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Parkgate & Neston United Reformed Church

About Us What's On

Welcome

We are a friendly Christian church, based in the small town of Neston, Wirral, Cheshire, midway between Liverpool and Chester.

Part of the United Reformed Church, we meet on Sundays for morning and evening worship and other church groups and activities take place during the week.

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Our Minister

Revd. Hilary Smith

Our Minister, Revd Hilary Smith

News Bulletin

In common with other UK churches our buildings are currently closed for services and other activities. But while our buildings are closed - the church congregation is not! And in the meantime our minister, elders and members are keeping in touch with each other, and each Sunday we are meeting for worship via the medium of Zoom, following a service which is circulated each week. This week’s service is added below and we invite you to join us as we share this together in our own homes on Sunday mornings. If you would like to receive future services, please contact us by email on enquiries@parkgateandnestonurc.org.uk

We are part of the United Reformed Church and you may also like to follow the URC Daily Devotions which you can access through this link - https://devotions.urc.org.uk/ - or on the United Reformed Church Facebook page. The URC page also carries a weekly service in the form of a podcast.

We hope and pray that it will not be too long before we can welcome friends old and new back to regular services in our church, and we are looking forward to seeing you once again!

Sunday 10th January 2021 – prepared by Mrs Sheila Davies

Welcome

Call to Worship: "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning."


Prayer of Approach

Loving God, in silence and in speaking, our hearts lift to offer worship, for you are the light of creation’s dawn, you are the very breath of our lives; you are the promise of renewal; you are the offer of forgiveness; you are the flame of inspiration; you are the wind of challenging change. You are our God, we are your people. We worship you.


Hymn

For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth over and around us lies:
Gracious God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.

For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light:
Gracious God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.

For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild:
Gracious God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine to our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine, flowers of earth and buds of heaven:
Gracious God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.

For thy people, evermore lifting holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore their pure sacrifice of love:
Gracious God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise


Reading: Genesis 1: 1-5

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.


Gospel Reading: Mark 1: 4-11

John the baptiser appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptised by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptised you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”


Prayer of Confession (John Proctor)

‘The people wondered whether John was the Christ.’ For the times our faith has been low and slow, when we have looked in the wrong places for the coming of God, we ask for pardon.

'He will baptise with Spirit and fire.’ If we have wanted a placid Christ, safe and contained, easy to follow, loving us as we are and leaving us as we are, we pray for new trust and fresh vision.

‘He will gather the wheat.’ When we act as if we own the whole grain of our gifts, the best of our possessions, the bulk of our wealth, we ask God to shake us loose, that we may offer our all to Jesus.

‘The chaff he will burn.’ Everything we carry within us that is unworthy of Jesus – all that is shameful and selfish, petty and proud, we ask for courage to let it go and let it die. So may we live as beloved children, open and obedient to the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen


The Lord’s Prayer

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me,
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me,
Melt me! mould me! Fill me! Use me!
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Spirit of the living God, move among us all;
make us one in heart and mind, make us one in love;
humble, caring, selfless, sharing –
Spirit of the living God, fill our lives with love

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession:

Almighty God, through your might and power the world was created, and through it now the world is changed and ever changing. We thank and praise you for all that you have done through the changes you have made – and are still making – in our lives. We thank and praise you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who gives us strength, and the blessing of peace. We thank you for helping us to make it through such a difficult year - that you’ve carried us through the uncertainty of deep waters, through the flames of trials, and through the pain of hard losses. We are constantly aware of how much we need you, your grace, your strength, your power working through even the toughest days. We pray for your Spirit to lead us each step of this year and pray you would make us strong and courageous for the road ahead.

Eternal God, it feels as if the whole world has changed and yet in you there is stability and the opportunity of a new beginning. So, we pray now for those whose lives are in turmoil, those whose lives have been turned upside down, those who feel lost. May they feel supported, find fresh hope,

We pray for those for whom the lockdown has come as a relief, for those who now feel safer, but we pray too for those who now feel desperate, alone, worried about their jobs, their finances, their mental health. May they feel supported, find fresh hope. We pray for countries around the world struggling with political and racial tension.

We remember the people of West Africa and in particular the people of Niger, villagers who live in fear, those who have been wounded in recent attacks and those who have been bereaved. May they feel supported, find fresh hope.

We pray for those who have been injured or lost their homes and loved ones in the severe weather, remembering particularly the people of Norway affected by landslides, those in Australia battered by cyclones and those in this country affected by severe floods.

We pray for those in refugee camps with little protection from the weather, those who sleep rough, those who can't afford to heat their homes. May they feel supported, find fresh hope: We pray for one another, our families, our communities, our church fellowships. May we support those who are unwell or grieving. May we bring fresh hope to those who feel forgotten, and are vulnerable, and may we – both practically and prayerfully – share our faith in your Son Jesus in whose name we entrust these prayers to you.
Amen.

