Keeping in Touch

We are trying to make sure everyone is contacted on a regular basis through emails, letters, phone calls, WhatsApp groups, huddling on zoom. And that everyone has an opportunity to get involved.

This short form is the same as the one you received through the post that allows you to give us your contact details, get connected in different ways and lists opportunities to get involved. (If you didn’t receive anything in the post then we might not have your correct details).

We look forward to hearing from you.

The Belvoir Parish Team

Covid-19 Update

Due to the current health restrictions all our services online during lockdown.

SUNDAY GATHERINGS
Our online services can always be accessed through this weblink www.belvoirparish.co.uk/live. Then click the gathering you would like to join.
(Password for all Zoom gatherings is ‘belvoir’)
Keep up to date by checking our Facebook page and continue to check our website for updates.

A NOTE FROM THE BISHOPS 25/2/21

“Following the Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to extend the current Covid-19 restrictions to Thursday 1st April 2021, representatives of the Churches met earlier this week with Ministers from the Executive Office, the Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer. At that meeting the Chief Medical Officer stressed that it would make a significant difference and be of huge benefit to public health and safety, if churches were willing to continue, for the time being, not to gather in-person for services and other meetings.

In the light of the Executive’s extension of the current restrictions, and on the basis of the continued and unequivocal public health message that people should continue to stay at home, we have agreed that all in-person Sunday gatherings for worship, along with all other in-person church gatherings, should remain voluntarily suspended for the time being in all Church of Ireland parishes in Northern Ireland until Thursday 1st April 2021 – with the exception of weddings, funerals, arrangements for recording and/or live-streaming, drive- in services and private prayer (as permitted by regulations).”

Sunday Nights @ Home

Sunday Nights @ Home is a short time of worship, prayer and stories. It is on zoom and your camera and mic will automatically be turned off to allow you to join without people seeing/hearing you. You can, of course, turn your camera and mic on if you want to chat to people

PhoneLine

Our 24 hour PhoneLine is updated weekly (usually on a Monday morning) with new content of the weeks news, bible reading, devotional thought and prayer.

Calls are charged at local rate.

 

Prayer Garden

Everyone is welcome to use our Prayer Garden just beside the church carpark under the big trees.
Amazing mosaic stepping stones created by Sandi Thompson lead the way through the Prayer Garden. Each one inviting a pause for prayerful contemplation.
Meanwhile the acorns were ripening, and a small flock of tiny birds were calling from the tops of the tall oaks: goldcrests, long-tailed-tits, coal tits? Impossible to see!
Photos by Helen Long
  

Thoughts 23.06.20

This week’s Thoughts that get you thinkingpost was written by Jonny Watson and featured in the Church of Ireland Gazette Issue 15.

Dear Belvoir family,

Across the globe, the language of how we are called to respond to the coronavirus speaks of self-isolation, separation, avoidance and withdrawal. The physical and emotional territory that we find ourselves in has many hallmarks of the desert and wilderness.

Insights from psychology teach us that, when faced with testing experiences, we humans often ‘busy ourselves’ to avoid and distract from the thoughts and feelings these bring up. During the coronavirus pandemic, the usual distractions of work, travel, socialising, sport and shopping are not available.

Authentic spirituality and our relationship with the Lord is always concerned with the reality of our lives – not how we want them to be. We can be assured that our God, who is a God of love, is not sitting idly by watching us suffer.

During my years as a social worker, | learnt through experience that in any crisis it’s easy to identify the obvious threat; but the challenge is to search for and seize the opportunity. Latterly, as a spiritual director, this translates as finding where God is in every experience – even those that are difficult.

God has always used the wilderness as His classroom: A place of learning and transformation, from which new insights emerge. John the Baptist began his ministry in the wilderness. Jesus went there to face temptations at the start of His own.

The wilderness is inextricably interwoven with the spiritual history of Israel. It was the place they were humbled, tested and ultimately strengthened. The Desert Fathers and Mothers of the early Church chose the barren Egyptian deserts and deliberate asceticism to live out their desire to draw closer to God.

Might we understand the wilderness of the lockdown experience as something to be accepted, even embraced, rather than something to fear, avoid or get through quickly? Might we discover that God is somehow in this – even using it for good?

These days offer an invitation to arrive at a fresh understanding of God, ourselves and the role that the Church has to play in our constantly evolving world.

Jesus tells how the seed has to fall into the earth to die for growth to come forth. If we step back, we notice fresh shoots appearing. Churches are connecting online in ways never envisaged. In countless parishes, the Church has emerged as the hub of community outreach to those in need. Parents have stepped off the treadmill of work and productivity to spend time together as families. There has been a revival of wildlife and waterways and a pooling of human intellect in the search for a vaccine. We realise the items we thought we desperately needed were only wants.

It is often in times of great difficulty that we see how Jesus reaches us through the love, care and kindness of other people. The invitation is to continue to look for these fresh shoots and nurture their growth.

The temptation will be to rush and accelerate out of this wilderness. Desiring ‘normality’ to return and claiming back certainty are normal human responses. Jesus’ temptations in the desert centred around the human desire for power and control. The children of Israel wanted to leave the wilderness and return to their accustomed way of life as slaves, rather than continue to journey in the uncomfortable liminal space which required dependence on God.

When life inevitably got tough for the Desert Fathers and Mothers, they faced the tug to abandon their life of prayer and return to civilisation.

The fulcrum point of our faith as Christians is the death and resurrection of Christ: The darkest hour becomes the brightest morning – but not immediately. We must journey through the wilderness and emptiness of Holy Saturday.

