KEEPING IN TOUCH AN UPDATE ON WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING IN AND OUT OF SRPC
MINDING YOUR HEAD
LOOKING AFTER YOUR MENTALAND SPIRITUAL HEALTH DURING LOCKDOWN
STORIES OF LOCKDOWN
EXPERIENCES OF LOCKDOWN FROM DIFFERENT MEMBERS OF OUR CONGREGATION
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Dear Friend I
t is almost a year since the first lockdown began and who would have thought a year ago that we would be in such a situation?!
It has been a difficult year for so many people in so many ways. At the start of 2021, while things may still seem difficult – in our isolation, loss and frustration; for those who have been tirelessly working away on the frontline; for those making difficult decisions; for all of us realising life is out of our control – there is yet Good News. Good News, not just in the vaccine – though that is very welcome. Good News in Jesus Christ. We’ve begun this year looking at Mark’s gospel, in which Jesus declares: “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News!” (Mk 1:14-15) Jesus is the King on the throne. His kingdom power is greater than anything in our world. We have hope in the One who still reigns over all and despite all; and who will bring about a glorious future. Let us turn our minds (repent) from endless gloomy news and “doom-scrolling” and own (believe) this amazing truth for ourselves. As a wonderful new song Ruth and I recently came across puts it: “This one truth will be my story – You still reign and you are God.” In the rest of this mini In-Touch, you’ll find contributions from others across SRPC, bringing various real and yet hopeful perspectives of lockdown: from education, healthcare, government; from those who have had to shield and around the issue of mental health. Read them, pray along with them and be encouraged. You’ll also find a scattering of pictures from some of our young people, who were challenged to sum up their life at the moment in six words! I wonder what you would say…? Keeping In touch
Above: Some of the kids from Kids Friday Connect (KFC) in November Towards the back are details of various things going on at SRPC that should help us keep together, even though we are apart. We began reading through Mark’s gospel together at the beginning of the year. Perhaps you’ve done this, or haven’t started / finished yet. You’ll see details on the back page of how you can find the readings on the website and even listen along to readers from SRPC go through the gospel in 30 days. This is something really beneficial we can each do during this lockdown together, apart. And why not join a Life Group? Currently meeting on Zoom, but in-person when we can, they are a great way to be in regular contact with others and to pray, learn and share life together. And don’t forget our fortnightly Prayer Gatherings on Zoom – a great opportunity to be praying together. There are also Prayer Videos on alternate weeks on the website. These provide a wonderful way for us to stay inspired and informed about different things that are happening and for which we can pray. Naturally we really miss seeing other people – the fun and the fellowship of SRPC. But please do feel bold enough to pick up the phone and call /message someone – maybe someone you haven’t spoken to in a while; or send them a card or note. And if there’s anything you need, please do contact me or your elder or committee member. In the meantime, may this bring a little brightness and encouragement to you in these months in the name of Jesus, With every blessing in Christ,
Ben Saintfield road presbyterian church
DARKNESS IN THE LIGHT
THE LORD IS MY LIGHT AND MY SALVATION WHOM SHALLI FEAR? - PSALM 27:1
manda Gorman’s beautiful, unexpected passion wowed the world at the US Presidential inauguration, urging us that, “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Stunning words in their simplicity, but what if to be the light is sometimes an unrealistic ask? What if the fears and darkness within barely allow us to draw back the curtains, never mind bring light and hope to others? Mental health issues loom. Yet another lockdown to keep us physically safe is necessary but for humans designed to be in relationships and community, it can flatten us, drain the light from us. For some this is how life often is; living with a longer term, clinically diagnosed, professionally treated and pervasive struggle within. Our hearts break for them. For others, our emotions might be new, bewildering, surprising and unwelcome. How then do we push against this? Let’s try to recognise that this current reality is time limited. We will return to the office, to church, to the homes of others, to university, to school, even the gym.
