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Time for a Smile

Keep your distance!

I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch you with a six-foot pole” would become national policy, but here we are!


At the Hardware Shop

While repairing a picture frame, a lady had to replace some chipped gold leaf. She asked at the hardware shop, “Do you have any gilt?” The shopkeeper replied. “Sometimes it’s overwhelming,” 


The Christening

While watching her baby brother being christened in church, a little girl caught the attention of the minister and she whispered, “Behind his ears too, please.”


Happy Magistrate

The magistrate was in a happy mood when he asked the man who was in the dock, What are you charged with?”  

The man replied, “Doing my shopping too early, sir.”

The magistrate said, “That’s no crime;  just how early were you doing your shopping?”

Came the reply, “Before the shop opened, sir.”


Lost Handbag

A lady lost her handbag in the hustle and bustle of a large store. A small boy found it and he returned it to the information desk.

The worried lady turned up while he was there and she was relieved to see her handbag had been returned. Looking in her purse, the lady said, “That’s strange, when I lost my bag there was a £20 note in the purse. Now there are three £5 notes and five £1 coins.”

With a cheeky look on his face, the boy said, “That’s right madam. I was always told at my church not to take anything that didn’t belong to me. The last time I found a lady’s purse, she lady said she didn’t have any change.


The Prayer

 A Sunday School teacher challenged her children to take some time on Sunday afternoon to write a letter to God. They were to bring their letter back the following Sunday. One little boy wrote, “Dear God, we had such a good time at church today. I wish you could have been there.”


Karl Marx’s Sister

Karl Marx is a historically famous philosopher but no one ever mentions his sister, Onya, the inventor of the starting pistol…


No Dogs

I took my sheepdog to the beach but he wasn’t allowed on…

Apparently it was a Ban Collie Day!


The Shoplifter

A woman was in court for shoplifting.

The judge said, “What did you take?”

She replied, “A tin of pears.” “How many pears in the tin?” “6.”

“Ok, I’m giving you 6 weeks in prison to teach you a lesson.”

Her husband stood up & said, “Excuse me, she also took a large tin of peas!”


Body parts

A doctor in our village surgery often plays a game with his younger patients to put them at ease, and to test their knowledge of body parts. And so it was that one day, while pointing to my young son’s ear, the doctor asked him solemnly, “Is this your nose?”

Alarmed, my son glanced over to me and said softly: “Mum, I think we’d better find a new doctor!”


Shock

On a bus a man gave his seat to a woman.  She fainted.  On recovering, she thanked him.  Then he fainted.


Who’s right for which job?

Does your company struggle with the problem of properly fitting people to jobs?  Here is a handy way to decide…. 
Take the prospective employees you are trying to place and put them in a room with only a table and two chairs. Leave them alone for two hours, without any instruction.  At the end of that time, go back and see what they are doing.

If they have taken the table apart in that time, put them in Engineering.
If they are counting the cracks in the floor,  assign them to Finance.
If they are screaming and waving their arms, send them to Manufacturing.
If they are talking to the chairs, Personnel is a good place for them.
If they are sleeping, they are Management material.
If they are writing up the experience, send them to Technical Publications.
If they don’t even look up when you enter the room, assign them to Security.
If they try to tell you it’s not as bad as it looks, send them to Marketing.
And if they’ve left early, put them in Sales.


Multiply

Noah opened up the ark and let all the animals out, telling them to “Go forth and multiply!” He began to close the great doors of the ark when he noticed that there were two snakes still sitting in a dark corner. Concerned, he said to them: “Didn’t you hear me? You can go now. Go forth and multiply.”

“We can’t,” said the snakes sadly. “We’re adders.”


Sick of preaching

Our new vicar had just been prescribed bifocals. The reading portion of the glasses improved his vision considerably, but the top portion of the glasses didn’t work so well. In fact, he was experiencing dizziness every time he looked through them. He tried to explain this to the congregation on Sunday: “I hope you will excuse my continually removing my glasses. You see, when I look down, I can see fine, but when I look at you all, it makes me feel sick.”

When Christ stood in Trafalgar Square

By Peter Crumpler, a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, and a former Director of Communications with the CofE. 

I’m not a big fan of statues – but my favourite was the life-sized figure of Christ that stood in London’s Trafalgar Square during the Millennium celebrations.

It stood on the square’s previously-empty fourth plinth, going almost unnoticed among the surrounding grand statues and with Nelson’s Column towering above it.

The statue, called Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), was built by conceptual artist Mark Wallinger and erected in 1999. He explained: “I consciously made Him life-size. We are made in God’s image, and He was made in our image.

“So for the statue to stand in contrast to the overgrown relics of empire was definitely part of the plan.”

The figure was made of white marble resin, and depicted Christ standing before the multitude with His head slightly bowed.

I found the statue of Christ deeply moving and kept returning to Trafalgar Square to stand and gaze at it.

