Newsletter 16th January 2022

Today

We continue the series ‘Building Back Better?’  in our Covenant Service.  Rev John will take us through Nehemiah Chapter 2 v 11-20 and Chapter 3, in which Nehemiah puts together a team to rebuild what had fallen into disrepair. Rev John will be considering how this applies to the part we have to play as a church in engaging in Jesus’ commission – to reach the lost and make disciples.

Rev John will also lead us in communion.

Next Week

Marian Izzard will beexploring Nehemiah chapter 4, looking at how Nehemiah dealt with those who opposed the rebuilding so that we might examine principles which might help us to successfully handle opposition and overcome difficulties in our lives.

Alan’s Challenge

Let’s remember Alan Harvey’s challenge to pray for the decline of Covid each week or each day.

A Prayer found by Linda 

Today, O Lord, I yield myself to You. May Your will be my delight today. May You have perfect sway in me. May Your love be the pattern of my living. I surrender to You my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions. Do with them what You will, when You will, as You will. I place into Your loving care my family, my friends, my future. Care for them with a care that I can never give. I release into Your hands my need to control, my craving for status, my fear of obscurity. Eradicate the evil, purify the good, and establish Your Kingdom on earth. For Jesus’ sake. Amen. 
(Prayer by Richard Foster)

World Watch List 2022,  launch on Wednesday.

On Wednesday MPs will be gathering to hear from our persecuted family. So far, 112 MPs have committed to attend the launch

Join supporters at 8.15pm on 19 January to pray for the impact of the 2022 World Watch List launch and learn about the new World Watch List report. 

Sign up today!   (control and click on this link)

OPEN DOORS PRAYER MEETING, Friday 21st January 10 am for 10.30 start, at Andy and Naomi’s

Come along in order to watch the latest clips about Christians in North Korea, Afghanistan and Somalia and pray about the current situation in these and other countries

CODES AND COVENANT      

        (Answers at the end)

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

In our daily readings recently:

– Jesus asks blind Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51)  (He’s blind!)

– Jesus asks man invalid for 38 years, “Do you want to get well?”  (John 5:6)  (38 years!)

– Jesus tells story of persistent widow who “kept coming” asking for justice.  (Luke 18:3)

– Jesus says, “Ask… Seek… Knock…”  (Matthew 7:7-8)

God knows what we need, but he wants to expand our horizons; he wants us to take on board how big he is and ask for things we might think too big to imagine.  So, what do you want God to do for you?  For our church?  For our country?  Get praying!                                                                                       L&M

Simon’s Jokes Continue into 2022!!

Waiter : How do you like your steak sir?

Sir “Like winning an argument with my wife

Waiter “Rare it is”

If a woman says she’ll be ready in 15 minutes, she will be… No need to remind her every half hour.

 
If a man says he’ll fix something, there’s no need to remind him every 6 months.

OPINION


Thank God there’s still a legal right to express belief in orthodox, Christian teaching in the UK

 The ‘gay cake’ row is finally over, and a nurse sacked for wearing a cross has been vindicated. We should thank God for these victories, says James Mildred, which should give Christians courage in standing up for their faith

In the current climate, it’s easy to think that free speech is being continually eroded and our freedom to publicly speak out from a clear, orthodox, Christian point of view is disappearing. While there are challenges to this freedom, and while we need to be careful not to ever take it for granted, two recent outcomes offer a corrective to this narrative. Both are important from a free speech perspective.

‘GAY CAKE’ ROW FINALLY ENDS         You may have thought the ‘gay cake’ case was over. But the latest twist in this important story emerged yesterday when the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) dismissed an appeal by LGBT campaigner, Gareth Lee, against the UK Supreme Court’s decision in 2018.

To refresh your memory, in 2014 the Ashers Baking Co. in Northern Ireland turned down Mr Lee’s order for a cake bearing the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’. The McArthur family, who own and run the bakery, did so because of their Christian conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Mr Lee took them to court over this decision, backed by the taxpayer-funded Northern Ireland Equality Commission. The case went all the way to the UK Supreme Court and, in October 2018, the court found in the McArthur’s favour, recognising that the family’s objection was to the message, not the man.

