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URD Daily Devotion 3rd March

URC Devotions - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 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 St Mark 9:30-37  They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’  But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’  But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’  Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’ Reflection The passage begins with the second of three predictions of his passion made by Jesus in Mark's Gospel. Jesus speaks of his betrayal and his death. Then three days after he is killed he will rise again. Jesus is teaching his disciples but they simply don't understand and are afraid to ask him what he means.

What happens next simply underlines the disciples lack of understanding for on the journey to Capernaum they had been arguing among themselves about which one of them was the greatest. The silence that answers Jesus' question shows that they know they are at fault. Nevertheless Jesus seems to know what they have been talking about for he speaks to them about the nature of true greatness, that 'whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all'. Jesus goes on to illustrate his point by placing a child in their midst. What Jesus does has been described by some as an acted parable for apparently the Aramaic word for 'child' is identical to the Aramaic word for 'servant'.  Whether this assumption is correct or not the disciples have been arguing about who is the greatest, perhaps they should be more concerned about those who are the weakest and most vulnerable in the community.

In churches today we may not exactly argue about who is the greatest, but in many churches there is still the jockeying for position. Church members are just as likely as anyone else to see their offices and posts as status symbols and power bases. Almost instinctively we build a hierarchy to slot everyone including ourselves into. Unless we are particularly self-possessed we feel rejected if we think that we have been overlooked. A monarchical power image is often more congenial to us than the image of the servant who suffers for us.   Prayer Loving God,
we hear Jesus' words about his suffering and death,
living this side of the cross and resurrection we understand what his words mean.
He was one with God yet became one of us.
He was declared as Lord, yet his lordship was exercised in service.

May we not seek positions over others,
but rather let us serve.
May we not be proud people,
but rather let us show humility.

May we give of ourselves
to the troubled,
to those on the edge,
to the vulnerable.
In the name of the suffering servant.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Dr David Whiting is minister of the 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 2nd March

URC Devotions - Thu, 02/03/2017 - 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 St Mark 9:14-29  When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them.  When the whole crowd saw Jesus, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, ‘What are you arguing about with them?’  Someone from the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak;  and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.’ He answered them, ‘You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’  And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood.  It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.’  Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’  Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’  When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You spirit that keep this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!’  After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand.  When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’   He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’ Reflection “How long has this been happening to him?” Most, if not all, the times I’ve heard this read in church, the reader has sounded like a doctor investigating symptoms, but my suspicion is that we should read it more in the style of, “Good grief! How long’s he been like this?”

The disciples had been focussed on trying to cure the boy – we’d probably have done just the same – but the disciples failed and the father was angry, perhaps as yet another hope was dashed. However,  rather than rushing in, Jesus took time to talk with the lad’s father, and his sympathetic question opened up the floodgates, for the father was clearly, and understandably, at the end of his tether. The conversation became one about faith; the father’s faith which may well have been wobbling because of this immense burden the family had been carrying for a long time and, perhaps because of the sympathy Jesus showed through his words and who he is, the man opened up with honesty: “I believe; help my unbelief.”

Now the story becomes really interesting: Mark tells us that it was only when a crowd was gathering – probably a crowd wanting to see a dramatic healing and irritated when it wasn’t happening - that Jesus healed the boy, which suggests to me that he would otherwise have spent even longer talking with the father. How often is it the carer who needs help; help often in the form of an understanding ear? A person close to the sufferer can be wracked with helplessness, guilt, and with the pain of loving in awful circumstances and needs time to unload this. Jesus, in this instance, attended to the needs of the carer first.

So, what about you? Just you. Can you believe, deep down, that in a difficult situation Jesus might want to talk with you first, no matter how pressing another’s needs may be from your point of view? Do YOU need to hear him say, “How long has it been like this?” Do you believe that he might want to give you time to let off steam; to get things off your chest? Well, this might just be the moment!   Prayer Loving Lord,
sometimes it really does feel as if we can’t cope any longer,
and though we still believe,
we find it hard to really live as if that were true,
and it can be so difficult,
when we look at the problems others have,
to think that the pain within us
is of significance to you.
Lord, help our unbelief,
through Jesus our friend and Saviour,  Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Ruth Crofton is a retired minister and member of Waddington Street URC, Durham. 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 1st March

URC Devotions - Wed, 01/03/2017 - 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; 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St Mark 8: 31-38 Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.  He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?  Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’   Reflection To turn from wishful thinking to painful reality is a hard choice for even the most devoted of disciples. The cross is more than a piece of jewellery to be worn or admired, it is a definition of who this Jesus of Nazareth is and who his followers must become. The cross was the ultimate control weapon of the state, its use intended to dehumanise and intimidate. The refusal of Jesus to be deterred from his calling is made clear in his rebuke of Peter and his determination to take the long walk to Jerusalem. The challenge of the Lenten journey is to make the choice to set aside our own hopes and desires in order to be the person that God calls us to be. In that choice there lies fulfilment and not emptiness, life gained not lost.

We have a natural desire to be comfortable and not to make enemies, to enjoy the respect and good opinion of contemporary culture. When that culture excuses prejudice and accepts discrimination as necessary then it is time for disciples of Jesus to speak out. The threat of intimidation and ridicule cannot be enough to deter us from our calling to speak truth to power. Who will we chose to be? Friends of the privileged or disciples of Jesus?   Prayer God of surprises,
Forgive us when we choose comfort over challenge
or when we ask for certainty
when we are called to live by faith
or when we are content with empty piety
when action is needed.

Christ of the Cross
Give us the strength to speak out for others
to risk the sneer and contempt of the self-important
and to know our fulfilment is in following you.

