HCC Community - Thoughts and readings January 2021
As we cannot meet together as church at this time we have provided a place where we can share our thoughts and readings, as we normally do in our Sunday morning meetings. Please click here to submit your own thoughts and they will be added to this page.
The following readings were shared during our Zoom church meeting on Sunday 31st January: The theme of the meeting was that we can joyfully relax in the Lord. We do not need to worry about tomorrow because, if we walk with the Lord and are still before him each day, we will experience his grace. We can trust him because he will provide what we need. 'Leave all your cares at the feet of the Lord and measureless grace will strengthen you.' (Psalm 55:22 The Passion Translation) 'Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.' (John 1:16) 'When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.' (Psalm 94:18-19) 'Be still, and know that I am God.' (Psalm 46:10) David read Ezekiel 36:25-27 as he led communion and spoke about God's great sacrifice and our gratitude to the Lord who's given us a new heart and a new spirit because of Jesus' death on the cross. 'I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.'
The following readings were shared during our Zoom church meeting on Sunday 24th January: The theme of the sharing during the meeting was hope - our hope and our security are in Christ. In the Psalms we see David being honest with God about his emotions yet choosing to put his hope in God and trust him. Like David, we need to hold fast to the things we know are true. The following readings were shared in this context:
'Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.' (Hebrews 13:15)
'"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."' (Jeremiah 29:11)
'Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.' (Joshua 3:14)
'She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."' (Genesis 16:13)
'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.' (Psalm 22:1-5)
'In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel. For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.' (Psalm 71:1-5)
'For this reason, ever since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people, I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I remember you in my prayers and ask the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you the Spirit, who will make you wise and reveal God to you, so that you will know him. I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light, so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you, how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people, and how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world. Christ rules there above all heavenly rulers, authorities, powers, and lords; he has a title superior to all titles of authority in this world and in the next. God put all things under Christ's feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things. The church is Christ's body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere.' (Ephesians 1:15-23)
Merle's latest entry in her nature blog is entitled 'Hope': 'The passing of time can often be observed with the changes in the weather. January is described as one of the coldest winter months in the UK. However, it is in this month that we find the first signs of spring in our gardens, parks and woodlands.' Click here to read Merle's blog.
The following readings were shared during our Zoom church meeting on Sunday 17th January: The theme of the sharing during the meeting was fear and discouragement and God's invitation to us to trust him in the midst of our circumstances. Our choice to trust and our interconnection with each other lead us to a place of peace. The following readings were shared in that context:
'Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.' (Deuteronomy 31:8)
'Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.' (Romans 1:12 NCV)
'Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head of the body. Christ holds it all together and makes all its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love.' (Ephesians 4:15-16 CEV)
'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.' (Joshua 1:9)
'We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.' (Psalm 33:20-22)
"Without fear we cannot know courage" (Quote from the film Mulan)
'Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.' (Psalm 27:14)
'For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.' (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
'The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus,it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.' (Isaiah 35)
'Being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” ' (Hebrews 1:5-6 Amplified Bible)
On Saturday 16th January Laura wrote about 'Hope and Future': 'I was reading a chapter of a book by John Piper this week, and it discussed the importance of this verse: ‘For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.’ (1 Thessalonians 5: 9-10) The author paraphrased this to be God saying: ‘whatever happens, live or die, you will be with me’. Click here to read Laura's article.
On Thursday 14th January Merle wrote her latest reflection entitled 'Looking through the window': 'Here we are again – lockdown in the UK. At a time like this many people, young and old, will be grateful that their house or flat has windows for them to see the world outside. For some, it may be that it’s the street below, the sky, or the houses or flats opposite. Should one live in the country or by the sea, that would be a scene more pleasing to the eye. Anything would be better than living in, and gazing at, the same four walls all day, and possibly all night, long.' Click here to read Merle's reflection.
On Thursday 14th January Tim wrote an article entitled ' Ready for battle': 'Read 1 Samuel chapters 29 to 30 for an amazing story of how David walked with God through the challenges of battle, loss, despair, and victory. In the midst of this story, we have a pivotal verse: 1 Samuel 30.6, ‘But David found his strength in the Lord his God.’ A powerful statement made even more so when we consider the context.' Click here to read Tim's latest article.
The following readings were shared during the time of sharing at our Zoom church meeting on Sunday 10th January 2021:
'Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved childrenand walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.' (Ephesians 4:32-5:2)
'And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.' (Hebrews 10:24-25)
'The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.' (Zephaniah 3:17)
'For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)and find out what pleases the Lord.' (Ephesians 5:8-9)
'For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.' (Ephesians 2:10)
Tim read Mark 15:29-32 as he led communion and spoke about Jesus being 'more than a conqueror' on the cross, despite the insults hurled at him: 'Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.'
