URC Devotions

URC Daily Devotion 28th July

Fri, 28/07/2017 - 06:00
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‘You are my Son;
   today I have begotten you.’

As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,
‘I will give you the holy promises made to David.’

Therefore he has also said in another psalm,

‘You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.’

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption; but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, that what the prophets said does not happen to you:

‘Look, you scoffers!
   Be amazed and perish,
for in your days I am doing a work,
   a work that you will never believe, even if someone tells you.’”

As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people urged them to speak about these things again the next sabbath. Reflection Did you hear the one about…stop me if you’ve heard it before… oh, you have?

I have three hobbies – supporting Liverpool FC; listening to, and playing, acoustic music and watching comedians. Alright, I suppose technically that’s four but bear with me. Occasionally, the first and last of those could be considered the same thing. Liverpool last season where a bit like the Robin Hood of the Premier League – we took from the rich and gave to the poor. But it’s the promise, or at least the hope, of being entertained that links all three (or four – I can’t decide, you’ll have to make up your own minds.)

But whilst I’ll watch Liverpool as often as I can, and go and see the same band or musician more than once I won’t go and see the same comedian twice on the same tour. Why? Because it will just be the same old same old. The same set list, the same jokes. And, whilst I can listen to the same song being played time and again (that is, after all, why we buy music) a joke is the same every time – same build up, same punch line and, once you know what the punch line is, there’s little point in listening to it again. A joke is never as funny second time around.

And yet here we have Paul and Barnabas on tour and the people of the church in Antioch asking them to do their set again the next week. In the same place. To the same crowd. Talk about a tough gig!

They’d heard the set ups, They already KNEW the punchlines – what was going to be different?

Clearly the people in Antioch were mind-numbingly bored. Or maybe, just maybe, they were so deprived of good news, or found the good news that Paul and Barnabas were telling them so exciting, that they wanted to hear it again and again and again.

The description of Paul’s speech in Acts sounds like a good set up… he sets the scene, quoting Psalms, he gives context to the story reminding the audience about David and then he delivers the punchline.

And what was this good news? What was the punch line? Because of Jesus, you can be forgiven for your sins.

And nobody laughed – but the crowd went wild.   Prayer Loving Lord,
The news always seems to focus on the bad things
The things that are going wrong in your world
Help us to remember that there is good news, too,
And that you have called us to share that good news with others.
Amen Today's Writer Leo Roberts is the Children’s and Youth Development Officer for the North Western Synod. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 27th July

Thu, 27/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 27th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 13:13-3  From Paphos, Paul and company put out to sea, sailing on to Perga in Pamphylia. That’s where John called it quits and went back to Jerusalem. From Perga the rest of them travelled on to Antioch in Pisidia.

On the Sabbath they went to the meeting place and took their places. After the reading of the Scriptures—God’s Law and the Prophets—the president of the meeting asked them, “Friends, do you have anything you want to say? A word of encouragement, perhaps?”

Paul stood up, paused and took a deep breath, then said, “Fellow Israelites and friends of God, listen. God took a special interest in our ancestors, pulled our people who were beaten down in Egyptian exile to their feet, and led them out of there in grand style. He took good care of them for nearly forty years in that godforsaken wilderness and then, having wiped out seven enemies who stood in the way, gave them the land of Canaan for their very own—a span in all of about 450 years.

“Up to the time of Samuel the prophet, God provided judges to lead them. But then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, out of the tribe of Benjamin. After Saul had ruled forty years, God removed him from office and put King David in his place, with this commendation: ‘I’ve searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.’

“From out of David’s descendants God produced a Saviour for Israel, Jesus, exactly as he promised—but only after John had thoroughly alerted the people to his arrival by preparing them for a total life-change. As John was finishing up his work, he said, ‘Did you think I was the One? No, I’m not the One. But the One you’ve been waiting for all these years is just around the corner, about to appear. And I’m about to disappear.’

“Dear brothers and sisters, children of Abraham, and friends of God, this message of salvation has been precisely targeted to you. The citizens and rulers in Jerusalem didn’t recognize who he was and condemned him to death. They couldn’t find a good reason, but demanded that Pilate execute him anyway. They did just what the prophets said they would do, but had no idea they were following to the letter the script of the prophets, even though those same prophets are read every Sabbath in their meeting places.

“After they had done everything the prophets said they would do, they took him down from the cross and buried him. And then God raised him from death. There is no disputing that—he appeared over and over again many times and places to those who had known him well in the Galilean years, and these same people continue to give witness that he is alive. Reflection “Friends, do you have anything you want to say? A word of encouragement, perhaps?”

As I write this, exam season is looming in our house.  In the coming weeks two of my children will be sitting AS or A levels and the nervous tension is palpable!  ‘Do your best’ we tell them, ‘work hard’, ‘try not to worry’, ‘get an early night…’ (like that’s going to happen with teenagers!).  All words of encouragement from well-meaning and anxious parents, which may or may not make any difference to the outcome!

But words of encouragement are things that we all need to hear.  They help us get alongside each other and lift us from the gloom of drudgery.  They remind us that we are not alone, even if the task ahead is an individual one.  They give us hope.

When Paul and Barnabas are invited to speak in the synagogue at Antioch it is a word of encouragement that they are invited to offer.  The way Paul approaches this is to tell a story – to remind the gathered congregation of their own story, and to reflect back to them something about who they are and whose they are.  This is about them, fellow Israelites and friends of God, and it is about God and the sustained and special relationship that God has had with the people of Israel over many generations.   Paul’s words of encouragement extend beyond the scope of this passage but you get the sense that those hearing Paul’s message might feel heartened by the fact that he knows them, he knows where they have come from, and that this Jesus, who brings forgiveness, freedom and fulfilment is part of their story too.