Spirit of God,
restless and free
we will follow and risk
until your kingdom is come.  Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd David Grosch-Miller is a member of St. George’s URC, Morpeth and the Immediate Past Moderator of General Assembly. 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: 28th February

URC Devotions - Tue, 28/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 28th February 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 Revelation 5 Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals;  and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’  And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.  And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.  Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’

Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.  He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne.   When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.  They sing a new song:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll
   and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
   saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
   and they will reign on earth.’
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,  singing with full voice,

‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honour and glory and blessing!’


Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,

‘To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and might
for ever and ever!’
And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the elders fell down and worshipped.   Reflection John’s Revelation is a picture book in words.

The Gospels tell stories, but Revelation paints pictures. They are pictures of one man’s vision of how this chaotic world is ultimately seen as being under the sovereignty of God –past, present and future. It is a picture book of sometimes violent and threatening images, but always returning to the promise of eternal glory accompanied by the alleluias of the heavenly choirs. And it has inspired other artists down the years.

If you have ever been in Ghent Cathedral in Belgium, you will have seen one of those pictures: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by the van Eyck brothers. It is a representation of this chapter 5 of John’s Revelation and tries to express in painting, the picture John has put into words. The Lamb stands in the centre of the altar surrounded by the Saints, Elders, Evangelists and the heavenly host. The Lamb has been sacrificed, but stands brazenly alive and triumphant as his blood pours from the sacrificial wound into the chalice, and the world is saved. It is an image which has fascinated and puzzled generations of believers and unbelievers alike.

This is the story of the scroll and the Lamb. The scroll contains God’s plan for the world – all that has been and shall be; but the scroll is sealed 7 times. No-one can open it, and John weeps in his vision because he cannot see how we, the saints, clothed in the white robes of suffering, can be sure of the ultimate victory which he is convinced is written there. Surely the suffering saints shall be victorious over the forces of darkness and disorder. That has to be our eternal hope, and that is what this chapter promises, but not in the picture of the roaring Lion of Judah , the Old Testament conquering hero, but in the shape of the Mystic Lamb, giving his life-blood for the world. Our hope lies in his suffering. It is only the Lamb who can open the scroll and set the world free, and from this moment in chapter 5 of this strange picture book, the Lamb plays an increasingly central part, until at the end the righteous find their names written in the Lamb’s book of life in the new Jerusalem. The Lamb is in the midst of the throne, bearing the marks of suffering and slaughter, and victory. In our comfortable lives we forget the suffering and slaughter that the saints endure, have endured and will endure. It may be that our turn will come, but we have here the picture of the Lamb, who was once a Lion, but whom we see as the bleeding saviour of the world.        Prayer
Mysterious God
Our world seems too trivial,
too violent, too chaotic
for us to know your presence.
Give us the vision to see through the smoke of war,
the pangs of hunger,
the sufferings of disease and the pains of death
and live the life of the faithful saints
who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb,
so that we may with confidence stand before your throne
at the Last Day.
Blessing, glory and honour and might be to Him
who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb forever.
Amen   Today's Writer The Rev'd Peter Moth is a retired minister in the Northern Synod. 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: 27th February

URC Devotions - Mon, 27/02/2017 - 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 Revelation 4  After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’  At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne!  And the one seated there looks like jasper and cornelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald.  Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads.  Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God;  and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.

Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:  the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle.  And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,

‘Holy, holy, holy,
the Lord God the Almighty,
   who was and is and is to come.’

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever,  the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,

‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
   to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
   and by your will they existed and were created.’ Reflection The Bible reading for today takes us into the throne room of heaven. It is as if John has been summoned to hear what the God has to say.

It is easy to find similar accounts in the Old Testament where the prophet gets a glimpse of God's throne room. In Isaiah the prophet sees 'the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty' (Isaiah 6:1) and the reading goes on to describe the Seraphs in attendance and the prophet's call. At the beginning of the book of the prophet Ezekiel  the prophet is surrounded by wind and fire and he encounters four living creatures like those described today's reading. The prophet goes on to encounter something like a throne (Ezekiel 1:1-28). In the case of both Isaiah and Ezekiel a message is delivered to the prophet.

When we read Revelation we should understand that John's vision is influenced by Jewish prophetic and apocalyptic writings.

The passage reminds us that worship has a major role in the book of Revelation, here we have the singing of the four creatures and the twenty-four elders. It maybe the hymns are hymns that were sung in local synagogue worship. Here the voices of heaven and earth combine to sing praise to God who has created all things

The book Revelation is apocalyptic which is about disclosing the reality behind things. John lived at a time when the church is going through persecution but these songs of praise remind us that there is more to be said, beyond the horror is God the creator who is worthy of praise. John goes through the door into heaven and he is presented with a contrast between the sovereign God and an unresponsive people on earth.   Prayer Glorious God
in the beginning you spoke and the universe exploded into existence.
Through the centuries you have spoken through prophets and apostles.
In Christ you have come to us as your living word.
You continue to speak to us through your Holy Spirit.

We offer our prayers to you for those who suffer, in the midst of conflict,
for those who struggle to find the resources needed to survive,
for the planet in the midst of its ecological crisis.

Holy God,
help us to discern our role in these things.
Hear our prayers.

May our praises here join the praises of heaven.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Dr David Whiting is the Minister of the Sunderland and Boldon Partnership of URCs. 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: 26th February

URC Devotions - Sun, 26/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 26th February 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 Revelation 3: 14-21 ‘And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation:

‘I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  For you say, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.  Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.  To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Reflection Laodicea, the seventh city included in this circular letter sent to the angels of the churches of Asia Minor by John of Patmos.

The church is dealt roughly by the letter, all the other churches have something positive written about them but not the church in Laodicea. Drawing from an image related to the state of the city's water supply which was delivered in pipes, lukewarm and nauseous. The church should be spewed out like many would spit out its water for its indifference.

