This district initiative is an encouragement to travel positively – both spiritually and practically – through the ‘Great 50 Days’ between Easter and Pentecost, focusing on three themes: Love, Pray and Give. We encourage you to share the Easter Pastoral Letter and Great 50 Days flyer widely – both electronically and in hard copy.
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TRAVELLING FROM EASTER TO PENTECOST
After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ Acts 1: 3-5
Eastertide is the period traditionally known as the “The Great 50 days” spanning from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. As we envisage this year’s Eastertide being a season of continued social distancing, I want to encourage us to use these days positively – both spiritually and practically.
Read the full Easter Pastoral Letter from Revd Leslie Newton here:
Easter Pastoral Letter (Pdf)
Our three “Great 50 Days 2020” themes:
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Reflect regularly on the Great Commandments of Jesus and how you can fulfil them in these stay at home days:
- How can you more fully express your love of God?
- How can you show love to your neighbour?
- How can you take better care of yourself?
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Commit to praying each day, remembering especially:
- Your family and loved ones
- Those suffering illness or loss through Covid-19
- Leaders in the church, government and society generally
- Scientists working to find vaccines and treatments
- The future mission and ministry of your church
- Your own relationship with God
In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2
Some of us will need to be receiving support rather than being able to give, and we want to be able to respond to that need. However, many of us will be in a position to generously give:
- To local foodbanks or other charities bringing care and support;
- To international agencies such as All We Can, bringing help to the neediest places of our world.
Alongside this, please could I encourage you to give a ‘Love Gift’ to your local church? The loss of letting income and cash giving is having a serious effect on local church finances. If you could give through online transfer or cheque, or perhaps write an IOU to be paid when you can return to church, this would be so helpful. Another option is to contribute to the District Benevolent account which is solely to alleviate needs around the District.
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When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ John 20:19-22
As Easter People we now embark on the “Great 50 Days” leading from Easter to Pentecost Sunday. In the midst of our current severe challenges, our Chair of District, Revd Leslie Newton encourages us to join in faithfully responding by focussing on these three themes: LOVE, PRAY, GIVE. Here’s an introductory video. Resources will be available each week.
Let God speak in unexpected ways
In these challenging and strange days we can feel very much out of our comfort zone. It can all feel a bit like we’re travelling through a foreign land. In such a time as this, it can be hard to discern God speaking to us and through us. However, the Risen Christ is with us, and we can hope to recognise him, and find our hearts strangely warm. Let us pray for an increase in hope, love, faith and courage.
Let your life speak of hope
After the devastation of losing Jesus, the disciples are afraid for their lives and future. Despite the ruins of their dreams, they meet a very real sense of the presence of Jesus who gives them a deep peace and courage to let the closed door open.
Let your life speak of new beginnings
Despite Peter’s passionate love for Jesus and enthusiasm for the cause of Jesus, for God’s Kingdom, he has a lot of growing to do, and some devastating mistakes to mature through before he can become the rock on which the church will be built.
- making a commitment to join in streamed daily prayer
- joining in with a virtual 24/7 prayer room
- buying the Big Issue on line
- ringing round people to check up on them and talk – both within and beyond the church community.
- buying food from local shops and thereby supporting local businesses
- taking care to ringfence personal time for rest and relaxation.
- recognising the personal movement (sometimes quite fast) between celebrating the light of resurrection, and recognising the pain of suffering and loss.
- time spent in the garden
- listening to Spring Harvest sessions
- crocheting pairs of hearts for an infirmary so that one can be given to a patient and the other to the family
Do get in touch with other ways you are supporting the Love, Pray, Give initiative during this time.
Let your life speak of God
When we are in control and ‘together’ in ourselves, we may find it harder to hear and recognise the voice of God. Our own voice is too strong. It is humble souls, who know how easy it is to get lost, make mistakes, and get it wrong that recognise, listen to and obey God’s voice and find ‘the way’ to let their lives speak.
- Involvement in a community “Scrubs” group busy making scrubs for the local hospital. A chance for sewing skills to be put to such good use in these days.
- A renewed sense of hope arising from studying, and reflecting upon, the scriptures set out in the material.
- Continuing use of the Spring Harvest materials: https://springharvest.org/spring-harvest-home/
- Use of the Lectio 365 phone app, with daily devotion https://www.24-7prayer.com/dailydevotional
- Ongoing support of the local food bank.
- A helpful insight, in looking at Thomas, of our personal need to encounter Jesus, that we might say “My Lord and my God.
- Practical support of a local Covid19 Community group.
- Sharing information about where people can get support locally.
- Supporting Christians Against Poverty who are so busy in these days. https://capuk.org
Do get in touch with other ways you are supporting the Love, Pray, Give initiative during this time.
Let your life speak of faithfulness
Jesus takes a big risk on who he chooses to be his friends. Judas is about to betray him because he thinks Jesus needs to act faster. Jesus keeps going with his mission, even when he knows that he is being betrayed.
Here is the material for Week 5 of our “Great 50 Days” initiative as we making LOVE | PRAY | GIVE a priority.
We are anticipating that some of the messaging around the nation’s response to the pandemic will change, to include the phrase “Stay Alert.” I am reminded of Colossians 4:2-4 where we read these words, in the Message paraphrase:
Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.
What timely words…. and an encouragement this week to focus all the more on prayer. Please make space in these days for the renewing of your prayer life. Pray specifically for people, situations, our nation, our leaders, our church and its witness, and as here, for open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even as we stay largely at home.
Thank you too for your continuing thoughts and responses. Another great charity to support is Acts 435. https://acts435.org.uk Please do have a look at their website and see the tremendous work they are doing in supporting those in need.
Thank you to those who are feeding back their responses.
Let your life speak of God’s way of loving
In loving others Jesus never violates their personal integrity. He invites their full participation and contribution but does not insist or take away their responsibility for themselves.
Our journey continues through these Great 50 Days towards Pentecost. Here is the Week 6 material. I do hope that paying attention to our three themes: Love | Pray | Give is proving helpful and productive for you.
A good and appropriate focus for us this week is Christian Aid. The annual Christian Aid week is just coming to an end, but of course it’s been a very, very different week. Like many of you I have often collected door to door and that has not been possible this year. In the midst of concerns for income generation the needs around Coronavirus global increase and so it is so important that we support Christian Aid, and other charities such as All We Can, just as much as we can. https://www.christianaid.org.uk
Please continue to share your responses.
Let your life speak of freedom
In Jesus, and through the Spirit, God shows us how to receive a deep connection with God and others. When we discover this unity, we realise that we are part of God’s gift to the world, and we recognise others also as God’s gift.
Today our Great 50 Days journey reaches its culmination on this glorious day of Pentecost. We celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and her gifts and fruit to enable us to fulfil the Great Commandments and Great Commission of Jesus.
Thank you to all of you who have offered feedback and thoughts as you have travelled through these days and focussed on the important themes of Love | Pray | Give. I hope it has been helpful to you, especially in these challenging times. Of course these themes do not become any less important as we travel into the future.
It has been a privilege to share with you in these Great 50 Days.
Let your life speak through the power of the Spirit
We are not left powerless to love others as God loves us. We have the stories and words of Jesus to guide us, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Learning how to pay attention to the Spirit and to keep on paying attention, day by day is of utmost importance.