Medical Matters

The following is from the Christian Medical Fellowship, a group in a position to offer a great deal of support during these stressful times. Information given here may be useful for any of us, but it would be great if you could pass it along to any medics, nurses, midwives etc. you may think will benefit.

 

The Christian Medical Fellowship exists to unite and equip Christian doctors and nurses and midwives to live and speak for Jesus Christ. We hold local meetings to which any Christian Healthcare worker is welcome.

There are a number of helpful national initiatives as well which can be found on cmf.org.uk

Resources

CMF has a number of new resources online that may be of use to you and your church:

Also worth checking out is a recent episode of the Unbelievable Podcast from Premier Radio with John Lennox answering the question where is God in a coronavirus world? based on his just-published book of the same name.

COVID1900Prayer

All are welcome to join us daily for a short time of prayer and worship using the hashtag  #COVID1900Prayer  on Facebook or Instagram live every day at 7 pm

Voices from the frontline

This podcast series gives personal accounts and prayer suggestions.

COVID-19 blogs

Thought provoking blogs from a range of viewpoints.

Pastoral Care and Well-being

We know that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be times of particular stress and tension. There will also be unique opportunities to share the love of Christ in word and deed. The CMF Pastoral Care and Well-being team are available daily to pray and listen when you need support or want to share the challenges you are facing.

We would invite you to e-mail us on wellbeing@cmf.org.uk leaving contact numbers for a call back for prayer or conversation as necessary. Let us know what time would be best to call back. Alternatively, you may just log the issues you want the CMF team to pray for, and we will add them to our list of daily prayers, as we work together to serve health care workers and students at this time.

As ever, there should be respect for all patient confidentiality in any messages left. We aim to get back to enquirers within a maximum of 24 hours.

CMF 2020 National Online Gathering

How long Lord? Finding hope in Christ when the storm clouds gather

Registration is now open for the CMF 2020 National Online Gathering via Zoom on Saturday 25th April 2020 from 11 am to 3 pm (BST/UTC+1). Jonty Allcock (pastor at the Globe Church in central London) will be walking us through the Book of Habakkuk, and Dr Patrick Dixon (author, business consultant, futurist, and chairman of Global Change Ltd.) will be looking at Life Beyond COVID-19. There will be live interactive Q&A sessions, a chance to hear stories from around the world and group breakout times for prayer and sharing. Do join us and please invite other Christians in healthcare from all over the world to join us. This event is free to join, but registration is necessary. 

Please go to cmf.org.uk/nationalconference for more information and to register.

Supporting final year students

As you are probably aware, many final year students of medicine, nursing and midwifery across the country are being propelled prematurely into working life due to the COVID-19 crisis. They will be a huge help to our health service and we’re so grateful for their willingness to step up, but this is inevitably an anxious and challenging time for them. We really want to support Christian students in this position and one great way to do this is by linking them up with more experienced members for encouragement and prayer. If you are  a student transitioning to work, please email us at students@cmf.org.uk for medical students, and nurses@cmf.org.uk if you’re a nurse or midwife.

Morning Service for Second Sunday of Easter, 19th April

19 April 2020

Opening

O Lord, open our lips

And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

The Lord is risen!

He is risen indeed. Halleluia!

Song ‘And can it be?’

Confession

Jesus Christ, risen master and triumphant Lord,

we come to you in sorrow for our sins,

and confess to you our weakness and unbelief.

We have lived by our own strength,

and not by the power of your resurrection.

In your mercy, forgive us.

Lord, hear us and help us.

We have lived by the light of our own eyes,

as faithless and not believing.

In your mercy, forgive us.

Lord, hear us and help us.

We have lived for this world alone,

and doubted our home in heaven.

In your mercy, forgive us.

Lord, hear us and help us.

