Wardle Village Church

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Reading Matthew 21:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.[a]” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
        and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd[b] spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

 

Reflection on the reading

 

‘Open to me the gates of righteousness’, cries the psalmist… and as I hear those

words, especially on Palm Sunday, certain images come to my mind…We have gates to keep things in and we have gates to keep things out and the opening and closing of gates plays a part in our lives in all sorts of ways…

 

The old city of Jerusalem is today surrounded by a wall which contains 8 gates…

Gates in walls are always important because they are places of entry and exit and

places of encounter… With only a few days of his life on earth remaining, Jesus rides into the city of Jerusalem…On that occasion, as Matthew tells us, Jesus approached the city gates on a humble donkey and as he did so the resounding cries of Psalm 118 ringing loud in our ears...

- ‘Open to me the gates of righteousness’,

- ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord’,

- ‘Hosanna’!

That word Hosanna probably meant ‘Save us’ initially, but it becomes mixed up with

a shout of praise as well – it is a cry which recognises two things; a need for help

and that Jesus is the one who can meet that need. Matthew tells us it is a very large

crowd and again images come to my mind… a picture of the whole world crowded

around a gate crying out for help, for life, for goodness, for salvation...

 

Looking at the story as Matthew tells it to us; we see that the crowds did three things:

Firstly, they cut branches from trees and used them to welcome Jesus. The waving

of branches was an integral part of the ancient Jewish Festival of Tabernacles,

referred to as the psalm we heard declares, ‘Bind up the festal procession with

branches…’ Matthew’s original readers will have made the connection between

branches and worship and recognise that this man riding humbly on a donkey is one

to be worshipped.

 

Worship can be a gate-opening experience! When we offer ourselves to God in

worship something happens which speaks of the presence and the glory of God and

can open the gates of people’s hearts.

 

Secondly the crowd shouted ‘Hosanna, Blessed is the one who comes in the name

of the Lord’. They recognised that Jesus was the one they needed. Sometimes the

gates which have to be opened are the gates with which we fence ourselves off from

any sort of need. The culture of today can lead us to think we must be strong, we

must be perfect, we must be self-sufficient and able to cope with anything.

But the truth is that we are not supposed to live like that – we are supposed to live in

relationship with a God who will supply all our needs – if we recognise that we have

them. Shouting ‘Hosanna’ today is one way to open those gates and let God into our

lives.

 

Thirdly, the crowd answered questions & pointed others to Jesus too. When the

whole city, in turmoil, asks ‘Who is this?’ the crowds replied ‘This is Jesus from

Nazareth in Galilee’.

 

Put like that it sounds easy, but we're not always very good at doing it... at answering

questions openly, being willing to say ‘It's Jesus who makes the difference in my life.

Come and meet him.’ That too can open gates for our friends and neighbours.

On this Palm Sunday, let’s open the gates we find in ourselves and open gates for

others too so that the King of glory can enter in!

 

 

Sermon for Mothering Sunday by Rev Rachel Battershell

 

Sermon for Mothering Sunday 22.03.20

Luke 2: 33-35

 

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

 

Today is Mothering Sunday when we celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, foster mothers and celebrate the mother Church which holds us together as the family of God.

So what is a mother, she’s the person who sees only 4 pieces of pie, when there is 5 to feed and then says I don’t want any. Of course there is much more than missing out on a piece of pie for pudding. The pleasure of seeing our children taking their first steps as babies turns into the joy of watching them take their place in the world.

But today most of us won’t be seeing our mothers or children in the flesh due to the Corona Virus, maybe we will see each other over video calls or many other methods our modern world has to offer. Many of us will have telephone calls to wish them or us a Happy Mothering Sunday. We are at the beginning of a different world.

In fact, you’re not in Church either! I hope that you have been able to sit and watch our service. You must remember that you are the Church, not just the building.

Well let’s look at this morning’s gospel reading, Simeon told Mary some amazing things about her baby son, Jesus. However, in our reading she also learns that her privileged position will not exempt her from the costs of motherhood.

Mary and Joseph had travelled to the Temple in Jerusalem to perform the ceremonies required after birth. Women were expected to offer a sacrifice for their purification. In addition, because Jesus was Mary’s firstborn son, parents were required to present an offering of five shekels because such a child was believed to belong to God.

At the Temple they came across a holy man called Simeon, who had been told by God that he would not die before he saw the Messiah. The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that this child, Jesus, was the much-longed-for saviour. He approached the family and, holding baby Jesus in his arms, declared that this little one would be a blessing to both Jew and non-Jew alike. However, he had unwelcome news too – not everyone would accept Jesus. He would divide opinion and Simeon recognised that this would have grave implications for his mother, who would suffer as a result, most tragically through her son’s death.

But it was not just Jesus’ crucifixion that would cause Mary to suffer. People often misunderstood her son and the crowds that surrounded him were not always supportive. In chapter three of Mark’s Gospel, for instance, Jesus is declared to be “out of his mind”. So anxious were Mary and the rest of her family over these words that they travelled to find Jesus “to restrain him”. This suggests that Mary did not always comprehend what her son was doing, something which must have caused her great anxiety.

No wonder Simeon uses such emotive language to explain the pain that motherhood will bring Mary. The Greek word for sword used here describes a long, large blade and the “soul” was understood to represent the centre of emotions and feelings.

Simeon, then, recognises that, despite knowing the joy and privilege of bringing such a wonderful baby into the world, Mary’s experience of motherhood will also involve intense emotional pain.

