Whatever happened to MRDF?

The following article is shared with us by Arline Griffiths of St John’s, Llandudno.

MRDF?  Oh yes, I remember that.  Is it still around?

It is, but it has changed its name.  Having a strong social conscience, John Wesley urged his followers to:

    Do all the good you can,
    by all the means you can,
    In all the ways you can,
    In all the places you can,
    at all the times you can,
    to all the people you can,
    as long as ever you can.  

And so a few years ago the Methodist Relief and Development Fund became “All We Can”.

Founded in the 1930’s in response to the need of refugee Jewish children, the organisation works to see every person’s potential fulfilled and is focussed on serving the world’s most marginalised communities.  It has developed a reputation for doing development differently – pioneering sustainable, locally-owned solutions by partnering with local innovators, projects and churches to unleash inherent potential  and work with people in vulnerable and excluded communities in the world’s lowest-income countries.

This is an important part of the work of the Methodist Church, so please watch this space for further information, as I hope to share more articles with you in the coming months.

Christian Aid Week

Christian Aid Week is a joyful celebration of our determination to change the world through our gifts, prayers and actions. In 2021 we are celebrating 75 years of real people creating real change.

Covid restrictions have ended our social events for quite a time now but with Spring bursting into new life all around us let us donate to our struggling neighbours in S.E Kenya bringing some hope of new life for them.

Christian Aid Week is from Monday 10th- Sunday 16th May and sadly we  have to say that our coffee mornings and social events are not appropriate during the Week and likewise the House to House Collection in some areas. The focus of the Week is the climate emergency which is affecting Kenya so badly and here in this beautiful area ,we too are witnessing the effect of climate change. Much will be heard of this in 2021 as we move towards the UN’s global climate summit, COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Christian Aid has some virtual events on line via the web site which we will need to sign up for here.

QUIZ …..Saturday 8th May at 7.00pm hosted by Rev. Kate Bottley

SONG OF THE PROPHETS……Wed 9th June 7-8.00pm , a requiem for the climate ; a new orchestral work based on climate change with an address by Dr Rowan Williams

There will be opportunities to give at these events and also on the web site.

Challenge yourself!  Take 300,000 sponsored steps across the month of May to raise virtual funds for communities battling the worst of this climate crisis. Join the 300,000 steps in May Facebook group where you will find lots of people also taking on the challenge, access to top tips, a support network, and lots of motivation. If you are not a Facebook user you can join in using a Just Giving page to collect sponsorship. To find a handy guide and get your very own Christian aid tee shirt sign in here.

There is help available on the web site if anyone wishes to set up their own virtual event.

For those of us who prefer traditional methods it is envisaged that some Christian Aid material will be used in our Church services in the Week and there will be donation envelopes available. For those not able to get to Church, who would like to support the appeal, please pick up an extra envelope, or a cheque made out to Christian Aid could be sent or dropped off at Church offices

Our Church family have always supported Christian Aid well so let’s support again to help Kenya.

Thank you…………………Jeannette Bennett-Williams

It’s personal

This poem was shared with me by someone I used to know when a minister in Blackpool.

This morning,
Did you have a conversation?
Were there precious moments
when you talked,
Told Dad your heart’s desire,
Your joys and sorrows,
Gave Him thanks and praise
for all His gifts,
Yes; for His great love for you,
And those even more blessed silences,
Special precious spaces,
Were you were silent
simply listened,
Heard God speak in the silence,
Received His commission
Grace and empowerment,
Received His blessing,
The blessing He had just for you,
Chosen specially with great care
and love,
Not another’s blessing,
The product of encyclopedic knowledge
and recall,
But a treasure given to you alone,
With the Father’s love
because you delight His heart!

Prayers for healing and wholeness

The service of prayers for healing and wholeness is being held at St John’s, Llandudno, at 1.45pm today, led by me, Rev Bev.

‘My grace is sufficient for you,
For my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9)

In the ministry of Christ healing was a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom, bringing renewal and wholeness of life to those who turned to God in their need.  Jesus commissioned his disciples to proclaim the kingdom and heal the sick (Luke 9:2).  The Church believes that the healing power of Christ is exercised through medical and related professions, through faith and prayer, and the care of the Christian community. 

God desires wholeness for all people. We bring to God our frailty and brokenness  –  felt not only in physical illness, but in guilt, anxiety, and all the burdens which weigh us down.  We also bring our concerns for others and for the world. We come to God who knows our needs before we ask, and whose love revealed in Jesus Christ is stronger than suffering and death.

