Happy New Year
We hope you’ve had a Christmas period and have had chance to both celebrate and rest and are ready for all the adventures that 2024 will present you with.
This is not a bad prayer to pray as we approach 2024:
Another year is dawning, Dear Master, let it be,Author unknown
in working, or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
Another year of service, of witness of Thy love,
Another year of training for holy work above.
Another year is dawning; Dear Master, let it be
on earth, or else in heaven, another year with Thee.
Activities in 2024
We are going to structure our prayer life differently next year. We are asking that everyone finds some time (around 20 mins) on the first Thursday of every month to pray for the same things on your own.
On the first Wednesday of every month we will send you an email with a link to some music, a Bible text, a thought and some prayer pointers.
We want to involve everyone in this. You might want to think about fasting on the First Thursday of each month – either for the full day or part of the day. However you approach this, we hope it will help us focus together on things that need prayer and that we will be energised by seeing God answering our prayers.
We won’t be meeting together in the Vine for prayer on Thursday evenings as we have done for the last few years.
We have a number of housegroups that run on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. One of the Thursday groups is online. They meet on the second and fourth week of every month.
If you don’t belong to a group but would like to, January is a great time to begin. The first groups will be on Tues 9 or Thurs 11 January.
If you want to join a group, contact Neil.
On the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month there will be different study groups.
From January to April, there will be a group looking at Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This group will meet in The Vine from 7.30pm. This group’s first session will be on Thursday 4 January. See Ian if you’d like to join in or sign up at Info Stand.
There will also be a Book Group running online. The groups first meeting will be on Thursday 18 January. The group will meet every 2 weeks for 3 months and will read this book during this time: The Old Testament in Seven Sentences: A Small Introduction to a Vast Topic by Christopher J.H. Wright. If you want to get to grips with the flow of the Old Testament, this will really help. It’s a short book which we will cover slowly written in a very accessible style by a great Bible teacher.
See Neil if you’d like to join in or sign up at Info Stand.
Preaching Themes for the First Part of the Year
Come further up, come further in!
This is the cry given by so many of the characters in The Last Battle, the final book in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. It was the invitation to experience a whole new life seen through new eyes.
This is how he describes the experience:
It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this.
You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different — deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know.
The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that.
The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.
It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then he cried:
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-heehee! Come further up, come further in!” (The Last Battle, pp160-161, Lion, 1980)
It’s a brilliant description of how Jesus offers us new lenses to see the whole world differently. John’s gospel is a brilliant invitation to Come further up, come further in. This gospel has often been given to people wanting to explore the Christian faith as a kind of introduction to Jesus. And people have encountered Jesus for the first time this way.
But if you’ve been a follower of Jesus for decades you come to realise that this gospel keeps inviting you to look again, to see the themes in new ways, to see how profound it is in exploring who Jesus is and what he means to us. We come with all our concerns, our anxieties, hopes and fears and find that the gospel interlocks with all of them and far more.
We will spend the first half of the year responding to the invitation to Come further up, come further in!”
If you want to read something alongside the sermons, Tom Wright’s ‘John for Everyone’ (2 volumes) is really helpful. David Ford has written a longer book reflecting on the gospel. It took him 20 years of reflection before he wrote it. It’s the sort of book that you read slowly to get the best out of it. It’s rich but not complicated. It’s called (rather boringly): The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary.
Is This the Year?
Is this the year to volunteer to help us all minister more effectively? Music, tech, welcome, hospitality, prayer, children, young people, reading, leading, something completely new?
Talk to Ian, Neil or Morag – we will help you find your place.
How are you going to grow spiritually this year?
Here’s a truth that we all know but it’s easy to overlook: you will not grow as a follower of Jesus just by turning up on a Sunday morning! You need to grow in prayer and you need to delve into the Bible. There are NO shortcuts, there is no other way. It takes the same discipline as a diet, a fitness regime, learning a new language or playing a musical instrument. But what is offered is so much better than any of those things – the chance to hear from God.
How are you going to do this?
Here are some resources we have used and appreciated:
It doesn’t matter which you use. It does matter that use something!
Fill out those 2024 calendars!
Elim’s Hog Roast will be on Saturday 29 June
Our Away Day will be back at Barnstondale Centre, Wirral on Saturday 28 September
Prayer in the City
Noon-1pm • Monday-Friday • Methodist Central Hall
One of the Manchester church leaders, Colin Baron, has long been inspired by the accounts of what happened in New York in 1857. It was a year of remarkable revival that was begun when one man, Jeremiah Lanphier, began September 23, 1857 to join him in prayer, to implore God to convict sinners and bring repentance in the midst of the great city. By 12:30pm only one other person had showed up. After an hour, six men total poured their hearts out to God for mercy. Lanphier did not give up, however, and within a week he had sixteen; in three weeks, forty. They prayed for unsaved family members and friends. By October 18, there were consistently about one hundred people per day joining him to pray for God to bring revival.
The economy went through a crash in late October, and 30,000 New Yorkers lost their jobs. By November, the church was so crowded with men who came to pray every Wednesday at noon that they had to use every floor of the church. Soon, prayer meetings were being held in churches all over the city and hundreds of people had confessed faith in Christ.
“The newspaper editor, Horace Greely, who worked for the New York Tribune, sent a reporter with horse and buggy to ride from one prayer meeting to the next to see how many men were praying. In one hour he could only get to twelve meetings, but he counted more than 6,000 men . . . confessing their sins and praying for revival.”
Other cities followed their lead, in Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago, with 5-10,000 praying businessmen and others in each city.
Inspired by this, Colin is inviting Christians to join him from noon-1pm Monday-Friday at Methodist Central Hall, Oldham St, Manchester M1 1J. If you can join with him please do – any day for however long you can.
If you want to read more about that New York revival here’s a link: https://yalestandard.com/histories/new-york-revival/
If you, or someone you know, is struggling financially, let us know. We have a fund that we use to help people who are struggling to go towards an unexpected bill or just to get through a tricky time. Talk to Neil, Ian or Jo Parkinson (the church’s treasurer) and we can help confidentially.
But there is also external help to make sure you are on benefits that you might be eligible for. Go to salford.gov.uk/costofliving to get more information.
There’s also a Spirit of Salford helpline on 0800 952 1000
Don’t struggle on your own!