As we slowly creep out of lockdown, might we live true to the vision of Christ as pioneers in this new world that is opening out in front of us. Asking ourselves how do we nurture what has germinated over the last months and is now being birthed, rather than rushing to get back to the way things were before? As that wonderful prayer, attributed to St Brendan, begins: “Help us to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown. Give us the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.”

Jonny Watson

Celebration Weekend

A weekend of celebrating the end of school, Sunday club and celebrating families and church family and marking 100 Daily Candles. Go to this link to join the fun!

Saturday 27th
6pm The Big Belvoir Talent Show

Sunday 28th
10.30 Virtual Breakfast Club
11am Scattered Together Special
12pm Sunday Club Party on Zoom and Youth Cell on Zoom
7pm Worship and Prayer

Monday 29th
6pm 100th Daily Candle

The Big Belvoir Talent Show

Show off your talent in the Big Belvoir Talent Show on Sat 27th June at 6pm!

Whether it is a new skill you have learned over lockdown or something you were born with. Telling jokes, baking cakes, dancing, singing or keepie uppies we want you to show us what you’ve got. It isn’t a competition and there will be no nasty judges – just a celebration of you and you talent.

How to Enter

1 Make a video of you showing off
2 Videos must be no longer than 3 minutes – so you can edit it to show the best bits
3 Send us your video – upload it at belvoirparish.co.uk/talentshow or email paul@belvoirparish.co.uk.
4 All entries must be received by Thursday 25th at midnight.

Thoughts 16.06.20

Belvoir ParishDear Belvoir family

May I apologise for this not being a chatty newsletter about parish life.  All sorts of social media abound with pics and thoughts and chat. So, let’s use this for a wee think…

In the last email I was trying to describe the BIG PICTURE of God’s landscape on which the details of our lives are lived out.  That landscape is:

  • a beautiful creation that went badly wrong because of human freedom misused,
  • a redemptive plan that involved God living and dying among us,
  • and a future certainty of a new heaven and a new earth.

Many of the questions we ask can only be answered if we try to place them first on that landscape.  So, let’s jump straight into another big feature on that landscape; EVIL and God’s response to it?  Evil can be described in two ways.

Moral Evil
This is exactly what it sounds like – evil perpetrated by people against people and against nature.  Both the result and the source are evil.  Murder, war, abuse, racism…it is pretty obvious.  Terrible acts committed by humans against humans.  But what about pollution, extinction of species, poverty, poor education, tower blocks that burn?  Suddenly the perpetrators of moral evil may be people like me, or may even include me. Unfortunately when even someone as insignificant as me is multiplied by a few million (or a couple of billion) the results on many people in the world and on the environment are devastating (moral evil).  I was going to suggest that maybe God could just quietly remove all the bad people.  The frightening sub-question would be where would he stop – murderers and abusers and violent people and tax-dodgers, and polluters, and people who park illegally in disabled parking spaces or on yellow lines, and gossips, and people who wear pyjamas to the shops, and queue jumpers, and sickie-day takers…. hold on a minute!  I may be on the wrong side of one or two issues there.  What if God did something much more merciful?  What if God organised a way to deal with the spiritual evil source that wreaks such havoc in our hearts?  What if God organised a way to change the heart of the individual human being so that when that is multiplied by millions or billions we find a new heart beating in our world?  That would be an incredibly gracious God, especially if that plan required a personal self-giving of the Divine Life itself.  God has already done it (it is the central theme of the landscape described above).  So, let’s agree that we don’t want God to wipe out all bad people, because that would include us, and maybe we should also think a bit longer before blaming all the bad things on others. and it would be very subjective for me to expect God to wipe out the all the bad people as decided by me.  It is worth mentioning that the normal human solutions to moral evil are more laws and greater threats of punishment.  These things sometimes modify behaviour but rarely change hearts.  Guidelines only have positive effect when people comply with them.  Consider the response of a wealthy educated society like ours that emptied every shelf in every shop in a few days – rampant moral evil fueled by fear and selfishness.   Legislation does not combat greed and selfishness.  Look at our lockdown beaches on a sunny Saturday.  Moral evil needs a deeper solution.

Natural Evil.
Natural Evil has evil results, but the source is not evil (compared to Moral Evil).  It is mostly the natural activities of our wonderful world.  We would never dream of arresting a shark for taking a bite out of a swimmer.  There is no moral evil in the shark.  But the result is evil, a leg damaged for life with all the associated consequences.  Coronavirus is just one of millions of viral types on the earth, most of which are beneficial and necessary for the health and well-being* of some living organism.  Coronavirus has no moral stance or awareness.  It just does what a virus does.  Nonetheless, coronavirus19 has evil results – suffering, illness and death.  Other sources of natural evil include storms, earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanoes, plagues and illnesses.  Many of these are part of how our planet works.  It is as natural as my hair falling out but with much more devastating results.  God’s response to these situations is found in the life of Christ, inspiring us to respond with development in the poorest places, bringing medical care and healing, housing, new technologies and new possibilities.   It is possible to reduce the suffering caused by natural evil.  Not responding to the suffering caused by natural evil may take us into the world of moral evil???? We cannot blame God for the suffering caused by natural evil when He is helping us to solve it.  We cannot blame God for moral evil when He has supplied the solution to it.

As with last email, could I remind us that there is an eternal dimension to all of this?  “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18   This assurance allows us to take the risk of self-giving service to others.

Lots of love
Adrian

*“Where is God in a Coronavirus World?”  (p.33) Professor JC Lennox