Serrmon

Well here we are, just a few days into the New Year and already into a strict lockdown with no end in sight. How are you coping? How do you really feel?

Now, ten days into 2021, there is much to consider. We give thanks for the remarkable sacrifice given by so many of the world’s care givers in the face of an almost unimaginable grief and fear. We give thanks for wise leadership and pray for more. We give thanks for the costly acts of generosity given by neighbour to neighbour. And we pray fiercely for a world where the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are given top priority.

We look to scripture for guidance through conflict and change, aware that the impact of Brexit may still split friendships, communities, and nations. We look to scripture for wisdom as we let go of the old and embrace the new – being aware that letting go can be painful and that embracing the new means adopting new behaviours that in turn, with practice, will lead to culture change.

The Scripture readings for this week speak to us about beginnings and new beginnings. We begin in Genesis, with God’s outpouring of life – the dawn of everything, with its description of emptiness and darkness suddenly transformed by the word of God. The Spirit of God hovering over the waters.

On reflection, we see that God looked on the light and saw that it was good. There is a distance between the creation and creator which will remain until God tears the barrier down and comes to live the life of humanity in Jesus. We find that now in our Gospel reading.

Mark announces his Gospel as ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’.

This passage is an important transitioning point in Jesus’ life. Mark sets the scene for transformation with the story of John the Baptist – crowds of people respond to his call for repentance by coming to receive baptism. John’s ministry reaches its climax with the announcement of the one who will baptise with water and the Holy Spirit – and Jesus appears. His baptism is a new beginning, the start of his active ministry. God’s Spirit comes powering through, like a descending dove and the world is changed.

In my home reading this past week, I have been inspired by the words of Karen Campbell – Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries. She writes with honesty and realism – not afraid to ‘say it how it is’.

During the past year we have often heard and read the message – ‘Just trust in God – all will be okay’ and sometimes, yes, there is nothing we can do except trust and pray.

But Karen reminds us that at this time, amid this frightening and devastating pandemic, it’s already not OK for countless individuals and families. As the economic consequences continue to unfold and financial pressures mount for those who already are the most disadvantaged, and physical and mental well-being are compromised, can we really claim that all is OK?

She dares to say, “I don’t believe that trusting in God makes everything okay.”

Coming from someone with such a position in the URC, do those words dismay us or are they refreshingly honest? She goes on to say, “I do believe that faith gives us an added source of strength to withstand – and respond to - the hard times, the times when things are far from okay.” Doesn’t Paul say that faith gives hope for what we cannot yet see but trust God will do? It’s not okay now, but at some point, blue skies and sunshine will surely follow the storm.

If we reflect on this past year, even in the midst of the struggles, we will recognise glimmers of hope, signs of God reaching through, reminding us we are not alone. I can remember vividly, Tony and I stopping the car to gaze with wonder at the sight of two rainbows filling the sky with colour and light. We have been delighted at the sight of snowdrops showing the promise of new life.

There have been so many signs of new beginnings – people finding imaginative ways to reach out to the vulnerable, support in communities, the wonderful response to real need through charities and a new energy to tackle racism and care of the planet. So, moving forward what can we do when everything is not okay? Look for signs of God with us. Keep acknowledging every blessing; be thankful, patient, kind. We can pray.
Amen.

Hymn

Amazing Grace (how sweet the sound) that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

As grace first taught my heart to fear so grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
God’s grace has brought me safe thus far, and he will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.

And, when this heart and flesh shall fail and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil a life of joy and peace.

A sending out prayer

Lord, help us to be open to your prompting as we seek to discover what you would have us be and do. Remind us again and again that you have promised to be our guide and companion on our journey. Help us to look forward with renewed commitment, and bless our thinking, speaking and action. And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit with each one of us this day and ever more. Amen

Why not come and join us?

Why not come and join us for one of our services - you will be very welcome and we look forward to meeting you.

Service Times

Sunday Worship

11:00am

Family service and Junior Church - Holy Communion on the first Sunday of each month.

We offer creche facilities, and junior church activities for school age children.

6:30pm

Evening Service (except August) - Holy Communion on the third Sunday of the month.

Midweek Worship

8:00pm - 9:30pm

Thursday evenings - Praise and Fellowship in the Community Hall Foyer.

Our church and hall are disability-friendly with designated parking spaces, ramp access, and accessible toilet.

Visit Us

Parkgate & Neston URC
Moorside Lane, Parkgate
Cheshire
CH64 6UZ

Parkgate & Neston URC Map showing location of the church