St. James Hope, 3 Vicarage Close, Salford, M6 8EJ
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Midweek Musings

Neil’s Reflections

I didn’t feel full of faith.

I didn’t know what to say.

The situation was a bad one, we couldn’t do anything to change it. I wanted to say something beyond the usual clichés. ‘I’m sure they’ll be fine’ wasn’t going to cut through this young woman’s fear about her family.

So I asked her, ‘Do you mind if I pray with you?’ She’s not the praying type, but is very kind, so said ‘Sure’. Just before I began, she added, ‘not that it’s changed anything up to now.’

It didn’t make me feel any more confident. So I began…

We are reading our way through the Book of Acts. It seems so appropriate in these days when so many things seem uncertain. These early Jesus-followers had to learn to follow the nudges of the Spirit in storm-tossed days. But it was on those days they discovered the truth that Jesus hadn’t finished his work on the cross, things were just beginning there. They would have days when they would be in danger, confused and run out of town. They would learn to follow their master in all their glorious vulnerabilities.

In Acts 9, we come across Peter travelling about the country, until around 25 miles from Jerusalem towards the coast he stops in a town in Lydda. There he comes across Aeneas, a man paralysed for 8 years. Peter tells him that Jesus has healed him and then, sounding like every mother around the globe, tells him to get up and tidy his bed.  

Meanwhile, about 10 miles up the road, the new church has been rocked by the death of one of their core members, a woman named Tabitha (in Aramaic) or Dorcas (in Greek). She had been one of the stars of the church, offering practical care to the widows. She’s the sort of women that churches are built around, the sort of woman we couldn’t manage without.

They hear that Peter is just up the road and send people to get him to come. What do they expect him to do? Do they think that miracles are on tap? Do they think he is able to change things? Do they think that God will take more notice of him than he would of them?

They could have been wrong about all this and more.

Which is why I see a vulnerability in Peter as he asks to go to the room where they placed Tabitha. Luke tells us what we would have seen. There’s a man on his own on his knees praying. What’s he asking God? Luke doesn’t tell us, maybe that’s just as well or we would think it was a formula we could always use. Maybe it’s just Peter saying what we all say: ‘God, we can’t do anything here, but you, the God of resurrection can. Please do the impossible.’ Then he turns to the woman, says her name and tells her to get up. And she wakes from death.

I’d like to be like the Peter in Lydda – confidently announcing Aeneas’ healing. But I think I’m more like Peter in Joppa, kneeling at a bedside, praying because I know my limitations, believing that something can change.  More vulnerable, more dependent, but still sure that God can do something.

… Two thousand years later, I prayed my prayer. Outwardly nothing changed, we both looked at each other feeling a little awkward so I made some coffee.

The next day we heard that things had taken a turn for the better.

Maybe God takes our vulnerability and uses it to show everyone that stories can change, that the end is not always the end.

Maybe the vulnerability is all part of the story. Maybe it’s worth offering to pray with someone as well as for someone. You may feel powerless. But I think that may be the point.


The next months are likely to be tough for many people in terms of jobs. Nev knows only too well what it feels like to struggle with being made redundant and the search for work. Here he talks about his experiences and how he has learned to cope with these tricky situations.


1. Our Gatherings

Sunday gathering

The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:

Meeting ID: 836 810 848

Midweek Gatherings

This week we have 3 prayer meetings during this week:

On Wednesday between 1-2pm we offer prayer ministry.

You may feel anxious and just need someone to pray for God’s peace over you. You may be ill or be concerned about someone who is sick; we can pray with you for God’s healing. You may feel low or confused; we can pray with you to know God’s joy and guidance in these strange days. Whatever your reason, we would love to pray with you and for you.

Meeting link:

On Thursday at 7.45-9.00 All Church Prayer Meeting

The link is here:

On Friday 10.30-12.00 there is a prayer meeting that doesn’t need Zoom! We use Whatsapp and it works great. If you want more information contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.

2. Stay Connected: ‘Virtual Vine Wednesdays’

‘Virtual Coffee Morning’ – Wednesday 10.30-11.30am

Since closing we’ve missed chatting to people and we know some of you have missed popping in for a brew and a catch up too. So, whilst it’s not as good as the real thing, we thought we would try meeting up online instead. So, grab yourself a brew and join us. There may even be games and live music!

Meeting link:

If in doubt

All the links to the meetings are in Church Suite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website:

3. You’re not alone

There is a group of people in the church who form the Pastoral Team. They are the ones who at the beginning of lockdown said they would contact you from time to time to make sure that you’re doing ok. Each of them have around 10 people to connect with from time to time and to pray for every week. It’s good to know that someone is coming to God for you – asking for his blessing for your life.

This is the team:

Debbie King
Ian Peacock
Julian Gittings
Gill Oldham
Lorna Plura
Charlie Blundell
Paul King
Alex McGregor
Maggie Hudson
Janet Downs
Judith Thompson
Nev Plura

Links and Resources

1. Children’s Resources

Morag and Ian have put together a couple of films for children at different ages. Having said that, whatever your age you might want to take a look!

But if you have children that fall into these groups, I know that they will really value your feedback.

You can watch them here:

2. New Wine Conference

New Wine is another annual conference that has gone online this year. It has some great seminars and worship gatherings that you might appreciate. It’s live from 30 July-3 Aug. Details here
Timetable here

Look out for the Salford-based speakers.

3. Keswick Convention

Many of you might know about the Keswick Convention. It’s a Bible teaching conference that normally runs over a few weeks in the summer. This year, like everything else, it will be online from 27-31 July. There’s more details on their website and you can watch a trailer here.

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