Children’s Slot

Song ‘Strong and courageous’

The Word of God

Read Together John 21v1-14

Or listen to it here: http://www.biblegateway.com/audio/suchet/nivuk/John.46

Song ‘King of kings, Majesty’

Prayers


Song ‘Boldly I approach your throne’


Sermon

Song ‘O Lord, my rock and my redeemer’


Blessing


The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ

And the love of God

And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

Be with us, this Easter Time

And for evermore.

Amen.

In the name of simplicity

As we have now got our YouTube channel up and running it seems a good idea to make it as simple as possible for you to find it. With this in mind all of our internet address end with stbots.church. So, for your records please note the following:

I hope you find this useful.

Deep despair meets living hope

Today I received the following from an exhausted worker:

 

Lord, today, right now – nothing makes any sense. My heart hurts and tears fill my eyes – everything seems so desperate.

There’s a heaviness of heart, of limbs, of mind.

When will this all be over?

This battle, this war that is being waged?

And who is waging the war?

And why, oh why, oh why?

 

We’re imprisoned, each to their own confined capsule of space and time.

Separated. 

We weren’t born to be apart like this.

We yearn for and desire each other, to be together. 

To touch, to see, to smile, to stand close; present together.

And so, this aching is unbearable, Lord.

 

Yet, Lord, we had it all and seemed to fail to notice.

We are noticing now.

We are seeing with fresh eyes. 

We are hearing your birdsong with new ears 

And enjoying the warmth of the sun 

Our senses are being awakened, renewed through longing. 

But oh, how long Lord.

How long?

 

And in this, Lord, You are here.

You are so very here and very near.

Stand close, Lord.

Closer.

Deeper.

Closer still. 

We know You with us.

We need You with us. 

We delight in Your presence. 

We trust in Your presence.

We grow in Your presence.

Thank You for the intimacy with the One my soul loves.

In my anguish, I find Your peace.

In my pain, through my tears, I feel Your hand, Your comfort, Your love.

And we worship You, Jesus. 

We exalt Your Name.

Because You knew a suffering even greater

Beyond our imaginings. 

Beyond the scope of my ability to comprehend.

You too cried out. You sweated drops of blood 

In anguish

In forsakeness

But – in obedience .

You endured 

You gave up Your spirit to the Father.

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son

 

Lo’ Jesus meets us

Risen from the tomb.

Lovingly He greets us 

He scatters  fear and gloom 

So let the church with gladness 

Hymns of triumph sing

For her Lord now liveth 

And death has lost it’s sting!

Virtual fellowshipping

Social isolation is not all bad. There are a great many of us having more contact with others than we normally do. The virtual world, made possible by the internet, has really come into its own, and many of us, even once technophobes, have embraced the brave new world and become technophiles. Experts in email, Facebook, Whatsapp, YouTube, and, of course the most popular of all, Zoom. A traditional phone call seems tame by comparison. My wife hosted an afternoon tea party last Sunday afternoon for all our family. Kettering, Norfolk, Oxford, West Drayton and Eastbourne united in our living room over Earl Grey and scones! What a joy.

But this new found faux fellowship has led a number of people to think about how we might ‘do church’ better in these isolated times. We have fellowship via technology, we have church services on YouTube, we have preaching via YouTube too. So, what’s missing? Well, clearly the biggest omission is the celebration of the sacraments, baptism and communion. Baptisms can wait, but what about communion? Church law tells us that we are to celebrate a service of Holy Communion every Sunday in every benefice in the country. And as Easter approaches Maundy Thursday is a very special time to celebrate the Lord’s supper. Clearly we have already put aside canon law for now, but Easter without communion? It’s unimaginable isn’t it?

