A Summer of Psalms…

How do we respond to the many and significant awful things that have taken place in the UK in recent weeks? Lives have been lost, damaged and changed forever as a result of the heartless and evil attacks in Manchester and London. The fire at Grenfell tower will live long in our nation’s memory for the lives that it claimed, the devastation it caused and for the wider issues of poverty, negligence and injustice which it has exposed. I hope too that we will remember and be encouraged by the brave and generous community response to these tragedies which have given hope and comfort to many.

Our emotional responses to these incidents will vary. There have been great examples of compassion in the ways in which people have sought to bring help and bring relief. There has also been intense anger as people have protested against injustice. For many there is also a sense of confusion and bewilderment… How can these things happen? Where is God?

Over the summer we are going to be looking together at a selection of Psalms. These ancient worship songs were penned with the same kind of raw emotional honesty that we see today in the aftermath of tragedy and in the outpouring of grief and pain. The Psalms teach us great truths about God but they also give us a language with which we can speak honestly to God, whatever we are going through. We’ll see in the Psalms a whole range of emotions poured out in prayer and praise – and I hope that this will enable us to also draw near to God with honesty and openness to him.

So I hope that over the summer we’ll grow both in our knowledge of God and our experience of his loving presence with us.


Pause for thought …

Westminster, our centre of government has a hung Parliament with all the problems this presents. Westminster was once known as Thorney Island where King Canute took action to show his people that he was really an able leader for the problems he had to face. There is a sign in Southampton city centre saying, “Near this spot AD1028 Canute reproved his courtiers.” You see one day he went and set his throne by the sea shore and commanded the incoming tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes. Of course the tide continued to rise as usual and dashed over his feet and legs without any respect for his person. Now listen to his reaction. He leapt backwards saying, “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws.”

He then hung his crown on a crucifix and never wore it again.

At Westminster there is now a Prime Minister who called an election hoping that it that would result in stronger support for her and her party in facing the future for our country. In the case of Canute some thought him foolish or mistaken, others may have responded to his call to look to the ‘King of Kings and the Lord of lords’ and to seek guidance from Him. Today we may think that Mrs May was mistaken. However, let us be assured as Christians that what is needed in our land today is a greater faith in God and prayer for His guidance for those who govern with our good in mind.

Remember another King. King David in a difficult period of his reign wrote this, “My salvation and my honour depend on God; Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62) For Westminster, for Local Government, for the great issues of the day and the future of the country perhaps Canute was right. The answer to our needs is to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”(Prov: 3 v 6)

Out and About

On a dry but blustery day I joined Tim and Lucy Greenslade with about thirty others for a nine churches cycle ride starting and finishing at St Mary’s Maiden Newton. The nine churches we visited are part of the Melbury team which consists in total of fifteen churches. Churches we visited (many of which I had never been to before) included those at, Chilfrome, Lower Wraxhall, Evershot and Rampisham. Upon our return to Maiden Newton we enjoyed tea, homemade cakes and the fellowship of other Christians. Naturally I was pleased to complete the thirty mile course and also to receive a finishers’ certificate. More importantly I made new friends and the money raised will go towards the St Mary’s fund and famine relief overseas.

Tim and Lucy send their greetings to the fellowship here and invite us to the next ride in 2018!

David Moore This year’s Ride and Stride to raise money for the Dorset Historic Churches Trust is on September 9th. You can help in many ways; church sitting and welcoming the riders and striders, cycling or walking to as many churches as you feel able, sponsoring the riders and striders from St John’s. Look out for more information soon.

DHCT have provided generous grants towards the recent work on the tower. Riding and striding helps to build up their funds so that other churches will benefit.

Focus…on Mission

We were delighted to once again welcome our dear friend and mission partner, Pat Blanchard and her sister to our Sunday morning service on 11th June. Pat began by presenting a short quiz to test our knowledge of Peru. This was met with much amusement and laugher when we gave the wrong answer. We were also taught a Spanish worship song with actions which was fun!

Pat, who works with the Church Mission Society, has now been in Peru for 17 years and for most of that time St. Johns church has been one of her sponsors. She is pastor of the Shalom Church in Lima which began in 2008 out of a ministry for people living with disabilities. Shalom is situated close to a shanty town and serves people who are affected by extreme poverty and poor health care. Pat is now Director of Shalom Rehabilitation Centre for children and adults, ministering to over 100 children and their families with therapies, workshops and pastoral care.

She preached on Acts 4:23-31 ‘A praying church’ and emphasised the importance of meeting together to pray! Illustrating her talk with photos of church members and staff and examples of the sad times and joyful times experienced by her church family. In spite of their difficult times, God is alongside them giving them strength through their prayers.

Pat told us about Etelvina, a local lady who has worked with Pat for many years. Etelvina’s husband Faustin, died suddenly of a heart attack at the beginning of December. Both Etelvina and her daughter Melany gave moving testimonies at the funeral and spoke of their joy that for the last few years of his life, as a result of constant prayer, knew the Lord. He was also a very active member of the church.

We saw photos of young disabled people happily doing craft work and it was good to see their smiling faces and optimism. They also enjoyed parties and outings.

Please remember Pat in your prayers. She would like to employ someone to do the admin so that she can spend more time with the people.

If you want to know more there is information on the mission notice board and copies of Pat’s latest prayer letter. If you have any queries I will be happy to help.

Jill Flux CMS church representative

Quizzers Wanted…

Did you know that the Waterside Weymouth Community Forum based at the Park Church hold a Quiz Evening which is usually once a month?

Margaret and David, Pam and John, Michael and I make up a team called Aliens. After our £4 each admission we put our brains in gear for a few hours and enjoyed a delicious supper to support this fund raising venture. Last month the questions were quite hard.

However with some inspired guesses we won! We have been runners up but never winners.

Jill brought these figures and other handicrafts which were for sale.

Monetary prizes are awarded to the first 3 teams. In the past we have returned the prize money to the forum but this time we donated it to church funds.

The next Quiz is August 19th. We are all unable to be there. Why not make up a team to support the forum and enjoy an evening out?

Linda Miles