For Sunday 9th May 2021, 6th Sunday of Easter
As this week’s e-newsletter goes out, both St Columba’s, Pont Street and St Andrew’s, Newcastle are acting as Polling Stations. So, it seems appropriate to share in full the thought for the day composed by retired Church of Scotland minister and writer, Revd Tom Gordon. It is well worth visiting his daily offerings at https://swallowsnestnet.wordpress.com Thank you Tom for allowing us to borrow your thoughts today.
“So, two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety
and two because it permits criticism.
Two cheers are quite enough.”
*E M Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, ‘What I Believe’
Today we vote in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections. With a parallel election in Wales, a bi-election in Hartlepool, and Council, Mayoral and other Elections throughout England, it’s been labelled “super-Thursday”. But, simply put, it’s another day to be proud of our democracy.
I’ve never missed voting in an election of any kind for fifty-three years – Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, European elections, local Councils in a variety of manifestations, Referendums on Scottish self-determination and independence, Europe (in, out, shake-it-all-about). I still experience a frisson of excitement going to my Polling Station, having my name checked, taking my ballot paper, entering my crosses or numbers and dropping my choice in the Ballot Box. Participating in democracy is so important. Blood has been spilled so I have the freedom to vote.
Why, then, did E M Forster write in 1951 that two cheers for democracy were enough? What was missing alongside the importance of “variety” and “criticism”? For me, a third cheer is missing when people don’t participate in our democracy. Perhaps we’re apathetic, take our freedoms for granted, or don’t trust politicians. But let’s not give up on our rights. We change things and hold decision-makers to account by casting a vote. Democracy, if it is to work fully, needs full participation. And what about trust? We need politicians at all levels to value democracy and focus on issues that transcend party-political positions. Too often, promises made at elections are discarded in favour of the party line, and the “third cheer” for democracy once again falls silent.
Charles Baudelaire, the French poet and critic, wrote to a friend after a particularly troublesome election in 1852: If I had voted, I could only have voted for myself. Come on, man! You should have got out there and voted in the first place. And if you’re not on the Ballot Paper, make sure you value your choice of someone who can speak for you in a democracy.
A prayer for today
Lord, thank you for my freedoms.
Help me to use them well and not take them for granted.
*An original reflection by © Tom Gordon
Closer to home, it was great to welcome back the choir to sing live last Sunday and that looks set to continue. During the week various groups have restarted, so there is a gradual restoration of the sights and sounds that illustrate the life, spirit and prayer of the building. Meanwhile, at St Andrew’s the church is scheduled to reopen for worship on Sunday 23rd May and I look forward to being in Newcastle on that day.
See you on Sunday,
Attending Morning Worship
Live Streaming of Worship
Services can be watched via the church website, https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/live stream. To access the live stream from the homepage (front page) click the Menu button in the top right-hand side of the page and scroll down and click on “Live Stream”. This will bring up the live stream to the church. The act of worship of approximately 60 minutes, includes include prayers, a sermon and music. (Note: This will not be public worship that everyone can attend, but an offering of prayer and praise, on behalf of us all.) The words for the hymns will be on the website.
We believe it is really important to continue to live-stream the Morning Service under its current format i.e. for the benefit of those joining worship from afar or those as yet unable to make the journey to Pont Street. For those without internet, the Dial-In facility continues. Many people comment that they do have a sense of worshipping together, even if invisible to each other. While current regulation forbids singing in the pews, the live stream strongly recommends singing in the sitting room!
Dial into Sunday Service
If you are aware of church members or friends who do not have access to internet please inform them that they can now phone in to join the Sunday service. No visuals clearly, but at least they can hear the service.
Those interested should follow:
Step 1: At 10.40am call phone number 0203 051 2874.
Step 2: You will be prompted to enter a meeting ID. Please type (using your telephone keypad) 266 883 5072#
Step 3: You will then be asked for a participant number - simply press the #.
Step 4: Enjoy the service! You will hear Ben's organ music from 10.50am.
