31st March 2019
Welcome to the United Benefice of St. Helen,
St. Mary and St. John the Baptist
It’s great to gather together as the Body of Christ in this beautiful part of Derbyshire. Though we have differences, we have one Lord, one Faith and one Passion for the Gospel. May we spend time today praying together and sharing fellowship.
All are welcome to take part fully in our services. If this is a Service of Holy Communion, you are very welcome to receive Holy Communion at the appropriate time.
(Gluten-free wafers are available; just ask anyone leading the communion.)
Our Worship Today, Sun.31st March, Lent Four
9 a.m. Family Communion at St. John’s
10 a.m. Family Communion at St. Mary’s
11 a.m. Family Communion at St. Helen’s
Regular Midweek Services
Tuesday – Morning Prayer at St. Helen’s, 9.30 a.m.
Thursday – Morning Prayer at St. John’s, 9.30 a.m.
Thurs. 4th Prayer Meeting, 14 Park Avenue, 9.30 a.m.
Thurs. 4th Home Group, 14 Park Avenue, 7.30 p.m.
Our United Benefice Services for Next Sun. 7th April
9 a.m. Holy Communion at St. John’s
10 a.m. Joint Holy Communion at St. Mary’s
For our Prayers:
The Hopper family, the Parnell family, Tony & Marie Thrower, Stan Codd, Andrew Brown, Steven Gill, Werner Weber, Janet Monk, Janet Brindley, Pam Creasey, Donna Watson, Katie Reade, Stephen Monk, Audrey and Geoff Foster, John and Marian Booth, Eileen Gray.
Let us pray for anyone in our United Benefice who has health concerns at this time, whether physical or mental.
(Please let Pauline know if you would like someone’s name on the list, also if one can be removed. For St. Mary’s, please pass names to David Gadsby, for St. John’s to Marion Bowler.
Last Chance for an Easter Lily!
If you would like to have an Easter Lily displayed in memory of a loved one, please enclose £3.50 (per name) in an envelope, with the name of the person to be remembered on the front. Give to Ann Bradley as soon as possible.
If there is more than one member of the same family, you might prefer to put the family name rather than that of an individual, e.g. The Smith Family.
Any additional donations will be used to buy extra lilies.
Prayer Group, St. Helen’s, Every Sunday, 10.30 a.m.
Before the 11 a.m. service at St. Helen’s, there is a special time for prayer and reflection which takes place in the church hall. It is a lovely way to pray together as a group and to prepare for the service.
Do come and experience this, everyone is very welcome. We start at 10.30, but feel free to join us at any time before 11.
Throughout Lent, the church invites us to pray, to give to the poor, to turn back to God. In other words, as the liturgy says, ‘Repent and Believe the Good News’. During this season there are weekly groups to reflect and pray together. These are:
Every Monday at Dale Road Methodist Church, 7.30 p.m.
Every Tuesday at St. Helen’s, 10.15 a.m.
Every Friday at St. Mary’s, 10 a.m. (Parish Room)
United Benefice BBQ! St. John’s, Next Sat. 6th April,3 – 5:30 p.m.
Please come along to support and enjoy this event. There will be games and craft activities for young people of all ages, plus refreshments. In particular – a BBQ! (Let’s hope for fine, dry weather!) If you would be willing to lend a hand, please contact Marion Bowler.
Joint Annual Parochial Church Meeting for St. Mary’s and St. Helen’s, Next Sun. 7th April, South Darley Village Hall, 11.15 a.m.
All are most welcome to this meeting, though the rules permit only those on the Church Electoral Roll to speak or to vote.
The new Electoral Roll for St. Helen’s is now on display (names only) on the church’s notice boards.
The above meeting will follow a Joint Service at St. Mary’s, starting at 10 a.m.
Red Alert – Cakes Needed for the Above!
After next Sunday’s 10 a.m. service at St. Mary’s, we would like to offer coffee/tea and – most important! – cake, before the A.P.C.M. begins. If you could possibly provide a cake, that would be so much appreciated.
A Date for your Diary – John Barker in Concert St. Helen’s Church, Fri. 3rd May, 7 p.m.
One of Britain’s finest trumpeters is giving a concert!
Do make it a date. Light refreshments will be provided. Tickets are £7.50 and can be obtained from Ian Sutton, (01629 734290)
or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Death of Jesus and Our Moral History
(The following text is by Philip Yancey, an American author who writes mainly about spiritual issues. It is quite long but very interesting – worth taking the time to read and reflect upon.)
Along with most Christians, I have been reflecting on the death of Jesus this Lenten season. How odd, it seems, that we now call the darkest day of history Good Friday, and that the cross, an emblem of brutal execution, has become the symbol of our faith.
By way of explanation, theologians propose various theories of the atonement, and point ahead to Easter as a template of how God redeems tragedy into triumph. Something else, however, captures my interest this year: the effect of Jesus’ death on history. As the Misfit in one of Flannery O’Connor’s stories put it, “Jesus thrown everything off balance.”