Laodicea was rich city, a banking centre with a developed textile industry. The church in the city had high opinion of itself. It thinks of itself as being rich and prosperous, in fact it was spiritually poor.  It was wretched and pitiable. They could well use the eye salve produced in the city in order to see the reality of things.

Christ is left outside the community knocking and calling to them. It was this scene that inspired Holman Hunt's picture of 'the Light of the World'.

Christ has been excluded by the church that thinks it has control over him and it does not hear the invitation to share supper with him. The point is that a church may think highly of itself, but Christ is not to be found with those who feel certain and confident in their faith. He is not tied down by our own preconceptions. It is the one who conquers, who follows the example of Christ the Conqueror enduring troubles and suffering who will have a place with Christ on his throne. Prayer Gracious God,
you come to us in Jesus,
and he calls to us to open our lives and our minds to you.

Curb our pride,
our running after status and after things that will not satisfy.

May we turn to you,
and away from the idols that entrap us.
In Christ's name.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Dr David Whiting is the minister of the Sunderland and Boldon Partnership of URCs. 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: 25th February

URC Devotions - Sat, 25/02/2017 - 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 Revelation 3: 7-13 ‘And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of the holy one, the true one,
   who has the key of David,
   who opens and no one will shut,
       who shuts and no one opens:

‘I know your works. Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but are lying—I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.  Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.  I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.  If you conquer, I will make you a pillar in the temple of my God; you will never go out of it. I will write on you the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.  Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Reflection I’ve never experienced an earthquake, and I’m quite happy to keep it that way!  In AD17, a massive earthquake struck Philadelphia in central Turkey, and the city was destroyed overnight.  The Emperor Tiberius rebuilt the city and restored its beauty, but massive aftershocks continued to hit the city for decades.  The result was that most of its people lived in the surrounding countryside.  Few were brave enough to live in the shaky city.

The church in Philadelphia church had experienced shaking also.  They had lived through lean times, and be persecuted, and were feeling weak; and the author writes more positively to them than any other of the seven churches.  Although they have suffered for their faith, they persevered, which was important to God, and because they remained steadfast, God will build them up once more.

Few of our churches are vulnerable to earthquakes or persecution, but are vulnerable to maintaining buildings, some rather unwieldy and expensive.  We are vulnerable to a climate of, at best, apathy from many around the church.  It can be very easy to think so much rests upon us to build God’s kingdom, to keep God’s church going in our patch, but it doesn’t rest upon us.  It is God at work, through us, and all God asks of us to be faithful.  All God asks of us is to be faithful.   Prayer Dear God,
help me to be faithful to you now,
today,
rather than waiting until tomorrow
when I’ve completed all the jobs
and ticked everything off the list.  
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Michael Hopkins is the Minister of Farnham and Elstead URCs. 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: 24th February

URC Devotions - Fri, 24/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 24th February 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 Revelation 3: 1-6  ‘And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:

‘I know your works; you have a name for being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is at the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God.  Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.  Yet you have still a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.  If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels.  Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Reflection In my first pastorate I worked with three churches, and one bore the name of Sardis. It is, in fact, quite a common chapel name in Wales. Which is very surprising given that this is the only Sardis in the Bible, and it is hardly an exemplar for those seeking to build a church! Perhaps those who baptised these churches did so with typical Welsh melancholy as a warning to the congregations of what might go wrong! It will all end in tears as my grandmother would say cheerfully whenever it looked as if her grandchildren might be enjoying themselves too much.

We have no idea what went wrong in Sardis. No particular sins are referred to. This was not a church full of gluttons, drunkards or abusers. Nothing so dramatic ever happened there. In fact, it appears that nothing much happened at all. The church managed to do enough to appear alive, but in fact it was virtually dead. I guess we all know some churches of this kind, and it may (or may not) be comforting to realise that they already existed within a couple of generations of Jesus.

Verse 3, like my grandmother, warns that this superficially enjoyable church life will one day end in tears. It has no substance, and Jesus will arrive like a thief in the night – because the death of such a church will be the arrival of Jesus, who always seeks life rather than death. The good news is that there are still some who walk with Jesus, clothed in white. They will be spared the fate of the church, and will share in the genuine, deep life of Jesus.

A few months ago I experienced for the first time the closure of one of the churches at which I have ministered. It was not called Sardis, and its closure was a big surprise to the local community and to other local churches, because it had seemed so alive. But when we held the closing service, Jesus was there. And a good dozen of the remaining members have transferred their allegiance to another church a few miles away, where they are becoming a valued part of the new congregation. I will not remove their names from the book of the living.

And Sardis, where I began my ministry? Its handful of members remain a vibrant living congregation of God’s people in a remote Welsh valley – determined that they will never live up (or down) to their name.     Prayer Loving God,
you call your people into worshipping communities
to serve you in the name of Jesus.
Free us from the desire to appear alive
by being superficial in our faith,
or to avoid intimations of mortality
with ever more frenetic activity.
Instead, breathe deep into us the life
that transcends the death of even our church,
that we may walk with you.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Gethin Rhys is the Policy Officer for Cytun - Churches Together in Wales and a member of Parkminster URC in Cardiff. 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: 23 February

URC Devotions - Thu, 23/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 23 February 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 Revelation 2: 18-28 ‘And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze:

‘I know your works—your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first.  But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practise fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication.  Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings;  and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.  But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call “the deep things of Satan”, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden;  only hold fast to what you have until I come.  To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end,

I will give authority over the nations;
to rule them with an iron rod,
   as when clay pots are shattered—
even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star.   Reflection I grew up in the English midlands, and the nearby city of Coventry was well known for car manufacturing, just as the towns of Stoke-on-Trent were famous for their potteries, and, further north, Newcastle for coal.  In much the same way, Thyatira was famous for its trade guilds, particularly the smelting of copper and bronze, which probably explains verse 18.  Over many years, these industries at Thyatira had all developed their own quasi-religious ceremonies and practices, in an attempt to seek the blessing of the various gods on their work.  This was not unusual in this part of the world at this time, but the mistake that the church at Thyatira made was to try and join in with these practices, and they did so in such a way that they compromised Christ.