This was the central point of the whole case: Mr Lee had been served by Ashers prior to his request for a cake celebrating same-sex marriage. The reason this order was turned down was because of freedom of conscience and religion. The McArthurs, understandably, did not want to make a cake celebrating something they disagreed with. There was no personal animosity towards Mr Lee, it was simply a fundamental disagreement about a point of doctrine.

Now that the ECHR has thrown out Mr Lee’s appeal to the ruling, it appears the saga is finally over. The principle that citizens should not be compelled to endorse messages they don’t agree with has been bolstered, to the benefit of Christian believers and everyone else in UK society.

The second positive free speech outcome concerns a Catholic nurse, Mary Onuoha, who was told by Croydon Health Services NHS Trust that she could not wear her cross necklace due to health and safety. Noting that Sikh colleagues were allowed to wear red bracelets and Muslim staff their hijabs, she refused. She was suspended from clinical duties and eventually resigned in 2020, claiming constructive and unfair dismissal. This week, an employment tribunal ruled in her favour, saying she was victimised and harassed. Her human rights had been breached and the NHS trust in question had created a “humiliating, hostile and threatening environment” for her to work in.

The judgement spoke clearly about the importance of letting Christians be open about their faith, saying: “stopping Christians from displaying the cross has been a feature of wider persecution campaigns” around the world.

Onuoha was forced to resign in July 2020, right after the first Covid-19 lockdown. Given the enormous pressure on the NHS and the constant staff shortages, it’s simply astounding that she was hounded out of her job in the way that she was.

Both these outcomes matter. And both are hugely welcome. But before we get the celebratory bunting out, let’s pause to reflect on the state of our nation that such cases were even necessary.

THE MCARTHURS, UNDERSTANDABLY, DID NOT WANT TO MAKE A CAKE CELEBRATING SOMETHING THEY DISAGREED WITH

Surely common sense would tell you that it’s possible to disagree with someone’s doctrine but have no issue with them personally? At the heart of the Ashers Baking Co. case was the difference between discrimination against someone’s personal characteristics and the rights of individuals to not be forced to express political opinions they disagree with.

You might also say: “Surely it’s common sense that a necklace isn’t a health and safety risk?” The cross is a symbol that captures the very heart of the Christian faith. It is a worldview that has shaped the customs and norms of this nation. Yet Mary Onuoha was not treated reasonably, or fairly, because she espouses a gospel that is beautiful to some, and an offense to others (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Praise God for the immense courage of Daniel and Amy McArthur and Mary Onuoha, who have all endured hardships for their beliefs. And thank God for the Christian Institute and the Christian Legal Centre who, time and again, have been willing to back hard cases and see them through.

What’s the big take home for those of us concerned about free speech? Let’s offer thanks for judges who have seen the wood from the trees in both cases. And let’s take courage – there’s still a legal right to believe in orthodox, Christian teaching and express that belief publicly in the UK

James Mildred is a political commentator and chief communications officer for Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) which exists to bring a uniquely Christian insight to policies and legislation in the UK. It believes in a better story for society and culture, where the life of every human being, from conception to natural end, is respected and upheld. James writes here in a personal capacity.

                                                            (From Premier Christianity)

COLLECTIBLES EVENING

Monday 17th January at 7.00 in the church hall: the Community Association has invited expert Steve Lloyd.  He will tell you whether your prize antique/curio/heirloom is a sought-after item or just junk!  Bring your items along: £1 for each item assessed.  Coffee/Tea.  All welcome.

CODES AND COVENANT – ANSWERS

1.  I am no longer my own but yours. (Just go back one letter each time)

2.  Put me to what you will.  (Go back two letters each time)

3.  Rank me with whom you will.  (Go on three letters each time)

4.  You are mine and I am yours.  (Go to the letter opposite in each pair)

Please send any contributions that might be published by next Tuesday morning to:   andy