'I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.' (Psalm 63:2-8)
The following video by Tim Keller, 'How to deal with dark times', was recommended during our Sunday meeting - click below to watch:
On Thursday 7th January Tim wrote an article entitled 'Theology': 'Following on from this Sunday’s talk where we looked at Paul and his Spirit-led life, I wanted to put some thoughts down that hopefully will be helpful. The first point is that Paul had knowledge of God. He got this because he studied and applied himself to gaining that understanding.' Click here to read Tim's article.
John's latest article for The Halesworth Community News is entitled 'Know your value': 'A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a £20 note. In the room of two hundred, he asked, ‘Who would like this £20 note?’ Hands started going up. He said, ‘I am going to give this £20 to one of you but first, let me do this.’ He proceeded to crumple the £20 note up. He then asked, ‘Who still wants it?’' Click here to read John's article.
We met as a church on Zoom on New Year's Eve to share our thoughts and hopes as we go into 2021. Tim shared his vision for the church for the coming year: 'We need to be a group of people who know how to handle the truth. This means walking closely with God. It is important that we are open to His voice, to have our hearts and minds changed to His way of thinking. As a group of people we play an important role in each other’s lives. Our desire should be to hear the Lord for our own situations but also to encourage each other as we face the challenges of life. We will have to be brave in stepping out and we may not always get it right. We must become a group of people who live out what it means to follow Christ. We can handle the ups and downs and the uncertainties because we have God in our hearts. Therefore our hope should set us apart. We can ask the question, is it noticeable? Do my friends and colleagues see a difference in me? Finally, as we live out our beliefs we must ensure we know what it means to walk in each other’s shoes. A text, a call or when possible, a visit. Meeting up and sharing are the practical ways we will do church. When we talk we have to be real and honest, we must expect to hear the Lord for each other, have the courage to speak the truth and the humility to except it. It is going to be another exciting year as we walk with God.'
Phil shared the following, having asked God what he wanted to say to HCC: "Thank you for having ears to hear and hearts to listen. For inviting me to sit with you, be with you and speak to you my children. It is such a joy to do that, with people who are open and ready to listen and obey. I will always guide you and help you. My arms are always outstretched towards you. If you open your hearts and ears to listen, as one, I will always speak and guide. Keep going faithful servants, keep loving each other, keep opening your hearts to each other and I will keep revealing myself to you. Go for love, go for reality. I’ll always be there when there’s love and reality. You are such a fertile ground that gives me free reign to love and live amongst you. I long to be with you and you enable that. That’s something I cherish."
Merle is planning to write a nature blog this year. Her first entry is entitled 'An encouraging surprise': 'I received two Christmas cards with the same wording, one from my oldest nephew and one from my sister-in-law. At first glance there was a dark black background with gold embossed words on it.' Click here to read Merle's new blog entry.
Kelly has written an article entitled 'Grow in Christ' as she looks forward to the coming year: 'Every year I make a calendar for my family filled with favourite pictures from the year. I’m sent hundreds of photos by family members and I spend weeks working, getting it ‘just right’. As I looked back on the memories we have created, the importance of meaningful relationships struck me again. As we say goodbye to 2020, a year like none other in history, I started to think about what I want to take positively into 2021.' Click here to read Kelly's article.
As Julie drove back to Suffolk on Boxing day she reflected on 2020 and started to look forward and think about the coming year: 'I drove home from Harrogate to Halesworth on Boxing Day, having spent Christmas day with my family. It was a strange journey – the roads were eerily quiet, and the overhead signs progressed from ‘Tier 3 – Stay alert’ to ‘Tier 4 – Stay at home’ once I reached Huntingdon. I had left Suffolk in Tier 2 a few days earlier and was returning to Tier 4 restrictions.' Click here to read Julie's article.
Jenny has written an article entitled 'The menial tasks' reflecting upon the importance of the menial, tedious tasks that are so vital to people's wellbeing as we go into a new year: 'On Boxing Day morning my husband suggested a walk. We could walk around the block I suggested. “Well”, my husband replied, “I wondered if you fancied a field walk and I could inspect the crops at the same time?” I smiled to myself; field walks are something a farmer's wife gets used to. I didn’t mind, after spending Christmas Day inside cooking and eating turkey and all the trimmings a walk and exercise out in the fresh air was a welcome relief to household chores.' Click here to read Jenny's article.