Some have suggested that an extension to the ‘virtual church’ might be possible, everybody breaking bread and sharing wine in their homes at the same time, united ‘together’ by technology. I must confess, I have a certain amount of sympathy with the sentiment, and I will not condemn any churches choosing to do this, but I am left theologically uneasy by the idea. Let me offer a few reasons why:

Outside of the gospels the clearest teaching in the New Testament on communion comes in 1 Corinthians 11v17-34. Here the Apostle Paul is addressing abuses in the Corinthian church:

Paul begins, 17 … in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. …
20  When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.” So, in v17-20 Paul three times uses the term coming together as a euphemism for, what we call, Holy Communion. This must mean that being together, in a real, meaningful way, is essential for a celebration of Holy Communion. The Corinthian’s problem was that, though they were physically together, they were divided. This is no state in which to remember our unity in Christ.

From v23 we read the ‘words of institution’. Paul recounts the original ‘Lord’s Supper’ of which Holy Communion is a memorial. Jesus, in the upper room, sharing bread and wine with his disciples. They are together, in one room, sharing a meal, sharing one loaf and one cup. The Church of England, quite rightly, teaches that in a service of Holy Communion we must share a common cup, as Jesus did.

In v26 we read that the Lord’s Supper is a proclamation. To whom is it proclaiming but the body of Christ who so easily forget their need of the saviour.

There is much more that could be said, let me know if you want more and I’ll try to write it, but these are the key points:

  1. Communion is a focus of our unity in Christ. The very thing that makes us the church. Rich and poor, all races, all types, Lord and pauper. United in Christ.
  2. Communion is a focus on Christ himself. He is present in a special way, not in the bread and wine, but in the hearts of believers as we remember together.
  3. Communion is a proclamation of the death of Christ. A reminder that we all need him, and without him we would be lost for all eternity.

In other words

  1. We look up to Christ in heaven
  2. We look around to one another
  3. We look back to the cross and Christ
  4. We look forward to our hope in Christ

I think we need to be physically together for this. We can remember these things in other ways until, by the mercy of God, we are united again as his family. Then we’ll have a great celebration.

I do hope this helps.

May God bless you.

Bible for Little Ones

The Jesus Storybook Bible on the St Bot’s YouTube Channel

I first came across The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones a few years ago when my son was about five or six. There are lots of ‘children’s’ Bibles on the market, some of which are excellent, The Beginners’ Bible for instance is a great start for even the youngest child.

There is something different about The Jesus Storybook Bible, it doesn’t just retell the wonderful stories of the Bible heroes we all know and love; Noah, Joseph, David, Peter, Paul etc., it brings them to life in the context of God’s BIG plan. I believe that Sally has been given a gift, a gift which is to bring the truth of each story into the comprehension and imagination of children (and adults) by using language which is both accessible and fun to read.

All this is wonderful in its own right, however, the most notable and vital thing about this book is that Jesus is evident from the very first page; in fact he is more than present, he is the purpose and subject of each chapter.

I remember my sense of surprise when I first became aware of Jesus’ presence in the Old Testament. I was probably in my early twenties when I heard a sermon explaining Jesus’ presence in the lives of his people throughout history; it was as if a light-bulb had been switched on and I started to appreciate the Old Testament in a new way. I had always known that God is three persons in one, however I had separated each of those three persons into their own section of the Bible with very little overlap. I remember reading the Old Testament stories again; of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Moses and seeing Christ alive and making himself known (Christophanies) in each of these historical episodes and many others.

The beautiful thing about The Jesus Story Book Bible is that it presents Jesus to children and young people right from the start. There is no doubt that God’s story is also Jesus’ story and it is also the Holy Spirit’s story too – all these truths are retold faithfully in this book. It is not, however, a substitute for a good translation of the whole Bible and for that I would recommend the New Living Translation (NLT). This is a good translation to help children get to grips with the whole of God’s word; it’s also good for grown-ups who want to get the sense of a particular Bible passage in slightly easier language than some of the more common translations.

I hope you enjoy listening to and reading along with The Jesus Storybook Bible as I post videos on the St Bot’s YouTube channel.

