Holy Week – Saturday – Sabbath rest

Jesus died on a Friday, just before their Jewish Sabbath day started at sunset. His body laid in the grave until the Sabbath had ended. The resurrection took place early on the Sunday morning of the third day. Sabbath is a day of rest, and whatever God had planned for Jesus, it included respect for Sabbath rest.

As we experience our coronavirus lockdown we are encouraged to discover how it might be like a Sabbath rest for us. For some of us that won’t be true. Key workers need to go out to work, and are all working hard. Those who are able to work from home are probably struggling hard to work out how to do that well. Foodbank volunteers and other voluntary providers of deliveries and essential services are also working hard. Those who are closing down small businesses and mothballing their self employed status are also struggling to work out how to do those things with minimum loss. We remember all those who are working hard and serving the community and the economy through their work. But even for those among us for whom this is true, the concept of Sabbath rest, and a pattern of rest in the routines of work, is still important and healthy for us. Find your Sabbath rest.

But for some of us that doesn’t apply. We are stood down from our work, we are isolated from our normal activities. Rather than stress over the loss, we need to learn to enter our long Sabbath rest. To treat the moments of time given to us as an opportunity to relax, reflect, renew, rejoice and refresh. It will end. Will we emerge as people who are better because of our Sabbath experience?

I end with a poem for separated people:

The Gap
I cannot hold you close today.
I cannot take your hand;
I cannot wipe your tears away
Or brace you as you stand.
I cannot whisper in your ear
Or pass a gift to you –
A sweet or silly something dear –
To cheer a world turned blue.
I cannot sit at home with you,
Make tea or share the moans;
Can’t spread a blanket over you
When sorrow chills your bones.
Only these words can reach across
The distance we must keep
Reminding you we’re still an us
And, waking or asleep,
The bond that ties us close endures
And love can stretch so far –
Can wind its way through walls and doors
To wherever you are.
So I will pray and you will pray
And we will pray together.
The tie that binds us cannot fray:
Love. Always and forever.
A day will come, and end to pain,
And when that day begins
We’ll hold each other close again
Because love always wins.

Words: Caroline Beckett (who writes at the end… no copyright and free to share.)

Yours in Christ. May God bless you and keep you safe.


Virtual gatherings for Easter

BBC Broadcasts Over Easter Weekend 2020

Either specifically Christian, or at least ‘religious’. Details supplied by Church Times


Rebuilding Notre-Dame: Inside the great cathedral rescue 
A year after the fire, archi­­tects and scientists tell their restoration strategy. 
Wednesday 9pm BBC4

Friday 1.40pm and Sunday 1.50pm (BBC1) 
Alexander Armstrong’s Heavenly Gardens 
A visit to six gardens steeped in faith and spirituality, starting at Pluscarden Abbey, near Elgin, and con­tinuing to the Bishop’s Palace, Wells (1/2-2).

Friday 7pm (Channel 5) 
Digging Up Britain’s Past: Viking invasion: 
Archaeologists try to locate the site of a monastery on Holy Island (1/6).

9pm (BBC2) 
Pilgrimage: The road to Istanbul 
The seven pilgrims visit an orthodox church in Batak, and the Suleymaniye Mosque, in Istanbul (3/3).

Saturday 12pm (BBC2) 
The Greatest Story Ever Told 
The 1965 biblical epic starring Max von Sydow.

7pm (BBC2) 
Easter from King’s 
A service of music and readings from King’s College, Cambridge.

Sunday 11am (BBC1) 
Urbi et Orbi Pope Francis de­­livers his Easter message and blessing, live.

11.25am (BBC1) 
Sunday Worship From Bangor Cathedral, with music from Songs of Praise, 2018.

1.15pm (BBC1) 
Songs of Praise Katherine Jenkins visits St Luke’s, Gas Street, in Birm­ingham.

1.40pm (Channel 5) 
The Ten Commandments The 1956 film.