Some churches today don’t engage with the world around them, and stay closed, as if they are in some artificial cotton wool-wrapped ‘purity’.  If a churches does that, I'm not convinced they're they putting their faith into practice at all well.  Christ calls us into the world today, just as he sent his disciples into the world in his own day.  Not engaging with the world can be just as big a problem as over-engaging.  Surely there needs to be a careful balance, when our engagement with the world can sometimes cause us to challenge what we find, and always to be be offering Christ.  What it is that we find which calls us up short, which challenges us and leads us to challenge others, will be very different in your context from mine, but finding the balance is what that over-worn cliché ‘in the world, but not of the world’ surely means today.  The example of the church in Thyatira is an example to us of the need to always strive to get the balance right.   Prayer We pray with Christ (from John 17):
‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. Today's Writer The Rev'd Michael Hopkins is the Minister of Farnham and Elstead URCs in Surrey. 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: 22nd February

URC Devotions - Wed, 22/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 22nd February 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 Revelation 2:12-17 ‘And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword:

‘I know where you are living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding fast to my name, and you did not deny your faith in me even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling-block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practise fornication. So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it. Reflection “If you tolerate this then your children will be next…” is a song by the Manic Street Preachers. What a message to us, and similar to the one God was giving to the Church in Pergamum. They had allowed some people to preach falsely, and therefore were diluting God’s teaching and presumably leading the fellowship in the wrong direction.  How easy it is for us to tolerate our old sinful ways. We make excuses like “I’m only human” or “I’m no different from anyone else.” Our Christian journey is about knowing that our past sins are behind us and on longer hold us. We don’t have to tolerate them anymore because Christ has set us free from them; “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”  (Romans 6:14). Sometimes we tolerate the sin in us because we don’t know what else do with it. It is easier to accept it than to deal with it. In these times we have to remember that we are not alone, that we have the Spirit of freedom within us to help us. We, therefore, need to regularly confess our sin, receive God’s promised forgiveness for it, and ask the Holy Spirit to continue to strengthen us and transform us.

We can also tolerate the sin that goes on around us, again because we don’t know what to do to challenge it or because we’ve become immune to it. When we see acts of violence,  people being trafficked, children hiding from bombs and bullets, mothers with nothing to give their children, we can tolerate this or do something about it. We can pray, offer food, finance, letters to MPs or give our time to work for organisations that refuse to tolerate the injustices of this world.

What are you going to refuse to tolerate today?   Prayer Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;  
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

The Prayer of St Francis of Assisi Today's Writer The Rev'd Stuart Nixon is a pioneer minister working at MediaCityUK in Salford. 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: 21st February

URC Devotions - Tue, 21/02/2017 - 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 Revelation 2: 8-11 ‘And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life:‘I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death. Reflection These days the BBC seems to be criticised from every direction.  Whatever your view about a topic, you can guarantee that before too long, there will be criticism that the BBC has over represented the other point-of-view.  Perhaps that means that they might be getting the balance right much of the time, but it does lead to situations where someone advocating something believed by almost no-one can be given equal airtime to someone advocating something believed by almost everyone, in the interests of ‘balance’.  It is, then, a good job that the BBC were not around to report on these letters – what’s said about Smyrna is anything but balanced in how it reports relationships between Jews and Christians!

In this passage the writer is reassuring a small, struggling, church that is subject to persecution.  It is quite true that the church in the west is facing an uphill battle against the combined enemies of suspicion, secularisation, and apathy, which between them make the Christian task very hard sometimes.  However, when a prominent Christian appears in the media to claim that we’re persecuted for being Christians here in the UK, I think they’ve probably lost touch with reality.  Christians are really being persecuted in Iraq and Syria, in ways that are simply barbaric.

So, if you’re having a hard time, if you’re finding things difficult, spare a thought and a prayer for Christians in other countries who are facing things far worse than we are, and remember the reassurance that Christ is with all his people, we can do far more with him and for him than we can do alone. Prayer May God the provider of green pastures and quiet waters
be the peace in our hearts today.
May Jesus our guide on mountain top and valley deep
be the hope in our hearts today.
May the Spirit of truth and knowledge, comforter and friend,
be the strength in our hearts today
Loving heavenly Father,
your Son Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.  
In his resurrection he restores life and peace in all creation. Comfort, we pray, all victims of intolerance
and those oppressed by their fellow humans.  
Remember in your kingdom those who have died.  
Lead the oppressors towards compassion
and give hope to the suffering.  
May all for whom we pray be filled
with the strength and reassurance of your Spirit.  
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Michael Hopkins is the Minister of Farnham and Elstead URCs in Surrey. 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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Daily Devotions During Lent

URC Devotions - Mon, 20/02/2017 - 11:00
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Dear Friends,

Lent starts on Wednesday 1st March and I thought you'd be interested to know about the Daily Devotion themes we will be looking at.

From Ash Wednesday we read through, day by day, St Mark's Gospel from Jesus' prophecy, in Chapter 8,  that the Son of Man must suffer.  St Mark is the shortest and, many think, first of the Gospels to be written.  It has an immediacy in its narrative of the rising tensions around Jesus as he walks steadily towards his Passion.  

