30 Northumberland Square | North Shields | NE30 1PW
Weekly Update #143 12th February, 2023
From the Minister Why Does God Let That Happen?
At the time of writing more than five thousand people are reported killed in the earthquake which has hit Turkey and Syria. That figure is expected to rise in the coming days. Not unreasonably, some people (including me) wonder, ‘Why does God let that happen?’ Regarding a ‘natural’ disaster this is an even more pressing question than when you contemplate such horrors as wars, starvation, and abuse of vulnerable people. In such situations one can take refuge in the argument that they are caused by human failings; the responsibility of people doing things which are contrary to what God desires. It’s harder to hold humanity responsible for an earthquake. People don’t cause earthquakes. Some philosophers and theologians offer thoughtful answers to this agonising question. For example, a planet without movement is a planet without life, so take away the movement of tectonic plates, which bring earthquakes, and you take away life for everyone. It’s a thought, but I don’t find it convincing at an emotional level. Could not God have provided an earthquake-free but viable planet for us to live upon? In the end it comes down to trust, not explanation. I can’t know why God makes all the decisions God does concerning the world. That’s beyond my human capacity. Instead, I have to trust in God’s goodness, despite the questions circumstances throw up for me. It’s a relationship thing. Because I know Jesus I trust that God is love. Somehow, tragic circumstances must fit within that, though I don’t know how. Until that day when I can see all things clearly (1 Corinthians 13:12) I trust, and get on with helping those affected by disaster, as I know Jesus would want me to do.
Image: Christian Aid
Gracious God, through your Son you have taught us that nothing in life or death is able to separate us from your love. Look in mercy on all to whom great sorrow has come through earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Help those who are injured, support those who are dying, strengthen those who bring rescue, relief and comfort. Console and protect those who have lost loved ones, assuring them that you hold all souls in life. Amen.
Adapted from a prayer in the Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland, 1996.
Worship Services Sunday 12th February
10.30 a.m. Communion Service at church, led by Trevor Jamison, continuing to explore the Sermon on the Mount – ‘Anger, Adultery, Divorce, and Swearing.’
Collection for Christian Aid Turkey and Syria Earthquake Appeal this Sunday
After the morning service has concluded there will be an opportunity to donate to the Christian Aid Turkey and Syria Earthquake Appeal, either in cash or by card. If you will not be at church this Sunday, but wish to make a donation, you can do so online, directly to Christian Aid.
Livestreamed Worship from Saint Columba’s
Each Sunday morning we livestream our services from Saint Columba’s. To watch the service live, catch up with it later in the week, or view previous services, click here
3.00 p.m.Messy Church Worship
Messy Church ‘God is Love’ – participative church for all ages – activities, worship, plus eating and drinking together
Come along, and bring your family and friends!
Sunday 19th February 10.30 a.m. Service at church led by Valerie Taylor from St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Monkseaton
Bible readings for this week
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Life and prosperity, or death and adversity?
Psalm 119:1-8 Happy are those who ‘walk in the law of the LORD’
1 Corinthians 3:1-9 No church factions allowed when there is one God
Matthew 5:21-37 You may have heard that said, but Jesus says …
Reflection on the Readings Factions and Feuding in Church
If you thank that things were perfect in the early church, read Paul’s first letter to Christians in Corinth and think again. There were factions in the congregation. Some identified as followers of Paul, others as followers of his fellow Christian worker, Apollos. (3:4) Like all human groups, church congregations are prone to sprouting factions and cliques – one church minister I know reported that his local bowls club was the worst example of factional conflict he had ever experienced. It’s not enough, though, to say that churches should put up with having competing groups, just because that’s human nature. As Paul pointed out to the Corinthians, different personalities have different contributions to make to church life; ‘I planted, Apollos watered,’ he says concerning the growth of that congregation. What’s worth celebration is when different people are united by God – Paul planted, Apollos watered, ‘but [it is] only God who gives the growth.’ (3:7) Focus relentlessly on what God is doing, and everything and everyone else falls into its/their proper place.
We are sad to report the death Dorothy Fairley, member of Saint Columba’s URC. Dorothy’s funeral will take place on Monday 20th February. Following a private committal at Tynemouth Crematorium, a service of thanksgiving for Dorothy’s life will take place at 11.30 a.m. at the church, led by Trevor Jamison.
HANDS collection of goods for Ukraine
On Wednesday 1st March at 2.00 p.m., Simon Burnage will be speaking to a meeting of HANDS regarding his work taking supplies to help those in need in the Ukraine. From this Sunday there will be a box in the church hall for those wanting to donate items to pass to Simon at the meeting. Goods sought include tinned foods, hygiene products, over the counter medicines, thick socks, thermal underwear, and hiking boots.
Traidcraft Comes to a Close
Sadly, Traidcraft plc has gone into administration, in part a victim of the disruption from COVID and war in the Ukraine, but also from their example encouraging supermarkets to stock fairly traded goods. So our church’s Sunday Traidcraft stall, which has been running since 1997, will also be closing when current stock is exhausted, or donated to a good cause. Church members are encouraged to buy up stock while they can, and remember to purchase fairly traded goods when out shopping. More information about our church’s engagement with Traidcraft will be celebrated in the church magazine and at a future Sunday service.
People Meeting Jesus: Six Bible Explorations in John’s Gospel
Mondays from 16th January on Zoom and Thursdays from 19th January in-person
What holds people back from meeting with Jesus? Alternatively, what encourages them to do so? And when they meet with Jesus, what results? Anyone from any church (or none) is invited to take part.