Hymns, Music & Readings, 6th Sunday of Easter:
Hymn 61 Oh, sing a new song to the Lord (St Magnus, Nottingham)
Hymn 357 This is my will (O Waly Waly CH4 234)
Hymn 419 Thine be the glory (Maccabeus)
New Testament Reading I: Acts 10:44-48
New Testament Reading II: I John 5:1-6
Gospel Reading: John 15:9-17
Anthem: My soul, there is a country (Parry)
Organ Postlude: Komm Heiliger Geist (J.S.Bach)
Contact details;Tel: 020 7584 2321
Facebook: @stcolumbaschurchpontstreet. Twitter: @LondonKirk
Pastoral Emergency Number (out of office hours): 07591926271
Maintaining Community and Supporting Each Other
Everybody can play a part in maintaining contact with others via telephone, e-mail or letter, especially those who are particularly vulnerable. Our Elders are encouraged to make contact with those in their districts, and church members are welcome to contact the church office to request a contact from their elder or the Minister.
Details on the many ways you can support St Columba’s can be found here https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/giving/supporting-st-columbas
Family Sundays, 16th May & 27th June
The Sunday School team are going to hold two family Sundays on 16th May and 27th June 2021. Children will take part in Sunday School Activities and have a get together in the Upper Hall during the Morning Service. If you would like to book a place, please contact the Church Office.
Christian Aid Week – 10th to 16th May 2021
Due to the current Covid 19 restrictions we are unable to do station collections. We can still be involved and support Christian Aid by making a donation directly to them, via their website or by post.
The focus for this year’s Christian Aid Week is on the terrible effect climate change is having in Kenya, causing dreadful droughts and then occasionally severe flooding. Donations will be used to build more earth dams that will capture and retain fresh rainwater. People are walking miles to fetch water in containers. Lives will be transformed if earth dams could be constructed close to local communities, funding is needed to do that.
Zoom Coffee Morning: Wednesday 12 May
We are delighted that Ben Selfe, Church Engagement Officer and Fundraising Officer, Christian Aid, will be joining the virtual coffee morning. Please contact the Church Office for the Zoom link.
Water is such a precious commodity: Every Last Drop.
Click on Donate button for card payments.
Cheques payable to Christian Aid (+ note to say it is for Christian Aid Week)
Please post direct to:
Christian Aid Week
35 Lower Marsh Street
London SE1 7RL
Celebrating 75 Years Anniversary: Real people. Real Change.
Thank you for helping some of the world’s poorest people.
Moderator of the Church of Scotland
Outgoing Moderator Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair will present a review of his unusual and challenging year in a special event streamed live from the Assembly Hall from 8-9pm on Wednesday 19 May. For further details please use the following link https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news-and-events/news/2021/articles/moderator-will-review-his-challenging-year-ahead-of-the-general-assembly/_nocache
St Columba’s Quiz
Due to the COVID 19 restrictions we were not able to get together for the annual St Columba’s Quiz. So, this year we have taken the quiz online. The quiz is available on the website here:
https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/community-life/quiz-2021- for the answers please email the Church Office.
St Columba’s Book Club
The next meeting of the St Columba’s Book Club will be the 7th June (via Zoom) at 7pm. This month’s book will be Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell.
The Late Stewart Fleming
On behalf of the family, Ellen and Shona Fleming would like to express their thanks for the kind words of condolence they received from members of St Columba’s, at the time of the death of Stewart, our former Caretaker. The sharing of memories and support are very much appreciated.
Meditation, Mind & Body
There are currently two opportunities on offer from Church of Scotland ministers, for those seeking a combination of physical, spiritual and mental health. One from Revd Christopher Rowe, minister of Colton Milton Parish Church, Glasgow and one from Revd Pauline Steenbergen, a member of the Presbytery of England, living in Cumbria.
Tai Chi with Revd Christopher Rowe
St Columba's friend, Reverend Christopher Rowe runs a weekly, 40- minute Capacitar Tai Chi Class by Zoom, usually at 10am on a Wednesday. (If you want to find out more follow this link http://capacitaruk.org/ ). He has very kindly extended an invitation to anyone from St Columba's or St Andrew’s, Newcastle who is curious about Tai Chi, or wants to try something different, to join his class and have a go. Traditionally, Tai Chi would not have a commentary, it is just about the movement of the body but Christopher adds his own commentary which makes the experience more like a moving meditation. The sessions are gentle and do not involve violent exercise and if necessary can be done sitting down, although the transference of weight helps posture, balance and flexibility. The benefit of Tai Chi is not purely physical though and many find it helpful in boosting mood and mental health. There are claims that it is helpful for those with Parkinson's disease, osteoarthritis etc. - but the main thing is that for many practitioners it simply makes you feel better. For the Zoom Code please contact the Church Office.