Wednesday 7pm (Nat Geographic) 
Saving Notre-Dame The rebuilding of the Gothic cathedral.

Thursday and Friday 9.45am (R4 FM) 
The Passion in Plants Bob Gilbert concludes his pilgrimage (4-5/5).

Friday 1.30pm (World Service) 
Heart and Soul Wassim Razzouk’s family have been tattoo­ing pilgrims to Jerusalem for more than 500 years.

2pm (R3) 
Afternoon Concert 
An archive recording of Bach’s St John Passion sung in German, first broadcast in April 2017.

3pm (R4) 
Good Friday Meditation 
A Baptist min­ister, the Revd Richard Littledale, reflects on why Christians see beauty and love in the Cross.

7pm (R3) 
Radio 3 in Concert 
An archive recording of a semi-staged performance of Bach’s St Mat­thew Passion, first broadcast in September 2014.

7pm (R2) 
At the Foot of the Cross 
The Passion written and narrated by Frank Cottrell-Boyce.

Sunday 6.35am (R4) 
Sunrise Service Celebration with music from a gospel group.

8.10am (R4) 
Easter Sunday Worship 
The Arch­­bishop of Canterbury leads an intimate com­munion service with his wife in Lambeth Palace.

1.30pm (R4) 
Three Vicars Talking 
The Revd Richard Coles, the Revd Kate Bottley, and Canon Giles Fraser in an Easter special.

3pm (R3) 
Choral Evensong 
An archive recording of festal evensong from Norwich Cathedral, first broadcast on 16 April 2017.

5.30pm (R3) 
Words and Music 
A celebration of the Passover, Easter, and Spring.

Monday 4.30pm (R4) 
Beyond Belief 
Can faith values help people and religious organisations to invest their money in a way that matches their ethics?

Wednesday 3.30pm (R3) 
Choral Evensong 
An archive recording of a service from the Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, Texas, first broadcast on 19 April 2017.

Plus other material will also be available on BBC local radio.

Yours in Christ. May God bless you and keep you safe.


Good Friday – Separated by fear, united by love

When Jesus was crucified the gospels share the use of the phase that the disciples who were brave enough to be there ‘stood at a distance’. Perhaps they stood at a distance out horror at what they were witnessing, distance made it more bearable. Perhaps they stood at a distance out of fear of identifying themselves with Jesus, they didn’t want to risk being picked out, arrested, and possibly sharing the same fate as Jesus. Perhaps they stood at a distance because the Roman soldiers pushed them back, forcibly separating them from Jesus. For whatever reason, they stood at a distance, and Jesus suffered alone, isolated. The words speak powerfully into our present separated human condition.

But in John’s gospel there is an opposite glimmer of community restoration. Jesus looks out at his disciples from the cross. He calls to Mary his mother, and to John. He says: “Woman, here is your son.” And he says: “Here is your mother.” And it continues: ‘From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.’ Jesus loves his mother, and in his ultimate distress Jesus tenderly puts her into the care of another. Jesus leads us by his example. Jesus models for us how to create communities of care, and households of love and commitment.

For most of us, many of our loving human relationships are separated by coronavirus separation restrictions. If we love people, then we keep apart from them. But for a few of us, we are discovering deeper and closer connections of love and commitment within our households of care. There are wonderful pictures of residents and carers in Nursing Homes on the TV, they know that they are in it together, they have become committed to one another. I also read the heart-warming stories of zoo keepers moving into on-site accommodation so that they can spend the isolation period close to the animals in their care.

Yours in Christ. May God bless you and keep you safe.



At time of writing this, more and more restrictions are being advised daily to protect the vulnerable and strategically delay and cope with the Coronavirus pandemic. It all feels very surreal. Each one of us will know someone who is in the at high risk category, either through age or from having underlying health conditions; friends and family who have had their long awaited holiday cancelled; parents with children now at home from school; places of work closing; places of worship closing; people adjusting to working remotely; empty shelves in store… the uncertainty is causing a lot of anxiety and distress.

