Corona Virus Devotional Pieces

LOVE IN A TIME OF DIS-EASE   18th October 2020

I am sure that you have a story that narrates your life journey. If you're like me, you will begin somewhere that explains your background to listeners. Usually that has to do with people in your memory from when you began travelling on this earthly trail. You would then move into the young adult years, middle age and into the present. Your mini history may dip in and out of the larger history. Such as, when I started working in town, I remember when the riots kicked off. Immediately the listener knows that your personal narrative has just started a conversation with the more widely known historical record. When Mayor Joe Anderson responded to the tier three restrictions at present in Liverpool, he made a bridge to our common historical memory. He said, “these restrictions risk taking our city back to the dark days of the 80s... this is no way to manage.”

Churches too have a narrative that they tell about themselves. Sometimes it is past history such as, “Those were the glory days when this church had 300 people here on a Sunday!” Whilst the memory is good, it is not the full and present story. Glorifying the past or dragging along terrible past experiences can keep us from fully seeing and understanding the now. Another challenge is to be aware when we impose our narrative on someone else. After all, present and past teens did not experience age eighteen like you did!  The past can inform us, but it might not be our present story now.

In first-century Judaism, Jesus was doing a new thing. He had a vision that drove him out of the tradition of his family and reimagined his tribal identity. Jesus brought enlightenment that challenged the social caste system of his time. Jesus did not turn out to be the kind of carpenter his earthly inheritance would demand of him. Likewise, when Jesus called the first disciples (Mark 1:16) the text makes a point of saying they were fishermen. Those three words give us a long and inherited story of who Simon and Andrew are. In those days, you did as your father demanded of you and trained you to do. Families had to carry out their trade for survival through the generations. When these two disciples, along with the ten others, responded to Jesus’s invitation to leave everything and follow him they broke away from their family story and began to change the narrative by creating a new family with Jesus. These early disciples refused to let the big narrative of their time, being occupied and oppressed by Rome, determine their story.

Jesus still calls out to us right now as a new chapter is being written. Life is an adventure to be lived and shared. Look how far we have come with technology that we thought we would never touch. Look at how we are being forced to be church in a completely new and evolving way.

Listen to each other without contextualising the present with the past. I had to stop saying to my son and daughter, "When I was thirty this is what I did…"  Their story is different from mine. The best thing I can do is listen to them and love them. I have a hunch if we listen to each other more we would find out there are several ways to tell our story.

Maybe when we look back over 2020, we will tell the story of what we did and that's what caused us to be church creatively. We might also say that is when we realised that we are deeply related to the natural world and we changed our ways. Maybe Jesus was right then and is right now, "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another". John 13:35

Let’s pray:

Jesus, call us again to be your disciples so we can tell that old, old story of your everlasting love once more. Amen.

A blessing for you: “How Can I Keep From Singing?”

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Timothy Meadows, Liverpool

LOVE IN A TIME OF DIS-EASE   11th October 2020

     LOVE IN A TIME OF DIS-EASE   4th October 2020

We knew when we reopened that we might face further closures and re-openings this year.  When the Elders' meeting was called for yet another extraordinary meeting, I couldn’t help but notice, wary facial expressions of care’s demand on my Zoom screen. With pondering kindness, we listened to each other. Vast explorations of heart and mind exercised our concerns related to health, wholeness and economy.  Like a game of lawn bowls, we sought to find a route through the competing ransom of Covid’s torrid meander. We hoped to find resolute guidance from government advice which seemed inconsistent. In our searching we found ourselves empathically linked to government ministers who must have been wading through the same competing concerns except on a much larger scale. In our microcosm of trying to care for the community, Elders decided un-unanimously but with a majority decision to suspend worship services at Allerton Church for two weeks. Elders also decided to entrust business hirers already tested to make decisions according to government guidelines concerning their own constituencies.