I would also like to recommend an excellent article by Glen Scrivener on the presence of Jesus throughout the Old Testament:

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/where-is-jesus-in-the-old-testament

 

Helen Tilney

Church @Home

I do hope you are finding the resources we are providing of some use. They are:

  • A ‘Daily Thought’ posted every day on our YouTube Channel. These are from a variety of people, team members and others members of the fellowship.
  • A daily YouTube live broadcast of morning prayer at 8am each day lasting about half an hour. If you missed the 8am time this can be viewed at any time afterwards, though it is good to be praying together to start each day if possible.
  • Readings for children from Helen. I’ve written about these in a previous post.
  • A sermon every Sunday forming part of the service we supply.
  • An outline for a Sunday service posted on our website which provides resources for you to use.

It is the last of these I want to write about, and give you some ideas of how best to use them. We are deliberately not livestreaming an entire service. This is largely because the present restrictions under which we are living make this very difficult. The bishop has instructed us not to use our church buildings, and a single person ‘talking to camera’ is not very inspiring, especially for families.

So, every Sunday there will be available a document from the front page of the website (stbots.church). This will contain:

  • Some liturgy (ie. confession, creed, collect etc.)
  • Intercessions written by a member of the fellowship.
  • Bible reading for you to find and read in your own Bible.
  • Links to suitable songs with words on YouTube. Most modern smart TVs can access YouTube. Viewing on a TV is preferable to all sitting round a computer or tablet.
  • A link to a sermon on our YouTube channel.
  • Some suggestions for children’s activities.

Whilst these can be used ‘as is’ I would encourage you be creative. The order in which the material is provided is the suggested order of the services but within this there’s a great deal you can do. Set aside an hour to worship together in your household. Remove other distractions and focus on spending time with God. Don’t be tempted to race through the service, and watch the sermon together.

If you are a family then:

  • An adult might take the lead, taking you through the service. Other members of the family might read the intercessions and the Bible reading. You can all sing along to the YouTube songs. Take the service at your own pace and allow space to respond to each part.
  • If you have children in your household take a look at the children’s resources and have a think beforehand about how you might use them. During the YouTube sermon you might wish to take the children into another room to engage with their learning. Come together afterwards for the final song and blessing.
  • You may wish to have a time of open family prayer as part of the service. This is very helpful because it will give you the opportunity to pray about needs that are personal to your family. If you are not used to praying together as a family let me encourage you to use this time to learn to. Prayers needn’t be long and shouldn’t be ‘flowery’ in language, but understandable and to the point. You may wish to ‘pray around’ from oldest to youngest, or to use the ‘passing the conche’ method – pick an object you can easily hand to each other and pass it around. When a person receives the ‘conche’ it is their turn to pray. If you find it difficult to pray in your own words, you may wish to distribute the provided prayers around the family. Praying together as a family is a powerful, rewarding and bonding experience. It has been the practice of Christian families since the earliest days. Let me encourage you, as strongly as I can, learn this habit.

If you are a couple:

  • Many of the above suggestions will still apply. You can both share the service together with each other.
  • Praying together is still very important. Please read the notes above.

If you are alone:

  • Be aware that you are still part of the ‘communion of saints’, others are using this same service at the same time you are.
  • Liturgical responses are a little more difficult when you are alone. You can simply say petition and response yourself or, perhaps, say the petition and allow a time of quiet for the response, remembering those in other households will be saying them.
  • Say the liturgy, Bible reading and prayers out loud. This will help you to focus, and will stop you racing through, giving time to think about what you are saying.
  • Sing along to the YouTube songs! Loudly! You are singing to God. Singing lifts the spirit which is one reason it has always been a part of Christian tradition.

One more suggestion to all of you, if I may. Modern technology has great potential to bring people together. Why not use the material with friends in a different household? You can do this simply over the ‘phone, a video call (you can use Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger for this), or you could go all-out and use a video conferencing application like Zoom or Skype, these are much easier to setup than you might imagine. You could even cast the screen to the TV and place the ‘phone or microphone centrally in the room – almost as good as actually being together! I know that for many of you this sounds like gobbledygook, but it really is worth a try, especially if you are alone. Any of the team are happy to offer you whatever help we can, within the restraints of the lock down.