To start, take some time to bring yourself into an awareness of the presence of God. If it helps, imagine yourself sitting in your church alone, resting in the prayerful atmosphere.

We meet to offer our prayers for healing & wholeness in the certain presence of God in Jesus Christ. God is powerful and loving; anyone who dwells in love dwells in God. Our prayers for ourselves and for others are that we and they may abide in Christ.

Let us now open our whole life to God, who loves us, and seek his help for all those for whom we have come to pray.

Let us lay before God all that would prevent us really meeting him in our prayers.  Let us offer to God our cares and anxieties, pain and distress, doubts and fears, and our concern for others.  As we place ourselves in the care of God, we can trust his grace and be assured of his love, from which we cannot be separated.  We join together our prayers with those of Christians everywhere, seeking the healing of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)

O Lord God, we thank you that you are the giver of life; renew us by your Spirit as we pray.  We declare your goodness, generosity and kindness every day.

Eternal God and Father of all  –
Together we worship and adore you

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour of the world  –
Together we worship and adore you

Holy Spirit, always with us and in us, Comforter of all in need  –
Together we worship and adore you

Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we acknowledge your greatness and love, and seek your healing power and touch.
Amen

Let us confess our weakness and sin, and in so doing, seek God’s forgiveness and healing.

Lord God, we confess disharmony in our lives;
the times of hurt and unhappiness;
the pain we have caused others;
our failure to love and care as you do;
our harbouring of bitterness and unwillingness to forgive;
our selfishness and lack of generosity of time and possessions;
the parts of our lives which deny health and the wholeness we most desire;
our neglect of people and of you, Lord;
our busyness and failure to make time for you.
By your cross and sacrificial love, heal us of all that spoils the image of Christ within us.
Forgive us and help us to forgive others, in the name of Jesus our Saviour. Amen.

Almighty God, who promises forgiveness and new life to all who truly repent, have mercy upon us,
pardon and deliver us from all our sins
and keep us in life eternal,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reflection:

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace came up in my Daily Devotional the other day, and I was once again struck by how important an account it is.

Here it is: Daniel 3:13-27

Of course, every time we read a Bible story we may see something different in it, and what I saw in it this time probably simply reflects where I am at at the moment. It may be where you are too. Here’s what I noted.

Firstly, the men were determined not to back down, not because they were stubborn but because they knew they needed to do the right thing even though it would lead to suffering. So it isn’t always the best decision to try to avoid suffering, even if you have a choice to do so. Sometimes, the better decision is to go forward into the fire. Only prayer can determine the best course of action for you in your life, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had clearly been doing a lot of that.

Secondly, the men expressed faith in God. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will deliver us from your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not…we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold.” It’s interesting – the men had great faith that God could save them, would save them. But not how he would do it. Perhaps they considered death as a possible salvation option. Many very ill people feel exactly that way. And that is not inappropriate when they know where they are heading. Think what Paul said in his second letter to Timothy. “I am being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” In any situation of suffering, we don’t get to decide how God is going to save us. We only get to choose whether or not to trust him to do so. We can only place ourselves in his safe hands.

Thirdly, let’s look at what happened when the men were thrown into the fire. Nebuchadnezzar saw what happened. “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” So God did rescue them. But that’s not what particularly struck me. What struck me was that God was walking with them in and through the fire. Whatever way in which God chooses to save us from our times of suffering, this much is clear – he will walk with us in it and through it, ensuring we are unbound and unharmed as it passes through our lives.

Finally, when the three men come out of the fire we hear that “the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed. Their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire about them.” You could read this to mean that the men were unchanged by their experience, but I don’t think that’s so. Yes, they were physically unharmed but I think they were affected, changed forever by the experience. Even Jesus was changed by his death on the cross – the crucifixion marks on his resurrection body tell us that. I think we make a mistake if we ever think we can come out of a time of suffering unchanged. We would love for things to go back to normal, to be as they were before. But that is not what we should hope for, tempting as it is.

I think our prayer for any time of suffering is therefore four-fold:
that we can stand firm in the midst of it all,
that our God will save us and be with us through our struggles
and that we will be changed by the experience, freed from the lesser things of life that bind us, unharmed in our souls,  growing into the greater likeness of our resurrected Lord and Saviour. Amen.

———-

We continue in prayer.

