Weekly Newsletter and Other News

We usually fill this page with our Weekly Noticesheet - information about upcoming services and events and groups that we support. During these unprecedented times it will consist of a Weekly Newsletter, links to sources of help both spiritual and practical, requests for prayer and thoughts from church members.

Please contact clare@standrewspsalterlane.org.uk or garethjones11@googlemail.com if there is anything you would like to see or to add, or anyone you would particularly like us to pray for.

 

Weekly Newsletter during the suspension of public worship 

5th April 2020, Palm Sunday

 

Welcome

This Newsletter includes a message from Gareth and his address and Intercessions from the audio service broadcast on YouTube last Sunday 29th March. We hope you will find these useful at this time when we cannot join in worship together in church, and that by praying together and sharing these resources, we still feel part of the same worshipping body.

 

Foodbank and Baby Basics

Sadly, donations to the Firvale Foodbank and Baby Basics have dropped and they are desperately in need of help, so that they can help the most vulnerable members of society. If you are able to give anything, donations can be dropped off at the following addresses – why not combine donating with your legal daily exercise? 

Food Bank donations can be left in the black bin at the back of 16 Edge Hill Road, S7 1SP. If you would prefer to give cash, you can do so here.

Baby Basics gifts can be left in the box at 51 Barkers Road, S7 1SD; cash donations should be put through the letter box. They are particularly in need of newborn size cardigans so maybe you could use your lockdown time to take up knitting?

Massive thanks to the generous people who are coordinating this and taking the donations to where they are needed.

God Bless, and stay safe!

 

A message from Gareth

Dear friends,

Our piece of inspirational writing this week is by Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth-century lay Carmelite who lived in the Lorraine region of France. After his death, a priest gathered together some of Brother Lawrence’s conversations and letters in a small book entitled “The Practice of the Presence of God”, a book of profound simplicity that was to become a greatly-loved spiritual classic.

For many people of faith, especially Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Sikh, a pattern of regular attendance at a place of worship is a central part of the pattern of their lives. So are the worship, prayers, sacraments or liturgies in which they engage in those places. Part of the sense of deprivation that we currently experience, worship via the internet notwithstanding, may well relate to the absence of such experiences. Brother Lawrence has some wise words to say on this: “It is not necessary for being with God,” he says, “to be always at church: we may make an oratory of our heart wherein to retire from time to time to converse with Him in meekness, humility and love. Everyone is capable of such familiar conversation with God, some more, some less: He knows what we can do.” Brother Lawrence spent much of his time working in the monastery kitchen, and sought to find moments for prayer in the midst of his tasks, as well as performing the tasks themselves “for love of God”.

In the passage below, although some of the language reflects Brother Lawrence’s seventeenth-century piety, and we may prefer to use less male-centred language of God, I find something in these words that very much speaks to the times we’re in. He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.

Love and peace,

Gareth

 

Below are Gareth’s address and the prayers of intercession from the short “remote” service that was broadcast on the internet last Sunday 29th March.

Address, based on John 11.17-27

It’s only in John’s Gospel that we find the story of the raising of Lazarus; though there is a link with five verses in Luke in the persons of Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, whose home Jesus famously visits.

We pick up the story of Lazarus this morning half-way through. Lazarus has died, and Jesus now makes his way to the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. It’s Martha who comes to meet him. As in Luke’s Gospel, Martha is the practical, active one of the two sisters; but also, in this passage, she’s a person of real spiritual depth.

Earlier in the story, Jesus had delayed going to see Lazarus, even though he’d been told that Lazarus was seriously ill, and this is now reflected in Martha’s words to him: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” What’s the tone of these words? Is Martha chiding Jesus for not being there, or are they words of faith in his power to heal?

But there’s actually something more universal in Martha’s words, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  At times of crisis and tragedy, people often ask: Where was God when this happened? Where can we discern God’s presence in this situation? How can we speak of a good and loving God, when such things can take place? Like Martha, we may say: If God had truly been with us, this wouldn’t have happened.

