Notices for Sunday 28th June 2015

Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”
Mark  5:34 (Message)

Father God be with us in our mission here so that instead of seeing our “handicaps” as “disadvantages,” we should learn to see them as powerful avenues of influence.
Amen

We welcome our preacher this morning who is Rev Richard Sharples
After service tea hosts Chris and Joan

Our thanks for the flowers which are given by Pat Jones in memory of her mother Dilys Whitley
Organist: Lydia Edwards

Sunday 5th July
11.00am        Rev John Wiggall
Vestry Stewards – Elizabeth and Avril
Door Steward – Betti
Tea Hosts – Betti and Val

Diary Dates

June
Mon 29th      Every Day with Jesus Bible Study in Lounge 10.30am
Tue 30th      Coffee Morning at Llangollen 10.00am – noon

July
Fri 3rd         Friday Lunch Club at noon in the hall £2.50
Mon 6th        Festival Praise at Llangollen 7.30pm
Tue 7th        Coffee Morning Llangollen 10.00am – noon
Tue 7th        Strawberry Tea Llangollen 2.00pm
Tue 7th        Ephesian’s Bible Study Part 1 at Ruabon 7.00pm
Fri 10th        Flower Festival at Overton 10.00am – 4.00pm
Sat 11th        Flower Festival at Overton 10.00am – 4.00pm
Sat 11th        Strawberry Fair at Rhosddu 2.00pm
Sun 12th       Flower Festival at Overton 2.00pm – 6.00pm
Sun 12th       Flower Festival Worship 6.00pm

Please pray for the following:
Richard Down
Phyllis Davies
Isobel Holroyd
Ernest Tait
Maurice Anderton
Seren Williams
Vanessa Woolrich
Kay Davies
Mark Steene

All those who care for those in need.
We thank God for answered prayer and ask that he helps us to understand that all things do work together for good.

“Disadvantages”?
2 Cor. 8:7-15; Mk. 5:21-43

Those who live with handicaps in our society are treated like misfits—at best. Most of us don’t want to have to deal with them because they’re not “normal.” I know a little about this because of my brother Douglas. He was born with a mental handicap in a time before our culture discovered that we should have a “conscience” regarding the handicapped. As a boy, I think I felt what everybody who cared about him felt—grief and compassion for his difficulty, mixed with embarrassment that he was not “normal,” mixed with resentment toward those who made fun of him.

One of the regrets I have about his recent death is that it took me so long to discover that Douglas was indeed not just “normal”—he was a gift. But what I feel most of all is grateful. I am grateful for the gift that God gave to us in him. In a very real sense, he was one of those special people that God puts on earth to fulfill the promise of making all things new—the promise of making all things into God’s kingdom of mercy and peace.

Like the “Sower” in the parable who sows the seeds of the kingdom wherever he goes, those who took the time to see Douglas for who he was went away from that encounter with the seeds of Christ’s compassion growing inside them. And like the proverbial leaven that works its way throughout the dough and forever changes it, all who opened their hearts to Douglas could not help but be more sensitive toward the suffering all around them. It was not we who sought to care for Douglas who blessed him—it was he who blessed us.

In a very real sense, I believe that people like Douglas embody the presence of Christ in this world. In his weakness Douglas was a true saint—simply by being who he was, a vulnerable, needy, frail human being, he pointed us all to the kingdom of God. I also think Douglas—again by his very being—presented a challenge to all of us who claim to follow Christ. In this society where the weak and the vulnerable—the “abnormal”—are routinely ignored, people like Douglas are the presence of Christ, calling us to cut through all our religious verbiage and do more to show God’s love to “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40).

I am grateful for having had that challenge. In that respect, my brother was one of the most influential people in my life—and I am a much better human being for it. You did your work very well, Doug. I am grateful—grateful for the privilege of having Douglas for a brother—for the gift that he was, for the presence of Christ that he was, for the blessing he gave to us, and for the challenge he gave me to care for the “least” among us.

How does all this apply to us? I think it’s easy for small churches these days to feel as if we are up against insurmountable odds. We may find ourselves feeling “weak,” “disadvantaged,” or even “handicapped” in comparison with our larger counterparts. But I wonder if small churches ought not to learn a lesson from my brother. Among all the “movers and shakers” I’ve encountered in my life, the one who had the most impact, the one who shaped me most significantly, the one who left the most lasting impression in my soul, was my brother Douglas. I’ve studied with professors who were world-class theologians. I’ve known many pastors and missionaries and church leaders over the last thirty years. But it was my brother, who was born with minimal brain damage, who suffered from temporary hearing loss as a young child, who struggled to learn even the most basic concepts in school, and who eventually was stricken with schizophrenia, who was the true “mover and shaker” in my life!

Perhaps those of us who live and serve in small churches need to take a clue from that. It’s not just the biggest and the most visible and the richest churches who have the potential to be “movers and shakers” in the lives around us. Small communities of Christians just like us also have that opportunity. In one sense, we might say that we in the small churches have the opportunity to emulate our Savior Jesus Christ, “who was rich and became poor” for our sakes (2 Cor. 8:9). Perhaps instead of seeing our “handicaps” as “disadvantages,” we should learn to see them as powerful avenues of influence.

Make no mistake about it: I do not think that disability is to be celebrated. It is clear that God’s will is for those who suffer to be “well” and “go in peace” (cf. Mk. 5:34). But the fact is that God often works more effectively through the “disabilities” of the “weak” and the “handicapped” than through the talents and resources of the strong and powerful. Just as Jesus spoke reassuringly to the father who loved his child, so also I think he would say to us, “do not fear, only believe” (cf. Mk. 5:36).

Alan Brehm, Hickman Presbyterian Church, Nebraska, USA

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