Getting alongside people and offering words of encouragement is a vital task for the church today.  Churches themselves are in need of encouragement but it is the encouragement we have to offer that stands out.  We need to tell the story of our church and the stories of our faith in ways that people can relate to.  Telling stories that break down barriers and leave open the possibility that this is as much about them as it is about us.  Telling stories that give hope and inspire trust. Telling stories that help people to see that this Jesus, whom we call Lord, and who offers forgiveness, freedom and fulfilment can part of their story too.
So be encouraged – and be encouragers as you walk the way of Jesus.   Prayer Loving God,
we thank you for your presence in our lives,
bringing hope and encouragement
and reminding us that, in Jesus, we are not alone.

As we share the story of your love
help us to walk alongside others,
that they might find encouragement in our words
and discover Jesus as their friend and saviour.


In his name we pray,  Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d David Salsbury is minister of Dyserth and Holywell and Training and Development Officer in the National Synod of Wales. Bible Version   THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions 26th July

Wed, 26/07/2017 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 13: 4-12 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. Reflection We are tempted to read this passage from the perspective of Western naturalism and materialism. For many, it is much easier to take the story as coming from an age of superstition, dismissing its details in favour of a simple moralistic interpretation. But we would be mistaken. We live in a world that has become more spiritual and religious, not less so. The Bible challenges us to see this world differently than we often do with Western eyes, to see the world as the vast majority of people in the world see it. Then the Bible also provides us with what we need to interact with such a world.

As Christians, this passage reminds us that we have the Holy Spirit who dynamically guides and directs God’s people. We don’t always understand how the Spirit is working. But we can’t avoid the sense that the Holy Spirit actually sets up the confrontation between Paul and Bar-Jesus by directing Paul to Salamis. The same Holy Spirit who directs us is the Holy Spirit who provides us with all we need for the situations we face.

Continuing into the passage, we are struck by how Sergius Paulus is described as “a man of intelligence”. We cannot simply dismiss people who believe in the realm of the spirit as “simple”  or “ignorant”. Intelligent people are spiritual people. Believing that there is more than we can see with our eyes requires intellect, reasoning and perception. We cannot explain people away as unenlightened. The passage also reminds us that even intelligent people might be deceived by false prophets and “magicians” (referring not to those who do party tricks but to those who seek to manipulate natural things in order to facilitate spiritual ends).

Supremely, this passage reminds us that the power of the one true living God is always greater than the power of false prophets and “magicians”. The Holy Spirit is the source of all good and truly beneficial spiritual power. All other forms of spiritual power emanate from the enemies of God seeking to make crooked that which God has made straight. These other forms of spiritual power lead to mist and darkness blinding people to the reality of God’s goodness and love. We see that there really is “good” and “evil” in the world. We come to understand that no spiritual practice is really “neutral”.

The passage leaves us with one final surprising revelation: The focus is on the teaching about Jesus. Although we as Christians take the spiritual realm seriously, this must never become our preoccupation. Our mission is to point people toward the truth about Jesus Christ, who died on the cross and rose from the dead so that people might have life to the fullest. What seems at first to be simply a “power” encounter becomes an encounter with “truth”, specifically the One who is True – Jesus Christ.   Prayer Almighty God, open our eyes to the spiritual realities around us, especially how your Holy Spirit is at work in the midst of them. Enable us to see the world from your perspective, not just the perspective of our Western naturalism. Inspire us as both intelligent and spiritual human beings, so that we might live boldly and faithfully for you. Help us to communicate the truth about Jesus to people from all parts of the world. May your Holy Spirit direct us to those whose minds are covered in mist and darkness so that they might believe in Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Today's Writer The Rev’d Dr Rodney Woods is minister of City Temple in London Bible Version   The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 25th July

Tue, 25/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 25th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 13: 1-3 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul.  While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’  Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
  Reflection I have always had a fascination with the names of people mentioned, especially, in the New Testament. It is something about the rootedness of the writings in a time and place, telling us, now, that there were real people meeting, worshipping, praying and fasting much as we do today – although I have to admit fasting is not part of my spiritual discipline.
 
As we meet each week to worship, pray and meet one another in a fellowship deeper and richer than other types of ‘meeting’ it also, in this instance, puts Saul/Paul among a group of prophets and teachers whose names echo from the Gospels, We are warned by commentators not to speculate too much that this is Simon of Cyrene and his son listed! We are also warned that this was not ordination as such with the laying on of hands but a blessing on Barnabas and Saul for the work they were doing on behalf of the community at Antioch. Paul was not a lone agent and we know from his undisputed letters that he was always in the company of others. This is about the community of faith as much as about Paul’s journeys as we call them.
 
So Saul/Paul is sent out with Barnabas, whose name is ‘son of encouragement’. Not only is the community sending these people out but they are sent with prayer, blessing and encouragement. How often do we encourage one another in the Church? Are we content to meet worship and pray but hold back from encouraging each other in how we seek to serve God in our various callings during the week? Encourage people to think about how they serve God in their daily living? Encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone to seek what God would have them be? And above all how do we pray for each other and bless each other, especially in the work they do on our faith communities behalf?   Prayer Gracious God,
we need encouragement for this day’s activities,
those mundane tasks of living and the other things on our ‘to do’ list.
As we ask your blessing on this day
may we find an opportunity to encourage someone else in what they have to do,
so that together, in community,
we can show your Kingdom values in our lives and living,
for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d Hilary Collinson is the Minister of the Tees and Swale Pastorate in North Yorkshire Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 24th July

Mon, 24/07/2017 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 12: 20-25 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him in a body; and after winning over Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for a reconciliation, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them. The people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!’ And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to advance and gain adherents. Then after completing their mission Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark.
 
The author of today's devotion has changed the NRSV ‘to Jerusalem’ to ‘from Jerusalem’ in v25.  Reading ‘to’ is illogical. These men had been sent to Jerusalem (11:30) and were already there. The RSV and NIV agree with this reading, as does quite a lot of the ancient textual tradition. Reflection Death of a god?

About a dozen members of the Herod family appear in the New Testament. This unhappy character is Hero Agrippa I, who ruled various parts of the Holy Land from 37 to 44AD, under the umbrella authority of the Roman Empire. The incident is noted by the Jewish historian Josephus, who wrote at the end of the first century, as well as here in Acts by Luke. Some of the detail below comes from Josephus.

