3rd July 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.”
We can be like the people Isaiah addresses here. We might say, “Of course I know the Lord is the Creator, the everlasting God. That’s who he is.” But do we really know it, so that it affects our thinking and our living? That seems to be the problem the people of Israel had then. They didn’t really know what they said they knew; it was almost as if they’d never heard it – for all the difference it made. And so they were saying, “My way is hidden from the Lord, my cause is disregarded by my God” (verse 27).
That’s one of the reasons we keep reading our Bibles and keep meeting with other Christians. Most of the time we’re not learning much that is new; we’re making sure that we really do know what we’ve heard, and that it does make a difference to our lives. I’m reading the story of Daniel in my ‘quiet times’ at the moment. I must have read it a dozen times or more, and yet I still need to hear and to know – as Daniel prays – that God “reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:22). We need to keep hearing, so that we keep knowing.
World Mission Weekend at Home: Saturday Forum, Saturday 4th July
We are hugely looking forward to being joined by all our mission partners from across the world this Saturday evening. Please join us on Zoom for a prompt start at 8pm. You can sign in from 7.55pm and we will aim to finish by 9.30pm. Please come to show your support for our mission partners, and to learn from their wisdom and experience. Bring a drink and something to munch. See you there.
Sunday 5th July
Our 10am Sunday service will be available as usual on the church website. This Sunday is part of our World Mission Weekend, and we will be joined for the service by a number of our Mission Partners. The sermon will show us ‘How God sees the world’ (Psalm 67).
It is an All-Age service, so there is no Family Bible time (which will resume on 12th July). But there is a Mission Partners Quiz for the children.
Following the service, at 11.30am there will be a special opportunity to spend time praying for, and with, our Mission Partners, most of whom will be there with us on Zoom.
Thought for the Week
Please follow this link to find the Thought for the Week (‘True Humility’) on our website.
Coming out of Lockdown
While the Government is making it possible for church buildings to be used for services from this weekend, we need to consider the issues carefully, to make sure that we keep people safe and that we cater for everyone as far as possible. A small group will be meeting on Thursday 9th July to consider these issues, and then PCC will meet on Thursday 16th July to decide the next steps. Please pray for these meetings.
July Prayer Gathering: Wednesday 8th July, 8.00pm
Please join us for the July Prayer Gathering via Zoom, when we will be praying for Andrew and Lyn Griffin, Black Lives Matter, coming out of lockdown and those making ‘ends and beginnings’ this summer.
Margaret Brown: Funeral, Friday 10th July
Margaret’s funeral will be a quiet family service, with a larger Service of Thanksgiving at a later date. There will, though, be the opportunity to pay our respects: the hearse will pass St Stephen’s, travelling down Serpentine Road, at 12.15pm on Friday 10th July. Please join us then if you can. Please continue to give thanks for Margaret and her faith, and to pray for her family.
Church of England Birmingham: 24 hours Praying Together
An opportunity to join others from across the Church of England in Birmingham for 24 hours of prayer from Thursday 9th to Friday 10th July, 12 noon to 12 noon, in 20 minute segments. I will be leading the prayers 5.40-6.00pm on Thursday and 10.20-10.40am on Friday.
This week there will be the opportunity to pray together for 20 minutes: 12.30pm Monday to Friday, with a short Bible reflection and then open prayer.
St Stephen’s – Open for Private Prayer
St Stephen’s will be open for Private Prayer through the coming week at the following times. Please be assured that social distancing and cleansing guidelines will be followed. Please feel free to come at any of these times, and to tell others:
Monday 4pm – 6pm
Tuesday 10am – 12pm
Wednesday 4pm – 6pm
Thursday 10am – 12pm
Friday 4pm – 6pm
Sunday 4pm – 6pm
There is still a need, and we can keep helping. Can you help with:
- canned meat and fish
- baked beans
- pasta sauce
- instant pasta or rice
- pot noodles
- crisps and snacks
See the website for drop off instructions: https://www.sssw.org.uk/coronavirus-help/
Big Book Group: ‘The Good God’
Have you been reading our book of the term, ‘The Good God’ by Michael Reeves? There will be an opportunity for all of us who have been reading it to discuss it in the pub (ok, virtual pub) towards the end of July. We shall meet on Zoom at 8pm on Thursday 23rd July. Bring your own drink, book, Bible, pencil and whatever else you need to listen, talk, and learn about our good God. Please contact Andy Martin for more details.
Photos & Videos
Please send your photos and videos (20 seconds max.) so they can be shown in the Sunday service, and we can see more of one another. Please remember that they will then stay on the website, and check what you have in the background! Please send them to Christopher Barry who has kindly offered to put them together.
This theme of making sure that we ‘know what we know’ is common in the New Testament too. So, the author of Hebrews urges his readers: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers”; “Continue to remember those in prison”; “Remember your leaders”; “Do not forget to do good and to share with others” (Hebrews 13:2, 3, 7, 16). Apparently it’s possible to forget all of the above! Similarly, Peter says he has written to “remind [his readers] of these things”, “to refresh [their] memory,” and “as reminders to stimulate [them] to wholesome thinking” (2 Peter 1:12, 13; 3:1). It seems that spiritual amnesia is not a uniquely modern ailment! But at least we have the treatment…
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)