St. James Hope, 3 Vicarage Close, Salford, M6 8EJ
07771 558 058

Midweek Musings – Old Certainties and New Possibilities

Neil’s Reflections

Pret a Manger is closing shops and Costa Coffee is cutting jobs. When more people work from home, fewer people need to buy coffee and sandwiches from the city centre shops.

Like many people, I work from home. The commute is straightforward: it’s about 30 seconds and costs nothing. I get a coffee that is just the way I like it. At the end of the day, I don’t get home feeling faintly frazzled, slightly grimy and a little grumpy. I just close the door on the computer and all those Zoom meetings.

I know I have it easy. I’m not sharing a kitchen table with someone else. And I’m not trying to explain the intricacies of the Inca civilization to 8 year olds.

So, I like working from home.

But I’m aware of how my world could get smaller, even as it looks like it’s expanding.

Last week I was in a meeting with pastors from Delhi, Chennai, Melbourne and Maine. I’ve never had the chance before to have a conversation with people from 3 other different continents at the same time. I was at home connected to the world. But all the while I was buffered from that world. Zoom brings you closer but also allows you to maintain your distance. It takes social distancing to its logical conclusion.

And some days it can feel good to be socially distanced when there seems to be so much mayhem happening around us. Mentally we stay at home. It’s always been a temptation, maybe it’s just greater now.

We’re reading through Acts together and this week get to Acts 13:13-52. Paul is at Pisidian Antioch, 200 miles inland from the shoreline in Turkey. And, as was his custom, he went to the Jewish synagogue and retold their shared Jewish story to the worshippers there. He seems to have been received well, he was invited back. (That’s always the acid test for a guest preacher – do you get another invite or is once enough!)

But second time around, they reject him and the good news of Jesus. So Paul tells them ‘we had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.’ (14:46)

He was turned away because there were Jews who believed that any changes to the way they had always understood and practised their faith would be catastrophic. They’d lost the bigger picture of what God wanted to do through them, all they could see was what they knew. They feared the loss of old certainties as Paul was preaching about all the new possibilities. They wanted to keep their distance from all that was potentially destabilizing. They wanted to stay safe. They wanted to keep things safe.

We will be working from home for quite a while, some of us will be there permanently. But that should not shape the way we see others. We might be at home more, but we must make sure we stay open to others around us. We may not be in the same physical space with others as much as we might have been in the past, but we must be ready to go to those who are different from ourselves. Otherwise we will miss out on God’s great adventure.

If you want to see what Pisidian Antioch looks like now and what we can still see of the time of Paul: watch this (3 mins):

If you want to get an overview of the Book of Acts chapters 13-28 – watch this:


To every parent who has been working from home as well as trying to ensure that children have been educated at home, the rest of us salute you! Bringing up children is hard enough, without all the extra responsibilities you’ve had to carry as well. This week’s interview is with Kate who reflects on being a single mum to a little boy with additional needs.


1. Our Gatherings

Sunday gathering  

The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848 

Or join us live on YouTube.

2. Prayer Ministry on Sundays

Over the past few months we have trialled a virtual prayer room via Zoom every Wednesday with the aim of offering a space for people to be prayed with. 

We have decided to try moving it to Sundays to coincide with our services on Zoom. There will be a few of the prayer team available in breakout rooms immediately after each service to pray with anyone who has need, just as we would do if we were meeting in the church building. 

You can either let Ian know in advance or just wait around after the service. 

If you have prayer requests but don’t want to be prayed with, you can also let Ian know and the prayer team will use that time to pray on your behalf.  

3. Stay Connected: ‘Virtual Coffee Morning’ – Wednesday 10.30-11.30am

A Wednesday morning is the ideal time to catch up with people, have a brew, even involve yourself with a quiz. So, whilst it’s not as good as being together in person, there’s an opportunity to do it all online.

Meeting link:

4. All Church Prayer Meeting

On Thursday at 7.45-9.00 we’re having a prayer meeting for all the church. The link is here:

5. Non-Zoom Prayer Meeting

On Friday 10.30-12.00 there’s a prayer meeting in a non-Zoom meeting! Using Whatsapp, contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.

If in doubt

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

6. 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

7. Giving

Thanks to all of you who give regularly. If you want to make a gift to the church you can transfer money direct to the bank account. Here are the details: EFGA Salford Elim: 60-05-16; 18523781.

And if you would like to give to The Vine, the account is The Vine; 60-05-16; 18523811.

8. Coming Up

Speaking in Public

Before lockdown we did some sessions on public speaking – especially in a church context. There will be another session on this which will pick up where we were but will also offer a chance for people to ‘have a go’ and get some feedback. If you came to those session, it’d be great if you come along to this.

The session will be on Wednesday 16 September at 7.30.

Meeting ID: 869 6981 8407

Men Walking Together

There’s a chance for any of the guys connected with the church to go for an appropriately socially distanced Saturday morning walk together up to Rivington Pike on Saturday 19 September. This is a morning walk and you should be home around lunchtime. If you’re interested in coming along – let Paul King (07902 908608) or Neil know that you’ll be with us.

We will meet at Rivington Hall Barn, Rivington Lane, Rivington BL6 7SB at 9.30am

At the moment lockdown regulations allow us to be in social groups of 6 people from different households. If there are more than 6 of us, we will form different groups of up to 6 and stay in that group. If the lockdown restrictions get stricter, then we will postpone the walk.

Links and Resources

1. Tom Wright Podcast

Recently I wrote about a book that I found really helpful: Tom Wright and Michael Bird’s The New Testament in the World.

If you’re unlikely to ever look at it, you might be interested in listening to a short podcast about it:

2. Help For Living

Care for the Family have been providing resources and events for many years that give people hope and ideas to make life better. During the autumn they will all be online. Details are here:

If you want help with parenting, singleness, marriage, living confidently, I would definitely recommend you having a look. All from the comfort of your own home.

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