There’s no adequate answer to questions such as these. But a central theme that’s explored during these weeks as we approach Good Friday is that God is present in the suffering. That the divine compassion is there in the midst of people’s pain and sorrow. Not causing it. Not averting it. But suffering with those who suffer.

Martha’s next words suggest that her opening words were not words of criticism, but somehow words of faith. “Even now,” she says to Jesus, “I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” These apparently simple words “even now” hold tremendous depth of meaning. They could be paraphrased in a number of ways: for example, in spite of what’s happened; even though it doesn’t make sense; although my every instinct is to despair. Each of those meanings is somehow present in these words, “even now”.

The Psalms capture almost every mood of which human beings are capable, including loneliness, grief, anger, despair. But there’s one verse in Psalm 116 that conveys the meaning of these words of Martha. In the Grail translation, which is one of the most poetic and subtle translations of the Psalms, it reads: “I trusted, even when I said, ‘I am sorely afflicted’, and when I said in my alarm, ‘There is no one I can trust.’”

I trusted even when I couldn’t trust. I trusted even when trust made no sense.

In response, Jesus assures Martha that Lazarus her brother will rise again – as, in the narrative of John chapter 11, he will. But the real heart of this chapter is a saying of Jesus that takes us beyond the story itself, and into the very mystery of the divine: “I am the resurrection and the life.” It’s one of the seven sayings of Jesus in John that begin with the words “I am”.

As we’ve reflected on numerous occasions in the past at St Andrew’s Psalter Lane, the Hebrew form of these words “I am” echoes the holiest of God’s names in the Hebrew scriptures; and the earliest readers of John’s Gospel will have known that. When, therefore, Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life”, he’s claiming that resurrection and life are at the heart of the divine nature. And John is inviting us to see them reflected in the person of Christ himself.

We shall reflect on what it means to say that Jesus is “the resurrection” when we arrive at Easter Sunday. But what can it mean, especially at times such as these, to say that Jesus is “the life”? “I have come that they may have life,” Jesus says elsewhere in John, “life in all its fullness.” What can life in all its fullness mean in our current circumstances, when so much of what we often take for granted is absent?

For many people, of course, deprived of the basic requirements of human flourishing, this is a question they’re faced with daily, moment by moment, rather than just in the extraordinary circumstances we now find ourselves in. What is essential to human wellbeing? What do we need to be able to live with dignity? What form would a just world, a just society, take, in which everyone might experience fullness of life?

For most of us, fullness of life might include things like: a consciousness that we’re valued and loved; access to the necessities of life, and to things that will nourish our hearts, minds and spirits; human relationships that are mutually supportive and sustaining.

For John’s Gospel, life in its fullness is intimately connected with the one who says “I am”: the eternal, holy reality at the heart of all life. To be truly alive is to be held within that greater life of the mystery that is our source: the one whom we call by many names but who remains beyond our defining; the one who is compassionately present within our suffering, and who invites us to share in the power of newness and renewal, the power of resurrection.

 

Prayers of intercession, adapted from a prayer on the Churches Together in England website.

The response is:

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

God, our rock and shield, we pray for our land, and all nations and places in our world, as many endure the effects of the illness Covid-19 and the Coronavirus pandemic.
 
For those who are ill: God of love, we pray for your healing and your wholeness.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.


 
For those who mourn the death of loved ones: God of love, we pray for your comfort and your compassion.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 

For those who care for the sick: God of love, we pray that they may have strength and endurance.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 

For those who are isolated or whose livelihoods are threatened: God of love, we pray that they may have courage and hope.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 
For all who take difficult decisions that will affect our world, our nation and our communities: God of love, we pray that they may have wisdom and compassion to accompany the knowledge and experience that they bring.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 
God of love, sustain us during these times, we pray, and enable all nations and communities to grow in collaboration and unity as we face this challenge together.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 
God of love, grant a legacy of enduring common purpose in facing all that threatens our global common good.

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

 

 We pray in Jesus' name, in the unity of the Spirit, Amen.