The setting is Caesarea, smartest of Jewish towns, built in grand Roman style. Herod was in command of the occasion. This was his capital. His enemies were pleading for mercy. He wore his most impressive royal attire, and the crowds on the steep banking of the big outdoor theatre were working up a swell of excitement. Hailing kings as gods was a coming fashion in the Empire. Their king was surely as good as any, especially when civic rivalry was at stake. Shout on, friends. And perhaps for a moment Herod rather liked the title. An important chap like me...

Until he collapsed, with a fierce pain in the gut. Food poisoning? Gallstones? Burst appendix? Might the ‘worms’ imply some sort of parasitic illness? Ruptured pride was part of it too. They took him back to the palace, where his life slipped away, and the royal succession in Judea petered out, ready for a new Roman governor to sail into town.

Meanwhile, Luke reminds us, a story of steady church growth is under way. People are coming to faith, churches are maintaining contact and care with one another, and new leaders are emerging. Princes and persecutors come and go. The gospel is here to last.   Prayer God of the ages and generations,
  our times are in your hand.
Jesus, child of our flesh and dust,
  you lead as servant king.
Spirit, breathing among us,
  you quicken faith.
 
We pray for a world where power can be humble,
  where leaders know their limits,
  where vanity shrinks,
  and the gospel will grow.
 
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd John Proctor is a member of Emmanuel Church, Cambridge and the General Secretary of the URC. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Psalm 7
  O LORD my God, my refuge is in you;
Deliver me from all those who pursue,
Lest, lion-like, they tear ferociously,
While there is no one to deliver me.

O LORD my God, if such a thing I planned,
And if the guilt of sin is on my hand—
If I have wronged the one at peace with me,
Or without cause have robbed my enemy—

Then let my foe pursue relentlessly
That he may vent his hateful spite on me,
And let him trample me into the ground;
So will my honour in the dust be found.

Arise, O LORD, in wrath against my foes,
Against the rage of all who me oppose.
Awake, my God, let justice now abound
For all assembled nations gathered round.

Rule over all the nations from on high;
Your justice to the peoples, LORD, apply.
According to my righteousness judge me;
Look, O Most High, on my integrity.

O God of righteousness, you are the one
Who searches deep the heart and mind of man;
Bring to an end the wicked’s violence
And be the righteous one’s secure defence.

My shield and confidence is God Most High
Who saves the upright when to him they cry.
God is a judge who does what’s right and fair,
And every day his wrath God will declare.

If it should be that God will not relent,
He’ll fashion sword and deadly armament,
And he will bend and string his mighty bow
From which his fiery arrows forth will go.

The one who evil in his heart conceives
Gives birth to lies and no reward receives.
He digs a hole, he scoops it with his spade,
Then falls into the very pit he made.

His scheming will recoil on him instead;
His evil will descend upon his head.
I’ll thank the LORD who acts in righteousness;
I’ll praise the LORD Most High; his name I’ll bless.
This works well to the tune Slane which you can hear here or to Eventide which you can hear here  Both are recordings of congregations singing the Psalm. Reflection I write this as I prepare to leave Manchester - my home for the last 20 years - to take up a new ministry in Glasgow.  Leaving is bitter-sweet.  There are many good memories of Manchester and many friends here who have been important parts of my journey over the years.  Some of these friends are those who have fled to the UK to find sanctuary and many of these are Muslims who have found a freedom here than they would ever have found at home.  
 
I write just a few days after the devastating bomb which killed and maimed children and adults leaving a pop concert.  People around the world have been appalled and I have been amazed at the outpouring of grief, friendship and a sense of unity in the last week in Manchester.  My Muslim friends are as devastated as my Christian and non-religious friends and the desire to do something to mark this tragedy has led to a plethora of vigils and a huge shrine in a square in the city centre where flowers have been left and prayers said.  One of the most powerful images was of a Jewish woman praying together with a Muslim man at this makeshift shrine; something which should not be extraordinary at all has touched so many of us.
 
Our Psalm today - both suggested tunes for it work incredibly well - reminds us that in God we find our refuge.  The first lines are especially pertinent as we think of those for whom, at the Manchester Arena, there was no one to deliver them from the evil that tore into them.  
 
As the people of Manchester have processed this dreadful event we have found ourselves seeking to bridge divides, work across cultural and religious difference and show that hatred, violence and evil are never the last word.  The “I love Manchester” signs going up everywhere serve as icons of the idea that love trumps hate.  Even in our darkest hour God is to be found in the love rising up over the hate.
  Prayer O God of righteousness,
you are the one who searches deep the heart and mind of humanity;
bring to an end the wicked’s violence
and be the righteous one’s secure defence.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Andy Braunston is a minister in the Synod of Scotland's Southside Cluster and coordinator of the Daily Devotions Project. Bible Version   (C) Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS. Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 22nd July

Sat, 22/07/2017 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 12: 12-19 As soon as he realised this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many had gathered and were praying. When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. On recognising Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.” Meanwhile Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed. He motioned to them with his hand to be silent, and described for them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he added, “Tell this to James and to the believers.” Then he left and went to another place. When morning came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. When Herod had searched for him and could not find him, he examined the guards and ordered them to be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. Reflection Here we find a down to earth relaying of the facts following Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison. One can also detect something of a sense of humour in the account. I wonder, however, if it may also be the sheer gravity of the matter which touches our hearts most and therefore our lives. I have often thought of the young girl, Rhoda, as not perhaps being taken for whom she was, a valuable member of the household. Some commentators have even suggested that she was mentally deficient. If she was of sound mind - which is probably the more likely scenario - then those inside should have taken more notice of her insistence as she told them who was outside the gate. She certainly does act as somebody who is persistent, persevering and not prone to giving in easily, even when misunderstood.

