Following on from the Government’s announcement that the Isle of Wight is to move into Tier 4, the Covid Response group met to consider what our response should be. After thoughtful discussion we have come to the conclusion that at present we should not meet physically in the Church building at Gunville, until the situation with the Covid-19 virus eases, in order to minimise the risks for the congregation at this time. We will keep the situation under review, and hope that we will be able to meet again before too long. In the meantime we will all need to look at how we can continue to care for one another as well as our neighbours and families through these strange and difficult times, drawing on the Lord’s strength, whose love is new every morning, and whose faithfulness is without end.
(on behalf of the Covid-19 Response group)
Message from our Minister
As we journey onwards into a New Year, may the presence of Immanuel (God with us), dwell in your hearts; may the hope of God’s eternal love strengthen and encourage you, and may the light and love of Jesus shine from you.
' May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13
Marian and I pray God’s abundant blessings upon you all as we travel on into 2021.
Rev John Izzard
CHURCH COUNCIL- meeting postponed; further details later
A NEW YEAR with Lesley’s ‘Happy Book’
“Step forward in faith, taking one step at a time. When you’re not sure how to trust, know that God is waiting with outstretched arms.”
“If you stay connected to God, he will not let your foot slip. It takes two to hold hands, so if you grip him, he promises to grip you back.”
Shepherds and wise men are coming to worship Jesus.
It happened 2,000 years ago. It’s happening today in Iran.
Hassan and his family are sheep farmers. This year, they came to faith in Jesus and are faithfully sharing the Gospel with the shepherds who work for them. At night, Hassan sits out in the fields with the shepherds and shares about Jesus with them.
One elderly shepherd particularly loves to hear Hassan read the New Testament out loud. When Hassan finishes, the old shepherd nods, saying, “This is the truth.”
It’s lovely picturing these shepherds in the fields, hearing the Good News of Christ proclaimed, just as shepherds heard from the angels on that first Christmas.
Around the time we heard about these shepherds, the extraordinary news that a mullah had come to faith in Jesus was revealed
For security reasons, much of his story cannot be shared, but this cleric is growing in his new faith and has even started carefully sharing Jesus with fellow clerics in Iran.
Hearing these stories reaffirms the beautiful truth that the message of Christmas is for everyone, from the shepherds to the ‘wise men’ of today’s world.
From cold fields at night, to the halls of power and influence, and everywhere in between, let’s pray that after a challenging year and the beginning of a new year, we would find new hope in Jesus, our Immanuel – God with us.
SIR CLIFF RICHARD
As Sir Cliff turns 80 years young, he explains how God gave him the strength to forgive those who accused him of sexual assault and why his faith has never been stronger
…… When I started to do gospel concerts, I made sure that the public knew that I wouldn’t be singing ‘Congratulations’. And I explained I wanted to spend the evening with them to sing to them about things that could change their life. I did play ‘Devil woman’ because I got a letter from a woman in Australia. She said: “My friend wanted to have a séance, and I was thinking the Bible says ‘don’t get involved, it’s dangerous’, so I gave my friend your ‘Devil woman’ record. The friend wrote back saying “I’ve heeded the warning in the lyrics and I’m not going.”
So for me, it was encouraging to think that a pop record could actually help someone. Nobody converts anybody else. God does all that. But if you can put a seed in there, because of the way you speak, or the story you tell, it can touch someone.
Whether it was the false accusations of sexual assault , or the BBC broadcasting the police raid on your home live on TV, do you ever wonder: Where was God in all of that?
It’s really strange how people say they don’t believe in God but then if something bad happens, they immediately ask: “How can God allow this to happen?” So they’re actually arguing with somebody they don’t believe exists! But for me, he has always been there. And when the accusations happened, it was absolutely soul-destroying.
I was in my house in Portugal with a group of friends two days after the news broke. That morning my legs gave way and I fell on the floor weeping. My friend John came in and asked what I was doing. I said: “I feel like I’m in a deep hole and I don’t know that I’m going to get out.” He knelt beside me and said: “Did you do this?” I said: “No.” He said: ”Have you ever done anything like this?” I said : “Absolutely not.” He said: “I believe you. You didn’t do it. And what’s more, God knows you didn’t do this. Stand up. You can get through this” And that began to make me feel stronger, although it was still the most horrible four years. But I felt that God was alongside me.
I had loads of people come to visit me, and all my friends came and kept me calm during the day. But in the end, when you’re lying in your bed and nobody is there, I would talk to God. I talked to God so much he must have got so bored! But to me, those prayers were vital for me surviving those years. I never felt devoid of God.
How did you manage to forgive your accuser?
I woke up in the middle of the night at 3: 15 a.m. – about three days after I’d fallen down and got up again. I started praying for family, friends, people who are sick, everybody. In the end it was just a matter of me realising that I needed to do something. Because even in the first three days, there was this hate and I was getting frustrated –Who is this guy? And I began to hate him. So I just said to God “ I would like to forgive him” Then I said “I forgive him”. And I felt OK.
In the end, forgiveness is more about you than the person who wronged you. I don’t even know the man’s name. He doesn’t know that I have forgiven him.
We say in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, and we say that quite glibly sometimes; but you were put in that position and that must have been a big step.
Yes, and that’s why I feel that my Christian faith grew because of those four years. I don’t want to go through it again, but if I had to, I would deal with it in exactly the same way. It’s impossible for me now, looking back, to have gone through that without the knowledge that God was there and that he loves me. When I say God loves me, we should have another word for it really. I lovethe skin of custard. To use the same word to say “God loves me” – I just think there has to be another word! But we don’t have enough language to accommodate God’s love for us.
Asking the questions was Cindy Kent, a retired Anglican priest and the lead singer with The Settlers in the 1960s and early 1970s.
This is a small part of an article from Premier Christianity. To hear the full interview, listen to Premier Christian Radio (available on DAB and medium wave) at 8 p.m. on Saturday 9th January ,or download The Profile podcast Premierchristianradio.com/theprofile
Please send any contributions that might be published by next Tuesday morning to: andy