Lord God, hear our prayers for others whom we bring in the name of Jesus.  Bless the whole Christian Church that, by our worship, fellowship and life, we may be a healing community. For all who minister through the church in any way, we ask your blessing. Govern and direct your church; fill it with love and truth; and grant through the power of your Holy Spirit that it may be a vehicle of your healing presence in the world.

Lord, in your mercy                               Hear our prayer

We pray for the world in all its struggles and frailty, for those who suffer as a result of war or conflict, famine or poverty.

Lord, in your mercy                                   Hear our prayer

We pray for all concerned with health and healing; all in the medical profession and those trained to bring harmony and healing into people’s lives.  We pray for all who seek to help people with broken lives and relationships; for all who are encouraging young people to whole and creative living; for those who care for the elderly and housebound.

Lord, in your mercy                    Hear our prayer

We pray for those who seek to bring compassion, understanding and help to people.  Strengthen all who comfort and help the faint-hearted. Raise up the fallen, and grant to the lonely, the bereaved and the oppressed your gracious care.

Lord, in your mercy                    Hear our prayer

We say the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples:

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the
power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen

Together, let us bring to the Lord those for whom we have been asked to pray….

Peg T
Margaret B
David & Carolyn S
David B
The family of Jean H
The family of Don T
Richard W and his family
Aidan J
Elizabeth P

Take some time now to bring your concerns to God. If it helps, try saying them out loud. Feel yourself held in God’s safe hands.

Lord God, Jesus has taken upon himself our sufferings and, through his transforming power, made a way of perfect peace.  We ask you to minister to all for whom we have prayed.  May the blessing of your Spirit be theirs.

And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and for evermore. Amen.

May the Lord go with you and grant you the joy of Jesus Christ.  Amen

Some material included in this service is copyright © WGRG, Iona Community

Wednesday meditation

Yes, I know it’s Thursday but I have been away for a few days! This week’s meditation is from Dafydd Watkin. Thank you, Dafydd.

These last few months have been unusual and difficult and as more restrictions are lifted it is good to remember that we have a God who never changes and His love is new every morning. As I was meditating on the word of God this morning a verse reminded me of the joy Christian believers experience in the most baffling of times. Although we are still unable to publicly sing in places of worship we read in Psalm 119 verse 54, ”Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage”

For the Christian this world is not our home; we are travelling through but while we are here we have a place to sing songs to our God. In God’s word we experience comfort in the storm, solace in baffling situations, sustenance to help us on our Christian pathway. The Lord promises that when we pass through the waters He will be with us, and through the rivers they will not overflow or through the fire it will not touch us. In the most difficult circumstances we are promised help in our time of need. These experiences are not new to Gods people because He has promised His strength in the worst situation. 

In heavenly love abiding 
No change my heart shall fear,
And safe is such confiding
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
My lot may low be laid,
But God is round about  me 
And can I be dismayed?

The Christian has a song in the heart, praise for their salvation in Jesus Christ, acceptance into His family and the hope of heaven. In 1 Peter 1 verses 8 we read these words: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

The hymn ‘My Jesus I love Thee’ was written by a young teenager who attended a Methodist Church in Montreal. He had recently become a Christian and originally wrote the hymn as a poem and expresses the love that we have just read

My Jesus I love Thee
I know Thou art mine
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign
My gracious Redeemer my Saviour art Thou
If ever I loved Thee my Saviour it’s now

Despite all the storms around us we have 
An anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll
Fastened which cannot move
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviours love

We have such an opportunity in these times to meditate on Gods word and the real comfort that it brings. We may not be able to sing aloud but we can have this song in our hearts of praise to our God.

Prayers for healing and wholeness

Today’s service of prayers for healing and wholeness is our first one back at church (St John’s, Llandudno). It is led by me, Rev Bev. I will continue to put the service on the blog so that you can join in from home. Note that today’s reflection is the same as yesterday’s meditation at St David’s – I am re-launching both of them this week and it is just too much for me to do two different reflections! I am sure you understand.

‘My grace is sufficient for you,
For my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9)

In the ministry of Christ healing was a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom, bringing renewal and wholeness of life to those who turned to God in their need.  Jesus commissioned his disciples to proclaim the kingdom and heal the sick (Luke 9:2).  The Church believes that the healing power of Christ is exercised through medical and related professions, through faith and prayer, and the care of the Christian community. 

God desires wholeness for all people. We bring to God our frailty and brokenness  –  felt not only in physical illness, but in guilt, anxiety, and all the burdens which weigh us down.  We also bring our concerns for others and for the world. We come to God who knows our needs before we ask, and whose love revealed in Jesus Christ is stronger than suffering and death.