Keeping In touch
Let’s try to look beyond what is in us; to lift our gaze. No one needs to teach me to think negatively, it is my default setting. No one needs to prompt me to introspection, to think “inwardly” and focus on my concerns. Looking beyond myself focuses my eyes on what is not me. “Christ purchased new eyes for us as well as new hearts…may we stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things.” -Clyde Kilby. As I focus on what is around me, the unique beautiful quirkiness of others, on the trees, sky, clouds, birds, I am turning my gaze outwards. With the psalmist in Ps. 121, lifting my eyes to the hills is a good start, but it’s not where my gaze should stay. Let’s try to remember that, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Let’s set a new, precious rhythm of solitude with God; read slowly, pray honestly, sing loudly. Lament if your heart hurts. Let His presence in those moments re-boot us into re-learning who He says we are, who He reminds us He is. Let us fix our eyes on Him. Seek His face. Rest in His love.
DIFFICULT DECISIONS NIGEL HAMILTON
uring the pandemic, it is important that a range of vital public services continues to be delivered including, for example, health and social care, education, public transport, clean water, quality food, and public safety. If we’re honest, we don’t appreciate them until they are not there or can’t meet our individual needs. Each service however depends on two things: having the commitment, skills and expertise of those staff involved (as we continue to see in the NHS) but also the financial resources available from government, or in our case the NI Executive and here lies the dilemma for decision makers. Which is more important, health or the economy? - health or education? If someone or some group is to lose out, who should it be, especially when we expect that public services should be for ALL members of the community? I believe that we as Christians have an important role to prayerfully support our politicians and public servants as they wrestle with these huge moral dilemmas.
We also need to recognise the enormous pressures faced by public servants who would like to do everything possible for everyone but in the current circumstances simply can’t. We also each have a role to play in our communities and with our families and friends. I love the song “The Servant King” which finishes with the words, “So let us learn how to serve, and in our lives enthrone him.” Mark’s gospel Ch. 10 also reminds us that, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” We can all serve by; • praying for wisdom for those who have to make hard choices and take difficult decisions • praying for and supporting those public servants whom we know are under huge pressure, and, • looking for personal opportunities to serve those who need our help.
Saintfield road presbyterian church
LIFE IN LOCKDOWN
MANY OF OUR CONGREGATION ARE ADAPTING TO NEW WAYS OF LIVING AND WORKING DURING THE PANDEMIC. FROM SPENDING TIME ISOLATING, WITHOUT SEEING FRIENDS AND FAMILY, TO WORKING ON THE FRONT LINE, HERE ARE SOME ACCOUNTS FROM A FEW OF OUR MEMBERS
Keeping In touch
GRACE MCCLUNE - ANAESTHETIST, NHS
orking in health care at the moment is difficult. For health care professionals in general practice, accident and emergency, on the wards and in intensive care, there are long hours to work and stressful situations to deal with, often while wearing hot and uncomfortable PPE. We are very aware that as well as needing specialist care, all our patients are also feeling vulnerable and isolated from their families. There are many difficult decisions to be made daily, many very sad stories that could be told, and we worry about the longer-term impact of the pandemic on patients – from delayed operations or clinic appointments, as well as on staff well-being and morale. But working in health care at the moment is also a privilege. All around me I see amazing examples of teamwork and of compassion,
both for patients and for staff as they support each other. I have been encouraged by conversations about faith and by opportunities to pray with colleagues. Over the past month I’ve had the chance to work in our vaccination centre and see the joy and hope that the vaccine rollout is bringing. Please pray for us: • for energy and stamina • for a chance to rest • for patience • for strength and wisdom when making difficult decisions, • for dependence on God through it all and that we would be a faithful witness for Him as we work.