Dialogue Society Prayers for the Pandemic: Sunday 5th April, 1.00 - 1.30 pm 


NEXT SUNDAY  

12th April 2020

Easter Sunday

Watch this space for details of our live-streamed services!


The Church of England has some tips on dealing with loneliness and isolation  and 13 daily reflections to support good mental health.


Pete Wilcox, the Bishop of Sheffield, writes a daily letter relating to issues surrounding the Coronavirus (Covid-19). This is a daily mailing to all clergy, churchwardens and licensed lay. The mailing is also added to the website every day and is accessible here.


For practical help and support, apart from anything that may be arranged locally, try contacting Sheffield City Council. 


John Cripps has sent the following message about socially distanced gardening:

We are keen to maintain the Church grounds in good order, but we are unable to organise group working parties as would normally be the case on the 1st Saturday of the month.  People are invited to visit the Church at a time convenient to them to undertake gardening as part of their daily exercise routine.  Please contact John (cripps@uwclub.net, 258 8932) to check what to do.  Volunteers are also invited to join the mowing rota. 

 We plan to grow vegetables in the garden to the rear of Church.  Please help with preparing this patch of ground and also planting seeds and seedlings there.

John Cripps


Anne Hollows, the editor of Nexus, suggested this poem for the current situation:

 

'And people stayed home

and read books and listened

and rested and exercised

and made art and played

and learned new ways of being

and stopped

and listened deeper

someone meditated

someone prayed

someone danced

someone met their shadow

and people began to think differently

and people healed

and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,

dangerous, meaningless and heartless,

even the earth began to heal

and when the danger ended

and people found each other

grieved for the dead people

and they made new choices

and dreamed of new visions

and created new ways of life

and healed the earth completely

just as they were healed themselves.'

 

Kathleen O'Meara (1839-1888), pen name Grace Ramsay, Iza's Story.


Anne Blair offered this as another view on our challenging times:

A poem called Pandemic by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.


Our current appeals

Baby Basics - Reaching out to the least, last and the lost in Sheffield with God’s love and practical help  Please donate items for a new baby, to be given to new mothers in vulnerable situations - there is a donation point at 51 Barkers Road, S7 1SD: Please put gifts in the box and cash donations through the letterbox. See here for more information.  Trustees wanted  -  please see flyer.   

St Cuthbert's Fir Vale Food Bank collection The Food Bank has now changed to a delivery model, due to social distancing, and are finding it very hard to keep up with demand. There is a donation point (black bin) at the rear of 16 Edge Hill Road S7 1SP The Food Bank particularly need clothes and toiletries. If you would like to donate money, see here, but this is not ideal as it is difficult for the Food Bank to buy as much as they need. See here for more information on the food bank. 

All We Can and St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church. St Andrew's Psalter Lane Church is now a partner with All We Can. All We Can works with some of the world’s poorest communities, helping people to find solutions to poverty and to become all that they can. Over the next few months we are planning to be involved in a community, Cherkos, in Ethiopia. They are struggling like all countries with climate change, poor harvest and few resources except their own determination and hard work. SAPLC is hoping to raise funds as well as learning more about Cherkos and Ethiopia. There is information on the All We Can website about Ethiopia. Look for our posters in the church and further information in the weekly notices.  

Toilet Paper - Bulk buy, don't panic buy! See here for information about a scheme that builds toilets when you buy toilet paper - Imogen only needs another 3 subscribers before she can put her scheme into action.


Links to our live-streamed services:

Sunday 29th March - Passion Sunday

Sunday 5th April - Palm Sunday


 Interfaith Events

Unfortunately all Shirley House, Sheffield Interfaith and Dialogue Society events are cancelled until at least mid-June in view of the need to avoid group gatherings.


To see what kind of church we are, have a look at our video 

St. Andrew's Psalter Lane Church has a Twitter account - @SAPLChurch - and a Facebook page - @StAndrewsPsalterLaneChurch. SAPLC Children have Facebook and Twitter accounts:  Facebook: SAPLC Children  Twitter: @SAPLChurchChild


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