To start, take some time to bring yourself into an awareness of the presence of God. If it helps, imagine yourself sitting in your church alone, resting in the prayerful atmosphere.

We come in this service to God
In our need, and bringing with us the needs of the world.

We come to God, who comes to us in Jesus,
And who knows by experience what human life is like.

We come with our faith and with our doubts.
We come with our hopes and with our fears.

We come as we are, because it is God who invites us to come,
And God has promised never to turn us away.

Let us pray.

As if it were not enough to bring sound from silence,
light from darkness,
order from confusion;

as if it were not enough
to make the world excellent and intricate;
you gave the kiss of life to the dust of the earth,

You made male and female,
me and us.

So we thank you, creating God.

As if it were not enough
to watch the world you had created,
to admire your handiwork from eternity;

as if it were not enough
to care and be kind at a distance;
you sent your Son to be flesh of our flesh,
bone of our bone,
to live and walk beside
me and us.

So we thank you, loving God.

As if it were not enough
to do all this and return, triumphant, to glory,
you still hear our cries in the courts of high heaven,
and promise your Spirit for the healing of the nations
for me and for us.

So we thank you, God of power,
Lord of our weakness,
Spirit of our salvation.

Reflection:

Almighty God, who promises forgiveness and new life to all who truly repent, have mercy upon us,
pardon and deliver us from all our sins
and keep us in life eternal,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reflection:

I went to see Jean Hat her care home last Monday, the first time I have been allowed in to a care home for over a year. And that was only because she was very ill.

The following night I slept badly, for various reasons, and one dream stayed with me. It was of Jean trying to escape from the care home in her nightie, climbing down the front wall of the building! I wondered, in the dream, whether I should be trying to get her back inside or encouraging her escape.

My dream was nothing to do with the care in the care home – I could see that that had been excellent. It was more to do with the indignity and distress of getting ill and infirm, confused and separated from family and friends. And what my hope for her should be. Clearly, I wanted her to escape from the situation she was in.

Anyway, as many of you will know, she died a day or two later. It seems she had escaped without my help. And I am glad.

It seems that several of our community are doing the same. Don T, Jean’s good friend, died earlier this week as well.

…..

Virtually every day I look at the latest stats for the COVID pandemic on my tablet as shown by the BBC. And I hope each time to see a lowering of the figures for cases and deaths. Seeing the figures spiral is truly terrifying. How must it feel in India right at this moment? But seeing them come down is a strange experience too. It is very odd to find myself thinking, “Oh, only 20 people have died of COVID today. That’s great.”

Of course, it is great in the sense that the figures are going down. But it’s not great for those 20 people or their families. It’s a terrible tragedy, not lessened by the knowledge that they are only a few in number.

Every death matters because every life matters. We can’t cope with knowing about every death and every life it links to – we just don’t have the capacity. But God does. And every death matters to God because every person is precious to him. Every person is his precious creation.

…..

Matthew 10:26-31

…..

I want to share with you from a book I have been reading. It’s by the archaeologist, Neil Oliver, “Wisdom of the Ancients.” From what I understand in his writing, he is an atheist. But listen to what he says (p223-226 extracts, paraphrased).

6,000-7,000 years ago there were hunters making use of a coastal territory in the land we know as Denmark. They were in the habit of burying their dead, laid out in graves. The cemetery a few of them created at the place we call Vedbaek was found and excavated in the mid-1970s.

Of all the graves, the example deemed richest is one of two containing a young woman and a newborn baby together. She was likely around eighteen years old when she died, of cause or causes unknown – young to us, but can say much, now about life expectancy then? The baby was newborn at the time of death and had been laid close by the woman’s side, on her right and upon a swan’s wing.

Beyond these observable facts, all else about her – and about the infant by her side – can only be supposition, or imagination. But all the time separating us from them has allowed for a percolation of sorts, or a distillation, so that what remains is strong, potent.

It is easiest to assume that they were mother and child, those two, and drowned together in the river of birth. That their remains were treated to kindly suggest grief and love in the hearts of those left behind on its banks, only watching as the current swept loved ones away.

The newborn was given back to the world not lying naked upon the earth but nestled on that white swan’s wing. Who does such a thing, thinks of such a thing, except someone who cannot bear the thought of the loved body cold on clay? This wing of a great bird inspires  no end of speculation. Maybe the baby’s spirit was to be carried aloft, into the heavens. Perhaps those left behind believed that like the migratory birds that leave when their time comes, disappearing beyond the horizon, the infant’s spirit, and the mother’s, might return to them when the time was right.

