If the headlines passed you by, there has been a fallout in the House of Windsor. The young Prince decided to leave ‘the family business’. So, this week his grandmother wrote him a letter explaining that he would lose certain rights and responsibilities because ‘in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.’
He pushed back, writing ‘we can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’
It will blow over, though a Netflix interview with Oprah will probably keep the media in a state of excitement for a bit longer. But you hope that their family relationships survive. After all, post-lockdown no-one would want outdoor family barbecues to involve this sort of awkwardness.
This Sunday we will read the story of a small man with a big reputation who found that he had to set an extra place at the table for Jesus. If you grew up in Sunday School, you sang about the man, acted the story out, coloured in the pictures. Once you’ve met him, you never forget Zachaeus.
After meeting Jesus, he announced that he would give half he owned away to the poor and would pay 400% back to those he had ripped off. Quite a promise.
I don’t know whether you should make this sort of criticism of the Bible, but sometimes I feel that the writers could have paid more attention to what happened next. They leave too many stories hanging.
In the cold light of morning, when Jesus had rolled the sleeping mat up, drunk the orange juice and left the house, did Zachaeus wonder whether he had been a little hasty in announcing his intention to be so generous.
Would a man used to manipulating people and figures, try to explain what he ‘really’ meant?
Or would he set out like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Morning to put things right with all those he had cheated?
Or would he decide that he would keep his word, but go back to being a more honest tax collector?
Or would he re-start a radically different life modelled on Jesus?
Go back to the royal family disagreements. One commentator said that there is a big difference between philanthropy and a life of service. In other words, there’s a big difference between you deciding what to do with the money you’ve amassed and being at the beck and call of others to whom you have pledged service.
What Zacchaeus was about to discover was that his overnight guest called him to more than one big gesture, he was calling him to a posture of being available and generous to others. He was calling him to a life that was shaped after his saviour. This is what I find challenging. Maybe the big gesture in the intensity of a meeting with Jesus is imaginable. What’s more challenging is keeping going the next morning, when the crowds have gone, when you still may not be trusted very much, when you would prefer to decide how to act, when you discover that service may well be universal, but that this doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Read and Be Stirred
We are taking 3 months thinking about the promise and possibility of hospitality. The suggestion is that hospitality is how we share grace to one another and then offer grace to others. But first we need to receive the grace that is offered to us by Jesus – in the context of meals.
But what is grace?
This video explores the Hebrew words for grace and understand it to be a rich concept that has profound implications for how we see God. When we look to the biblical meaning of grace and understand God as gracious, we see a God who loves to give generous gifts to undeserving people.
Songs and Stories
This week, Ian talks about a song he has written with Tim Sawyer called ‘I Will Too’.
1. Lunchtime in Exile: starts Tuesday 23rd February, 12.30-1.30pm
Weekly from Tuesday 23 February at 12.30-1.30, there will be lunchtime sessions exploring the Book of Revelation.
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
Before we begin, it would be good for you to watch these 2 short films that give an overview of the book and an introduction to the type of literature that it is:
If you want to buy a book that would help, I would suggest Ian Paul’s Revelation: An Introduction And Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentary)
2. Wellbeing Course: starts Thursday 18th February, 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. 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.
Our Regular Gatherings
1. 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.
Meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/94930624852?pwd=dlI0SnhwY3RaNnUrUGpSMTkrWm5hZz09
2. House Groups: Thursday at 7.30pm
Every other week we get a chance to join together, reflect on that week’s sermon, and pray for one another. If you want to join a group, then let Neil know.
3. Prayer Meeting: Friday
Contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.
4. Sunday Service at 10.30am
Zoom Link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/836810848
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
And on Salford Elim Church’s YouTube page.
And at 10am, led by Hannah:
If you would love the privilege of praying for our Sunday morning service, then we need you! Log on to the Sunday morning Zoom at 10am and we’ll go into a break out room for 15-20mins, to pray together for those involved in the service, as well as for the service itself.
I’d love to see you there xxx
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.