A Letter from Our Pastor

17/03/2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ.

I am writing to you in a period of great uncertainty.  All of us know that the coronavirus is affecting everyone’s lives across the globe. It has now reached the stage in our own country where necessary restrictions are being put in place to stop unnecessary social contact. As of today the government has indicated that places of worship fall within these restrictions. The Baptist Union has now given guidance that churches should stop meeting on Sundays and at other times. In light of this it is with great sadness that I must inform you that all gatherings connected with Durham City Baptist Church are cancelled as of 12.00noon 17 March 2020.

The next step is to think of ways that we can keep in touch with each other. Modern technology will make this easier; however, some folk do not have access to such things, so we will have to ensure those in that position are kept in touch using other appropriate ways.

We are in a developing situation and I hope the deaconate along with all who are part of the fellowship will work together in creative ways to maintain the bond of fellowship we have in Christ.

The restrictions put pressure on us all, but more so on particular groups of people.  As a church we must make sure that those who are being encouraged to self-isolate more rigorously are well supported. If anyone thinks that they might have time to do shopping for those people, or help in other ways please let me know. Those who are being asked to be more rigorous in separating themselves from others should not hesitate to contact the church if they are in need of help.

More information about how we as a church will respond to this new situation will be sent out as it becomes available. Please feel free to make suggestions to myself as to things that might be useful, in these interesting times.

I leave you with the words of Jesus.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Yours in Christ

Ronnie

Cafe Church: This Sunday

This Sunday is our first café church service of 2020! From 10.30-11.30 we will be meeting in our church building in Edge Court, Durham, to worship God and have fellowship with each other. Everyone is very welcome, and the service will be followed by a light lunch.

But…can you work out what Bible passage we will be exploring during the service?

Christmas Fun Day – 2019

Cafe Church: Psalm 23

At our Café Church service this morning, we thought about the different images David presents us with in Psalm 23, perhaps the best known reflection on God’s provision for our lives. He “leads us by the still waters”, providing us with peace and calm in times of stress; he “makes us lie down in green pastures”, thus meeting our daily needs; and he is present even in the “darkest valley”. The Psalm acknowledges that whilst living the Christian life will not always be easy and we will meet challenges on the way, God is always there – although perhaps not in the way that we might expect.

We made these little sheep to take home to remind us of what we learned during the service.

We made these little sheep to take home to remind us of what we learned during the service.

This reflection is particularly appropriate for our anniversary weekend – we have just celebrated 69 years of ministry and fellowship in the Gilesgate area of Durham. There have been “dark valleys” over the years, but we see God continuing to bless us every day. As we look forward to our preparations for Christmas (the Christmas Fun Day is only a few weeks away – the 30th November), we are reminded of his greatest provision of all – his Son, Jesus Christ.

Pot Holes on my Mind (thoughts from the minister)

I have had pot holes on my mind for some time now, in fact over a year. What brought pot holes back to mind recently was a road I travelled on during a recent holiday. The single lane road had a particularly deep pot hole, which obviously needed to be avoided. This jogging of the memory brought me back to the title of an article I was thinking of writing; it was to be called “Bad Posture and Pot Holes”.Pothole in the Road Picture | Free Photograph | Photos ...

It was while walking along a road last winter I noticed there where a lot of pot holes in the road. I realised the reason I was seeing them was because of my bad posture, something my mother and father had warned me of constantly when I was young. My bad posture means that I constantly look downwards, about three foot in front of me. What fills my vision, pot holes! I made an effort to correct my posture; lo and behold I saw the whole road ahead of me. It put the pot holes into context: pot holes there were, but the road was bigger than the pot holes – the new vision put the pot holes into perspective.

R H Tawney, the English economic historian and social critic once wrote that the English “…are more interested in the state of the roads than their place on the map”. This phrase resonates with my preoccupation with pot holes, a preoccupation that stops me from seeing the bigger picture.

Christians can also get caught up with pot holes, or the state of the road, so much so that they stop seeing the road ahead, or finding their place on the map. The issue that the pot hole symbolises (such as the state of the church car park) becomes almost all consuming, nearly eclipsing all else.

Christian people need to have correct spiritual posture so that they can see the full glory of God in Jesus; in the light of this bigger picture all else, pot holes included, will find their proper place.

The apostle Paul shows something of this bigger picture writing these words to the church at Colossae:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Colossians 1:15-18)

This is the grand vision, Jesus, the one who reveals the ways of God to us; he shows us the way because he is the way. Jesus Christ is all of this because he is God the Son. If we want to see the road ahead, if we want to know where we are on the map it is essential that we lift up our eyes and see God for us, Jesus.

Fix your eyes upon Jesus; this was the advice of the author of the book of Hebrews to Christians that were in danger of losing their ways because of the pot holes that surrounded them:

“We must look ahead, to Jesus. He is the one who carved out the path for faith, and he’s the one who brought it to completion.” (Hebrews 12:2) (Tom Wright. The New Testament for Everyone, (p. 501). SPCK. Kindle Edition.)

So as Christian people let us have the correct posture, so that we might see the pot holes in perspective and that we might know where we are on the map. So that we might go forward in the wonderful adventure, which is being caught up in the reign of God.

