Court Lane County Middle School, Cosham, North Portsmouth. Not the most prestigious school for formative education – but good enough. No green space – all brick ‘n tarmac. But I learnt to spin a cricket ball on the coconut matting nets… for which I am eternally grateful.
I look back too with more than a little nostalgic gratitude for the assemblies. I enjoyed then much more than the lessons. I can still remember a fair few and one sticks in my mind almost as clearly as it did the day I heard it 45 years ago. It was an assembly based on the bible – as most were… the story of Gideon. At God’s orders, Gideon takes his men to the water and has them drink. Gideon sends home any soldier that picks up water with his hands. He keeps only the soldiers who lap up water with their tongues, like dogs, leaving him with a tiny – but fiercely urgent, army of just 300 men. Hard to believe now but at playtime (we didn’t ‘take breaks’) we re-enacted the story (we loved a good battle!) but before we did, we rushed into the boy’s loos and made a point of ‘drinking like dogs’ from the taps!
It’s all too easy to overlook the narrative force of some of those archetypal, Old Testament stories. If only we had that same child-like enthusiasm for them as stories to ‘play out’! Certainly, they still have so much to say to us. They can speak tellingly to the world in which we are trying to live out our faith. Nearly always they speak to how we are living out God’s call as a church and, of course, how we are personally walking the way of faith.
The best stories make us see things in a new light. Over the summer months of July and August we will be telling stories Sunday by Sunday from the Old Testament. Whilst each one will stand on its own, each of them will, we hope, be explored in ways which give us fresh insight into how God is calling us to live faithfully for the sake of the world, the church… and to grow in our own faith.
Last week we heard about Joshua and being bridge builders. This week it’ll be Moses and Aaron from Exodus – how we need to find the right way – and the right people when working together for God. There will be insights from the story of Naaman in Kings 5 and its insights into healing. We will re-tell the story of Esther and of grow and tend community. Yes, Gideon in the Book of Judges will get a look in and how at times God demands of us a fierce urgency! And what about Elijah? So good we will have him twice (1 Kings 17–19 and 2 Kings 1–2) and be challenged by prophecies of war and the work of building up God’s Kingdom… and other stories too – phew!
So, as we move into the blessed months of summer ‘play times’, I wish you rest, refreshment and re-creation.
And, if you’re not sure what book to be reading in the comfort of your deck chair, why not try the Old Testament – it may be life changing!
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
This Sunday 11th July we meet for worship outdoors at St James, Birdham @ 10am. This will be a Service of the Word. However, we continue to offer a Covid secure 8am Holy Communion (BCP) each Sunday @ St Peter and St Paul, West Wittering and alternate weeks at St James, Birdham and St Nicholas. Itchenor – this Sunday at Itchenor. Please remember to book for these services.
Birdham: Bob & Greta Price on 01243 674562 (Please note change of details for 2 weeks)
Itchenor: Jane Oundjian on 01243 512757
West wittering: Stella Pendleton 01243 673470
Anthony will lead our worship and Jonathan will be preaching. Our bible focus this Sunday will be Exodus 6:28-7:7. We will be reflecting on the story of Moses being given Aaron to support him in the call gave him to set God’s people free.
There will be a ‘Sofa Service’ this week and the link will be available on Saturday. Morning and Night prayer is available for anyone who wishes to join daily or just every so often.
We continue to name in our prayers:
Carrie Goddard, Charlie Gray, Johanna Morrish, Eloise and baby Elijah
The Collect for this Sunday:
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you in all things and above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Responding to human need
Building life, restoring relationships, offering healing and wholeness
We have a heart to reach out and welcome all God’s family, we want to be a bridge using the SJC to show people the good news of God’s unconditional love for all. We have welcomed young families at Ducklings, we are opening up the Cafe to welcome walkers and holiday makers and local folk for coffee and biscuits.
We are planning to have a ‘Forget-me-not Tea’ on Thursday September 16th 3.30-4.30 at the St. James Centre. This will be a chance to share thoughts and feelings about those who we have loved but see no longer, recently or long ago, sharing stories and memories with each other and being listened to.
We are a welcoming place and we want to share the love of Christ with others in actions more than words. After this pandemic we are so aware of folk who are grieving, feeling loss and deep sadness- Jesus walked with the lost and the lonely and so must we. Have you a heart to join us? Please contact Susan 512881 firstname.lastname@example.org