bus.  Now she can move more easily but is having speech therapy as her speech is not as clear as it was, but with exercises and rest it is improving.  I

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Health struggles for my beloved

My beloved has not had a good year with his health.  He had inflammation of the gallbladder that made him really poorly.  Fortunately he improved with strong antibiotics but was then sent for a scan and it was confirmed that he had a lot of gallstones.  He was then referred for surgery, but the surgeon thought it would be better if he had another endoscopy to see if his reflux was the problem.  The endoscopy just confirmed that he had gastritis, but that was not causing his extra problems.  He was then sent another appointment to discuss the surgery, but unfortunately he had a minor stroke.

One evening he got up normally then crashed down, as he could not feel his right foot and ankle so lost his footing.  We rang 111 and the unqualified advisor insisted on asking a list of questions, most of which were not pertinent to his problem.  When he fell he landed on the dog, which nicked his ear, due to shock not malice.  It bled slightly so when my beloved was asked if he was bleeding, he explained what had happened.  She appeared more and more concerned about the dog and whether he had felt the symptoms before he fell; although he kept telling her that he had fallen at the same time as he had not felt his foot!  In the end he got so frustrated that he put the phone down.  She rang back and told us that an ambulance was on its way!!

Before the ambulance arrived we were told to put our dog in another room.  When the ambulance arrived they had been told that my beloved had been bitten by the dog which had caused a stroke!!  I explained that we did not think it was a stroke and that he had only just caught my beloved’s ear when he landed on the dog’s head! They did not know he had had a fall! They checked my beloved’s blood pressure, which had gone up and checked that he could walk and balance, which he could, so my beloved decided he did not need to go into hospital then.  He was told however to go to his GP after the weekend urgently.

We got an appointment on Monday and the GP was very thorough in examining my beloved.  He was put on two tablets to prevent a more serious event and referred to the TIA clinic.  The very next morning he was called to the hospital and had a CT scan and other checks as his BP was raised.  As he still had symptoms in his foot, the consultant did think he had had a TIA, but a minor stroke which had not left any lasting damage.  We were very impressed by the thoroughness of the clinic at Harrogate District Hospital.

When the appointment for surgery came he was told that it would be too much risk to operate as it could cause a major stroke; so the surgeon discharged him.  Nothing could be done for at least 6 months, but even then it would be a greater risk than even another gall bladder infection.  Since then my beloved has had increased episodes of pain from his M.E.  Sleep is still illusive for him.

Our dog Piper is a comfort to him and gives us so much joy.  He still enjoys his walks and sleeping under the duvet with us.  He had an abscess of the anal gland, so needed two courses of antibiotics and two visits to the vet, before he was on the way to recovery.  It is lovely to see him back to himself now.  He is so important to us both.

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Our Beloved Grandson Alexander Stephen Gibson

I am sorry that I have not done a posting for so long, as I have  been very busy and not always very well in the latter part of last year. My younger daughter Cathy was overjoyed to find she was expecting a child after a long struggle to have a child.  Her early pregnancy went well apart from nausea and not being able to drink tea or coffee. Later she was able to enjoy decaffeinated coffee, but like her mum she could not enjoy a cup of tea until she had her baby.  As the baby grew and lay close to her back she found it increasingly hard to do much walking or activity before she had pains and needed to rest.  She went on maternity leave in early June, having found out she was expecting a boy.

In July we had the baby shower, an American import, when we looked at baby photos to match her friends and family as children to the adults they had become.  That was interesting and we had a quiz of activities Cathy and her husband had done as children; we had to guess their childhood activities.  That was fun and enlightening. Friends and family gave gifts.  We had to predict the arrival date of the expected big baby, mostly expected earlier than due date of August 22nd birth date, but we were all proved wrong when Alexander Stephen decided to be born after a difficult labour ending in an emergency caesarean at 2.26am on Sunday August 27th.  We were very relieved that he was a healthy 7lb 14oz baby.  Cathy was disappointed not to have had a normal delivery but Alexander lay face forward and got stuck so she needed the caesarean.   He was none the worse for the difficult labour and perfect in every way.