We do need to remember that the people who were within the house were meeting especially to pray, seeking for God’s intervention in this problem which they had. Peter was being held in prison for no other reason than his faithful testimony of the life of Jesus within him. Yet his life was in extreme danger, James having already been killed at this time of persecution towards believers. There is a real truth here that so often we can be praying about a situation or a person and then, when the answer to that petition arrives we find it hard to accept, or even deny that it has happened.

Doesn’t this challenge us to respond aright to the blessings which other people may relate to and experience for themselves? Sometimes we may not always react graciously when others are blessed. There can be a sour grapes mentality at times. I am not hinting that people wanted Peter to remain in jail and be in danger of losing his life. However, we do need to be careful to ensure that if we are praying then we will at least expect to see an answer to such, maintaining a childlike trust towards the God to whom we are praying.
  Prayer Loving God, you know us so well,
Our thoughts and actions, and the motives behind them.
Help us Heavenly Father
In those times when we let fear overtake faith,
To remember that when we pray, you do listen
Acting for our best in every situation,
That you alone may have the glory, and we may
experience you to be our ever present help.
As we pray help us to be expectant people
Ready to receive graciously, the answer to our prayers.
Amen. Today's Writer Verena Walder is a Lay Preacher and Elder at Tabernacle URC in Mumbles, South Wales Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 21st July

Fri, 21/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 21st July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 12: 1-11 About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.

The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his wrists. The angel said to him, ‘Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.’ He did so. Then he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’
  Reflection Mostly when we look at this passage we ignore the beginning and move straight onto the part where Peter is in prison and his miraculous escape. Perhaps too, if you are like me, you find yourselves singing the verse of Wesley’s famous hymn “And can it be” where “my chains fell off”.

This is to be rather unfair to James, the brother of John. He, of course, is one of the sons of Zebedee and we learned his name very early on in the story of the Gospels as he and his brother are two of the earliest disciples to answer Jesus’ call.

Another famous name crops up - Herod, there were lots of them. The last we heard of a Herod was as one of the players in the drama of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. That was a different one, Herod Antipas; this is Herod, sometimes called Agrippa I, and confusingly his son, Herod Agrippa II appears later in the book of Acts. One thing the Herods all had in common was cruelty and ruthlessness. They were the Kings of the Jews, friends of the Romans, and jealous of their position.

The timing was interesting. We don’t know how long after the death of Jesus this was but it takes place at Passover, bringing an extra frisson to the story. Luke is nothing if not a good story teller, who points out parallels without labouring the point. Obviously killing Jesus has not killed his teaching nor the idea that he was somehow the real king. Trouble is still brewing so Herod tries an experiment. He has James taken and killed with a sword.

If James were guilty of blasphemy, he would have been stoned like Stephen but by the use of the sword, this shows that James’ execution is a political act. There is no uprising, in fact the people seem pleased, so Herod goes for a bigger fish- Peter. The conditions that Peter was kept in should have meant there was no chance of escape and, as soon as Passover is over, Herod means to give the people what they seem to want, the death of Peter.

What happens is nothing short of a miracle, or the most complicated system of bribery and fixing that seems equally impossible. What soldier would face the anger of Herod? It is so unbelievable that Peter himself can’t believe it and it is only when he finds himself outside the iron gate in a little lane that he realises it isn’t a vivid dream. Luke’s description of Peter’s escape is so matter of fact that it highlights the dreamlike quality.
The rest of the Christians have been praying fervently for Peter’s release and when it happens, it is unbelievable. Does this resonate with us and our attitude to prayer? Do we pray, thinking secretly, it won’t happen? There are many similarities between us and the early church: our faith is often confused; we are not sure what to do for the best. Here the answer is simple - trust God and he will work miracles.   Prayer Lord,
We so often pray to you and don’t really expect an answer,
Help us to recognise your answer to us
whether it is yes, no or something completely different
Help us to put our trust in you
and surrender our futures into your hands
for you know us better than we know ourselves.
Amen Today's Writer Chris Eddowes is a Lay Preacher and elder at St George’s, Hartlepool Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 20th July

Thu, 20/07/2017 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 11: 27-30 At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. Reflection By the time you read this the general election may already be a distant memory, but as a I write campaigning is in full swing. Just yesterday there was controversy when a politician suggested that the typical users of food banks are not people 'languishing in poverty' but those with temporary cash flow issues. How we respond to and help people who are hungry, and the reasons why they are hungry, are still questions for us to consider. There are many factors – conflict, economic systems, inequality, climate change – and it can be hard to know how we should address these problems.
 
These same questions are also reflected in today's reading from Acts. It's such a brief story that it's natural to want to fill in the gaps and ask questions. There's debate among commentators over what events this refers to, and we don't get much detail to go on. When exactly did this famine happen? Was there a gap between the prophecy and the reality, or did it follow very quickly? The answers to these historical questions are not clear. But what is clear is that, when the church in Antioch hears that their brothers and sisters in Judea are in trouble, they immediately want to do what they can to help. They send relief to the Judean church, hoping to protect them from hunger. We can see this as the church putting into action Jesus' commandments to love another, and to 'feed my sheep'.
 
Our churches today also often work to prevent hunger, whether through support for a food bank in the local community, or by raising money for organisations such as Christian Aid who work across the world. In doing so, we are helping to build the Kingdom of God; but to do that effectively, we need to go further than the church in Antioch on that particular occasion, helping not only our fellow Christians but all who are in need.   Prayer Gracious and merciful God,
we know that there are many in our world who go hungry,
and we pray for them all;
we pray not only that they will they be fed,
that famine will be replaced by plenty,
but also that unfair systems that lead to poverty
can be replaced with justice.
 
