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Update from Mark and Arlene 20th March 2021

Dear Friends

 

It is almost a year since we last updated our news on the church website. As for all of us,  the past year has been nothing like we had expected and nothing like we have ever experienced.

 

Despite being mission partners with Gleneagles church to work with the Church Mission Society in Moldova we have both been living in Antrim, Northern Ireland since March 2020. From December 2019 and through the pandemic Arleen has been the main carer for her mother who was diagnosed with Myeloma. After excellent treatment for this condition, she has made good progress and since September Arleen has been able to work part time for the health trust in Belfast. Mark has continued to teach a full timetable of English classes on zoom, as part of the Baptist church English project in Cahul, Moldova. It has been a real privilege for us both to be able to find ways to serve and to develop relationships with the people of Moldova and Northern Ireland despite the restrictions and challenges of Covid. As our stay in Antrim was becoming longer term than we anticipated, we have let out our house in Wellingborough and accepted that we are to be here for the time being.

 

So, we have found the Lord to be faithful to us through all the ups and downs. Have we made the right decisions at each step? His peace has reassured us that we are where we are meant to be and he has given us strength for each day. We’ve been greatly encouraged by His word to us, by our faithful prayerful friends, many of you at Gleneagles, and by resources such as the ‘Choose life’ book and Lectio 365, a daily devotional. This has helped us face the next challenge of Arleen’s diagnosis of breast cancer in January. Once confirmed, the treatment started quickly and she is now well into her course of chemotherapy, before surgery and radiotherapy early in the summer. We are so thankful to have excellent care here and for the kindness shown in so many ways. What a compassionate and loving heavenly Father we have, he doesn’t leave us but walks with us through these times.

 

Like many, we look forward to that day when we can see our children and Mark’s family again. Meantime zoom has been great fun, even having an online birthday party, murder mystery and lots of chats. We always look forward to the Gleneagles Sunday zoom too and to seeing many of you there. You may not be aware what a great encouragement that has been. For the future then there are questions of course, but this song from our childhood has been our prayer,

 

‘I know who holds the future, and he’ll guide me with his hand:

with God things don’t just happen, everything by him is planned.

So, as I face tomorrow, with its problems large and small,

I’ll trust the God of miracles, give to him my all.’

 

With our love and prayers,

Mark and Arleen

Latest from The Rocks in Brazil

Hi All, 

Hope you are well. I have attached the link to our latest link letter.    

Please keep us in your prayers. COVID cases have gone up here and we are having weekend lockdowns, with things operating at 25% capacity Monday to Friday. It’s uncertain as to whether the weekend lockdowns will continue beyond this first weekend of March. We are starting our discipleship school this month also.

 

Blessings,

Jimmy

Here Comes Lent!

   

Many thanks to all those who helped prepare and deliver the Lent Bags the week before Ash Wednesday. Remember the Ice? The Snow? Those Freezing Temperatures? Fear not! Nothing was going to stop the bags getting there on time!

Lent Course 2021

 

This is being run throughout Peterborough Diocese during Lent, although each church will study it separately.

It is on  Wednesday evenings 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm, with the last session on Wednesday 31st March 2021.

It is based on the book of Hebrews.

 

Bishop Donald has prepared videos especially for this. These videos – see below – will appear in time for each session.

 

VIDEOS

Week 1 –  Wednesday 17th February 2021.

 1. Hebrews ch 1-3 (8’47).mp4

 1. Jesus – greater than religion (34 ’03).mp4

 

Week 2 – Wednesday 24th February 2021

 2. Jesus – a great high priest (28’17).mp4

 2. Hebrews ch 4-5 (5’21).mp4

 

Week 3 Wednesday 3rd March 2021

3. Jesus – made perfect (29’02).mp4

 

Week 4 Wednesday 10th March 2021

4. Jesus – mediator of a new covenant (28’26).mp4

 

Week 5 Wednesday 17th March 2021

 5. Jesus – a finished work (26’45).mp4

 

Week 6 Wednesday 24th March 2021

 6. Something better – by faith (27’57).mp4

 

Week 7 Wednesday 31st March 2021

 7. Looking to Jesus (27’18).mp4

Lent Course 2021

 

This is being run throughout Peterborough Diocese during Lent, although each church will study it separately.

It is on  Wednesday evenings 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm, with the last session on Wednesday 31st March 2021.

It is based on the book of Hebrews.

Bishop Donald has prepared videos especially for this. These videos – see below – will appear in time for each session.

 

VIDEOS

Week 1 –  Wednesday 17th February 2021.

