Plans for Stage 4 through the summer holidays

Matt Barlow - 21 July 2021

July 2021 - Church Plans for the Summer Holidays

As we head into the school summer holidays, and also the new levels of freedom, we just wanted to update you on our plans as a church over the summer in terms of meeting together on Sundays.

We are going to continue our fortnightly meetings, with once a month kids work for the rest of July and August. It is then our hope and plan that we will be gathering each Sunday in some form from September. Whilst we are still making vision filled plans for Sundays to have greater variety so we can be discipled better in the future, our sense is that as we emerge out of Covid, some elements need to feel very much like ‘back to normal.’ However we will also have other elements that will hopefully add some variety as we re-gather - more on that as we approach September.

Here is our timetable therefore for Sundays during the school holidays, and below it is some really important Covid safety advice.

Sunday 25th July

10am - Outdoor worship & Guest Preacher Linda Maslen from Fountains Church (no kids work)

10am - Online service (also with Linda)

Sunday 1st August

10am - Online service

12pm - Picnic in Roberts Park, Saltaire if weather allows

Sunday 8th August

10am - Worship INSIDE the Jubilee Centre (kids work available 4-11s) 

Sunday 15th August

10am - Online service

Home Church meetings (where possible)

Sunday 22nd August

10am - online service

10am - Worship INSIDE the Jubilee Centre (no kids work)

Sunday 29th August

10am - Online service

12pm - picnic - Wibsey Park

Covid Implications

As we are all aware the government have now lifted legally enforceable mask wearing, however they continue to maintain that masks should be worn, especially in large groups of people you don’t normally see. Now I know that there will be a variety of opinions out there, those who think the new changes shouldn’t happen this early, and those who thought that masks should never have been a thing in the first place. It’s at moments like these that we have to show the world what grace and love and care can look like, because we have been transformed by his spirit. To love the person even when we disagree with their viewpoint.

So, as we come back together, we are wanting to find a respectful way to acknowledge the continued reality of Covid, whilst also recognising that the serious risks are much lower, with many of us double jabbed, and a sense that if restaurants, clubs, bars, football etc can be open, then communal church gatherings can be as well.

Booking in for services - there will be no more booking on for services, just turn up and we will make it work. The numbers seem to be about right, which is helpful.

Mask wearing indoors - From August, therefore, we will have our two Sunday morning gatherings inside (and July 25th if weather requires it.) The seats will have some spacing between them, but certainly not two metres. We will be asking that people wear masks inside whilst they are moving around and whilst we are singing worship. We will not be enforcing this, however, I’d like to ask you to consider the reality that some people will not feel safe being in a busy room of unmasked people. So choosing to wear a mask will help others feel safer whether you think it is necessary or not. 

Mingling, Chatting & Drinks - If the weather is nice enough we will be serving drinks outside, and will not be opening the doors to the auditorium until it is time to make your way in. We will then ask people as far as possible to head back outside as soon as the service is over. This means you can chat away without masks on, and makes it all safer.

Hugs - we have all missed hugs, though some so much more than others. Some people want to hug everyone, others don’t want you to hug them with a barge pole. So, we are going to be handing out GREEN stickers on your way in to anyone who is happy to have physical contact. That doesn’t mean you should hug every fellow green dot wearer, it still makes sense to keep it to a minimum, but this will protect those who don’t want a hug and mean they don’t have to explain themselves to the over zealous hugging crowd.

Normal precautions - Please also do all of the same normal precautions - wash hands, use sanitiser, don’t turn up if you think you display any covid symptoms - high temperature, persistent cough, loss of sense of taste or smell. Give people some space, especially if you are talking to them mask free (which ideally means you are outdoors.)

Jesus told us to Love one another and to love our neighbours. Recognising that we all see things differently and that’s ok is all part of loving one another, so let’s be respectful, and hope sincerely that by September we can be a bit more free from this horrible virus.

Week 4 - Time to take off the Covid grave clothes!

Matt Barlow - 04 May 2021

Before this week’s message we heard from Richard, who has had his whole life turned around by Jesus, if you didn’t watch it please click the link and jump to 25m40s, it’s a truly remarkable story.

When I first preached week 1 of the raising of Lazarus live in the Jubilee Centre - Richard came running up to me afterwards with joy on his face - ’That’s me, that’s my story, I was dead, now I’m alive and I’m taking off the grave clothes!’

Amen Richard, and that neatly leads in to this week’s message - Time to take off the Covid graveclothes!

The bible text tells us: John 11:44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” NKJV

We don’t know exactly how Lazarus would have been bound, but what we do know is that he needed some help.

Jesus could have caused the graveclothes to have fallen off, just as his own graveclothes did when he was resurrected. For me as a church leader this is a massively encouraging part of the miracle, that Jesus did what only he could do and then invited his friends to do the rest. This was a first prophetic act of what the church would become - Jesus will do the saving and the raising back to life, but he would call on his friends, the church, to do the job of helping remove the grave clothes - of removing the past.

And the reality is the Richards of the future need a church free from grave clothes, either of our past lives or simply of Covid, if we are going to be available to help them leave the past behind by being a loving, nurturing, developing community of faith.

We have all needed the church family to help us leave the past behind and step into the new life Christ has for us.

In light of Emerging Brighter from Covid, the challenge this passage brings to us is this - what are the Covid graveclothes you’ve been wrapped in that you need to be loosed from? Just as they wrapped Lazarus in cloth strips, so you have been forced through the covid restrictions to wrap yourself in some new habits, some new ways of thinking and acting. Whilst some of them have been good, others need to be untied or, as they feared with Lazarus, you will start to stink!!