Because to me, the statue declared Christ’s vulnerability. It stood as a reminder that the God of all creation came to earth as a man and lived among us. He gave up His life so that we might have salvation.

There, with London’s traffic rushing by, pigeons coming in to land, and tourists snapping photographs of each other, Christ stood unobtrusively. Standing, you could say, at the door of our consciousness, and asking to be let in.

In a BBC interview at the time, the artist said that he wanted the statue to be an antidote to the “spiritually empty celebration” then taking place at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich.

It certainly had a deep effect on me. In April 2017, the statue of Christ was placed on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral during Easter. Again, I watched as tourists passed by not noticing the figure. It was a modern-day parable in marble resin.

When the Apostle Paul took a stroll around Athens, he spotted the various altars and statues to the Greek gods. He found an altar ‘To an Unknown God’ and declared that this was “the God who made the world and everything in it” who had made Himself known in Jesus Christ.

Just as Mark Wallinger took possession of the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square for Jesus Christ – the reason for the Millennium celebrations – so Paul claimed the ‘unknown God’ altar in Athens for the Christian gospel.

The Bible has always been wary of putting people on pedestals. It shows us all sides of the people it describes, warts and all.

It tells us that Moses was a murderer, that David was an adulterer, that Paul persecuted the first Christians and that Peter denied Christ.

But all of us have feet of clay, and few of us deserve to be memorialised for centuries in stone or marble. Rather, we are gently encouraged to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Maybe that’s the best way to make our mark in history.

Source : Parish Pump

Towards normality? Worship in church – what did you think?

Introduction – Meeting and worshipping together physically in church form an important part of our life as Christians and yet for good reason this has not been possible since Spring. Like many churches, we have been able to include a good number of our folk with internet access in a form of corporate worship through our regular Zoom services but this form is not for everyone. The recent relaxation of the official virus restrictions to allow some limited services to start in churches under carefully controlled conditions is very welcome but poses real problems for us at St Luke’s.

We are blessed with a lovely church building in which Christians have freely worshipped together for almost 600 years. However, the very age, layout, and small size of our building limit the number of worshippers who can safely attend a service whilst keeping to the necessary social distancing and safety measures.

To guide the discussion at the July meeting of the Church Council about how and when to resume the limited church services at St Luke’s permitted, we consulted our congregations through a short questionnaire.

Questionnaire – There are about 240 people listed with a connection to St Luke’s and we did our best to get a representative sample by contacting everyone with an email address (143) and telephoning as many as possible of the others with the help of our Prayer Networkers.

The questions and summary statistics are shown below.

Questions:

1. When did you join St Luke’s? Last 3 years / 3-10 years ago / over 10 years ago

2. Are you able to join Zoom church on Sunday mornings? Yes / No

3. How many times have you come to Zoom church? Most weeks / occasionally / never

4. Would you like someone to phone to help you join Zoom church? Yes/ No

5. Would you come to restricted communion: at 10.30am? Most weeks / occasionally / never / uncertain

6. Would you come to restricted Sunday communion at 9am? Most weeks / occasionally / never / uncertain

7. Have you tried Zoom Morning Prayer on Mon/Tues/Wednesdays? Most times / occasionally / never

8. Would you come to Zoom Thursday prayer meeting? Most times / occasionally / never / uncertain

9. What would the best time be for our weekly prayer meeting? Weekday evening / at the weekend / weekday morning

Questionnaires returned:

• 104 from the 240 people listed with St Luke’s (43% overall response)

• 86 of the 144 who received it by email (59% response)

• 18 of the 62 on our postal-only list contacted by phone (29%)

• 67 respondents provided individual thoughts and comments (64%)

Findings:

 1. The 43% overall response to the questionnaire is excellent for which many thanks! It reached 59% of those with email/internet and 29% of those without it, providing a clear picture of views across the parish for the Church Council to act on.

2. Unsurprisingly, Q1 confirms that the majority (82%) of our congregations have been with St Luke’s church for more than 10 years.

3. An encouragingly high number (63; 60%) of respondents can participate in Zoom services (Q2) – internet connectivity with a smartphone or another video device. From individual comments, the reasons for non-participation included poor or no internet and lack of technology, as well as discomfort with video as a medium for worship. However, the offer of telephone help with Zoom (Q4) had only a few takers (5; 4.8%).

4. The responses to Q3 about the Sunday morning Zoom service bear out the actual situation in which an important new ‘congregation’ has been established during lock-down. Thus, the majority (56; 89%) of those responding, and able to join, said they did so most weeks or occasionally. Note: in practice, between 45-55 homes are connected in the Sunday Zoom service involving 60-70 worshippers, many in family groups. We can only safely accommodate 30 worshippers in St Luke’s under the current restrictions and so the Sunday Zoom service needs to continue into the Autumn, albeit at a new later time of 10.30am.