HAROLD & EILEEN HAMILTON - SPLENDID ISOLATION!
s older members of the community with underlying health problems, we have been self-isolating for almost a year now. There are things that we miss. Going to church, meeting and talking to other members and giving and receiving hugs and handshakes, BUT the online services have been so uplifting and inspiring thanks to Ben and the technical teams and musicians. We miss meeting with our family in person and celebrating birthdays and special occasions, BUT every week we have a Zoom meeting and quiz with them all, catching up on news and having virtual cake and candles. We miss going shopping and a wee browse round the stores, BUT thanks to friends, family and neighbours, we have everything we need and have saved money on unnecessary fripperies!
We have missed having a day out, BUT we have Belvoir Forest Park a ten- minute drive away and some pleasant thirty-minute walks (weather permitting.) We miss going to concerts in the Ulster Hall, BUT there are some great performances on radio and YouTube, which are easy to access and we have had plenty of spare time to read, do crosswords, paint pictures, crochet and watch the birdlife in the garden. We have had our first vaccination last week. For us, it was painless and we have not suffered any ill effects. We may be locked down and the future uncertain, BUT God is still in control of the world He has made.
Saintfield road presbyterian church
DAVID RICE, PRIMARY SCHOOLTEACHER “Peter issues a statement at 3pm on Tuesday. If Arlene and Michelle issue contradictory guidance eighteen and a half hours later, how many grams of chocolate does David have to eat before the BBC tweet about the situation and tell everyone what’s going on?” Unfortunately, this isn’t a future AQE Transfer Test question, more a comical reflection of what parents and school staff have had to deal with over the past few months. Don’t get me wrong, the stress school staff have faced pales in comparison with the plethora of issues faced by the true frontline workers, those working regular 12/14/18 hour shifts. Teachers and classroom assistants are really glad that they can help key worker families by offering supervised learning in their schools. Are we better prepared for home/blended/ online learning this time round? Yes, I think so. Is it still a struggle to adapt Term 2 school resources and make them more suitable for Google Classrooms, Zoom, Seesaw or Microsoft Teams? Yes. Schools have, rightly, taken slightly different approaches to online learning but making each strategy effective is still a challenge. It’s a pressurised time for all school staff, as we try to juggle the preparation of differentiated activities, mark completed work, give appropriate feedback, try to track engagement, supervise key worker children, support parents AND deal with the normal ‘life’ stuff that hasn’t really gone away. We sympathise with parents and we recognise that this is a really intense time for them too. Lots of parents are trying to work from home and at the same time help their children learn a variety of subjects that they themselves haven’t tackled in years! It’s a totally different way of thinking for teachers. When we don’t have our class in the Keeping In touch
room beside us, it can be difficult to assess understanding and there is little room for flexibility. You find yourself typing endless instructions or recording longwinded instructional videos to explain something that might take seconds if you were all in class together. I know, like many others, the staff at Ballymacash find it hard to switch off. You almost dread turning on the iPad or opening up the laptop for fear of the notifications or emails that are waiting for you. This is not the situation anyone would like to be in but I feel each school is making the best of it. If anything, many of us are learning new ICT skills as we go along. Term 1, with all its guidelines, bubbles, hand washing, cleaning and one-way systems, worked well, so we hope we can get schools fully functional as soon as restrictions allow. Prayer points; Please pray for the children and in particular their mental health. They have access to some brilliant online lessons and resources; however, school is much more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. Please pray that they feel connected to their friends and teachers. Energy, motivation and enthusiasm for parents and staff. The longer we go on in this format, the more I feel we need to look after each other. (In all walks of life!) For me, if I think about them for too long, it’s the ‘unknowns’ that get me down. Please pray that we can see the positives in each situation. Lastly, please pray for school leaders, especially principals. I can only really speak about my boss but I know he, like most other principals, carries so much stress on a daily basis. They are responsible for so much and I don’t know if they ever really, truly switch off from their job.
6 WORD SELFIES
WE ASKED SOME OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE FOR 6 WORDS THAT DESCRIBE THEIR LOCKDOWN INSTAGRAM VECTORS © FREEPIK.COM
STAYING POSITIVE THROUGH THESE HARD TIMES.