I would ask every single member of the Light Church to take some prayerful time, either by yourself with a friend or with your home church, to stop and ask God to reveal the new habits or ways of thinking that you have put on in Covid that you need to take off as you come out of the covid tomb?

I spoke about two on Sunday, but there will be many more:

1. We have been forced to wrap ourselves in the covid graveclothes of me me me me.

Because of enforced social isolation we are at risk of staying in our family bubbles and reducing our worlds down to a very small group of people. If this happens, then the enemy has won. When you said yes to Jesus you said yes to living an expansive, inclusive life that doesn’t revolve just around you.

Your life, your home, your family, your hospitality, your energy - all of it has been focussed on you. Time to turn it around!

Share your life. Share your home. Share your family. Share hospitality. Share your energy.

Or as Jesus put it, love your neighbour.

2. We need to leave behind the grave clothes of coping mechanisms…..

Some of the covid grave clothes we have all got wrapped up in are effectively coping mechanisms to help us through the trauma.

This is not surprising, when anxiety comes along, we can all in our humanity turn to coping mechanisms, even though we know that God’s peace and presence is the best coping mechanism of all.

What has your coping mechanism been? Food, alcohol, Netflix? Or maybe it’s the coping mechanism of routine and predictability……our weeks have become a bit monotonous and predictable. We have sub consciously become wired in such a way that we have lost some of our sense of adventure.

God did not call you out of your tomb for your life to get stuck in a rut. That is not life in all of its fullness……

And if the end result of Covid was that we all ended up more self centred, living more predictable mundane lives then I reckon we can truly say the enemy has won.

I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing. But what I can say, is that just like last week, we can discern are we moving towards Jesus or away from him? In the same way, are you moving towards others, sharing the love of God and your eternal life with them? Or are you going to stay wrapped in Covid grave clothes.

One final passage of scripture to end….

Eph 4:22 You were taught, with regard to your former COVID way of life, to put off your old COVID self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new POST COVID self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Emerge Brighter - As a worshipper or a wanderer?

Matt Barlow - 28 April 2021

For me the biggest question any Christian should ask themselves is this…. ‘Am I walking towards Jesus, or am I wandering away from him?’ Because the reality is there is no sense of ‘arriving’ of finally getting ’there’ - as the apostle Paul himself said, ’Not that I have already attained this.’ So the question can never be ‘have I arrived?’ Instead, it must be, ‘Am I moving the right direction?’

In week 3 of our Emerge Brighter series as we look intently at the story of the raising of Lazarus in John 11, I asked the question, will you emerge as a worshipper or a wanderer?

In the story we see both, who are you?

The Wanderers

Cynicism has hardened the hearts of some of those who looked on during this miracle.

Jesus is having his most demonstrative emotional moments recorded in all of scripture….

v33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

He wept, he cried, he was DEEPLY MOVED! And how do the hard hearted cynics respond?

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

As we have journeyed through this pandemic, we have all faced the challenge of keeping our hearts soft and open to the things of God.

  • We have been cynical about our fellow citizens, from the strict rule followers to the lax rule ignorers, we’ve all had moments when we’ve hardened our hearts.
  • When we think about the first ever pandemic in our lifetime we have maybe had a few hard heart moments towards our God for allowing this to happen.
  • When we have heard of God moving in the lives of others, yet haven’t seen him do much in our own (let’s face it none of us have done much in our own) - this has hardened our hearts.

Time to break out of the hardened shell of the Covid cocoon Light Church. Don’t allow that hardening to become your identity, there is a beautiful non cynical butterfly waiting to emerge.

The Worshippers

How? Worship! Whole life worship! And in the midst of this story we meet one of the most beautiful, inspirational whole life worshippers of the New Testament. Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen give it up for Mary of Bethany.

Mary knew how to worship, and here are 3 ways she did it that you can too!

1. She sat at his feet

We first meet Mary in Luke 10 where she famously sat her Jesus feet, giving him her whole attention, worshipping him by listening to him, receiving his instruction, and enjoying his presence. You can do the same!

2. She fell at his feet

In the middle of the Lazarus raising story we read: v32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

It’s interesting to note that she said exactly the same words as her sister Martha recorded in verse 21 but Mary did it FALLING AT HIS FEET. She expressed her love and communicated it through extravagant acts, but that was nothing compared to….

3. She laid it all at his feet

In the very next chapter of the bible John 12, we see her doing the most incredible act of worship and sacrifice seen in the New Testament, other than Christ’s death. She poured a whole pint of anointing perfume all over his feet! Just imagine a pint for a moment. That’s a lot of perfume. This cost her a whole year’s wages, it may have been her dowry as it was unlikely she worked for money?

WOW, just wow. My sacrifice looks so meagre in comparison.

So what about you? How is your whole life worship? Because the only way to avoid a hard heart is through whole life worship.

Sung worship - having mumbled your way through you tube worship for a year, will you step out and pour out your praise, empty your lungs, thrash those vocal chords??

Compassion worship - will you reconnect with those in need that you used to serve, giving yourselves for others?

Hospitality worship - will you open up your home again, and show people what God’s love looks like?

Devotional worship - you remember that new practice you started this time last year? Will you return to it, knowing that failure is not your future, and you can become a devoted quiet time worshipper?

Let’s throw off the hard shell of Covid and Emerge Brighter as true worshippers.

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