However we’re all in this together, throughout the entire world, and even though we face daily set backs there is also a strong sense of community emerging. And of course the British spirit of people rallying together. ‘Cup of tea anyone?’

Although the phrase “I’ll put the kettle on” is somewhat stereotypically British there is something very homely and welcoming about those words. A moment of normality and bliss amidst our current turmoil. A time for our thoughts. Muster our strength, courage and determination to face whatever the next challenge may be.

It’s important for us to remember that through challenging times of uncertainty, no matter how dark things may get, God is working out His purpose for good.

“And we know that in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good, with those who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28

He has a wonderful way of turning things round for the better. Everywhere you look you’ll find good deeds being done; kind words being said, cheerful smile, neighbours checking in with one another, running errands for each other, looking out for one other, being there to answer a call for help. If we could keep this community feel and focus on what’s truly important in life, long after this outbreak is over, how much better would our planet be? Good things will come.

Let’s resolve to focus on the things we can do. The decisions and actions we have control over. The little things we can do each day that adds a moment of normality and balance. Why not turn on your favourite piece of music. Bake a cake. Pick a posy of flowers. Listen to the birds singing. Call a friend for a catch up. Check in on your neighbour. Take up a new hobby (or pick up an old one again). Open a window to let in fresh air. Make that cup of tea. Pray for each other. Small actions, words and deeds no matter how small can spread a little piece of joy and hope.

Keep safe and look out for each other.


“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians:8-9

We’re currently studying together ‘The Grace Course’. At the time of writing, so far we’ve had an insightful re-look at ‘The Prodigal Son’ and its three main characters; the father, the lost younger son, and the eldest son. It’s definitely worth looking at their different characteristics and attitudes. Do you see any of these characteristics in your own life? Which character can you most relate to?

The study revealed the parable in a completely different light, enabling us to take away fresh meaning as to what God’s grace means for us all, today. For instance, the eldest son had been given everything, “all I have is yours” exclaims his father, yet the eldest son’s mindset was closed to this, feeling overlooked, unappreciated, and by the end of the parable, very disgruntled! We can naturally have sympathy for him. However turning the situation on its head, it was the son’s own choice to continue dutifully working long hours, away in the fields, alongside the servants, rather than spending some of that time with his father, or enjoying communion with his friends. How similar are we? Heads down, working away? Yet, if we were to only look up once in a while, take a step back to enjoy and appreciate what we’ve already graciously received, how much better and happier would we feel? There is absolutely nothing we can do to earn God’s grace – he has already generously given it to each and everyone one of us…

“Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work”.  2 Thessalonians 2:16-17


“And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth” Genesis 18:6

You’re warmly invited along with your family and friends to join us for our pancake evening Tuesday 25th Feb. A community event open to all. Drop in between 6pm and 8pm, simply gift a donation and enjoy your pancake(s) (no-one will be counting!) There will be a selection of toppings from traditional favourites like lemon and sugar through to chocolate galore and more! Plenty to delight even the sweetest tooth! All donations received will go directly towards maintaining our church buildings and surroundings. We’ll be frying and flipping the pancakes on the hob ready for you!

Pancakes are made from 3 core, simple, everyday ingredients; eggs, flour and milk, all whisked together to make light, fluffy batter. They are then poured into a frying pan to gently cook. Once air bubbles start to form they’re ready to be flipped and gently cooked the other side. Just like the pancake bubbling and steaming away, scripture is often referred to as the bread of life and words of nourishment. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Parables often use everyday scenario’s to aid the listeners understanding. God uses everyday people to carry out His work. With God, from ordinary things come extra-ordinary things, beyond anything we could imagine. We just need to keep listening, keep following our heart and spirit and hold firm to our faith and hope in Him.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year! What are you most looking forward to this year?
Perhaps a family celebration, milestone event, a holiday, or the start of something new.

