'this week ... next week'

Sunday 22nd November 2020

Your weekly newsletter from Yeadon Methodist Church

Dear Friends,

I don’t know about you but as this years Christmas adverts come on the television; I find myself becoming a little more emotional than usual. I suppose it was because I’d assumed back in March that things would be back to normal by Christmas. A couple of months into the pandemic I wrote to you about some of the things which I’d learnt since the first lock down. Now in the midst of the second one I share some thoughts which I came across on the internet:

When this is over
may we never again
take for granted:

A handshake with a stranger

Full shelves at the store

Conversations with neighbours

A crowded theatre

Friday night out

The taste of Communion

A routine check up

The school rush each morning

Coffee with a friend

The stadium roaring

Each deep breath

A boring Tuesday

Life itself.

When this ends,
may we find that we have become
more like the people
we wanted to be

we hoped to be
and may we stay
that way – better
for each other
because of the worst.

With this in mind may we remember that through it all God is with us, guiding, leading, protecting, and comforting us. As we face uncertainty let us take comfort in the words of Romans 8:38-39 NRSV

38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Every blessing, Jenny

For Roger's readings & reflections this week ... click on his picture below

And for this week's hymn ... click below

From Mollie Emmett: "Now home and so happy to be able to thank everyone for their cards, letters, gifts and flowers which i have received during my time away. I am progressing well each day. I am unable to send Christmas cards this year, so will donate to the air ambulance box in church. Missing you all."

From Dorothy Seager: "Thank you for all the cards and good wishes I received for my birthday, and for the flowers that Joan kindly brought to me on behalf of the Church. Flowers are so lovely anytime but just now with what we are going through they are especially nice. Thank you. I hope we can all meet at Church again before long, and hopefully sing a carol or two."

Ruth Chapter 1

Welcome to week one of our Advent Course, a study of the book of Ruth. Ruth was the book that was set for Bible month this year, so I thought it would be good to look into it and see what gems we can find within its rich text. I’m grateful for the teaching of Dr Rachel Starr who was one of my tutors at the Queen’s Foundation. I will be using her teaching within this study.

I don’t know whether you are familiar with the story of Ruth. It is a well- loved story that on the surface is gentle and reassuring. A tale of friendship, love, and acceptance.

I say on the surface because as we with most things, if we delve a little deeper, we can find a wealth of information that maybe sheds fresh light on our understanding. Within this study we will look at the Book of Ruth and ask questions such as why was this story written? What message is it giving to the original readers of the text? And what can we learn from this story today?

Ruth was written in about 1010 BCE and it’s not clear who the author was, although traditionally Samuel is said to have written it. We do know that it was written between the period when the Judges ruled Israel and the time that King David took the throne. So, it was written during a time of transition and uncertainty. It was written after the Babylonian exile when the people would have been unsettled and anxious to maintain their identity within the Persian Empire.

How does such a simple story address these quite complex issues? Well Ruth leads the reader through a simple narrative which is packed with messages, messages that perhaps we aren’t aware of because we are reading it in a different way. That’s part of the excitement of scripture and why studying it can be so enlightening!

The Book of Ruth starts in quite a desperate way. We have a family, a Father, Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. I love names and my youngest daughter is named Ruth. Names are usually chosen for a special reason. This was certainly true in Old Testament times. The names of these characters are perhaps significant. Elimelech means ‘My God is King.’ That may sound incredibly positive but remember the context within which the text was written. It was written in the period between the rule of the Judges and the Kings. Naomi means pleasant which is also good but as we find out later, she later changes her name ! The sons were called Mahlon and Chilion, which are translated as ‘a little illness’ and ‘a little destruction’. Maybe armed with this information and the fact that we are told that there is a famine in the land we could predict that this wasn’t going to be an easy story that is about to unfold.

We’re told that the family are from Bethlehem, this name is also significant as Bethlehem was the land of bread. Except there is none to be found! Elimelech takes his family to the neighbouring country of Moab. This may seem like an obvious solution and maybe it was, but we should bear in mind that the people of Judah were told that they shouldn’t go there! This text has disaster written all over it and by verse 3 Elimelech has died and by verse 5 so have both of the sons.

We are told in verse 4 that the sons had married whilst in Moab and both had taken Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. Again, perhaps these names are significant. We sometimes tell this story as though Ruth was the loving daughter in law as opposed to Orpah who stayed behind in her own land rather than staying with Naomi. The names Ruth and Orpah are both connected to water. Ruth means full or saturated and Orpah means cloud which of course holds water and pours water out. With this connection maybe the two weren’t so opposed as we are sometimes led to believe.