Beth my elder daughter was eager to meet her nephew on the following day, as was I to meet my grandson.  We arrived at the same time at the hospital and we were able to take Alexander for a walk round the ward, so Cathy could have a rest.  He looked a bit lost in his baby grow, but had intense eyes and seemed to like my yellow tee-shirt.  New auntie Beth and I, granny for the first time, are absolutely besotted with Alexander.  His Dad had been in supporting Cathy whilst she spent a few days recuperating in hospital.  Beth and I were in regularly to see Alexander and support Cathy as did her beloved husband whilst they were still in hospital.

She came home after about five days and then both she and her hubby were glad to see Beth and me coming in to spend time with them.  My beloved came to meet Alexander after he had arrived home.  He enjoyed meeting his step grandson and loves being grandpa.  After a couple of weeks Alexander came to see our home with mum and meet Piper, our dog.  He was intrigued and sniffed Cathy and then the baby and recognised him as part of his family!  When Martyn our gardener came in after tidying our garden and Cathy was changing Alexander, Piper barked protectively and did not want him to come too close to Cathy and Alexander!

When he was a month old he and Cathy joined Beth and me to celebrate Beth’s 39th birthday at the Table Table Restaurant at Hornbeam Park.  We were given a suitable table so we could eat with the pram nearby.  We took it in turns to hold him, so that Cathy could eat.  The people at the restaurant were very taken with Alexander.

Cathy is doing a great job feeding Alexander who has filled out well and enjoys his food, even though he has reflux.  He is full of smiles now and is strong.  He loves to push his legs down on his tiptoes.  Now at nearly 5 months old he smiles even more and he concentrates hard as he watches what is going on.  He now takes hold of toys and put out his hand to touch Piper’s soft coat; Piper decided it might be safer to get down from the couch in front of Alexander and retreat to a safer place!  Alex also loves the big teddy I have and loves sound and lights.  It melts my heart each time he smiles at me or my beloved, but rightly his devotion and most smiles are saved for his beloved mum!

This paragon of a baby needs to sleep more to give his mum more rest!  He is so interested in the world around him that he reluctant to sleep in the day more than ten minutes to half an hour at a time.  He can sleep longer at the night but often needs several times of settling to get him to stay asleep.  Cathy’s beloved hubby spends the later evening settling Alexander so Cathy can get some much needed sleep at least till the early hours.  He gives him a bottle at that time.  Alexander is a great joy to us all, being more and more interesting each week we see him.  We are so fortunate and happy.

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Sunday June 18th Worship at Wesley Chapel

 

On Sunday June 18th our Minister Trevor Dixon led worship.  Worship began when we sang ‘The God of Abraham praise.’   Trevor led the prayers of confession, thanksgiving and adoration.   We sang ‘Come, let us sing of a wonderful love’ before Exodus 19.2-8 was read and we read psalm 100 responsively.  Romans 5.1-8 was read before we sang a hymn that a veteran member of our congregation, 90 in August, had chosen, ‘The great love of God is revealed in the Son.’  The gospel reading was from Matthew 9. 35-10.9

Trevor asked how wide God’s protection and love was. Are godly people safer?  Are they treated as special people of God?  Bad things happen to people; does that mean God does not love them?  Sailors felt cheered to have a chaplain on board in wartime; they felt that God would keep them safe!  Yet in the time of Jonah it was not considered safe to have a man of God on board!  The Exodus reading was 3 months after the Israelites had left Egypt.  They had been told that if they kept his commandments they would be his special people.  God had a special eye on the Jews when they were in danger.  Even when the Hebrews forgot to keep the commandments they knew they were God’s special people.

How did the people cope when Psalm 100 was written?  It said that no matter whom you are, God made you, Jews included with everyone else.  Did they like it as much when it is more inclusive?  Everyone is special to God, no one is more special than anyone else; God’s love is limitless for all.  God is like a warm reassuring safety net in life.  He will always pick us up when things go wrong. Is that really so?

Paul in Romans encouraged the readers to rejoice in knowing Jesus.  God has reached out to the whole world through Jesus, who showed us how much he loved us. Do we hope God is there and will see us right in the end?  We are justified by faith not any merit of our own, nor any action of ours.  How does that feel?  We can now be at peace with God. God sent Jesus as his ambassador, who grants us citizenship as Christians.   Christians do suffer but even in suffering can be at peace.  We have hope at the beginning and end of our journey because of what God has done.  God searches for his people, whom he loves and longs to welcome to his family.    Sometimes we say we cannot cope and want out, we rebel, yet God still loves and hopes for us.  Sometimes we are ashamed of what we have done but we are able to say we are sorry.  God’s grace allows us to wander away and come back.  God’s infinite love is great for everyone in the world.  We are all ordinary yet God still loved us; his love adds value to our lives as we are justified by faith through God’s grace.  If we trust in him we shall never be put to shame.

