Dear Church Family
Sam and I were in Athens last week with James and Tasha Fletcher. It was great being with them, and seeing what they're doing. Our time there included a morning with the team they're part of, and they invited me to share from the Scriptures and pray for them. We also enjoyed a lovely evening with a refugee family with whom the Fletchers conversed in Arabic, and it was a privilege to pray with the family. Tasha and James really value our prayers and support - so please continue to pray for them, especially their work amongst refugees, in the House of Prayer, and also for their Arabic language learning.
I hope you enjoyed our Church Family Day last Sunday! It was good to be together - worshipping, eating, sharing, and encouraging one another. In particular the short talks from Chris Bayne on God honouring generosity, from Gillian Shepherd & Sophie Dearden on Impact, and Ashley Rowthorn on legacies were inspiring and challenging. It was good too to have our Annual Meeting and to welcome Daniel Brookes as Church Warden (joining Alison Dawson, Barrie Stephenson and Chris Dobson) and three new Church Council members - Alys Tarr, Ali Hale and James Webster.
It was also good to gather on Tuesday this week with so many for the funeral service of Joan Greenfield. Joan has served the Lord, her family and our church for so many years, and it was right that we celebrated her life with much thanksgiving. Please continue to uphold Douglas and the family in your prayers.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. We'll be completing our series on prayer and fasting, and preparing for the week ahead - Holy Week - probably the most important week in the Christian calendar. That's why there will be things taking place in the life of The Belfrey every day for us to engage with. In particular we hope you will find next week's 7pm Holy Week Meditations helpful; they'll be short and reflective, as we follow Jesus on the way to the cross - being taken, blessed, broken and given to the world. Then do join us on Easter Day - either at 6.30pm for our Sunrise Service, or at 10.30am for our Easter Communion which this year will include baptisms as we celebrate new life in Christ! You can find all the information about Holy Week and Easter by clicking here.
Finally, it's been good to get positive feedback about the prayer course that Belfrey Groups have been doing during Lent. In particular may I thank all those who have encouraged me about my new book, A-Z of Prayer, which is linked to the course. I wrote the book for one purpose - to help people to pray. I'm glad that it seems to be proving helpful. As we go into Holy Week, and journey through the pain of the cross (before the joy of the resurrection at the end of the week), may these words from the book provide focus and hope to you and your family (from p.144 in chapter 'S is for Sad'):
'The cross is made from a tree grown out of the earth and is rooted in the ground - in the complexities and pain of the world. And on this cross hung Jesus, suffering and in agony, which is often our experience here on earth. The two posts of the cross express this profoundly, with the vertical post reminding us that our prayers must be grounded in the realities of life, while the horizontal beam speaks of Jesus, who died with arms outstretched for every sin and sadness of life. That's why it's good to cling to the cross in prayer.'
So may we cling to the cross this Holy Week, and find there both the generous forgiveness and abiding comfort of our good God.