Keeping in Touch – from our minister Rev Helen Warmington
So lockdown three continues and we pray you are all staying safe.
One of the hymns that has sustained my faith down the years is based on a very old prayer, attributed to Richard of Chichester (1197 –1253). I suspect the popularity in my youth of Day by Day was as much to do with the musical Godspell as a real understanding of the faith of its author.
Richard of Chichester was a tireless student of theology, a man constant in devotion to the Lord, and one whose life was filled with unselfish service to others. Although he was born to a prosperous family, Richard was orphaned at an early age and soon impoverished by a negligent guardian. He entered Oxford unable to afford even a gown or a fire in winter. Yet he did very well in his studies and was eventually able to go on to further study at the University of Paris and at Bologna. He returned to England as a small-town parson, a role he always loved. However, his fame as a counsellor and preacher soon spread far and wide. Against the wishes of King Henry III, Richard was consecrated Bishop of Chichester. The king denied him access to the cathedral and to the bishop’s palace, so Richard spent two years wandering barefoot through his diocese, living very simply on the charity of his flock.
When the quarrel with the king was finally settled and Richard moved into the palace, he lived there almost as a beggar, wearing a hair shirt, fasting often, and sleeping on the floor. He was an efficient administrator and a stern disciplinarian when the occasion called for it. Yet he entertained the poor lavishly and ultimately willed his episcopal estate to the poor, to hospitals, to widows, and orphans. The words of Day by Day are attributed to him, and is a prayer we can all pray:
Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things I pray:
to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.
The Closure of the Church Building for Sunday Worship: whilst allowed to meet under the, ever changing, Government rules the URC along with several other major denominations strongly suggest we remain shut for communal worship over the next few weeks. Trustees will review the situation frequently and we will let folks know when we are open again. In the meantime we can still pray for one another, stay in touch by phone, and these Keeping in Touch newsletters will continue. PLEASE let me have any news you would like included.
We will also continue to meet by Zoom, currently Sunday at 7 but we may introduce a “group coffee morning” and a prayer and Bible study group. Watch this space
Derek Legg: Derek was a lovely man, and a loyal servant of our Lord. A lay preacher of longstanding, his faith underpinned everything he did. We pray for his family at this time, but we also give thanks for Derek and what he meant to so many, and how faithfully he served. We will miss his warm and wise presence.
Rev Michael Dent: Michael has been a good friend to the URC, particularly in Hawkenbury where he was a voluntary pastor for several years and at United Emmanuel where he not only preached regularly on a Sunday but was a firm supporter of the Tuesday lunchtime services. He did this alongside his work with the Anglican Church. Long into retirement he worked tirelessly in the Lord’s service, only slowing down in these last few months when the effect of cancer of the oesophagus began to take its toll. Michael died on 8th January and will be greatly missed by those privileged to consider him a true friend.
News of friends: Bob and Kate thank everyone for their prayers, which Bob says are upholding him as starts his next round of Chemotherapy. We are also asked to pray for Wynn Camp currently in Tunbridge Wells hospital with sepsis. Her family have asked for prayer. We pray for all who are unwell or finding these long months of isolation wearing, even if we understand why we must do it.
Kitchen Project/Project 21 fundraising is continuing and we thank everyone who has made a donation so far, though we have a fair way to go we have made good progress so far. We have put in a grant application to URC Southern Synod and will soon put in applications to the Methodist Circuit and District (grant applications submitted at the right timeframe for the respective meetings), and expect to hear news in the next few weeks.
Our Charities – even though we are not meeting physically in Church we can still donate, and remember in prayer, our “coffee money” charities. In January we are supporting Embrace the Middle East (some may still remember them as BibleLands), a Christian charity with over 160 years’ experience helping people of all faiths and none to free themselves from a life of poverty and injustice. Together with local Christian communities they bring lasting change to the Middle East through healthcare, education and community development projects. Duncan and I have seen their work close up in Israel/Palestine, and the Lebanon, and Duncan has also visited projects in Egypt – and is always willing to talk about the work of Embrace. If you want to donate their Sort code is: 60-11-01 & Account number is: 15540464, and their address Embrace the Middle East, 24 London Road West, Amersham, Bucks, HP7 0EZ. Duncan and I always have a stock of their Christmas cards to sell by the way!
Blessings and stay safe, Rev Helen
Lamentations 3:19- 24 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! 20 My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. 21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’