#MUSIC #BOARDGAMES #FAMILY #WALKS #FACETIME #HOMESCHOOL
Saintfield road presbyterian church
10 IZZY MYLES
PAINTING IN COLOURS, COLOURS IN LOCKDOWN.
#NETFLIX #ZOOM #CHESS #REPETITIVE COOKING #WALKS
#BIBLE #FAMILY #SCOOTER #BEACH #WALKS #CYCLING. COMMENT
Keeping In touch
#BED #SCHOOL #ICED-COFFEE, #PARKRUNS #YOUTUBE #FOOD COMMENT
KEEP IN TOUCH!
Whilst the COVID-19 restrictions prevent us from meeting in person, we have many things happening remotely each week for kids, adults and families.
MARK IN 30 DAYS
HOW TO WATCH OUR SERVICES LIVE-STREAM
We’re continuing to live-stream our service each Sunday morning at 11:00 am. Join us live at 11:00 or watch anytime after.
From the beginning of this year we’ve been reading, listening to and studying Mark’s Gospel together, apart. The recordings of “Mark in 30 Days” – the whole gospel read in 30 sections by over 40 people from SRPC – are available on our website (srpc.org.uk/mark-january-2021). The references and the full text are also available to download if you want to read it yourself. And if you’d like these sent to you, please contact Moni in the office.
DVD We can also post a DVD of each week’s
If you don’t have access to the internet, we have a phone line available to listen to each week’s service on 028 9124 8154
We’re also looking at Mark in Life Groups. If you’re not part of such a group, they are a great way – especially in lockdown days - to get to know others better and to grow in faith as we pray, read the Bible and share life together. A number are meeting fortnightly, currently on Zoom, and you’d be more than welcome to join. Please contact Ben.
Every other week we meet on Zoom for a Prayer Gathering - Weds, 7.30pm for 40 minutes: 10/2, 24/2, 10/3 & 24/3). Join us and pray for the world around us from the comfort of your own home. On alternate weeks (17 Feb, 3 Mar, 17 Mar, and 31 Mar) there are Prayer videos (and prayer points) uploaded on our website (www.srpc.org.uk/ wednesday-prayer) for you to watch then or later in the week. From devotional thoughts to interviews and updates from members of the congregation serving in lots of different ways, these encourage us to keep praying.
FAMILIES, YOUTH & KIDS RED continues every other Sunday night for our young
people on Zoom and The Vibe (youth club) is also on Zoom on selected Friday nights. We’re looking forward to Sunday Picnic and The Ark being back when that’s possible, but in the meantime, to keep up to date with what’s going on for families, children and youth, contact Johnny or Gill and make sure to join the SRPC Parents Network Facebook group
STOREHOUSE The church building is still open every Tuesday and Friday (10am-12pm) for anyone to drop off food and essentials for Storehouse. Please do remember many households who are really struggling to afford what we might regard as the basics…
service. Please contact the church office if you would like to receive one.
Please contact the church office for more details.
Stream / download a Podcast of each weeks sermon. www.srpc.podbean.com
FINDING HELP Submit a request for prayer confidentially on our website, www.srpc.org.uk/prayer-resources Talk to someone Samaritans: 116 123 Lifeline: 0808 808 8000
CONTACT US Saintfield Road Presbyterian Church 1 Myrtledene Road Belfast Web: www.srpc.org.uk BT8 6GQ E-mail: email@example.com Tel: 9040 3333 Editor(s): Alistair mccracken/ Derek Henderson Design / layout: Chris Thomson Registered charity (NI) NIC104268 Ccli streaming license: 36224
Saintfield road presbyterian church
YOU STILL REIGN AND YOU’RE STILL GOD Philippa Hanna, Tony Wood, Matt Armstrong, Jonny Bird © 2020 Integrity Music Europe © 2021 Saintfield road presbyterian church Registered charity no. NIC104268