Why not try it out and see for yourself? Christopher would love to see you and, if you are struggling with Facebook or the Zoom technology, contact Lucy in the office who is happy to help.
Maranatha Yoga with Revd Pauline Steenbergen
Maranatha Yoga http://www.maranathayoga.org.uk/ is for those who want to explore what it means to connect body, mind and spirit through a combination of yoga postures, mantra and meditation. Blended with Christian Spirituality, Maranatha Yoga is accessible to all, no matter what their beliefs or background. It allows space to explore what it means to connect with all parts of our human experience: our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts and our spiritual selves. A typical Maranatha Yoga class begins with words of welcome to help people relax, set aside their daily worries and focus on the aims of the session. This is followed by a warm-up sequence which celebrates the wonder of our creation. Traditional yoga postures are then practised whilst reflecting on key scriptural texts or prayers, thereby familiarising us with the words and creating within us a deeper understanding of their meaning. The session finishes with a time in silent meditation and a closing prayer.
Pauline Steenbergen has been a Church of Scotland minister for 24 years in parishes, team ministries and as a Locum. She was formerly Hospice Chaplain for 5 years in Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw, Cumbria’s Children’s Hospice. She is a Spiritual Director in the Diocese of Carlisle since 2013. Pauline is a Non- Stipendiary Pioneer minster with Cumbria Fresh Expressions in the Diocese of Carlisle and is Maranatha Yoga Team Leader. Pauline is scheduled to speak at our Zoom Coffee morning in June. [See https://limegreenyogi.co.uk/ for Pauline’s classes on Zoom during the week or also Maranatha Yoga Gatherings on 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month 3.30 – 4.30pm. Free or for donations. Health Questionnaires need to be filled in and submitted before Zoom codes are given out for insurance reasons.]
Prayers and Meditations for Sunday 9th May 2021 prepared by Congregational Prayer Group
The Psalmist writes, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of prayer
and for your blessings of peace,
joy, security and protection.
Thank you that you promise me rest for my soul
Slow me Down…. (lyrics by Robbie Saey)
Slow me down, O Lord
Slow me down
Help my heart to hear Your sound
Speak into my life
Lord speak now
Slow me down, O Lord
Slow me down.
Clear my mind, O Lord
Clear my mind
Bring me peace that I cannot find
Take my worried thoughts
Break my pride
Clear my mind, O Lord
Clear my mind.
Wake my soul, O Lord
Wake my soul
With this mess I’ve made
Make me whole
Of this life called mine, take control
Wake my soul, O Lord
Wake my soul.
Thank you, Jesus, for the small, ordinary blessings in life and may we, as you did,
help others in ordinary ways
by giving our time to help and minister,
showing and sharing love,
compassion and grace to others.
May our church community increase with your love
and may we be a sanctuary for people,
a church of hope,
open to all for prayer and service.
“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behaviour:
Ask yourself what you want people to do for you,
then grab the initiative and do it for them.”
Matthew 7:12 The Message
we ask that you pour out your blessing
on our new associate minister
as he starts this new chapter in his life.
May the Holy Spirit walk alongside him, and give him imagination, inspiration and creativity
to help our church grow
and become a beacon of light in our city.
As a nation, as we start to unlock from the past year
and look towards rebuilding our country and the economy,
may we pray for:
- Safety, as we begin to ease restrictions
- That we don't have another spike in cases
- That those who work in retail and hospitality may be safe
- That those young people who are sitting a ‘different’ style of exam will not feel apprehensive
- That those feeling anxious about things opening up again will find your peace
And at this time, we particularly pray for the situation in India that new infection rates and death rates would reduce:
- For people suffering :Romans 12:15
- For the politicians : 1 Tim 2: 1-2
- For the doctors and physicians : Isaiah 40 : 29
- For the pastors and priests : Luke 10 : 2
Father, let me hold your hand,
and like a child walk with you
down all my days,
secure in your love and strength
in Jesus’ name, Amen.
(Thomas a Kempis 1380-1471)