We sang ‘O breathe of life, come sweeping through us.’  Trevor led the prayers of intercession and the Lord’s Prayer.  Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Behold the servant of the Lord.’

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Sunday June 11th Trinity Sunday The Guild Anniversary at Wesley Chapel

On Wednesday June 7th we enjoyed lunch with Graham and Janet and in the evening I was at the Local Preacher’s meeting.  On Thursday my beloved saw the orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Mitchell, and was discharged as he was walking better, mostly without a stick.  On Friday I was at the Acorn Centre helping with the computers which I enjoyed.  On Saturday Beth came round for a chat and took Piper on a long walk with her dog Chase.  Cathy was still working away looking after the children based in Switzerland.  I always enjoy the times I spent with my daughters.

On Sunday June 11th it was our Guild Anniversary Service at Wesley Chapel led by a supernumerary minister Rev Michael Wearing.  Worship began when we sang, ‘All praise to our redeeming Lord’ before Michael led the prayers.  He then gave an introduction based on the anniversary of the Guild.  He remembered the band of hope which met in the Guild Band room, where they had youth socials.  The Guild Coat of Arms, one heart one way, made reference to Jeremiah the prophet in 32: they shall be my people and I will be their God.  We sang the Guild hymn; God in Jesus Christ who calls us’ before the call of Samuel was read from 1 Samuel 3.1-10.  We sang ‘I the Lord of sea and sky’ before we heard the reading from 1John4.7-21.  We sang ‘Love divine’ before Michael preached.

He reminded us of how some radicalised people who do acts of terror believe that they are being obedient to God.  At one time an organist arrived at the last minute for a service Michael was leading and claimed that they were not singing the minister’s hymn choices, as they were to sing the hymns God had given him or her.  Michael however said that God had given him the hymns the previous week and he was not changing them at the last minute.  The Yorkshire ripper had murdered 13 women and attacked a further 12 before he was found guilty. The ripper pleaded diminished responsibility for his actions, because the ‘Voice of God had told him to kill prostitutes.

When we say this is the word of the Lord; do we believe it is?  Such a statement needs to be measured against scripture, in fellowship and in prayer to see if it really is the word of the Lord.  God does speak.  He spoke to Samuel the boy in the Temple, but Samuel thought Eli was calling him.  Eli the priest realised when Samuel came the third time that it was the voice of God and told him to respond and say he was listening.  Jeremiah had a successful prophetic ministry, but suffered, when Jezebel reacted against him and got him imprisoned.   Zedekiah still had a sneaking regard for the prophet and met him quietly under cover to find out if there was a word from the Lord. Michael believes that a word from the Lord needs to be tested by scriptures, fellowship and the Holy Spirit.

In the Church we need fellowship, comradeship, friendship, togetherness in the Holy Spirit. The church is not just a building; it is a fellowship and community.  When we come to receive the body and blood of Jesus we have fellowship, Christ meets us at the Communion table and we eat and drink with all the company of heaven, the Communion of saints. We share with another in groups in fellowship.

We now have bitterness and bloodshed in our country; Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and the Manchester Arena bloodshed brought such suffering and senseless destruction.  Is there a word for our suffering world? Yes, love is the word. At Old Trafford 60,000 people showed how love conquered fear and terror, as the concert was beamed worldwide. 14 million viewers saw how love won in Manchester.  Love led by the younger generation was heard again and again.  Justin Beaver sang his song with tears in his eyes that God is good in the midst of evil and darkness, He loves us.  The whole New Testament was witness of God’s love for the world as revealed through Jesus.  Jesus showed how far God’s love was prepared to go when he died on the cross and we love him because he first loved us.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ brings the free gift of teaching and forgiveness.  Grace was revealed through Jesus’ life, a life lived for others.  That gift is of God when he gave his son who died for all and was raised to life by his father.  His amazing grace is given to the perplexed, discouraged and disappointed people.  By faith we are saved through grace.  The grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all for evermore on this Trinity Sunday.  We sang ‘Come thou’ to conclude worship.

