Sunday Worship 24 May - Look Up

Jesus looked up and prayed. The disciples looked up in wonder as Jesus ascended. Today, we explored what it means for us to look up during this special season of global prayer.

 

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Sunday Worship 17 May - Maturing in Faith

This Sunday, Peter shares with us insights on Paul's engagement with the city of Athens, and the journey of the discples from the last week of Christ's life through to their receiving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, just over seven weeks later.

 

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Sunday Worship 10 May - Victory in Europe

Today's Sunday service in the Mulbarton Group of Churches, we marked the occasion of 75 years of peace in Europe, and explored the Easter reading, where Jesus called his followers to do works like his, in greater number. People share stories of untold heroes, and we consider together the works that we are doing or could do to live like Jesus and to love like Jesus.

 

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Sunday Worship 3 May 2020 - Listening to God during lockdown

Exploring how we are listening to God at this time, and sharing some of what we are hearing, we spent time today, considering what Jesus meant when he talked about being the "Good Shepherd", whose sheep know his voice.
 
We also considered Jesus's promise of abundant life in the passage in John's gospel - John 10:1-10; and the model of Christian community in Acts 2:42-47.
 

 

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A Zephaniah Reboot

Encouraging news from some members of Mulbarton congregation, inspiring sung worship and prayers, that help us lift our eyes and take heart in a God who cares - and Derrick shares some insights with us from today's Old Testament lectionary reading - the minor prophet Zephaniah. We find a vision cast of life beyond the exile or lockdown - to see a brighter horizon.

 

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Sunday Worship 19 April 2020 - Peace be with you!

Recording was a bit late starting, so we come in at the start of the Bible reading, and sadly the recording doesn't include the encouraging stories from those who worship with us, who are on the frontlines of helping the homeless, and providing education and essential shopping services. We did record the piece from the nursing sector though.

Adrian unpacks the lectionary reading from John 20:19-31, which talks about how the Lord appeared to the disciples, reassured them with his peace, above all things, sent them to be present in a needy world, and gave them reassurance that the faith which motivates us is true and solid.

 

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Zoom Meetings

We are making use of Zoom technology to continue to meet remotely.  Please do join us at any of the following regular meetings, through this season, using the links and codes below...

You can also join in with Morning Prayer 9:15am-9:45am Monday to Friday:
https://zoom.us/j/878150264
Meeting ID: 878 150 264

And for Sunday worship:
https://zoom.us/j/993672961
Meeting ID: 993 672 961

You can also join any of these meetings by using your phone, without any need for a computer, tablet or smartphone:

Dial: 0131 460 1196

Meeting ID: 236 542 856 (Tuesday Lent Course)
Meeting ID: 878 150 264 (Morning Prayer)
Meeting ID: 993 672 961 (Sunday Worship)

 

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Easter Sunday Services

Great to worship the living God together this morning.  As well as receiving bread and wine on behalkf of the scattered congregations, Adrian shares a message of encouragement, drawing lessons from that first resurrection Sunday that are pertinent to the current coronavirus pandemic.

 

You can catch up with the traditional communion service here:

 

Or the more contemporary communion service here:

 

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Good Friday Stations of the Cross

Adrian leads us through a series of reflections on the 12 stations of the cross, charting Jesus' journey from Gethsemane to the tomb on Easter Sunday morning. There are songs, reflections on Jesus' journey, times of silence, short readings from the Bible and prayers.

God bless you as you make this journey along with us.

 

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Maundy Thursday Communion

You can catch up with Thursday evening's Communion service here.  We paused at 8pm to go outside and clap for the NHS.  Unfortunately, I forgot to resume to recording until after I had received the bread and wine.  Lovely to share the evening with folk though, and I do hope this is a blessing to you.

 

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Tenebrae 2020

Please schedule 50 minutes to access this video at some point during Holy Week this year, as you slow down to be with Jesus, in all that He has done for us.

The word "tenebrae" comes from the Latin meaning "darkness" or "shadows". The Tenebrae is an ancient Christian Holy Week service that makes use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles to symbolize the events of that week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus' burial.

This increasing darkness symbolizes the approaching darkness of Jesus' death and of hopelessness in the world without God. The service concludes in darkness, with a final candle, representing Christ, carried out of the church, symbolizing the death of Jesus.