We take a short break before Holy Week from St Mark to look at some Passiontide hymns - from the medieval Stabat Mater to work from Bonhoeffer and Kendrick - as we see the richness of various poets trying to express in song the central mystery of a God who dies.  

If you know someone else who would like to receive them send them click here for a link you can send them which gives a sample of the last few Devotions and the ability to sign up for themselves.  

I hope you fill find these Daily Devotions a useful tool in your journey of Discipleship as we travel through Lent together.

with every good wish


Andy

Andy Braunston
Co-ordinator
URC Daily Devotion Project

 

 

 

 


 

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URC Daily Devotion: 20th February

URC Devotions - Mon, 20/02/2017 - 06:00
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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 Revelation 2: 1-7 ‘To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands:

‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.  Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God. Reflection Ancient Ephesus is a favourite port of call today for pilgrims hoping to walk in the footsteps of St Paul. In his time Ephesus was the chief city of the region: three great trade routes converged on it, it was the venue for the ever-popular Pan-Ionian Games, and its greatest glory was the Temple of Diana. Paul had been lucky to escape with his life, when his preaching was interpreted as an attack on the cult of Diana, and seen as a threat to those who profited from it.

By the time John is writing the church has had time to grow. He commends them for their toil and patient endurance. Strange how today we’re still more likely to hear that someone was a great worker for the church, than to hear them praised for their faith, But then we read that the Ephesians are bearing up for the sake of Jesus’s name: once you opt for the minority religion there is likely to be stress, whether  the faith is expressed in word or in deed. If Christians do decide to stand out from the crowd, is this more likely to be seen in our actions or in our ideas?

One thing that the Ephesians have got right is their hatred of the works of the Nicolaitans, who are clearly reckoned to be heretics. Possibly they were a group who overstated Christian freedom and turned liberty into licence: “Just have faith, and you can do as you like.” We always need to be wary of those who get things totally wrong about  the Christian faith , but not to the point of embarking on heresy hunts today.  John offers us a timely warning as he commends the church for their strong line against the Nicolaitans, but also criticises them for abandoning their first love.

Does this simply mean that like many of us they’ve lost their initial fire and enthusiasm? Or is it love itself that has grown cold through the bitterness of this debate with their opponents? As William Barclay put it, “strict orthodoxy can cost too much, if it has to be bought at the price of love”. Prayer Speak, Spirit, to the churches
and encourage us still to keep faithful
even if we are out of step with the world around us.
Speak, Spirit, to the churches
and discourage us from easy condemnation
of those who do not see things our way.
Speak, Spirit, to the churches
and let love be at the heart of our response.  Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd John Durell is a retired minister in the Northern Synod. 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: 19th February

URC Devotions - Sun, 19/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 19th February 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 This week we look at letters to the young churches in Revelation

Revelation 1  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,  who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.  Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,  and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.   Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.  So it is to be. Amen.  ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.   I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.’

Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,  and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest.  His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire,  his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,  and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive for ever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.  Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this.   As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.   Reflection This week we are going to look at part of the Book of Revelation.  This is the last in the New Testament; it’s name comes from the opening sentence.  In the Early Church it was believed to have been written by St John the Apostle but modern scholarship simply names the author as “John of Patmos” about whom we know very little.  It is believed to have been written during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian (81-96) even though the Beast with Seven Heads and the number of the Beast, 666, are believed to refer to Nero who reigned somewhat earlier (54-68).  The author sees himself as a Christian prophet who has been given specific messages for seven churches in what we’d now call Turkey. Traditionally the book was seen to offer comfort to Christians enduring persecution but current scholarship often poses the idea that the book was about the debate within the Church about how far Christians should withdraw from or accommodate pagan society when withdrawal would have been a hard choice inviting derision, exclusion and, perhaps, persecution.

The Church, in every age, has had to battle with its relationship with the wider culture within which it was placed.  For a lot of our history we have had pride of place in the pecking order.  After the Emperor Constantine converted (after a fashion) to Christianity he made it the state religion and endowed churches and bishops with great wealth and status.  Even after the Reformation the Church in the West, either Catholic or Lutheran and Reformed, had great status in society; in the East, of course, Orthodoxy lost that status after Constantinople was taken over by the Turks; it had to find a new accommodation with its society just as it, much later, had to with Communism in Russia. Now, in the West, the Church is seen as being largely irrelevant and we have to find our way through a confusing culture which has very strong, but not always traditional, views on spirituality and morality.  The older certainties have gone and we have to navigate between opposing and condemning what secular folk get up to and jumping on the cultural bandwagon; both these temptations can easily be seen in Church history - I think of the sects, like the Amish, that try to live separately so as not to be polluted and the German Christians who tried to find an accommodation with Nazism.  In our own age we have to find our way between these two extremes; to work out where God is at work in our culture (often because He has got tired of waiting for the Church to respond to His leading) and to discern what in our culture needs redemption.   Prayer God of our world,
help us to discern where You are at work,
to get alongside You in the social movements of our age,
as we work for the coming of Your Kingdom.

God of the ages,
help us to discern where we need to proclaim Your Kingdom,
Your Values and, even in all humility, Your coming judgement
so that Your world may be saved.
Amen Today's Writer Andy Braunston is an ordinand at the Scottish Congregational and United Reformed Church College and co-ordinator of the URC Daily Devotions project. 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: 18th February

URC Devotions - Sat, 18/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 18th February 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 Hymn: Christian People, Raise Your Song
Colin Thompson 
Rejoice and Sing 435 Christian people raise your song,
Chase away all grieving;
Sing your joy, and be made strong,
Our Lord’s life receiving;
Nature’s gifts of wheat and vine
Now are set before us:
As we offer bread and wine
Christ comes to restore us.