I once attended a retreat with a prominent Palestinian legislator, activist, and scholar. She introduced herself by saying, “I am quadruply marginalized. I am a feminist woman in a male-dominated society. I am a Christian from a predominantly Muslim society. I am a Palestinian, a people without a country. And here in the United States I am a racial and cultural minority.”
Soon after that retreat I came across the writings of René Girard, the late French philosopher who taught for years at Stanford University. Girard was fascinated with the fact that in modern times a ‘marginalized’ person has a kind of moral authority. In our group, for example, the Palestinian woman’s identity gained her instant respect. Girard noted that a series of liberation movements—abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, animal rights, gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights, human rights—had gathered speed in his lifetime. The trend mystified Girard because he found nothing comparable in his study of ancient literature.
Winners, not losers, wrote ancient history, and the myths from Babylon, Greece, and elsewhere celebrated strong heroes, not pitiable victims. Girard ultimately traced the phenomenon back to the historical figure of Jesus, whose story cuts against the grain of every heroic account from its time. Jesus took the side of the underdog: the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the marginalized. Indeed, Jesus himself chose poverty and disgrace, spent his infancy as a refugee, lived in a minority race under a harsh regime, and died as a condemned prisoner.
The crucifixion, Girard concluded, introduced a new plot to history: the victim became a hero by offering himself as a willing victim. In the words of W. H. Auden: “The idea of a sacrificial victim is not new; but that it should be the victim who chooses to be sacrificed, and the sacrificers who deny that any sacrifice has been made, is very new.” To the consternation of his secular colleagues, Girard converted to Christianity.
When Jesus died as an innocent victim, it introduced what one of Girard’s disciples, Gil Baillie, has called “the most sweeping historical revolution in the world, namely, the emergence of an empathy for victims.” Today the victim occupies the moral high ground everywhere in the Western world: consider how the media portray the plight of AIDS orphans in Africa or Tibetan refugees or uprooted Palestinians. Girard contended that Jesus’ life and death brought forth a new stream of liberation in history, one that undermines abusive power and injustice.
The Christian gospel ushered in a stunning reversal of values that went on to affect the entire world. The stream often moved slowly, and yet Girard concluded that the world’s care for the marginalized and disenfranchised came about as a direct result of the cross of Jesus Christ. It took centuries for that stream to erode a hard bank of oppression, as with slavery, but the stream of liberation flowed on. Wherever Christianity took root, care for victims spread. To mention just one example, in Europe of the Middle Ages the Benedictine order alone operated 37,000 monasteries devoted to the sick.
Even an outspoken critic of the faith, Bart Ehrman, admits in a recent book that Christianity was the first reform movement to champion and elevate the weak, to question a social order in which the strong have a right to dominate the weak. Today, if you Google indices that measure such values as economic freedom, press freedom, charitable giving, earth care, gender equality, quality of life, human rights, and lack of corruption, you will find that with very few exceptions Christian-heritage nations receive the highest ratings.
Modern activists draw their moral force from the power of the gospel unleashed at the cross, when God took the side of the ‘marginals’. In a great irony, the ‘politically correct’ movement often positions itself as an enemy of Christianity, when in fact the gospel has contributed the very underpinnings that support such a cause. Sometimes Jesus’ own followers join the stream, and sometimes they stand on the bank and watch. Yet those who condemn the church for its episodes of violence, slavery, sexism, and racism do so by gospel principles, arguing for the very moral values that the gospel originally set loose in the world.
The liberating gospel continues to leaven a culture even when the church takes the wrong side on an issue. Advances in human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, minority rights, and disability rights have found success because of a widespread sympathy for the oppressed that has no parallel in the ancient world. Classical philosophers viewed mercy and pity as character defects; not until Jesus did that attitude change.
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” Jesus told his disciples. God’s expression in Jesus took the world by surprise, and the reverberations have not stopped. In a culture that glorifies success and grows deaf to suffering, we need a constant reminder that at the centre of the Christian faith hangs an apparently unsuccessful and suffering Christ, who died ignominiously.
The apostle Paul touched on a deep truth about Jesus’ contribution in his claim to the Colossians: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” A public spectacle it was when Jesus exposed as false gods the very powers and authorities in which good citizens take such pride. The most refined religion of the day accused an innocent man, and the most renowned justice system carried out the sentence.
Another French philosopher, Jacques Ellul, said, “We must always come back to this essential point, that God rules by love and not by strength”: an important reminder in a time when tribalism and the politics of division tempt us toward the opposite. These days, debates about immigration, race, sexuality, refugees, and health care feed that division. I cannot pretend to have solutions to those problems. As I ponder the example of Jesus, though, I pray for the grace-healed eyes through which he viewed the world.
11 Come, my children, and listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is there who delights in life
and longs for days to enjoy good things?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from lying words.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous
and his ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry and the Lord hears them
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and will save those who are crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the troubles of the righteous;
from them all will the Lord deliver them.
20 He keeps all their bones,
so that not one of them is broken.