It is a simple service, with 6 candles, 8 readings, some music and some silence. A loud noise may also sound symbolizing the closing of Jesus' tomb. The worshipers then leave in silence to ponder the events of Holy Week, the impact of Christ's death and the expectation of the coming Resurrection.

 

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Palm Sunday Morning Service

We finished our "Paraclesis" course, with a 6th Sunday session, considering the theme of "Connecting", and looking at the story from the start of the Book of Acts, about the man born lame. Peter and John connected with him outside the Temple, and demonstrated how the works of Jesus in coming alongside others, continue through the people of God in today's world.

There was an issue with the Spotlight video remaining on Ian and Caroline for the service, after the reading, so please excuse their starring role in this video capture from Sunday morning!

 

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10am Live Stream Service - Healing (Lent 5)

This morning, we enjoyed fellowship via Zoom with 40 households who tuned in.  So good to see familiar faces, and to welcome some new faces!

We heard from our beloved mission partner, Ram, who is visiting UK from Nepal, and explored how God is able to give grace in the deep places of our lives, as we journey with other special people, and as they journey with us, to bring deep healing, freedom and strength for whatever life brings.

 

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Abuse & The Virus - Guest Blog by Natalie Collins

Thanks to Natalie Colline for this excellent guest blog...

One of the most challenging things about domestic violence is that rarely does the person who is being subjected to abuse realise that they are being abused.  A victim is one of those women, the shrivelled up ones who (according to most stock images) cowering in a corner with a bruised face.  And their partner isn’t one of those men.  He’s a good guy really.  He doesn’t mean it.  It’s only because of all the stress and he had a really bad childhood and he loves me and soon things will get back to how they used to be.  To take the step of acknowledging that our partner is abusive is a huge thing.  Once it’s not “me overreacting”, “his difficult childhood”, “the way I push him to the edge”, “how passionate he is”, “only that one time when he left me bruised”, once we label it ABUSE, everything changes.  Nothing can go on as normal.  We have to take action.  We have to accept that our relationship must end and that our children will lose their father and nothing will ever be the same again.  And that’s before we begin to reckon with all the ways his behaviour will escalate if we try to leave.  Around 80% of men who kill women, do so within eighteen months of her leaving him.

 

Men are more abusive over Christmas.  Often people think it’s because of the stress, the money worries and the increased alcohol consumption.  But that’s not why.  It’s because an abuser deliberately destroys whatever is precious to his partner and children.  He destroys birthday celebrations and anniversaries.  Some abusers destroy every family mealtime, leaving their children with eating disorders because their father (or step father) has thrown food, screamed at their mother, or gone into that silent sulk which they all know ends in him being violent.  The other reason abusers are worse at Christmas is because there is greater opportunity to abuse.  Most people get time off over Christmas, and the abuser will use those extra hours to demand he get whatever he wants.  And because it’s Christmas, his partner will acquiesce, because she wants to make it special for the kids; because where would she go on Christmas Day when he’s kicked the Christmas tree over?  On Christmas Eve he pushes her to do sexual stuff she doesn’t like, but he promises her that if she does what he wants, he’ll make Christmas nice.  So she does what he wants.  Then on Christmas Day she asks him to help with the dinner and he kicks off and blames her for ruining Christmas.  And she just wishes that she’d not asked for help, he was tired after all.

 

You may be wondering why I’m writing about Christmas when we’re dealing with a global pandemic…  It’s because this crisis, and the self-isolation and physical distancing caused by it, creates the similar context as living with an abuser at Christmas, but about a million times worse.

 

He’s now at home 24/7, not just for three days.  He uses his need to work from home to demand that everyone in the home stays silent all day.  If his partner can’t keep their three-year-old silent; he screams, punches walls or makes threats that she’s knows he’ll carry out later.  He’s always hated her speaking on the phone with her friends or family and normally she waits until he’s out of the house to call them, because he’ll tut or huff and puff throughout the phone call.  Now she can’t speak to her anyone.  And then he says he’s started with a temperature and they all need to stay in for fourteen days.  She hasn’t seen any evidence he’s got a temperature, but she daren’t question him as she knows he’ll hurt her, or worse, take out his outrage at her insolence on the kids.