We pray for the work of all aid organisations
and other groups who set out to help people in need,
and build a world where all will know your abundant gifts.
We ask too that you will guide us to do what we can
to make that vision a reality.
Amen.
  Today's Writer The Rev’d Dr  Nick Jones is Minister at Heswall URC & St. George’s URC, Thornton Hough in the Mersey Synod. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 19th July

Wed, 19/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 19th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 11: 19-26 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.” Reflection “Meanwhile, the Spirit is busy getting on with things, out there in the world”, so begins Loveday Alexander’s exquisite commentary on this passage. And so the Spirit does - inspiring the greats of the Early Church and equally so, many unnamed evangelists. For it is anonymous believers who take the next momentous step in the spreading of God’s word. After the stoning of Stephen and the following persecution, they are scattered to places like Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, capital of the Roman province of Syria and the location of our story. Initially they speak only to Jews. But some, from places as far away as North Africa, also speak to the Hellenists, the Gentiles. A great number become believers and the Gentile church of Antioch is born. What marvellous things can happen when ordinary people get involved, just because the news is too good to keep to themselves.
 
News reaches the church in Jerusalem and they send Barnabas over. Acts 4:36 tells us that he was a Levite from Cyprus called Joseph. The apostles named him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” and here we can see why. Encouragement is indeed his middle name. He rejoices at the grace of God at work in others, he encourages the young believers to remain faithful and he discerns what they need. And then he remembers Saul, the firebrand from Tarsus with his gifts of preaching and teaching. He brings him over to Antioch and the year he spends with the new believers becomes a turning point in the life of the church. Barnabas shows us that the work of the spirit is as much about discerning and nurturing the gifts of others as it is about doing the frontline work. We need the people who can do things - as well as the people who discern and recognise their talents in the first place!
 
In Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. The people of the Way are getting a distinct identity - the people who belong to Christ. What that identity entails is shown by Barnabas and the new believers: their lives are marked by grace, goodness, faithfulness, devotion and generosity. May we still be known for that today.   Prayer Gracious God,
for those who by their faithful living
encourage us and nurture us,
we give you thanks and praise. Today's Writer Francis Brienen is Deputy General Secretary (Mission) Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 18th July 

Tue, 18/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 18th July  table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 11: 1-18 Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him,   saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’   Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying,   ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.”   But I replied, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.”   But a second time the voice answered from heaven, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.   At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were.   The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.   He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter;   he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.”   And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning.   And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’ When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’ Reflection Christian mission often leads us into uncharted territory. As we cross boundaries, how do we remain faithful to God? In this passage from Acts, Peter is being called to account by the Jerusalem church for eating with Gentiles. He had infringed the dietary laws (Lev. 20:24-26). Now these were important identity markers, they distinguished Jews from others and they were a symbol of their faithfulness to God. But a Christian community composed of Jews and Gentiles had to eat together, and Peter felt impelled by God to ignore some of the requirements of a kosher diet for the sake of fellowship. As an observant Jew, he was clearly horrified at the thought. But he realised that God was summoning him to cross the boundary between the Jewish and Gentile world in the interests of Christian mission. And his vision was sealed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon his Gentile converts.
 
We too are called to develop the tradition we have inherited in forms that are culturally sensitive and appropriate to its context, to enable Christians and those who become Christians to grasp the faith and to live it out creatively. But as we applaud the breaking down of walls of partition, we know from the letters of Paul that table-fellowship remained a bone of contention for the early church (eg. Gal.2:11-12). And there remain for us today some lingering questions. In the process of transformation, was something of value lost? What did repudiation of this key identity- marker by Christians mean for relations with Jews? Have boundaries been redrawn? If so, what are the consequences?   Prayer Living God,
May your bright intoxicating energy fall upon your Church;
that we may be filled with joy and boldness,
faithfully to proclaim the gospel to a needy world,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour, Amen. Today's Writer The Rev’d Fleur Houston is a retired minister and member of Macclesfield & Bollington URC. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 17th July

Mon, 17/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 17th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 10: 44-48 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles,  for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said,  “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”  So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days. Reflection This passage continues to astound me.
 
It doesn’t astound me that God’s Spirit falls upon all who heard the word preached by Peter. Pentecost teaches us that God’s Holy Spirit falls upon an array of people of many tongues and backgrounds. It teaches us that the Holy Spirit fills the people with abilities to speak to one another about God’s grace and love. It teaches us that the Spirit’s gifts can be shared equally among all those who hear.
 
It’s not astounding that God’s Holy Spirit would rest upon those who have heard the Word preached.
 
But rather, what is astounding is the response of the ‘circumcised’ – the people of faith who were with Peter. They ‘were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit has been poured out even on the Gentiles.’  They were a people who could not understand that the Spirit might actually be about more than just those who filled the pews and already called the local Synagogue their own. They were unable to see how it might be possible for God’s Spirit to touch those who weren’t already in the family. They were astounded that God’s action might not actually be restricted to their own blinkered expression of faith.
 
It’s not astounding that the Holy Spirit can be received by all who hear the Word. It’s not astounding that the message of the gospel is one of love and compassion and community and welcome.
 
But what astounds me – and I continue to see it in the Church – is the idea that what we expect, as people of faith, is that God’s grace, mercy, peace, and love to be confined to our ways of doing things and our type of people. I’m not astounded that God might speak to people through pop music or sports or visiting an art gallery; but I am astounded that we don’t do more to help people who have the encounter with God’s Holy Spirit to know that they too might be part of God’s communion.
 
We may not be withholding the welcome of the Church in the way Peter’s ‘circumcised believers’ might have wished, but are we really doing enough to look beyond our own ways of doing things and our type of people to see and respond to how God Spirit is speaking to the world?   Prayer Astounding God,
who speaks beyond our imaginings,
help us to open our eyes
to the remarkable ways you speak to all who hear your word
and open our hearts to the astonishing acts of witness that come from your Spirit.
Astound us so that we might see in others the gifts that come from you
and welcome into your family those who have received of your Holy Spirit. Amen
  Today's Writer The Rev’d Dr Matthew Prevett is the minister of St Andrew’s URC, Monkseaton and Northern Synod Minister Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 16th July

Sun, 16/07/2017 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Psalm 6 
  LORD, in your wrath rebuke me not;
In anger do not chasten me.
Have mercy, LORD, for I am faint;
LORD, heal me in my agony.