The new year marks the beginning of your next chapter, and you get to write it! Everyday we have decisions to make on how we feel, how we react, what we want to do, wear, eat, think and say. How will you be spending your time? Is there a task you’re avoiding? What is most important to you? What things in your life or habits do you want to change? How do you want to feel?

At Christmas we created a Tree of Hope as part of the Christmas Tree Festival down at West Moors URC. It was humbling to read the different hopes people had written, most of them feelings, something that can’t be bought but instead grown and nurtured over time through love, hope, faith and perseverance; belonging, acceptance, happiness, family, friends, love, joy, equality, end to climate change, restoration, direction, good physical and mental health,
wellbeing, peace, understanding…

How wonderful the world will be when these hopes burst into full bloom! Perhaps a glimpse and foretaste of heaven in our time.

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21: 3b-4

You’re warmly invited

You’re warmly invited to come and join us celebrate this Christmas at Horton Heath. There’s something for everyone throughout advent as well as Christmas Day itself. Bring along family and neighbours – the more the merrier!

Our bird feeders are a regular pit stop for many wildlife visitors. Wrap up warm and see what wildlife you can spot. Will there be any unusual footprints to be found?

On Thursday 19th December join in with singing favourite carols on a wintery evening with the chapel beautifully candlelit. We welcome back the West Moors Gospel Choir to help us fill the rafters with Christmas song.

On 22nd December warm up with some family fun, creative worship and enjoy a delicious hot chocolate at our special afternoon Crib Service.

Join us early Christmas morning at 9.30am for a short, informal family service to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and a wonderful new year!

With thankful hearts

We’d love you to join us for our Harvest Festival on Sunday 6th October 3pm for an afternoon service of thanksgiving followed by refreshments in the hall. The celebrations wrap up with the Harvest Sale on Mon 7th October 7pm following a short service. It’s a wonderful time of year, celebrating all that we’ve been given, hard endeavours reaped, nourishment and sustainment both physically and spiritually.

World mental health day is on the 10th October which is a great opportunity to reflect on our own mental health and those around us. If you’re finding things hard going at the moment, finding fears and worries are having an impact on your life or have any concerns that things aren’t right for you please talk to someone about it. Your GP can be a great first point of contact and charities such as Mind can also be a valuable source of help. We should also look out for mental health issues in those around us – any changes in patterns of behaviour, loss of interest in activities that they previously enjoyed or an unwillingness to engage with others, especially following a life-changing event (positive or negative) can be a clue that someone we know is struggling and sometimes all it takes is a friendly “Hi, how are you feeling today?” to start a conversation that will make all the difference in someone’s life. 

1 in 4 of us will experience some form of mental health issue this year but help and support is available and does make a difference. Mind can be contacted on 0300 123 3393 weekdays from 9am-6pm.

Be determined & confident

Sometimes things in life can be a bit of a challenge! I recently started a project in our garden to clear some of the ground ready to add a pathway and some new plants. Once the ground was prepared and slabs laid, I started early the next morning to do the planting. The following morning one of the little plants had been pulled up. So I dutifully put it back in. The same thing happened again and again. Then something started pulling up a couple of the others. The poor plants with their roots continually exposed to the full heat of the summer sun are looking tired and drained. I feel their frustration! Having given them plenty of water and added some rocks to help hold them down whilst they reattempt to establish themselves, I’m hopeful it may deter whatever it is that has taken a liking to uprooting them.

This incident is only a minor thing, however it’s a good example of how in everyday life things can sometimes seem to be against us no matter what we do. Perhaps a test of our endurance or training for patience or other fruits of the Spirit. Whatever we find ourselves up against, large or small we are encouraged to remember these words Moses said to Israel before they entered the promised land:

“Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you” Deuteronomy chapter 31, verse 6