What undergirds our decision-making in life especially when times are threatening and worrying? The Judeo-Christian tradition has offered us the decalogue code or Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-20). These ancient rules are the bedrock of western civilisation. Jesus shows us that this ancient law is inextricably relationally based with God, with others (community) and with ourselves. Jesus said there is no law greater than love. God first loved us and that relationship abides in mutual love. For the community to survive there must be love and respect. For relationships to grow and last, love must show the way. As for me and you to be whole, I/ you must love myself/ yourself. This threefold love is deeply intertwined and interrelated into a trinity knot.

Yet there are other bedrock principles like the great commandment which come into play. In our meeting the other night we heard subliminally, and at times clearly, those principled measures of compassionate action.  I heard the Hippocratic oath of ancient Greece: first, do no harm. The other bedrock principle was the universal ethic, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule exists in nearly all empathic moral codes the world over and clearly showed up that evening as a guiding principle. 

I am made-up with this meeting of Elders along with our hiring manager. While there was dissent on practicalities, there was focussed unanimity on empathy for all. Discussion stretched loving arms around concerns for physical health, mental health, respect for the livelihoods of people, survival of businesses and our own vulnerable church bank account.

Like all of you, we are muddling through this most odd of years. The perceived threats of tomorrow are dangling in the back of our minds. Clearly though, we cannot waiver upon love’s demand to be in caring and respectful relationships both earthly and heavenly. Those revered principles are the essential key to a life well lived even today. Living Word, Living Love and Living Hope is lighting the way forward.

Praying Together:

Living Word keep abiding with us in our testing and our trying. Lest we walk in another’s moccasins may our judgements fall softly. May we not forget in the midst of confusing motives and voices the foundation of your teaching. For you, O Christ are the love-light upon the way we should go. Amen.

Timothy Meadows, Liverpool

Passing Through Church Doors Again

Last  week - 23rd August 2020

Unfortunately, owing to technological difficulties with its production we were not able to produce that week's message from Tim. We apologise to everyone and hope to have the matter sorted in due course. Thank you for your patience and forbearance. 

You may still access the service from the URC by going to the Services page.

God Bless you all. 

Passing Through Church Doors Again

16th August 2020

I live with rhythm playing in my head all the time. I relished the honour of being a baritone one section leader in an eight-part choir. I have sung in musical theatre such as My Fair Lady, The King and I, Two by Two, and Anything Goes. Singing literally set me free and is at the core of my Christian faith. I rank singing up there with preaching, praying, praising, lamenting and mourning. Whether in good or bad voice, singing a song rooted in soulful passion is like kneeling at the altar all over again.

So, you can imagine I am struggling with leading singing-less worship. As I have heard some of you say, why attend church if there isn’t any singing?

People are dealing with this dilemma in two ways. In Britain, church folks are pretty much following the guidelines passed on to us from the government. In the USA, people are divided by singing or not singing. Some churches observe government directives while others choose not to let the government meddle with their religious and spiritual practices. After all, the American ideal of separation of church and state was originally planted by our mutual forebears in the non-conformist tradition. Naturally, my heart feels divided on the subject.

Covid-19 has brought a new sensibility to corporate singing. Never have I considered that singing together could be a protest or entitlement. Now, my prerogative toward singing together is something I am being asked to leave at home. One of the prized jewels in my understanding of Christian faith has fallen out of the crown. What then is at the core of Christian worship if singing is not involved? I can tell you; worship is not about me and my privileges. Worship is about God and Us.

In this time of lament, we are all having to let go of prized biases and privileges, aren't we? No congregational singing is a cross we must bear in this present time. If we follow Jesus’s steps through this pandemic, we would know that loving our neighbour is far more important than lifting our voices in song at church. Our hymnals will remain shelved, shut and unhandled. This time, passing through church doors again we will arrive as the Body of Christ praying and listening out for God’s song to us.

My Song in the Night

O Jesus my Savior, my song in the night, Come to us with Thy tender love, my soul's delight. Unto Thee, O Lord, in affliction I call, My comfort by day, and my song in the night. O why should I wander, an alien from Thee, Or cry in the desert Thy face to see?       

From  Psalm 77:6  Southern Appalachian Folk Song

Timothy Meadows, Liverpool

Passing Through Church Doors Again

 9th August 2020