Come to welcome Christ today,
God’s great revelation;
He has pioneered the way
Of the new creation.
Greet him, Christ our risen King
Gladly recognizing,
As with joy we greet the spring
Out of winter rising.

  Colin Thompson wrote this, in part, to bring the focus on the offertory back into our worship.  Traditionally the offertory is where money is collected for the poor and needy (not just the MoM contributions!) and the bread and wine are brought to the front.  Usually in our churches the bread and wine are placed on the table before the service.  The tune, Ave Virgo Virginum, is from medieval Germany and was first published in a 15th Century Bohemian collection.  It seems to have been paired with an Advent hymn originally but has been paired with other hymns over the years.  It was introduced to the UK in 1904 in Hymns, Ancient and Modern and was, in 1906, set in the English Hymnal to Come Ye Faithful Raise the Strain with which, probably, it is most associated.     Colossians 3:12-17 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Reflection Colin Thompson wrote the words of ‘Christian people raise your song’ for the 1975 URC publication New Church Praise, with his words intended for use with the carol melody ‘Ave Virgo Virginum’ to which it is presently set in Rejoice and Sing. It was written as a hymn to be used at the time of the offertory in the communion service when the bread and wine were traditionally brought to the communion table as a visual representation of Christ’s offering of himself to the people of God, coupled with the offering of ourselves in God’s service.

Imagery in the song includes how we are made strong as we receive our Lord’s life, that “Christ comes to restore us… as we offer bread and wine”, and that Christ is “God’s great revelation” who has “pioneered the way of the new creation”. Prayer God of renewal,
refresh and nourish our faith as we journey into your mystery. Bring our lives into communion with you
whenever we offer the sacramental symbols
of daily life at your table. And may the praises we sing lead your people into a deeper revelation of the truth which Jesus shared by his life, death and resurrection. Amen. Today's Writer Philip Jones is an Elder at Wilbraham St Ninian's URC in Chorlton, South Manchester. 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: 17th February

URC Devotions - Fri, 17/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 17th February 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 Hymn: Come, Living God, When Least Expected 
Alan Gaunt
Rejoice and Sing 354  Come, living God, when least expected,
when minds are dull and hearts are cold,
through sharpening word and warm affection
revealing truths as yet untold.

Break from the tomb in which we hide you
to speak again in startling ways;
break through the words in which we bind you
to resurrect our lifeless praise.

Come now, as once you came to Moses
within the bush alive with flame,
or to Elijah on the mountain,
by silence pressing home your claim.

So, let our minds be sharp to read you
in sight or sound or printed page,
and let us greet you in our neighbours,
in ardent youth or mellow age.

Then, through our gloom, your Son will meet us
as vivid truth and living Lord,
exploding doubt and disillusion
to scatter hope and joy abroad.


Then we will share his radiant brightness
and, blazing through the dread of night,
illuminate by love and reason,
for those in darkness, faith's delight.
  Alan Gaunt, retired URC minister, has written many hymns a few of which have been published.  This hymn appeared first in New Hymns for Worship in 1973 and then in our own New Church Praise in 1975.  The tune, Sunset, an unusual metre, was written by GG Stocks and first published in 1924.  It was written for John Ellerton’s hymn “Before the day draws near its ending” which was published in Church Hymnary 3.     St Luke 24: 13-35 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,  and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them,  but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’  He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth,  who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.  But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.  Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning,  and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’  Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’  Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them.  When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.  They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’  That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.  They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’  Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. Reflection Alan Gaunt’s hymn is a reminder that God always comes when we least expect and to approach God as a mere concept or resource is dangerous.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus had, in the words of the first verse, dull minds and cold hearts and, like Moses, were surprised by the God they encountered.

The disciples on the road couldn’t see the reality in front of them due to their grief and despondency.  The opportunity for divine encounter was, literally, in front of their noses.  Over the last year I have been privileged to work in a number of churches as part of my re-training to be a URC minister.  In each of these I’ve been struck by the ways the opportunities there are for mission - for encounter with God - which are startlingly obvious but which challenge us when we are settled into our normal patterns of life and work.     Prayer Come, living God when least expected,
sharpen our minds and warm our hearts
so that we see you at work in our midst,
calling us to find you at work in our world;
give us then the grace to join in with all that you are doing.
Amen Today's Writer Andy Braunston is an ordinand at the Scottish Congregational and United Reformed Church College and co-ordinator of the URC Daily Devotion project. 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: 16th February

URC Devotions - Thu, 16/02/2017 - 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 Hymn: Ye Holy Angels Bright 
Richard Baxter
Rejoice and Sing 125 Ye holy angels bright,
who wait at God's right hand,
or through the realms of light
fly at your Lord's command,
assist our song,
for else the theme
too high doth seem
for mortal tongue.

Ye blessèd souls at rest,
who see your Saviour’s face,
whose glory, ev’n the least,
is far above our grace
God’s praises sound,
as in his sight
with sweet delight
ye do abound.

Ye saints, who toil below,
adore your heavenly King,
and onward as ye go
some joyful anthem sing;
take what he gives
and praise him still,
through good and ill,
who ever lives.

My soul, bear thou thy part,
triumph in God above,
and with a well-tuned heart
sing thou the songs of love;
Thou art his own,
whose precious blood
shed for thy good,
his love made known.