Please let us know how you get on, and share any creative ideas you have come up with. You can contact us via email or Whatsapp.

God bless you.

For the Children

On our YouTube channel we have just posted the first of what will be a series of videos in which Helen reads from The Children’s Storybook Bible. This is an excellent children’s Bible with well written versions of Bible stories just for children. You could use them, along with a children’s song or two and some short prayers, in a small family worship time each day. Perhaps at bedtime or around the breakfast table. Get your children used to praying together as a family, and learning some of the greatest stories in the world. More videos in this series are coming soon.

In case you’re interested

In a former life I studied the sciences leading to a degree in Biochemistry. As part of my studies I took a course in virology, my main interest was molecular genetics so it was mainly from a genetic perspective. I found viruses absolutely fascinating and totally amazing things. Now, my knowledge is 35 years out of date and things have moved on apace, but I’m sure I still have a grasp of the basics. So, just in case you’re interested here is a layman’s guide to viruses, what they are, and how they work:

Most viruses are a string of RNA (a very few are DNA) encased in a protein envelope. It is very difficult to argue that they are ‘alive’ in any meaningful way: they do not respire, they cannot move, they have no cell structure, they do not eat, and they can’t even reproduce themselves. So, what do they do? Well, they are extremely successful at multiplying, not by themselves, but using the reproductive mechanism of host cells.

First, a primer in DNA, RNA and protein. You will know DNA is made of two long strands wound together in opposite directions, the ‘double helix’. Each strand is made up of a string four distinct type of DNA molecule. These are given the names A, T, G and C. Each strand of DNA in the helix is a mirror image of the other, A pairs with T and G with C. The DNA resides in the nucleus of the cell (with the exception of mitochondrial DNA, but that’s another story) all coiled up, as chromosomes. In order to make proteins the DNA is ‘read’ in the nucleus to produce RNA which is then transported into the main part of the cell to be ‘expressed’. RNA is a single strand made of a combination of RNA molecules called A, U, G and C. The RNA is read in groups of three ‘bases’, each group of three represent a single amino acid. So, RNA is read to produce a string of amino acids, which we call proteins. So, genetic information is stored in DNA from which RNA carries the code to the ‘workshop’ of the cell to produce proteins. It is worth reflecting here that the sequence of A, T, G and C in DNA encodes the entirety of nature, every animal, fish or reptile; every bacteria, mollusc or flee; every tree, plant or algae. All share the same ‘code’ stored on their DNA. Not surprising since they all have the same creator.

So, the sequence is: DNA à RNA à Protein. During cell replication (mitosis) DNA is replicated to produce two sets of chromosomes which then form two cells. And the process begins again.

Back to viruses. A virus will attach itself to a cell wall, bear in mind they are extremely tiny compared to a cell, which itself is extremely tiny. Viruses are so tiny that you can’t see them without an electron microscope. This explains why face masks are of little use, viruses simply pass straight through them. Having attached itself the virus injects its RNA into the cell. This RNA is then expressed by the cell to produce proteins making up the protein ‘envelope’ of the virus. But, how is the RNA duplicated? Well I’m glad you asked, because here is the really clever bit. On the RNA is coded a protein which, when expressed, makes an enzyme that puts things in reverse making DNA from RNA! This DNA is then read by the cell workshop to produce RNA – more viruses! Eventually so many new copies of the virus are made that the cell wall breaches, spilling out the viruses to begin the process again in other cells. And so it goes on.

What are viruses? Tiny pieces of the molecule that makes living things. They are not life in any way we could recognise. They simply reflect the shear fecundity of the very fabric of creation.

I do hope this helps!

Mark

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