From the Pastor’s desk
Ronnie Wynd

Reflection on Psalm 20

Each week our Church Secretary (Bill) speaks about his thoughts on a particular Psalm, and last week it was number 20. Bill reminded us that Jesus echoed this Psalm when he said “ask and it will be given to you”, prompting us to consider God’s boundless love and provision for us (although sometimes we need to learn that God is telling us to wait, or to reconsider our motivations for asking). The psalmist makes it clear in the words “our plans” and “your desire” that what he asks for is in line with God’s will, and that even if he doesn’t get an answer right now he will “keep on calling”.

Bill prompted us to read and reflect on this in our personal prayer time:

LORD,
answer me when I call out in distress
protect me when I’m under attack;
help me to carry out our plans.

LORD,
support me when I need help;
accept what I bring to you as an offering;
give me the desire of my heart, your desire;
grant my requests.

LORD,
you do answer me, you do save me;
I trust in you, my Lord and my God.
So I will stand up and stand firm!
I will keep on calling to you!

Save the date – Christmas is coming!

So with the deluge of rain today, summer is definitely over. And that means that Christmas is coming quickly! It’s only 7 weeks until our free Christmas Fun Day (Saturday 30th November – 11am-1pm), and so we are busily preparing games, crafts, food and redecorating Santa’s grotto.

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This event also includes a craft fair, which this year is in support of St Cuthbert’s Hospice. The craft group (which meets on alternate Monday nights from 7pm – next meeting is Monday 21st October) is busy preparing a range of Christmas decorations, cards and small gifts to sell. If you aren’t able to come out on a Monday night but you have a real creative talent, please bring any items you wish to sell on the stall to any of our weekly meetings. And if you feel that you want to come along to join in but you don’t have a particular craft in mind, then don’t worry – there are lots of decorations to hang, shapes to cut out, and leaflets to deliver. We also value your prayers.

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Whilst this is all good fun, there is a serious point to all of these festive activities. As a church, we believe we are called to be “Christ-centred and community-focussed”. All of these preparations are a way of us placing Christmas – the birth of Christ Jesus – at the centre of our year and of our lives. It is a way of us celebrating his birthday and enjoying the good things that God has given us; the Bible tells us that Jesus was sent so that we “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). As a church, we also want to share this experience of life with those around us in the local community and opening our doors for the Christmas fun day is just one way of doing this. (You can find information about our other activities by clicking on the tabs at the top of this page.)

Count Your Blessings

Some of us used to sing a song:

Count your blessings
Name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done
.

We meet together about once every two weeks to read the Bible together and talk about it. The Bible can seem a bit complicated and it helps to talk together about what it means for us, today. This week we started reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It said that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing”.

But what are these blessings, we wondered?

When we continued to read and talk, we got a bit more detail.

  • He has chosen us because he wants to change our lives around;
  • And he has adopted us as his children – so that we can talk to him like we would to a loving parent, knowing he cares;
  • He’s sorted out all the things that seem to get in the way of our relationship with him – that’s what Jesus did when he died for us to forgive us for all the wrong thing things in our lives;
  • And it’s not just for now – it’s for our whole life and after we die – we’ll still be his children for ever!
  • God will work out our lives in a good way – he’ll be in charge if we let him;
  • So he gives us the Holy of Spirit who lives with us and helps us sort our lives out.

So that’s a lot of blessings!

What an amazing God we have!

If you want to join us this week in finding out more and serving those in the local community, then please feel free to come to any of these meetings:

  • Heroes – a group for children of primary school age, meeting from 4.30-6pm on Tuesdays. There is a weekly subscription of 80p.
  • GB – a group for girls of school age, which meets on a Thursday night.
  • Coffee morning – the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month from 10.30am-12pm.
  • Church service – 10.30am every Sunday morning.
  • Litter pick – a one-off event organised along with Emmanuel Church. Bring your own lunch at 12.30pm on Sunday 13th and then join in in cleaning up the local area.
  • Bible study and fellowship group – alternate Monday nights from 7.15pm (next meeting is the 14th October)

Cafe Church: Operation Agri

As rainstorms sweep across northern England, it is clear that autumn is setting in. And autumn means harvest time – traditionally a time of plenty and to celebrate God’s wonderful provision. After all, we believe that he created the crops which we benefit from.

However, this time of year also means that around the world people will be thinking about how they are going to survive another tough winter, storing their produce to get through the dark months ahead, or budgeting as Christmas and the New Year approach.

Next Sunday morning we will be holding our monthly café church service (first Sunday of the month, at 10.30, followed by a free light lunch) and as well as celebrating God’s creation, we are going to talk about a project called Learning for Life in NepalOperation Agri BMM. Organised by a development charity called Operation Agri, this Christian-led project aims to help people in the mountains south of Kathmandu. In particular, the women in the community are learning about saving and investing their money, and how to farm sustainably and more effectively so that they can support themselves and their families. You can watch their YouTube channel to learn more.

There will be an opportunity for people to donate money to OperatioDurham Foodbank | Helping Local People in Crisisn Agri during the service, as well as to bring non-perishable items which will be used closer to home – by the Durham Food Bank. In particular, the Food Bank are asking for UHT milk, men’s toiletries, instant meals (kettle foods), rice, coffee, custard and sponge puddings. They have plenty of baked beans!

The Bible tells us again and again to share what we have with others:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcome me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. – Matthew 25

Join us next Sunday morning as we strive to do just this for our local community and others around the world.