May 2011

The Bible Society Vision

Jane Dowdell

The experience of the fifteen year old girl Mary Jones , walking barefoot twenty five miles across the Welsh mountains in 1800 to the nearest place she could buy a Bible, inspired the founding of the Bible Society, an organisation which took the Mary Jones’ experience into its founding principles and devoted its sole being to making Bibles available to all people in a language they can understand, in a format they can use and at a price which they can afford.

Two hundred and eleven years later, despite 2.5 million copies of the Bible being distributed internationally since 1815, the Bible Society’s commitment to facilitating everyone to have an understanding of the Bible’s value to them personally and to their communities, is still challenging - more than 4,400 communities wait for the Bible to be translated into their language, a billion people who cannot read, wait for an audio version while others who are blind wait for a Braille copy. The reality is that translating, publishing and distributing specialist versions of the Bible is expensive. A good news Bible retails in the UK for approximately £16.99. A Braille version costs £350 to print.

For over twenty years, Molly Freeman and her team, Hazel Hill, Mavis & Richard Seeley have brought together our church’s contribution to the international Bible Society’s vision—”to see a day when the Bible’s God-given revelation, inspiration and wisdom is shaping the lives and communities of people everywhere”.

While Molly is keen to offer sincere thanks to everyone who has helped in any way to make the annual fund raising event so successful, raising this year in excess of £200, acknowledgement must especially go to the dedicated team who not only publicise and garner support, but who have worked so hard themselves in the weeks/ months beforehand, sowing the seeds, nurturing the wonderful display of plants and preparing the goods to assist the Bible’s Society’s vision of Bibles for all.

The Bible Mary Jones walked twenty five miles to buy, is now displayed in the Bible’s Society archives at Cambridge’s University Library. It is a copy of the 1799 edition of the Welsh Bible and contains the Book of Common Prayer in Welsh.

Mary’s Bible is a reminder to us all of the centrality of the Bible to our lives and of our commission to share the Good News,

What a little Faith and Encouragement can do

Carol Rogers

Recently I was in Birmingham for a Christian Education Publications Board meeting. The opening worship was taken by a member of the Board, a retired school inspector. He began the worship with a story:

Some time earlier he had attended a meeting in London and had arranged to meet a friend, a retired clergyman, who had served in South Africa for many years, but was now living in London in a very small flat near Victoria. Reminiscing about his time in South Africa he told of meeting a rather sad small boy in a school sick bay. To cheer the boy up he asked if there was anything he could get to make him feel better. The small boy looked at him in all seriousness and said that what he really wanted was a trumpet!

The clergyman was nonplussed, but promised to see what he could do. He had little hope that he would find anything he could afford, but eventually he found one for the equivalent of £25 today. He thought very hard about spending that much money as funds were very low indeed at that time, but he scraped together the necessary amount and bought the instrument. He said that he would never forget the look on the child’s face when he gave the trumpet to him. He was sure that he slept with it in his arms.

The clergyman - well you may have guessed – was Trevor Huddleston. And the small boy? That was Hugh Ramopolo Masekela the famous South African trumpeter. Father Huddleston not only provided the trumpet, but also arranged for music lessons and set him on the path to a eminent musical career. That is the sort of encouragement that every potential musician needs.


Nicky Gilbert

A is for the animal all humans have inside,
N is for the naughtiness we try so hard to hide.
O is for the ordinary things that we all do.
N is for the niceness that is found inside us too.
Y is for the questions ,why and how and when and where?
M is for the memories that remind us that we care.
O is also original; we are all the only one.
U is for unpredictable; life and all we’ve done.
S is for Special, that is all of us,
God knows us through and through, we are not anonymous!
Nicky Gilbert

What are You Like God?

Gill Bailey

Are you in image just like us, sitting in silence in your chair?
Are you the old man on the bus, without a coin to pay his fare?
Are you the babe who doesn’t move, alone, forgotten in her cot?
Are you the one who wants to love all those around, who love you not?
Are you the eyes in hunger held, on barren land, all dust and dirt?
Are you the one who seeks to build a world that’s free from pain and hurt?
Are you the mother on her own, toiling each day to make ends meet?
Are you the homeless lost and lone, cold, dirty, hungry, in the street?
Are you the child in factory’s heat, with fingers sore, all ripped and torn?
Are you the sad one left alone in loss, to grieve; to weep; to mourn?
Are you the orphan in the sun, your bowl held out with longing eyes?
Are you the one who’s breaking heart, so longs to hush those anguished cries?

Are you the one who came to be, our life, our bread, our vine, our way?
Are you the one who shines a light into our hearts on each dark day?
Are you the one who reached out to, the ones that no one wants to know?
Are you the one who whose arms enfold all those in need and full of woe?
Are you the one who bids the lost to lay their cares and worries down?
Are you the one who comes to us, to share your glory and your crown?
Are you the one who cries out loud for war to end and love to win?
Are you the one among the crowd, the only one who’s free from sin?

You’re all of these and so much more, we see your love pinned to a tree.
You are the one who’s longing for, all those who will not bend their knee
before your son, who’s dying breath broke through the bounds of sin and shame;
paid all our debts to show you care, so we at last could own your name.
You are our joy, our hope, our friend.
You are the one to whom we cling
You are our goal, the first, the end
Maker, Redeemer, Lord and King.

Give us the faith which heals our pain;
the hope that keeps our hearts alive
and through this world of sin and shame
hold up your cross before our eyes
and tell us once again how love
has won the day; has stilled the lies.

There is no fear in trusting you,
no chance that you will let us down
no doubt that you for us will do,
all that you promised;
us you own,
for we are yours and all through time
You have called all Christians ‘Mine’.

Letter from the Minister

The wind in our sails

We warmly welcome you to the Junior Church Anniversary Service on 26 June. Working with the Junior Church staff recently to create that service, I offered the summer theme of sailing and the Spirit.

I took this idea straight from our General Assembly that took place in Torquay in the summer of 1991. (It was memorable, among other reasons, as it was the first Assembly I attended as a Minister.) Its theme was “Driven by the Spirit”. Its emblem was, in silhouette, a simple yacht with the mast formed of a cross with the fish symbol half way up, i.e. the URC symbol, and the sail was a spinnaker billowing out firmly, drawing the boat forward.

Jesus, in his night-time encounter with Nicodemus in John chapter 3, used the wind as a metaphor for the Spirit of God – “The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

We are to place ourselves at God’s disposal: as Wesley put it in the Methodist Covenant service

'I am no longer my own but yours. 
Put me to what you will, 
rank me with whom you will; 
put me to doing, 
put me to suffering; 
let me be employed for you, 
or laid aside for you, 
exalted for you, 
or brought low for you; 
let me be full, 
let me be empty, 
let me have all things, 
let me have nothing: I freely and
wholeheartedly yield all things 
to your pleasure and disposal. 
And now, glorious and blessed God, 
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 
you are mine and I am yours.'

A fitting thought of recommitment for Pentecost.

Yours ever, in Christ,