My soul with anguish is distressed.
O LORD, how long will you delay?
Turn to me, LORD, and free my soul;
In steadfast love save me, I pray.

No one in death remembers you;
Who from the grave can give you praise?
My groaning weakens me; at night
My bed is drenched with tears always.

My eyes grow weak with tears of grief;
They fail because of all my foes.
Away from me, you evil crowd!
The LORD has listened to my woes.

The LORD has heard my prayer for help;
The LORD has listened to my plea.
My enemies, disgraced and shamed,
Will turn back from me suddenly.
You can hear a congregation sing this to the tune Soldau here.  It can also be sung to the grand Welsh tune Llef which you can hear here. Reflection Tangled times

When it rains, it pours. When one part of our being gets out-of-joint, everything else feels the strain. Sickness of body disturbs peace of mind. Tiredness unsettles our temper. When we are ill-at-ease with ourselves, we stop trusting other people. Then isolation makes it harder to hold onto faith. And on, down the spiral, until we forget how it all started. Where was the cause, and what is the consequence? The whole experience feels like one big tangle of misery.

Welcome to the Psalms, or at least to a good number of them. Individual laments, some call these – prayers for troubled times, for dog days, discouragement and darkness. Psalms of disorientation is another label. Fog has fallen, life’s landmarks have been taken away, and direction is impossible to find.

Part of the trouble in Psalm 6 is other people, ‘foes...evil crowd...enemies’. What these people had done, we never find out. Put another way, which came first, the sickness or the aggro? The writer’s inner distress, or the outer dispute? What was cause and what was consequence? Perhaps it doesn’t matter. The value of this psalm goes beyond the precise situation that led to it. It speaks in the tangles and trials of our days. It serves those seasons when one mishap has followed another, and all of life has become painful and disjointed.

On those days, a psalm such as this talks for us and with us. It puts words into our perplexity, and offers understanding when we have ceased to understand ourselves. It witnesses that other believers have walked this way before, and so God has been here too. God has answered prayers like this one. God has made a difference in situations of this kind. So God can reach into your pains, laments and disorientations, and into mine. Prayer God of our dis-locations,
    when we find ourselves in the wrong place,
    in our circumstances, and in our spirit ...
God of our dislocations,
    when the pieces of our life
    have ceased to fit together well ...
Move us on, we ask,
    mend us, re-make us.
But while we wait
    with things as they are now,
    thank you for understanding,
    and for being big enough
    to handle the situation with us.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Today's Writer The Revd John Proctor is a member of Emmanuel URC, Cambridge, and General Secretary of the URC. Bible Version   Sing Psalms! Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 15th July

Sat, 15/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 15th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardBottomImageContent{ padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockInner{ padding-top:0 !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockOuter{ padding-top:9px !important; padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 10: 34-44 Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality,   but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.   You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.  That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced:   how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.   We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;  but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,  not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.   He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.   All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’ While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. Reflection Peter has come to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles – to Cornelius and many (v27) relatives and friends (v24).

Imagine being amongst those visitors – his wife maybe, a niece, or the barely-adult son of a hanger-on. Have you come willingly, or has the wealthy household head summoned you? Do you know why you’re here? Certainly there’s an atmosphere of anticipation, excitement even, emanating from Cornelius.

The man’s talking and what’s this!? Who are the people of Israel? (I thought that nation had disappeared centuries ago.) Somebody called ‘Jesus’ is Lord! (Be careful chum, that would be Caesar.) Not another message of ‘peace’! (The last thing we want is more Pax Romana that was gained through intolerable violence.) Baptism! (what’s that when it’s at home?) He’s droning on but my mind is already a wandering turmoil.

Now let’s ask if church newcomers feel like this – or children and young people. Do they understand our language, the way we do things, and why certain traditions are important to us when we don’t pay attention to what’s important to them? Why is everyone standing up? Why is this music so dull? Why has everyone dipped their heads when the woman at the front is talking? And why is everyone so much more joyful over coffee?

We want new people to come amongst us, but do we want them to be ‘like us’ or are we willing to embrace what they have to give to us? Look at the final verse of this passage – it’s my favourite verse in Acts … while Peter was still speaking God’s own Spirit interrupted him and got on with her work. We need to take care that what we want to say and do isn’t standing in the way of, or putting people off, letting God work amongst them just as much as with us.   Prayer Help us, interrupting Spirit,
to discern what is truly of you and what of ours we are holding onto so tightly.
En-courage us, en-heartening Spirit,
so we can understand and embrace the new that you drench us with.
Humble us, Holy Spirit of the Living God,
until it is your work we spend our time and efforts on …
… we ask this in the Name of him
who returned to the Father
so that You might emerge amongst us and for us.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev’d Dr Rosalind Selby is the principal of Northern College in Manchester. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions 14th July

Fri, 14/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotions 14th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } .mcnPreviewText{ display:none !important; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; 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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 10: 1- 33 In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called.  He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God.   One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius.’   He stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ He answered, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.   Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter;   he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.’   When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him,  and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa. About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.   He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance.  He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners.   In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air.   Then he heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’   But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.’   The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’   This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven. Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate.   They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there.   While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.’   So Peter went down to the men and said, ‘I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?’ They answered, ‘Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.’   So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging. The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him.   The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.   On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshipped him.   But Peter made him get up, saying, ‘Stand up; I am only a mortal.’   And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled;   and he said to them, ‘You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.   So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?’ Cornelius replied, ‘Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me.   He said, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.   Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.”  Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.’ Reflection The story of Peter’s encounter with Cornelius marks an important point of transition for the early Christian community. Now Gentiles are to be included in the Church. Cornelius is one Luke’s friendly Roman centurions, the equivalent of a modern warrant officer, part of the Italian Cohort living in Caesarea. He is devout, fears God, generous with his money and he prays to God, but he remains uncircumcised.