We of the twenty-first century try to hold death at bay. We are horrified by the thought, far less the sight, of it.

For 2,000 years Christians believed in life beyond the reach of death. For the last hundred years or so, in the time of modern science, we have been telling each other there is no such thing. That this version of events has made us happier in general is debatable at best. Now that we have only our span of years, however brief, death is an empty terror to be held at bay by the pursuit of endless youth.

Ten thousand years ago our ancestors imagined spirits carried aloft on the wings of swans. Our ancestors allowed for the hope of something better.

To me, the skeletons of the Vedbaek mother buried with her baby are beautiful beyond adequate description. I feel in my heart the wonder of knowing that love, and the grief that is love’s necessary travelling companion, lay waiting to be found in a grave cut thousands of years ago. Untouched, unwearied, those most human of emotions had survived time. Lovelier still is the hope borne on the wing of a swan. It implores US to live in hope…

…..

That is Neil Oliver, contrasting the faith of the ancients, the faith of Christians and the lot of those without faith.

Well, we get to choose which we are. And I know which I would rather be.

Those of us who choose faith, choose hope – we are the story-keepers, we are the ones who keep the hope alive. We know to whom we belong and to whom we are going.

Just as Jean did. And Don. And all those many from our fellowship who have gone before us.

We will not lose heart. We will do what is necessary to send our friends on their way. And when the times comes, we trust that others will do the same for us. Because we, like them, are loved and valued. We are precious in the sight of God.

…..

————————————

We continue in prayer.

O Christ our Lord, as in times past
not all the sick and suffering found their way to your side,
but had to have their hands taken, or their bodies carried,
or their names mentioned,
so we, confident of your goodness, bring others to you.

As in times past, you looked at the faith of friends
and let peace and healing be known through them,
look on our faith, even our little faith
And let your kingdom come.

We name before you
those for whom pain is the greatest problem;
who are remembered more for their distress than their potential;
who at night cry, ‘I wish to God it were morning’
and in the morning cry, ‘I wish to God it were night’.
Lord Jesus Christ, Lover of all,
Bring healing, bring peace.

We name before you
those whose problem is psychological;
those haunted by the nightmares of their past
or the spectres of their future,
those whose minds are shackled
to neuroses, depression or fears,
those who do not know what is wrong
or what to pray.
Bring healing, bring peace.

We name before you those in whose experience
light has turned to darkness,
as the end of a life or the breaking of a relationship
leaves them stunned in their souls
and silent in their conversation,
not knowing where to turn or who to turn to,
or whether life has a purpose any more.
Bring healing, bring peace.

And others whose troubles we do not know
or whose names we could not say aloud,
and all the troubles of the world,
we bring to you now in silence
a silence which you understand.
Bring healing, bring peace.

Lord God,
you alone are skilled to know the cure
for every sickness and every soul.
If, by our lives, your grace may be known,
then in us, through us, and, if need be, despite us,
Let your kingdom come.

We ask your blessing on all who tend the sick,
counsel the distressed, sit with the dying,
or advance medical research,
that in caring for your people
they may meet and serve you.
Let your kingdom come.

For those who, in this land,
administer the agencies of health and welfare,
we ask your guidance that, in all they do,
human worth may be valued,
and the service of human need be fully resourced.
Let your kingdom come.

For those in positions of authority who seek justice and peace
And work for the healing of the nations.
Let your kingdom come.

These prayers we ask in the name of him whose flesh and blood
have made all God’s children special.  Amen

Together, let us bring to the Lord those for whom we have been asked to pray….

Peg T
Margaret B
David & Carolyn S
David B
The family of Judy F
The family of Jean H
The family of Don T
Richard W and his family
Aidan J
Elizabeth P

Take some time now to bring your concerns to God. If it helps, try saying them out loud. Feel yourself held in God’s safe hands.

We say the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples:

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the
power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen

Now may the God of hope fill us
With joy and peace in believing,
That we may abound in hope
In the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Sunday worship

This Sunday’s worship is led by me, Rev Bev. It is Vocations Sunday and the theme is related to this – the vine and branches. Worship is at St David’s, Craig y Don, at 10am and is available at that time as a livestream (and later recorded version) here. The same service is held at St John’s, Llandudno, at 11am.

Here is a document version of the service for those who cannot access the livestream or who need a text version. Thank you to all who share these with others on our behalf.

Photo by Jonathan Farber on Unsplash