 

And she can’t leave now.  He’s there all the time.  She’d thought about it before, was just waiting for the right time.  But now the kids are off school and don’t have any stability and so she can’t move into a refuge.  And anyway, she’ll be exposing her asthmatic seven-year-old to the virus.  She keeps trying to make everything nice for them all, exhausting herself to make things nice.  He always leads her to believe that she can “make” him nice, if she only plays by his rules.  But then he changes them, or the kids needs something that means she has to break them.  Her job say she can’t have time off as she’s a carer.  But she knows he won’t look after them properly.  He’ll undermine her and play fight with them until they cry and then when she gets home, he’ll keep her up until 4am in the morning interrogating her about which male co-workers she interacted with, accusing her of having an affair.  She says she can’t go into work and her line manager is horrified at her lack of commitment in this crisis and fires her right there and then.  She daren’t cry, because he’ll mock and deride her for it.  She dreads Sunday, when he’ll demand that she and the children participate in the online streamed church service that he’s been planning, the one that was so important all of them had to be silent for three days straight.  Afterwards, he whispers to her that he’s never punched her in the face because people might see it, but now things are different.  She’s his and he’ll do what he wants to her.

 

Specialist domestic abuse services are working around the clock to make their provision effective for women during this epidemic, but due to ideologically driven cuts, they’ve already been stripped back, defunded and de-specialised.  For each of us, there’s not a lot we can do to make a difference while also social distancing and self-isolating.  Abusers are making choices to isolate, control, abuse and harm their partners and children, and the only people who can stop abuse are those who choose to be abusive.  But it’s important that we understand what abuse is, what the dynamics are, and how this virus is going to hugely increase women’s vulnerability.  It’s crucial that we don’t perpetuate myths about abuse; it’s not the stress or financial difficulties caused by the virus that is increasing perpetration, it’s about increased opportunity.  Women who don’t leave abusers are not stupid or wrong; they are doing everything they can to keep themselves and their children safe.  Abusers deliberately act in ways that prevent their partner making sense of what is going on or being able to articulate it as abuse; so doing announcements about “if you’re being abused we can help you” is not really going to reach that many of the people who need support.

 

What can we do as we continue into this unknown place?

 

  1. Contact your local domestic abuse and ask them how you can help; do they need financial support, donations, volunteers to drive/move/clean?
  2. Educate yourself about domestic abuse (my book can help with that).
  3. Be aware that if someone is being abused, their online interactions may be tracked.
  4. Notice who isn’t able to engage with your community; who isn’t on Facebook/Twitter/Whatsapp, and see if there’s a way to check in with them some other way.
  5. Facebook is particularly risky for those who have left an ex-partner, because it is very easy for him to find her. Ensure you have an additional option other than Facebook for engaging with those in your community.
  6. If you hear violence or noise from a neighbour’s home, call the police (use 999 if you are concerned it is an emergency).
  7. Be vigilant. Are there people in your family or friendship group, amongst your colleagues, church community or neighbourhood who are acting differently, whose communications have gone down dramatically or who seem withdrawn or different.  Try to make regular contact with them.
  8. Be aware. When you do your shopping, are there women and children who seem overly subdued, or is there a man behaving in domineering ways (abusive men will be emboldened in a context where they have so much uninterrupted space to abuse, and this may be visible in the brief encounters we have with people).
  9. Trust women. If someone tells you something that sounds abusive, if they talk about feeling suffocated by their partner, if they say they feel scared or need help to leave, believe them straight away.  Whatever they tell you will be the tip of a very horrific iceberg.

 

If you identify with the abusive behaviour detailed in this post, it may have shocked you to become aware that what is being done to you (or what you are doing to someone else) is abusive.

If you are recognising that what is being done to you is wrong and if it is safe to do so, here are some places that can help:

 

If you are concerned about your behaviour towards a partner, you can contact the Respect perpetrator helpline: https://respectphoneline.org.uk (0808 802 4040).

 

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Coronavirus News - Updated Thu 26 March

Thu 26 March
 
The churches are now closed to the public, and even to the vicar!  But we are still active about the business that matters.  Today, requests for help have begun to really flow, and it's been great to pair needs with keen volunteers in Mulbarton.  Today, I've been able to match up half a dozen or more.  At the moment, I have more volunteers on my list than people asking for help, but it's feeling like that may change soon.  There are a lot more homes where people need help, especially for the over 70s, who should not be going to the shops themselves.
 