Like the conversion of Saul which is repeated this story is clearly important to Luke for it is a story he also repeats. Peter recounts what happened after facing criticism from circumcised believers (Acts 11:-1- 18) and it is further alluded to by Peter in a controversy over the admission of Gentiles (Acts 15:6-11).

Both the main characters in the story have a spiritual experience reinforces the experience of the other. Cornelius has a vision of an angel who tells him to send for a man named Simon. While Peter is on a roof and falls into a trance and sees heaven opened and a large sheet containing all sorts of creatures that are considered unclean or profane. These are things the Peter has never eaten. Three times he has this dream which leave him puzzled. Then the messengers from Cornelius arrive and Peter goes with them together some fellow believers from Joppa to the home of Cornelius.

Peter has recognised that he breaking a fundamental principle that a Jew should not normally associate with a Gentile. The food laws require a Jew and a Gentile not to share table fellowship. On the other hand he also took on board the message of the vision he had received, if no food was unclean then no person was unclean. Peter felt able to mix with Cornelius as he could with any Jew.

Cornelius’ prayer has been answered.

The story is often headed in commentaries as “the conversion of Cornelius” but as a number of theologians point out Peter is also converted. The event leads to a radical change for the Church.
Lesslie Newbigin uses this story in discussion of dialogue between religions. In dialogue the Christian partner makes their own faith vulnerable and certainly “must be ready to face the possibility of radical reconsideration of long-accepted formulations” (The Open Secret, Lesslie Newbigin, SPCK 1978, p.210).

Very often the Church sees itself as carrying Christ to the world. It is not often that it considers the opposite may happen, the story of the Cornelius and Peter is a two way exchange.   Prayer Gracious God,
this universe is created and loved by you.
You came to us as one of us,
in Jesus of Nazareth.
Your Holy Spirit remains active in your creation.

We thank you for the depth of your love.
We thank you for the Church
an agent of your Kingdom,
but may we ever be alert to your ways in the world.

May we learn what you are about,
and what you want of us,
through being alert to people around us,
through our imagination,
and through observing our world and our environment.

May we be open to change
according to the leading of your Spirit.
In Christ’s name.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev’d Dr David Whiting - Minister Sunderland and Boldon URC Partnership. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 13th July

Thu, 13/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 13th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 9: 36-43 Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity.  At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs.  Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, ‘Please come to us without delay.’  So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them.  Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.  He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive.  This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.  Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner. Reflection Peter is in demand, visiting believers, spreading the word and healing those in need.  But then he gets a call, an urgent call, a believer has died.  You would think this call was less urgent, Tabitha was already dead, “nothing more can be done for her, but her friends, I am sure, would appreciate a visit, so please come if you have the time”.

You sense there is something special about this woman, we are told a little of her good works; and she must be important for she is named, and it is two men who come to persuade Peter to drop everything and come with them.  Indeed, we learn more about Tabitha and how much her loss will affect those who knew her, especially the widows.

What were they expecting from Peter?  Had his reputation as a healer caused optimism amongst the believers that even a woman prepared for burial could be brought back to life?  Or were they just hoping for someone with a bit of gravitas to lead the mourning and so they were eager to show him just what she had done for her community?

Her loss appears to be keenly felt by those closest to her ‘the widows’, and we can only imagine their sense of loss, there were no safety nets for widows at the time – Tabitha is gone, what will they do, how will they survive.

Yet, not for the first time, death does not have the final say.

We need to be careful when speaking of healing stories – people coming back to life is not normal.  If she can be healed, why not others?  

Yes, Tabitha had an important social role in her community, but she also had an important role as a disciple.  Her ministry to the women is an example we can all take note of.

How do we minister to the marginalised and forgotten in our own communities; and how do we value those who offer such ministry?   Prayer Loving Lord,
We live in a society where there are safety nets for those in need;
yet there are many who still fall through the cracks.
We pray for those who rely on food banks and other charities like Starter Packs;
we also remember those who make the policies which seemingly condemn people to poverty.
May they, and we, recognise your face in all whom we meet
and do everything in our power to ensure justice is served for all people, everywhere.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev’d Branwen Rees is Minister  of Port Glasgow and Greenock East URC’s in Scotland. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 12th July

Wed, 12/07/2017 - 06:00
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 9: 32-15 Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed.  Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. Reflection Well, here’s a curious little story! It is told almost as an aside. There was Peter, seemingly almost aimlessly wandering about amongst the believers. Was his journey to Lydda planned or did he wander in here by accident? Did he know Aeneas was ill? Did he intend to heal him or did this just happen too in a “since-I’m-here-I-may-as-well” sort of way? Lots of questions but very few answers.

We know almost nothing about the place and even less about the people but this man is nevertheless remembered by us 2000 years later, at least by name.

As someone who likes to have things planned I am intrigued by the notion that this was an unplanned detour, and an unexpected encounter – what does it say to us? For those of us who like life to be planned and controlled it is good to remember that God may have other ideas and plans. He may suggest to us that we should take a course of action (a detour if you like) and that leads us to an encounter which we might not have had if we had followed our planned journey. Even in those circumstances, of course, we may still miss the point of our change of plan. One of the few things we can be sure about in this story of Peter is that he saw an opportunity to heal in the name of Jesus Christ. Aeneas’s status doesn’t matter, what matters is that he was healed, his expected future as a paralyzed man was overturned. No-one whatever their status is immune from the need to be healed at some point in their life and it may be that you are the one to take that detour and do that healing, physical or spiritual – transform a life in the name of Jesus and you will be following a good example   Prayer Compassionate God,
guide our footsteps
and amongst those we meet in our daily lives.
open us to the possibilities for healing.
May all we do be in your name.
Amen Today's Writer Val Morrison is an elder in Hall Gate United Reformed Church, Doncaster Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 11th July

