At the heart of Christianity is an account of failure.
Politicians failed, being swept along by a mob’s cancel culture.
Justice failed, money changed hands and the innocent paid the price.
Friends failed to keep their promises.
Light turned to darkness.
This week, I read this on a national newspaper’s website:
When my partner and I filled in our census form, we got to the section about faith, both ticked the “no religion” box, and seemed to think nothing of it. But for an hour or two afterwards, I felt a pang of envy that has occasionally surfaced in the past – this time to do with a year of lockdown, the sudden fear of serious illness and death, and the sense of all of it being wholly random and senseless. …
For many of us, life without God has turned out to be life without fellowship and shared meaning – and in the midst of the most disorientating, debilitating crisis most of us have ever known, that social tragedy now cries out for action.
We can look forward to going a little further from home, meeting a few more people, sitting in the chill wind eating together, but let’s be clear, it still can feel like loss.
Except for those of us who follow Jesus, there is that short sentence that changes everything:
The gospel writers who condense 30 years of Jesus’ life into short accounts, slow down over the last 72 hours of Jesus’ life. They paint details in long chapters, so it’s easy to miss the surprises. Matthew writes,
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.Matthew 27:50-53
Hang on, people broke through death at the same time as Jesus died? And they went home, and then went into Jerusalem? Who were they? What did they say? What did their families say? Did people recognise them? How long had they been dead?
Matthew, don’t leave us here with a thousand questions.
But he answers none of our questions and tells us everything we need to know.
At the point of what looks like failure, you see people coming to life again. Lockdown closed things down, and while there may be inquiries into what officials did, what we need is to help one another make sense of it all.
When someone was asked, ‘how do you stay a person of faith, when so many bad things happen that seem to contradict faith?’ they answered, ‘I’ve found I just need to keep getting a bigger set of eyes’.
Eyes that can see people coming alive because Jesus died. People encountering the life-giving Jesus. Hope coming back. Love being shared. The end not being the end. Death being defeated.
This is the promise of Easter, that we might see things that we never expected. Lord, open our eyes to all that resurrection means.
The full article about not having faith and the sense of loss is here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/28/faithless-year-covid-meaning-secular-society
The quote at the end is from: ‘Love Big, Be Well: Letters to a small-town church’ by Winn Collier, p. 84
Watch, Enjoy and Share
1. The short films we have produced for March continue.
This week we have the last of the short films we have put out through Lent. This one is a prayer about forgiveness. Thanks for sharing them. We hope you have found them helpful/enjoyable. We would love to know what you thought of them and whether you would like us to do more. We are really grateful for the work Frank has out in to produce these films and also the Easter service.
If this sort of thing is helpful, we will be looking to gather a group of those of you with creative gifts to get involved in making other resources like these.
This week’s is here:
2. Just in case you missed it last week: Interview with Rev Gareth Thomas
This is a slightly longer interview with Gareth, the vicar at St James talking about why he is excited about us moving to St James in June.
Last Sunday Gareth shared the news about us going to St James with their congregation. They were pleased that we were going to be with them. They will change their service time to 9.30 so that we can begin at 11.30 with enough time to get things ready.
We will have a Zoom-only Good Friday service at 8-9pm. Join us for an hour of reflection and worship. Please have a candle with you to use during the service.
This will be YouTube service only. It will be on at the same time as usual. The service is a filmed one that includes a range of musicians, testimonies and a sermon ‘on location’ 😉
Why not subscribe to our YouTube channel to get reminded about it, and share the link with your timeline when you see it on Facebook?
There is no Thursday evening or Friday morning prayer meeting this week.
2. Easter Kids Church
It’s Easter! Boom. And to mark the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection, instead of some resources online for you to work through, you should have had a small delivery of some things for you to do and enjoy this week. 🙂
Have fun re-telling the story, use the crafts to help and …eat the chocolate!
3. Alpha Online: starts Monday 12th April, 7-8.30pm
Following the success of our previous online Alpha course, we are offering another chance for people to explore the big questions of life and faith in a friendly and non-judgemental atmosphere.
There will be 12 weeks to discuss questions such as ‘Is there more to life than this?’, ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘How can I have faith?’. Here’s a teaser:
If you know anyone who might be interested in trying the first session, do invite them along and share salfordelimchurch.org/alpha with them – it will give them a taster of what to expect and how to sign up if they’d like to join us.
It will be facilitated by a team of great people: Andrea Catherwood, Emmanuel Isibor, Yvonne Simms, Dave and Chris Swindells.
4. Can you help?
Yvonne and Martin Simms run Salford Food Parcels – a way they help people who are struggling with food shortages.
They need some help, especially for these items:
UHT milk, oil, shampoo, deodorant, shower gel, toiletries, tinned food in particular.
If you can help, you could drop them at their home – 11 Lostock Road, Salford, M5 5LH and Gill Oldham has said that she would be happy to pick stuff up and drop them if you can’t get to them. Her number is 07764 851769.
5. An Offer of Counselling Support
One of the ministries we have as a church is the Community Counselling Service. During this Covid crisis we have continued to offer Counselling remotely via zoom or telephone. There are however, limitations with remote sessions.
We are now offering Walk And Talk Counselling to anyone from church who would benefit from counselling or those known to church members. We would agree a time to meet at the Tea Kiosk in Lightoaks Park and would walk at a slow pace for the 50 minute session.
If you feel you would benefit from this please don’t hesitate to contact Judith Thompson, Neil, or Ian or fill in the form on the church website.
Our Regular Gatherings
1. Lunchtime in Exile
Each week on Tuesdays from 12.30-1.30, there are lunchtime sessions exploring the Book of Revelation.
The link for the series is here:
Meeting ID: 843 1953 5601
We know that not everyone will be able to come along at that time, but we will record all the sessions so you can catch up later so you can watch them at whatever time works well for you. The link to them is here: salfordelimchurch.org/revelation
2. Wellbeing Course: Thursdays, 1-2.30pm
Are you living on empty? Maybe it’s time to refill.
The Wellbeing Journey is a new series exploring holistic wellness: body, mind and spirit. It is based around 6 key areas of wellbeing: physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial and vocational, to help you discover how to run on a full tank.
There are eight sessions to explore together, lasting between 60 and 90 minutes, which includes a video and time for discussion.
If you know someone who would benefit from discussing their wellbeing in a friendly and supporting environment, do invite them.
Here’s the link: https://zoom.us/j/92865676423?pwd=TVZSR253YWc1Wm1LQ3l4eTdDY0o3dz09
3. Coffee Morning: Wednesday at 10.30am.
A Wednesday morning is the ideal time to catch up with people, have a brew, even involve yourself with a quiz.
If in doubt
All the links to the meetings are in ChurchSuite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website: https://www.salfordelimchurch.org/events/
You’re not alone
If you need help and don’t know where to turn, you are always welcome to contact Neil on 07771 558058.