We should perhaps remember that at the time the Scripture was written women who were widowed or single were vulnerable. Naomi had heard that there was bread back in Bethlehem and made plans to return to her homeland. Both of her daughter in laws were wanting to go with her. She asks God to bless them and asks them to stay in Moab and to find new husbands. This would have ensured their survival. Orpah does stay in Moab whilst Ruth decides to stay with Naomi. As we’ve said we often see Orpah as deserting Naomi but when we read the text there is love and grief expressed at their parting. Perhaps Orpah knew that for all three women to survive she would have to stay behind.

We are told that Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem at the time of the barley harvest. The people of Bethlehem were stirred at their arrival and ask whether it is Naomi returned. It’s then that we’re told that Naomi has changed her name from Naomi meaning pleasant, to ‘Mara’, meaning bitter. Naomi says that she went away full but has returned empty.

So, as we can see this could be read as a story of love and friendship, but it is also a story of hardship and grief and perhaps ultimately of survival. The Book of Ruth speaks into a certain period of history. It points people towards the Law which is seen as good and something which brings people close to God. We’ll look at this more closely another week.

For now, a few questions to start our thinking…

Do you see any parallels between the Book of Ruth and other Books of the Bible? If so which?

When we think of the animosity between the lands of Judah and of Moab which of Naomi’s daughter in laws do you think made the sensible decision with regards to their future survival?

What was the vow that Ruth pledges to Naomi? What did it really mean for Naomi and for Ruth?

What do you think Naomi learnt from her time in Moab ? and what might the people of Moab learn from her?

Naomi is in grief and is traumatised upon her return to Bethlehem. She is aware of the situation that she finds herself in now and needs to survive. How does she present herself to the people in Judah?

Are there any questions or feelings that this Scripture has brought up for you?

Please feel free to join a short zoom meeting to discuss the Chapter further and share any insights that you may have.


Jennifer Parnell is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Advent

Time: Nov 27, 2020 02:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8400... ID: 840 0049 7043

Passcode: Sx3YL

Birthday Greetings to Dorothy Charlesworth & Alan Dean who both celebrate on Tuesday 24th Nov, & special greetings to Andrew Robson who reaches the big 60 on Thursday the 26th.

Early notice that a few days later on Tuesday 1st Dec, Pauline Tate will be ten years older than Andrew ! She will celebrate her 70th Birthday with an exciting (sic) Zoom Circuit Meeting in the evening. Can birthdays get much better than this ! [Er, yes - Ed.] LET'S HOPE SO AFTER LOCKDOWN.

A little bird told us that Phil Farman celebrates his birthday, between Andrew & Pauline, on Mon 30th Nov, so we hope he can enjoy his day & that his health continues to improve.

France is now in Yeadon !

Love & God's Blessing on Jennie & Colin France as they move into their new home at 31 Blossom Court, Yeadon LS19 7BW. We're sure you will be very happy there & it will be great having you both closer to us at YMC. Just think of all the extra jobs we can find for you to do!!

Pictures of our own Memorial during Remembrance week

Do you need help with shopping ?

If anyone is in need of someone to do their shopping over the coming weeks please get in touch with Kath and John on either 0113 2505346 or 07939261806.

Martin Rigg Publications

If you are looking for items to give as Christmas gifts but can't get out in the current lockdown, we might be able to help. Carlo Harrison has passed on to us several copies of Martin Rigg's "Round About Aireborough" books, some of which were given to him by Martin's sister. Several of the copies are signed and four of them are leather bound. Carlo has suggested that if people are willing to make donations for the books, the money could be put in Church Funds (to be used to cover Minibus costs if we ever get back to running this service).

If you are interested in finding out more about this offer, please ring (0113 2507377) or e-mail (marjorieemsley415@btinternet.com)


33 sleeps left ...

Christmas Post Box

The Post Box is in the vestibule until Saturday the 12th December for cards to be delivered in Yeadon, Rawdon & Guiseley.

During lockdown, cards can be posted through the letter box in the door on Chapel Hill. Donations in lieu of postage will be sent to Air Ambulance.

And finally ... this week whilst shopping online I accidentally booked myself onto an escapology course. Now I'm really struggling to get out of it.

Keeping in touch

This newsletter is published every Sunday. Please help us to reach as many people as possible by forwarding this copy to anyone you think might like to read it.

We're aware that not everyone has internet access and so John, Kath, Chris & Norman are very kindly hand-delivering copies where that's the case. If that's you - or you know someone who would appreciate a paper copy - please let Joan Wilkinson know.

And if you'd like to contribute something - either email me at andrew@itsalearningcurve.co.uk or call me on 07810 327310.

Yeadon Methodist Church

Chapel Hill, Yeadon
United Kingdom


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