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 11th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino    
Father of Western Monasticism, c.550 Benedict was born in Nursia, central Italy, around the year 480. As a young man he was sent to study in Rome, but was soon appalled by the corruption in society and withdrew to live as a hermit at Subiaco. He quickly attracted disciples and began to establish small monasteries in the neighbourhood. Around the year 525, a disaffected faction tried to poison him so Benedict moved to Monte Cassino with a band of loyal monks. Later in life Benedict wrote his Rule for Monks, based on his own experience of fallible people striving to live out the gospel. He never intended to found an 'order' but his Rule was so good that it was disseminated and widely followed, becoming the model for all western monasticism. Benedict died at Monte Cassino in about the year 550.  1 Corinthians 3. 10-11  According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.     Reflection No one would be more surprised than Benedict to find his name still revered 1500 years after his death. His modesty, quiet wisdom and occasional good humour were the personal foundations on which he developed his Rule” - a concise management textbook on how to run a good monastery. “Like a skilled master builder” Benedict laid the foundations for the monastic life of Western Europe at a time when his world was in danger of descending into chaos - physical and spiritual. We don’t have many URC monasteries, and even fewer URC monks, so why bother with Benedict? Two reasons: his Rule helped to build a community of prayer, learning and spirituality housed in buildings of such beauty that many of them still remain to move our spirits to this day. Without Benedict it would have been chaos which ruled, rather than the order and discipline he brought to Christian experience, which also survives to this day. From this foundation springs the commitment to “prayer and work” which was his recipe for the Christian life, whether it was in a monastery or not.  He was a skilled master builder indeed, and one who never sought to make his mark a matter of personal prestige, because he understood by whom the foundations had been laid on which we are all called to build our lives. Prayer Gracious and Holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate upon you
and a life to proclaim you;
Through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

A prayer of St Benedict Today's Writer The Rev’d Peter Moth is a retired minister in the Northern Synod and a member of Kenton URC, Newcastle Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 10th July

Mon, 10/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 10th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Acts 9:31  Things calmed down after that and the church had smooth sailing for a while. All over the country—Judea, Samaria, Galilee—the church grew. They were permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God. The Holy Spirit was with them, strengthening them. They prospered wonderfully. Reflection Can you hear that?
. . .
Nothing.
 
Like being surprised by carless silence on a busy city street, there are moments of blissful quiet. I like to imagine that for some people they are more than moments – days, weeks, months in which there is nothing urgent to be done except to get on with flourishing. Is that what Jesus meant when he spoke of life in all its fullness (John 10.10)?
 
So often we live in the other kind of full life, the kind in which we rush from task to task, being surprised by the emerging crisis, with moments of stressful worry. That was also the life of the earliest churches, who were persecuted and suspected churches. That worry filled life was also that of the Israelites as they endured slavery and then went into the wilderness to seek a place of safety. God knows full well this life we often lead.
 
In the poem “The Bright Field”, R.S. Thomas imagines realising that in a moment of stillness he has seen the field of hidden treasure worth selling a kingdom for (Matthew 13.44-45) but has let the moment pass him by. The poet determines that life is not about hurrying, running to stand still, or anxiously chasing the future (I paraphrase for copyright reasons, so please seek out the original). It is about these moments that catch us and take our breath away:
 
[turning] aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.  
(The Bright Field, R.S. Thomas)      Prayer For the duration of a breath in, and breath out, hold a silence. With the breath that follows, thank God for such moments, however transitory. When you are ready, go on your way. Today's Writer The Rev Dr ’frin Lewis-Smith is minister to the URCs in Darwen and Tockholes. Bible Version   Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 9th July

Sun, 09/07/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 9th July table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Psalm 5
  O LORD, give ear to what I say;
think on me as I sigh,
And listen, O my King and God,
As I plead earnestly for help,
because to you I cry.

At dawning of the day, O LORD,
you listen to my plea;
As morning light returns again,
I lay before you my requests
and wait expectantly.

For you are not a God who will
in evil take delight;
With you the wicked cannot dwell,
Nor can the proud and boastful stay
one moment in your sight.

You hate all those who practise wrong,
and liars you destroy.
These are the ones the LORD abhors—
All who go thirsting after blood
and who deceit employ.

But by your mercy and your grace
to your house I’ll draw near;
I will bow down in reverence
Towards your holy temple, LORD,
and worship you in fear.

LORD, lead me in your righteousness
or I will go astray
Because of all my enemies;
Make straight the path in front of me,
and guide me in your way.

No word that issues from their mouth
can anyone believe;
Destructive thoughts control their heart.
Their throat is like an open grave;
their tongue speaks to deceive.

O God, declare their guilt; let them
by their own schemes be caught.
Expel them from your presence, LORD,
For in committing many sins
rebellion they have wrought.

But let all those who flee to you
rejoice with confidence;
Let them at all times sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them
and be their strong defence.

So those who truly love your name
will give a joyful shout.
Surely you bless the righteous, LORD;
Your favour keeps them safe from harm
and shields them round about.
You can hear a congregation sing this to the haunting tune Binney here.  It can also be sung to the tune Orlington which you can hear here. Reflection Prayer is a passionately engaged activity. It was Peter who taught me that many years ago. Peter suffered with schizophrenia  and during his homeless years marched from London to the town in which I then lived. He said that as he marched, prayers were squeezed out of him like toothpaste. ‘Not your churchy prayers’ he said. Ever since, I have wondered about the prayers of a desperate heart.

Thus here in the psalmist’s cry, we are reminded of the persevering, trusting call of the human pilgrim to the God of moral purpose. As day dawns, the psalmist cries out for God to vindicate himself. Despite that very human experience of seeing wrong flourish in many different ways whilst the innocent suffer, the cry is still uttered God save the people, Lord, not crowns and thrones but people.

Whilst the destruction of liars and wrongdoers, may not echo the tones of forgiveness, it may be understandable in less insulated contexts in which brutality seems set to triumph amid a smokescreen of lies and half truths. Prayer Lord of all,
quicken within me
a longing to see your kingdom come
in the many places which you draw to my attention.
Help me to pray with patience and perseverance,
in the sure knowledge that you will hear and answer.
I rejoice in you
to whom the world looks in hope.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d Richard Church is the Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship) and a member of Islington URC. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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