Strange as it might seem, Simeon’s words might even reassure parents who are finding their roles difficult that they’re not alone; that parenthood is a sacrifice and that it incurs a cost. Simeon acknowledged that motherhood can bring anxiety and stress – parents fret over their children even when they’re grown up, and suffer when they’re hurting, often more than when they are in pain themselves. Simeon’s emotive imagery of a piercing sword acknowledges that this sort of emotional pain can hurt as much as a deep, physical wound.

Simeon’s empathy with Mary inspires us to pray for and support mothers within our churches & Communities It’s easy to judge and criticise people’s parenting, but let’s be people who offer encouragement and blessing to those with children, for it is a truly difficult job.

But showing motherly love is not limited to those with children. On Mothering Sunday, we remember all those who have mothered us spiritually. Every individual in a church community will have been nurtured and supported by the hard work and sacrifice made by Christians before them. May we, too, show this same kind of motherly love and build up and encourage others in faith especially at the moment when life is so different.

Today we are indeed a church in a different world and for the moment we need to do Church differently, we need to help those around us who are in need. We need to keep praying about our world and for an end to this virus. May God bless you all this Mothering Sunday. Amen

 

IN TOUCH – MARCH 2020

Hello Everyone

Well, our world has been turned upside down by the arrival of the Corona Virus and our church, like so many other places, has had to close down.  There was no Mothering Sunday Service.  There will be no Palm Sunday donkey parade, no Maundy Supper, no Good Friday Service and no Easter Day rejoicing.  Our Church family will not be meeting up for months, so very little will be happening and there will be nothing to report.  Here below are summaries of what our worship leaders were telling us during our last few services.

 

On 16th February, Barry took our service.  He said he would build us a new church and kept his work, building it even faster than the Chinese could, out of lego pieces.  The bricks were all sizes and colours – just like the church of God is made of all kinds of people.  His wife had seen his church building and pointed out that there were no doors or windows.  Sometimes churches feel like that – inward looking!  Are our doors open so that we can go out and share the news and our windows open wide so our light shines out?  We have been called to go out.  Jesus said that the house of God was made up of many rooms.  So are our houses.  When we invite Jesus into our hearts we open a door, but do we allow him into all the rooms?  Have we invited him into every part of our lives?  Only we can open the door.

The last time that Barry came he had 2 advent calendars which contained chocolates and he promised us one next time he came.  He kept his promise – well almost!  He had been unable to resist the temptation and eaten them both, but he made up for it by bringing us Mars bars instead – how kind!

On 23rd February, Geoff spoke to us about the transfiguration, when Jesus took his disciples up a mountain with thim and they encountered Moses and Elijah.  It took the disciples a long time to work out who Jesus was.  He was not what he seemed.  He was teacher, friend, prophet and Son of God.  At the transfiguration the disciples saw Jesus for what he was.  Before them was Jesus in all his glory.  His face shone like the sun.  His clothes became white as the light.  This was God’s son the one God said we should listen to.  Today we have to listen and obey.  Obedience often demands a change of direction.  The disciples who saw this could never be the same again.

On 3rd March, Rev Ruth turned out thoughts towards temptation.  Are we fundamentally good, or do we have a flaw?  God made us in his own image, so we must be good, but some of what happens around the world does not show humans in a good light.  Evil happens.  Something makes us do wrong things.  We have free will.  It comes down to choice.  We justify ourselves.  When Jesus was tempted in the desert, he was preparing for ministry and to take away sin.  He had a choice.  He died and rose for us so that sine can be forgiven.

On 8th March, Rev Rachel talked about Nicodemus, a scholar and a Pharisee, who encountered Jesus.  Jesus told him we need to be born again of water and of spirit.  St John’s Gospel states that ‘God so loved the world that he sent his only son so that everyone who believed in him should have eternal life’.  They would be saved and set free from fear and despair.  Jesus offered this to Nicodemus.  Nicodemus thought that to please God he should study the scriptures and obey them and that the Jews would then be rewarded with a new era when every Jew obeyed every law.  Jesus said, forget it.  Love god and love your neighbour.  The entry ticket depended on re-birth.  We need a fresh start that entirely depends on God.  Then we will receive love and happiness and eternal life. 

That is everything for now. Now is the time to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm.  It will pass.  Nothing lasts for ever.  We will be back.  In the meantime, always remember that you can self-isolate from other people but you cannot self-isolate from God.  He will be with us every step of the way and it’s alright to tell him exactly how we feel about all this.  He knows anyway!

 

Contact Information

Wardle Village Church

Ramsden Road
Wardle
Rochdale
OL12 9PE

Tel: 01706 551686 / 01706 378466

Meeting times

 

Further Contact Details 

Methodist Superintendent Minister

Rev Ruth Jackson 551686

Anglican Vicar

Rev. Rachel Battershell 378466

 

Safeguarding coordinator

Mrs Ruth Tunnicliffe 376914

 

Wardle Village Church Services 

Sunday Morning at 11.00am

Sunday Club

Now fully open. Every Sunday 11.00 am

 

Facilities

Full access for wheelchair users from the ramp at the car park from Chapel Street.

Loop system for the hard of hearing.

Disabled toilet.

 

Marriage can be arranged by contacting either Rev. Rachel Battershell (Anglican), or Rev. Ruth Jackson (Methodist).

 

Baptisms can be arranged by contacting either of our ministers. 

 

Brownies

 Monday Evening 6.00pm

 

St James Primary School Wardle

Where we are

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