Let all creation sing,
and join the marvellous throng
who crowns of glory bring
and raise the Lamb’s new song.
Let all our days
till life shall end,
what’er he send
be filled with praise.  
  Baxter first published these words in 1674 as part of a much longer poem, although it wasn’t sung as a hymn until the 19th Century.  The tune comes from a collection by 18th Century composer John Darwell for each of the 150 Psalms - hence the designation of this as Darwell’s 148th.  However, this is the only tune of his still regularly sung.  
      Psalm 148 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his host!
Praise him, sun and moon;
   praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
   and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for he commanded and they were created.
He established them for ever and ever;
   he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
   you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
   stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills,
   fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
   creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
   princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
   old and young together!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for his name alone is exalted;
   his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
   praise for all his faithful,
   for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord! Reflection Richard Baxter was one of the puritan ministers, who held many positions in the church during the Commonwealth and Protectorate, and at the Restoration he was faced with the difficult choice of accepting episcopal ordination or ejection.  He chose the latter course, reputedly rejecting an offer to be Bishop of Hereford, and is one of the prominent and early forbears in our tradition.  Baxter was based in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, where he was an enormously prominent and influential leader in the town.  To this day, our United Reformed Church in Kidderminster is known as “Baxter Church”.
 
These words first appeared as a poem in the seventeenth century, but was not widely sung as a hymn until a selection of verses were published in 1838, with an additional verse not from Baxter.  It is not based upon any one passage of scripture, but there are allusions to various Psalms, particularly Psalm 148 our reading today, and to Hebrews and Revelation.  What we have is a poem of praise, reflecting the majesty of God, as seen from various perspectives.  Although there is no connection that I am aware of, the hymn has striking similarities to the theology and message of the hymn “How shall I sing that majesty” (661 in R&S), which was written around the same time.
 
Ye holy angels begins with the angels' singing, works downwards through creation to our singing, and then upwards again to God.  It acknowledges how weak human praise can be, asking the angels to assist our song, and then takes delight in the contribution that a heart ‘well-tuned' can make to the general song.  This hymn can add immeasurably to the experience of worship, and allow us to participate in a gloriously joyful picture of heaven, indeed perhaps it can be an experience on earth that's just a little bit of what heaven might be like.  Prayer Holy and loving God,
humbly we bow before you in worship and praise.  
May your name be exalted in the highest heavens
and in the depths of our hearts
for there is no-one like you.

With great power and genius
you created the universe and brought forth life.  
In majesty, glory and splendour you reign,
and yet in humility and lowliness you entered this world, personally making your love known in Jesus,
coming amongst us to set us free from the burdens of sin,
and to invite us to dine with you
at the banqueting table of heaven.

Holy and loving God,
once again we say thank you.  
Once again we adore you.  
Once again we offer you our lives in worship and service.  
May your name be exalted for ever and ever.  
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Michael Hopkins is the minister of Elstead & Farnham URCs in Surrey and Clerk of the General Assembly of the 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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URC Daily Devotion: 15th February

URC Devotions - Wed, 15/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 15th February 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 Hymn: The Love of God is Broad Like Beach & Meadow
Anders Frostensen (b1906) translated by Fred Kaan (b 1929) 
Rejoice and Sing 108 The love of God is broad like beach and meadow,
wide as the wind, and an eternal home.
God leaves us free to seek him or reject him,
he gives us room to answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.


The love of God is broad like beach and meadow,
wide as the wind, and an eternal home.


We long for freedom where our truest being
is given hope and courage to unfold.
We seek in freedom space and scope for dreaming,
and look for ground where trees and plants may grow.


But there are walls that keep us all divided;
we fence each other in with hate and war.
Fear is the bricks-and-mortar of our prison,
our pride of self the prison coat we wear.


O judge us, Lord, and in your judgment free us,
and set our feet in freedom’s open space;
Take us as far as your compassion wanders
among the children of the human race.

  This Swedish hymn by Anders Frosensen was written in the 1960s and was well known in Scandanavian churches when Fred Kaan translated it into English and had it published in 1974.   3 John The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely, how you walk in the truth.  I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you;  they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on in a manner worthy of God;  for they began their journey for the sake of Christ, accepting no support from non-believers.  Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth.

I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing in spreading false charges against us. And not content with those charges, he refuses to welcome the friends, and even prevents those who want to do so and expels them from the church.

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Everyone has testified favourably about Demetrius, and so has the truth itself. We also testify for him, and you know that our testimony is true.

I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink;  instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face.


Peace to you. The friends send you their greetings. Greet the friends there, each by name. Reflection I have no idea who first said: “the pictures are better on the radio”, but I quite agree with the sentiment.   This deceptively simple hymn is like that in its many meanings - I hesitate to say layers of meaning - discoverable according to the mood we bring to worship and situations the Church and worshippers find themselves in.  

Ask yourself: what do you see when the words “beach” or “meadow” are used.   A sandy beach or a pebbly one, or for a Swedish composer a Finnish picture that of the Wounded Angel by Hugo Simberg set on the beach at Töölönlahti Bay?  (below)
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AThe_Wounded_Angel_-_Hugo_Simberg.jpg

An alpine meadow celebrating the hills alive with the sound of music, or a water meadow of the paintings of Alfred Munnings, or the fertile meadows of the Jezreel Valley?  Now fit some of those images into this hymn:  what aspects of God’s love appear?   The fierce love of God the creator, the stubborn love of God the saviour, the intimate love of God the indwelling spirit, the encouraging love of God the parent, the comforting love of God the brother, or the warming love of “heart of my own heart”?  

Now look for the picture in each line: how wide is the wind; what does my eternal home look like?    The elder writing to Gaius has found the ground where trees and plants can grow.   

There are disturbing pictures in the third verse - the physical walls of the church making the building frightening to many; the mental walls of “us” the church against “them” the not-church; the emotional walls of “me” against “everything not me”.    The elder, as he wrote to Gaius about Diotrephes, clearly knew the problems of the prison wall of pride.  