Please do let me know if you can offer to help with shopping or collecting prescriptions for those in the vulnerable category.  For those volunteering, I need your name, the street where you live, your phone number, and whether you use WhatsApp or FB messenger, and would be willing to join a group.
 
I am trying to pair volunteers with those in need, so people can build a relationship over these weeks/months, and to share the load as much as possible - but I'd also like to have a WhatsApp or FB group (or both) for volunteers, where we can all call for emergency help, cover each other, or just encourage one another.
 
Also, check out our Facebook page, for some Italian-style encouragement, and please do read the item on the website from our guest blogger, Natalie, which describes what is really happening for some people, being subjected to abuse, in this time of confinement.  Something I wish everyone would read and be sensitive about.
 
And, finally, some helpful guidance on mental health and wellbeing and COVID-19 from the Church of England.
 


 

Tue 24 March
 
These are new days of joining others in our community, of all faiths and none, to serve anyone in need.  The archbishops are encouraging churches to adapt, and do things differently, so here are some of the things we are doing  across the four parishes to contribute to the kind and generous efforts of so many in our communities:
 · Helping co-ordinate neighbourhood assistance, to enable vulnerable to receive supplies, without fear of exploitation—offers of help welcome!
· Providing a safe space for those needing to escape a difficult domestic situation
· Signposting to Riches Trust and other small trust funds that can provide financial help
· Co-ordinating local efforts to feed the hungry in emergency need, including weekly donations to Norwich Foodbank—donations welcome!
· Providing spiritual support and community for the isolated via phone calls, messages and live streaming Sunday worship, prayer, Bible study and chat meetings
· Connecting community leaders, to share ideas, information, resources and encouragement and to ask questions
· Liaising with South Norfolk Help Hub, our local Community Connector, and parishioners and families, to ensure specialist services continue for people who need them
· Offering funerals as normal, but with strict minimal numbers present
· Praying daily, and chiming Mulbarton church bell as allowed, as a sign of solidarity and offer of hope - but only when I'm allowed in, which currently is NOT the case!
· Following guidelines, keeping safe & being kind!

Our vision to be a community of people who are following Jesus, and sharing life’s journey with our neighbours, is undaunted.
*If you need anything mentioned here, please contact me in the first instance, or check website for the latest:
Rev Adrian Miller 01508 571167
adrian@mulbchurch.org.uk
www.mulbchurch.org.uk (links to Facebook & YouTube from website)
 For urgent specialist help, please contact South Norfolk Council Help Hub 01508 533933


 

 
Sat 21 March
 
As you know church services are suspended in this season of social distancing.  For that reason, tomorrow morning, we'll be trying something new.  If you'd like to join the live stream, simply click the link below, and enter the Meeting ID.  We'll get going at about 10am, but you'll be able to join before or after.  Everything will be recorded, and made available on the church website, Facebook Page and YouTube channel, so you can always catch up later.

This is a first, so we may discover gremlins together, but I think we'll be OK!  You can join in on PC, laptop, tablet or phone.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/993672961

Meeting ID: 993 672 961

If like me, you do decide to go for a couple of laps stroll around the Common tomorrow morning after the live stream, please do make sure you keep plenty of distance between yourself and others.  The distancing measures are designed to save lives.


 

Fri 20 March

Church Services are suspended until further notice, but worship will continue.  I'll be saying prayers this Sunday morning, there will be something live streamed at 10am, and at 11am, I'll be going for a stroll in the village, keeping at least 2 metres away from everybody.  If I see you out and about then, I'll give a wave and shout hello from a distance!
 
PCC meetings are now suspended and annual meetings will be postponed.  Pretty much nothing left in my diary now, except for non-contact pastoral work, prayer, planning and ctaching up with preparing for a Zoom-filled ministry!
 
For those who give regularly in the offering plate at church, please do consider setting up a standing order.
 
Work is in progress to connect leaders within the community, to share ideas, resources and information, and to ensure vulnerable parishioners are kept safe.
 
*** Please do not let anyone you don't know and trust into your home, and do not give them cash, card or PINs.  Some people locally have been scammed by unscrupulous people, posing as philanthropists.  ***
 
If you know of anyone in need in the parishes or would like to offer help, please do get in touch.  If you have food or supplies to offer, please do bring to church.  If you desperately and urgently require supplies, please come to the Rectory to enquire.  Food offered in Mulbarton will be available to parishioners.  Any surplus stock will be regularly taken to Norwich Foodbank, who are in need.
 