We all shared a meal at Ascot House to celebrate the Guild Anniversary.

 

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Sunday June 4th Worship at Wesley Chapel

Sunday June 4th was Pentecost Sunday and our minister Rev Trevor Dixon led worship.  The Terrorist trouble in London on the previous day reminded Trevor of the time when 25 years earlier, when he had been a teacher, he had taken a group of first year students on a trip to London.  They had arrived on the Tuesday and visited the Tower of London the same afternoon.  On the Wednesday he had an anxious phone call from a parent, who wondered if they had been at the Tower of London when the bomb exploded that day.  Trevor had not realised that had happened, but was able to reassure the parents that they had gone there on the Tuesday, not Wednesday.  There always have been terrorist problems on and off for years in London.  He remembered how Pentecost Sunday used to be associated with white dresses. We sang, ‘This is the day that the Lord has made’ before Trevor led the prayers of confession and the collect for the day.  We sang, ‘The Spirit lives to set us free’ before Numbers 11.24-30, which described the 70 elders being given the Holy Spirit, and 1 Corinthians 12.3b-13 about the gifts of the Holy Spirit were read.  We then sang, ‘Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me’ before Acts of the Apostles 2.1-21 was read.

Trevor said we were nearly at the election finally after 4 weeks.  He reminded us how we live in a media hungry and information rich world; everything for the election on the TV.  The attacks in London were reported straight away on the news.  The images are stage managed with gimmicks and sound bites.  There is a culture of mockery and contempt; we are manipulated and hoodwinked by the parties we don’t like.  They keep talking at cross purposes, never answer questions or say they have changed their mind.  Politicians may be the worst offenders, but we don’t all behave like that in many parts of our life.  We often see everyone different as an enemy.  We don’t communicate honestly; families don’t speak to each other.  We don’t say someone has died but that has passed on.  Redundancies caused by downsizing; shops which have continual sales.  The Spin doctors use double-speak and the communication gap goes deeper still.  Why is it so hard to do and say what we really mean and be unambiguous?  When we attempt to correct our errors, we make things worse.  Paul understood that struggle; do not do the good we want to do, but do the evil we don’t want to do.   We feel frustrated about showing the person we really are; few of us admit to reality.  We don’t have an honest dialogue with ourselves, with our neighbours, other nations or people of other faiths.  There is a missing link, a communication gap.  Yet we have a world of instant communication via the internet, the mobile phone, satellite and television.  We are afraid of revealing ourselves in real communication, as we don’t know how people will react.

What happened at Pentecost?  The wind, ’ruach’, the breath of God blew beyond control; the Dove of peace hovering and brooding over creation.  The flames of fire were kindling the hearts to a blaze.  70 elders in Numbers were filled with the Holy Spirit and they prophesied once.  The Day of Pentecost was even more powerful; suddenly they understood one another; the communication gap closed.  Pentecost is the festival of communication with each other and with God, clearly, openly and unambiguously, without dissembling or cloaking reality.  It made the church united.  People got together to build the high tower and got proud and built the crazy ziggurat, a sky scraper, but God saw it and came down and stopped their work; he split them up and muddled their languages into so many different languages, which caused enmity and division; language became a babble – Babel.  There are now a rich variety of God given cultures and different languages.  In the European community where Parliament moves every 6 months there are different language translators, who help the people to listen to each other.

Pentecost brings the promise of people being open to each other; frustrations are banished; and the church is renewed full of the Holy Spirit.  God speaks in the church through his Holy Spirit.  Churches today are divided, like St Peters and Wesley Chapel; there are tenuous links between the two in the separate buildings; when they shared our chapel, as their building works were done, we had stronger links.  When the Spirit unites us, He brings peace into our church, our shops, and workplaces; wherever we meet other people.  Trevor suggested that if we saw anyone without a smile, we should give a smile.  It is a manifesto for a better world.  We have a superior manifesto to share, showing the world what God has done for us.  The Holy Spirit is a communicator and draws us together in unity as we follow Jesus.

We sang, ‘There’s a spirit in the air’ before the prayers of intercession.  Before the communion we sang, ‘Because you have said.’  Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Do this for my sake.’  Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled the disciples with power and wisdom and courage is the birthday of the church.  We too each day need to be filled again with God’s Holy Spirit to strengthen, guide and unite us in the service of Jesus.

 

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