5. There is a good level of support (68%) for a restricted service of Holy Communion on Sunday at the new time of 9am (Q6: 31 stating they would come most weeks and 40 occasionally, with 6 uncertain and 27 who would never attend until restrictions are removed). Note: 9am was chosen as the time for the restricted Communion service to be accessible to both our former Sunday 8.30 and 10am congregations.

6. There is also reasonable support (39%) for a restricted service of Holy Communion on Wednesday at 10.30am (Q5: 15 stating they would come most weeks, 26 occasionally, with 8 uncertain, and 55 who would never attend either because of work commitments or until restrictions are removed.) Note: before the lock-down, attendance at the Wednesday 10.30am service was 15-20.

7. Support is more limited for 9am Zoom Morning Prayer on Monday-Wednesday (Q7: 18 of the 63 possible attending at some time) and the Thursday 9.30am Zoom Prayer Meeting (Q8: 23 of the 63 possible attending at some time). In practice, both Zoom Morning Prayer and the Zoom Prayer Meeting continue to be attended by 10-12 people, significantly more than was the case before the lock-down.

Postscript:

The Church Council considered the questionnaire responses carefully at its meeting on Monday 20th July. It decided to provide restricted services of Holy Communion in St Luke’s on Wednesdays at 10.30am and Sundays at 9am (new time) during August to assess the level of attendance and evaluate safety provisions. The church building will be open for individual private prayer until midday after the Sunday and Wednesday services. The Zoom Sunday service will continue but at the later time of 10.30am.

Please see our website at https://www.stlukesholmeschapel.uk and FaceBook page for updates on service arrangements.

Steve Smith
Secretary, Church Hulme Parochial Church Council

The most popular Bible verses

BibleGateway listed the most viewed or searched-for Bible verses for 2019. As it happens, five of the top ten verses were from from Psalm 23, demonstrating the Psalm’s popularity, not only among Christians, but perhaps also among those who hear the Psalm at funerals or other events within the Church. If you added up all the usage percentages, Psalm 23 would be the most popular Bible passage of 2019 on this largely web-based platform.

If we give only give one mention to Psalm 23, then the most popular Bible verses were:

1. John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. Jerermiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

3.Philippians 4:13  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

4Psalm 23:4  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (The other verses from this Psalm were 6, 5, 1 and 10.)

5. Romans 8:28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

6. Romans 2:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

7.Matthew 6:33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

8. Isaiah 41:10  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

9Philippians 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

10. John 14:6  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Source : Association for Church Editors

Spiritual Friendship

(Thanks for this article to Stephen Plant who is Dean of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and teaches Christian theology at the University of Cambridge.)
 
During lockdown, I have been ‘meeting’ weekly on Zoom with the friends I made while training for ministry thirty years ago. We’re scattered around the UK and beyond these days and see each other less often than I’d like. But these are friendships whose roots are so established that it’s easy, meeting after a long break, to pick up where we left off. I’ve rarely been more aware how much friends matter. For this reason the book to which my lockdown experience has led me back is Aelred of Rievaulx’s Spiritual Friendship.


None of the majestic buildings of Rievaulx Abbey which shelter today in the valley of the river Rye in North Yorkshire were there when Aelred first visited. In 1134, when Aelred went to the newly founded Cistercian Abbey, the first Cistercian foundation in England, the only buildings were of wood. Aelred had entered the service of King David of Scotland aged 14, and by the time the quick witted youngster travelled on the King’s business to Yorkshire, he had risen to be the King’s Steward. But something about this loveliest of places poleaxed him. The day after he had concluded King David’s business, Aelred presented himself at the Abbey door and asked to be admitted as a novice. He remained in the Order for the rest of his life.


Spiritual Friendship is a short and unsophisticated book, written a century before the rediscovery of Greek philosophy injected new philosophical life into the bloodstream of Medieval Catholicism. Aelred’s theme is friendship, a theme familiar to him from the few classical sources he did know, especially Cicero. But now friendship is refracted through the lens of his experience of living in a Christian community. For Aelred, friends are nor merely a natural good, though they are that too. Friends are seen by him as blessings given by God who help us, in turn, learn what it might mean to be friends with God. Jesus had taught his disciples to love not only their friends, but their enemies. Yet for Aelred friendship at its best takes us a step further, into a deeper, fuller form of love close to the perfect love of God:


In friendship, then, we join honesty with kindness, truth with joy, sweetness with good will, and affection with kind action. All this begins with Christ, is advanced through Christ, and is perfected in Christ. In the New Testament letters of John, Aelred read that ‘God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them’ (1 John 4:16). But now he wrote that ‘God is friendship, and those who abide in friendship abide in God, and God in them’.


Lockdown reminds us of the importance of friends in maintaining our sense of wellbeing and in keeping our feet on the ground. As a Christian, I am also relearning that the closest friends afford a glimpse of the friendship of God.

Source : Association for Church Editors