If you need a safe place to escape to, please come to the Rectory.  All bookings at Harvest House have been cancelled, so that is now available for me to use at my discretion as a safe house in the village.  Please do spread that news.  For many this could be a much-needed lifeline.
 
While this is a challenging time for everyone, for those who live with an abuser, being stuck full-time in the home is an absolute nightmare. It is likely that many abusers will take advantage of the virus measures to further isolate and hurt their partner and children. There is no longer the refuge of schools or extra groups to provide respite from the terror and violence a parent, carer or other family member may be subjecting them to. If your income is stable and you are able to, please do also consider donating to Leeways, as they will be really struggling with demand at this time.
 

 

Wed 18 March
 
Neighbour help postcards available at back of church - open daylight hours - please help yourself, write your phone number on and let me know which streets you've delivered to - so encouraging to see such good community spirit.
 
For those without relevant safeguarding checks, please don't enter people's homes. If you're picking up shopping or prescriptions, best practice is to pay up-front, leave the receipt when you deliver the shopping and come back the next day to collect payment by cheque. For safety, avoid cash.
 
For those receiving shopping or prescriptions, please don't pay by card or cash, and don't reveal your card's PIN to anyone.
 
Fabulous that so many are wanting to help, but let's make sure we're all protected and safe, and not adopt a system that anybody unscrupulous could use to exploit the vulnerable.
 

 

Mon 16 March

The Church of England is going to update their guidance in response to the latest government guidance about cancelling unnecessary social gatherings very soon.
 
Things are going to change in the coming weeks and months, and as the normal structures for conducting ministry cease, we will be re-directing our energies on doing all we can to support the most vulnerable in our communities.
 
I'll post again as soon as we hear what comes from national church leadership, and after I've consulted churchwardens across the benefice.
 
Please note, coffee and prayer tomorrow morning, Tuesday 17th, will NOT be happening.

 

Fri 13 March

We are now in a serious pandemic situation, which is new ground for most of us.  What I have been doing, and will continue to do, is to monitor the advice given by government and church and make sure we're doing our utmost to follow that advice.

There are some things we have been advised to suspend, including Messy Church and Open the Book collective worship at school.  Mulbarton Mardlers is also suspended for the time being, given the church advice is to suspend catering, and given the clientele are the most at risk.

The advice is that church services should NOT be suspended, but that various measures are taken to ensure they are as safe as can be.  You will notice these being adopted this Sunday.  These include:

  • Asking people to wash hands as they come into church.  Washing hands can be done using alcohol sanitiser or with soap and water for 20 seconds minimum.  Try as I might, I have not been able to source hand sanitiser.  If you have your own, please do bring it to the church service with you, and apply it as you enter.  Where we don't have running water, we will make arrangements for hand-washing to be available, using flasks and individual paper towels.  If you are coming to Mulbarton's 10am, you might want to call in at Harvest House to wash hands first.
  • Distribution of bread only at Communion while standing - no common cup and no kneeling at the rail
  • No shaking hands, laying on of hands or oils, and no sharing a sign of peace
  • No passing around of collection plates or bags - plate at back of church to receive the offering - please feel free to place your offering in the plate on entering the building
  • Suspending coffee and biscuits where multiple people touch mugs, utensils and foodstuffs.  This Sunday, there will be refreshments served at Harvest House, but not self-service, and ensuring careful hand hygiene for those in the kitchen and using paper cups, which you can place directly in the bin after use.  Similar measures will be in place in Bracon Ash.  Churchwardens of the benefice are meeting me on Tuesday, and we'll decide then longer term plans for serving refreshments.
  • Door handles regularly cleaned.
If you have a high temperature or persistent cough, please seek and follow the latest NHS advice.

If you do need to self-isolate, we've been advised not to visit you in person, but we will ensure we are regularly in touch on the phone or by messaging, so please do let us know.

Praying for God's blessing, protection and peace for us all in this anxiety-inducing season.

 

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Mothering Sunday Streamed Service - Lent 4

Our first go at using Zoom for worship on a Sunday morning. A great way to come together without leaving our homes in coronavirus days of social distancing.


The theme was immensely fitting, as we considered the ways in which God enables and empowers us to make good life choices, even when times are hard.


God bless you as you watch. Stay safe and stay kind!

 

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