 1. Hebrews ch 1-3 (8’47).mp4

 1. Jesus – greater than religion (34 ’03).mp4

Safeguarding Guidelines for online meetings

Zoom

  1. Leaders to set up zoom meeting.
  2. Meeting link, Id, Date and time to only be shared in an email or closed groups
  3. For children and youth, parents to be the point of contact
  4. If zooming with under 18s, two leaders with DBS need to be present.
  5. Any screenshots of the zoom call to be taken only with participants expressed permission. For under 18s this needs to be their parents permission.
  6. Zoom chat with under 18s have to be addressed to everyone and monitored by the leaders.
  7. When there is a disclosure of safeguarding risk follow existing parish safeguarding guidelines.

Facebook use

  1. Facebook pages are a public platform.
  2. Page admins to monitor content and to delete anything deemed unhelpful.
  3. Church members to not engage in debate with unfriendly posts.
  4. Adults to not accept any friend requests from those under 18.
  5. Any messages conveyed over chat boxes to those under 18 need to be in a group with adults that have DBS.
  6. Photos shared over Facebook for under 18 must have permission from parents.

Reflection on Easter

Steve Benoy writes….
One of the things which we often miss out on around this time of year is fully remembering the events of what we call Holy Week.  Because we usually gather on a Sunday, unless we are intentional about it, we go from one service full of praises as we remember Jesus entering Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosanna, to another service the following Sunday  where it’s all Thine be the glory and Alleluia Christ is risen!

Even this forgets that on Palm Sunday, dark clouds of opposition to Jesus are growing gloomier by the minute, and the bright rays of resurrection the following week actually were utterly confusing to the first disciples.  And in between, there has been the utter emptiness and loss of Friday.

We talk about being a Christian as walking with Jesus.  Perhaps this year, our circumstances might allow us to walk with him, just a step further each day.  And perhaps our resurrection joy might grow from different, richer soil on Sunday.

From time to time we speak of Jesus as the man born to die.  At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of the Saviour, but even then it can be tempting to move quickly in our minds from the vulnerable baby and linger instead on the wounded man, the irony of the carpenter nailed to a piece of wood.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to know his fate from the beginning?  We live in uncertain times.  We make plans all the time but now more than ever we see how temporary they are.  We’ve made plans, got our goals, nurture our ambitions & dreams, but then reality happens.

Jesus, the Word made flesh, knew his fate from the beginning. It is written, the Christ will suffer and rise,  He said.

He knew three years before when the devil had tempted him in the desert, offering a shortcut to glory, an alternative kingdom.  All this I will give you if you bow down and worship me.   He knew to the point where he warned his disciples what would take place during that first Easter week, not once but three times.    The Son of Man must suffer many things, be rejected and killed and three days later will rise.  He knew when he pleaded with his Heavenly Father, sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane take this cup of suffering away, yet not my will, but yours be done.

I’ve been reading John’s gospel through Lent, and one of the themes in John’s gospel is how the cross is described as a moment of glory.  Jesus repeatedly spoke of it as the time when he would be glorified, when he would draw all people to himself. For the glory of the cross was the moment when he would in ultimate exhaustion and pain declare: It is finished.
Today, we could simply look on from 2000 years distance and admire the courage and nobility of this suffering.  Or we could allow the power of Christ’s suffering to provide the perspective through which we view the world as it really is, not as we would think it should be.

In truth, God thinks the world should be different.  He made it to be so and one day will make all things new again. We know our world is a world of wonder and yet also of suffering.  Often we are insulated from this.  So it is rare for practically every country in the world to be threatened by exactly the same thing.

Suffering calls out of us the courage to say: this is what matters to me, this is who I am, this is what I dare to believe. And in suffering we also ask God to justify himself.  Where are you? What are you doing? Why can you not change this?

The fact is that Christ’s suffering means God is not only worth our attention in the good times.  He doesn’t scarper at the first hint of trouble.  He shares our longing for a different world, a new heaven and a new earth.  But he will share our journey through this world, whatever may come.

The God we believe in is a God who suffers but for whom suffering is not the end.  The God we believe in is a God who dies but who says death is not the end.  The God we believe in is with us in life as it is, and points the way to a life that will be.

The cries of Christ on the cross are also the cries in the deepest parts of the human heart.  There is the cry of suffering and struggle: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.  There is the cry of hope and trust: It is finished.

We are truly followers of Jesus, we are truly taking up our cross and following him, when in the midst of struggle we trust, when in the heart of suffering we stir our hearts to hope, when we open our lives to receive God’s life  poured out as he dies on a cross.

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