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Friday email 24 April

Dear parishioners and friends of Knockbreda,

The apostle writes in 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18, ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.’
Life in the 1st century was tough.  So when Paul asks Christians to be joyful and thankful he knows their circumstances don’t always lend themselves to this attitude.  Likewise for us, our situation at the moment is difficult and can be discouraging.  Still, when we think about what the Lord has done and is doing we can be joyful, pray continually and give thanks.
Consider the many blessings He has given us to be able to cope with coronavirus.  We have hospitals, GPs, nurses, other health workers, carers and scientific advice.  Many of us have friends, family, church family and people we can talk to on the phone.  We have the technology of 2020 available: the internet, Zoom, Facebook, emails, mobile phones, TV, radio, etc.
Above all we have numerous spiritual blessings.  Indeed a Christian knows God has ‘blessed us in Christ Jesus with every spiritual blessing’ (Ephesians 1.3; read the rest of Ephesians 1 for an inspiring list of the spiritual blessings in Christ).  We have salvation, redemption, forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, an inheritance in heaven, God as our heavenly Father, the list goes on and on.  When we think about it, there are actually many, many reasons to give thanks.
Day of Prayer
Our bishop, David McClay has asked for a day of prayer and fasting tomorrow, Saturday.
The bishop writes, ‘I have a picture in my heart and mind of people from every parish in our diocese setting aside time on St Marks Day, 25 April to fast and pray. I can visualise hundreds and thousands contacting friends and neighbours to join them in a similar way to how we stand applauding the NHS and concluding that Saturday together “in the presence of the risen Lord” by standing at thousands of doors in hundreds of streets across our diocese at 8.00 pm praying aloud the Lords Prayer.

We can do it together!  Using every means you can, please call your friends, fellow parishioners and others to join with many in this opportunity for us to meet with the risen Lord.’

Further details are on the diocesan website  https://www.downanddromore.org/news/2020/04/bishop-david-calls-for-a-day-of-prayer-and-fasting  

Ministry of the Word
I would like to thank everyone who has been praying for the ongoing ministry of the church.
As we keep hearing, these days are ‘unprecedented’ and churches usually prefer ‘precedented’ times!  Change can be hard and even after lockdown finishes there will no doubt be a period where we have to think afresh about how we meet together.  Will social distancing still be encouraged in some way?
The Bible teaching on Sundays will therefore come from the book of Deuteronomy where Moses, poised on the edge of the Promised Land addresses the people of God in three sermons.  He describes how the Israelites should respond to the grace of God and start afresh in the place God has generously given them.  I hope you will make a point of joining us on Sundays at 10.30 and 6.30 (when our Bible readings will continue through John’s Gospel).  If you like, you may find it helpful to read Deuteronomy chapters 1-3 in preparation for this Sunday morning.
Remember, Sunday services are live-streamed on the Knockbreda Parish Church website:
If there is the odd glitch in transmission (as there was last Sunday for the first time) please just refresh your screen.
If you prefer to watch the service at a later time in the week you will find it on our YouTube channel along with recordings of other devotional Bible teaching, children’s talks, ‘Shake, Rattle and Rhyme’ and Christian interviews (this week’s interview is with Stuart Balmer and is a must-see).
Jonny is constantly putting Bible stories and talks for children on the Knockbreda Facebook page as well as on YouTube.  Pathfinders meets immediately after the Sunday morning service on Zoom so if you know of any teenagers who would like to take part Jonny can provide details.  Likewise for Sunday night’s X-ray / Exchange group which is planning to resume online.  Here is his email address.
I am sure if you are online much you will be accessing many good Christian articles and much reading material.  Personally I am finding the Gafcon daily devotionals through the season of Easter very encouraging.  They are written by Rev Dr. Ashley Null, a Prayer Book scholar of the first rank, and have the right blend of Biblical depth and devotional application.
Gafcon is the ever-expanding international movement for orthodox Anglicans and I would encourage you to discover what is happening in the worldwide church by visiting its website.  You’ll be astonished and probably moved to tears, especially when you read of the struggles faced by many fellow-Anglican believers in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere.  The faithfulness of someone like Archbishop Ben Kwashi (Gafcon secretary general) is one of the great stories of our time.  His biography Neither Bomb Nor Bullet: Benjamin Kwashi: Archbishop on the front line’ is next on my reading list.  It is available from all good online book retailers!
Finally…
Thank you for adapting to our present situation.  A pandemic like this is obviously a major challenge to our society.  But it is also an opportunity for the Church to bear witness to the truth and love of Christ.  I believe we need to continue supporting one another and sharing the gospel with our friends.  God’s Word has something profound to say to us all so let’s keep reading and praying.  If you would like to join the online prayer group on Tuesday nights please contact me.
I would love to lead an online Christianity Explored course using Zoom.  What is the essence of Christianity?  Who really was Jesus?  What does the source document of the Gospel of Mark tell us about this man from the 1st century?  If you are interested in Christian faith but have never really felt you have made a commitment please get in touch and we can explore further together.
Also, get in touch if you need any practical assistance.  Simply phone the rectory and we will see what we can do to help.
With the apostle Paul, let’s remember to ‘be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.’
Keep well.  God bless.
Yours in Christ,
Bill