Then come the considered, challenging or comforting pictures of the final verse.  God’s judgment, always considered; being set in freedom - what a challenge; then the comfort that God takes us.   He sets our feet in the open spaces and takes us.  Takes us!  It is almost impossible to emphasise sufficiently the security that God takes us.  Wherever his challenge to freedom sends, he then takes us.  It might be anywhere among “them” or “not me” - the children of the human race.  Whatever picture that reveals, know first that God takes us: we do not go alone.     Prayer Lord,
the pictures you give us
are vivid and clear in our minds
but are soon muddied and constrained
by the walls we construct.   
Help us to trust you to take us
on the way through life
so that the pictures become vivid,
living realities of freedom in your Kingdom.
Amen  Today's Writer The Rev'd Ruth Browning is a retired minister and member of Thornbury URC in Gloucestershire. 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: 14th February

URC Devotions - Tue, 14/02/2017 - 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 Hymn: O God of Bethel  
Philip Doddridge
Rejoice and Sing 71  O God of Bethel, by Whose hand
Thy people still are fed;
Who through this weary pilgrimage
Hast all our people led!

To thee our humble vows we raise,
to thee address our prayer,
and in thy kind and faithful hands
we lay our every care.

Through each perplexing path of life
Our wandering footsteps guide;
Give us each day our daily bread,
And raiment fit provide.

Oh, spread Thy covering wings around,
till all our wanderings cease,
And at our Father’s loved abode
Our souls arrive in peace!
  This was written by Doddridge, and first appeared in print in 1745.  It reflects the story of Jacob’s vow with God told in our Bible reading today.  The tune in Rejoice and Sing, Salzburg, is by J Michael Hadyn and was part of a group of tunes used for metrical psalm singing, and dates from 1795.  The pairing between the tune and words was made by the Revised Church Hymnary, and Congregational praise and Rejoice and Sing have followed this pattern.  It was sung for many years in the opening worship of the Annual Assembly (known as the “May Meetings”) of the Congregational Union of England and Wales.  
  Genesis 28: 20-22 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.’ Reflection Many members of our churches in their 60s and upwards will remember singing this hymn often, those in their 40s and 50s less so, and those in their 20s and 30s may have never sung it.  How did a hymn that was a staple of tradition for well over 200 years lose popularity?  I’d like to suggest three reasons: one is that as the knowledge of and familiarity with the Bible stories, particularly from the Hebrew Scriptures, has decreased in many congregations then the hymns which reflect those stories have less meaning; another reason is the language and speech patterns have come to sound rather archaic in a the current age; and another reason is that none of the tunes it is usually sung to are particularly special to a lot of folk.  Of course, those are only my opinions!

Yet, this is a hymn which helped many generations of our ancestors on their spiritual journey.  Can it help us on ours in the 21st century?   Philip Doddridge was most notably minister of a church in Northampton, and taught in a Dissenting Academy which moved around Northamptonshire.  He lived in an age when it was legal to worship as a Nonconformist, but various civil rights were denied, and it was certainly not very fashionable.  Reading the Genesis passage, we find a story of God’s protection, and in this hymn we discover a prayer for God’s guidance and protection, based upon the firm conviction that God’s promises are sure.  Our times are radically different to those Doddridge in the first half of the eighteenth century, yet there are many parallels with our age, and we need God’s guidance and protection.  If we rediscover the story from Genesis, this hymn can still speak to us today. Prayer Giver of
Everlasting love,
Near to us, though
Eternity cannot hold you;
Receive us by your grace
Our heavenly Father –
Under the protection of your love is where we long to
Stay.  Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Michael Hopkins is the minister of Elstead & Farnham URC in Surrey and Clerk to the General Assembly of 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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URC Daily Devotional

URC Devotions - Mon, 13/02/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotional 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 There's a spirit in the air
Brian Wren 
Rejoice and Sing 329  There's a spirit in the air,
telling Christians everywhere:
'Praise the love that Christ revealed,
living, working, in our world!'

2 Lose your shyness, find your tongue,
tell the world what God has done:
God in Christ has come to stay.
Live tomorrow's life today!

3 When believers break the bread,
when a hungry child is fed,
praise the love that Christ revealed,
living, working, in our world.

4 Still the Spirit gives us light,
seeing wrong and setting right:
God in Christ has come to stay.
Live tomorrow's life today!

5 When a stranger's not alone,
where the homeless find a home,
praise the love that Christ revealed,
living, working, in our world.

6 May the Spirit fill our praise,
guide our thoughts and change our ways.
God in Christ has come to stay.
Live tomorrow's life today!

7 There's a Spirit in the air,
calling people everywhere:
Praise the love that Christ revealed,
living, working, in our world. Acts 10:34-48  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. 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 One of the best-known of Brian Wren’s hymns, it was written in June 1969 for Pentecost while Wren was minister at Hockley Congregational Church. When published in 1983 in his collection Faith Looking Forward Wren noted that he wrote it “to try and celebrate the Holy Spirit ‘Working in Our World’”. Wren further revised the words in 1987 and 1989, and it is the 1989 version which appears in Rejoice and Sing. It is most frequently sung to John Wilson’s tune ‘Lauds’, which dates from the 1969 Hymns & Songs collection of the Methodist church.

The words use vivid imagery to capture a sense of Pentecost through phrases like “Spirit in the air.” Other phrases such as “find your tongue,” “change our ways” and “tell the world,” call all Christians to a concern for social justice, to feed the hungry, or to house the homeless as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s work in the midst of the world.   Prayer Holy One,
send your Spirit of inclusion upon all that we do. Make us mindful of the present day
and the realities of the world in which we find ourselves. May the love that Christ revealed
always be the cornerstone of how we build the coming Kingdom. Amen Today's Writer Philip Jones is an Elder of Wilbraham St Ninian's URC in Chorlton, South Manchester. 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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