Posted 18.05.20
Martin M’Caw

Having the mind of Christ

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 2, in the Bible, St. Paul writes about how God’s wisdom is revealed in Christ and gives his followers a unique world view with a transformed perspective on current affairs and life as a whole. It’s not about becoming a clever clogs, but gaining an understanding that God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year. The Holy Spirit takes us to the heart and mind of God and leads us to the development of our understanding.


God’s wisdom was once a hidden mystery, but now in Jesus is made known. God’s mystery is out of this world but has come to earth: best summarised in the opening statement of John’s gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In New Testament Greek ‘the Word’ described here, really means ‘the Mastermind.’ We see the mystery of God’s master plan at Christmas, Easter, Pentecost –  God’s purpose moulding history and the future of the universe. 

When St. Paul writes about a Christian “having the mind of Christ” he is not thinking about our IQ or brain power, but a spiritual perception we develop as we come to see world and society through the eyes of Christ as we live in the way of Christ. The Holy Spirit working in us to make the purpose of God our number 1 priority so we can pray as Jesus did, even under trial, “not my will but yours be done.” This is what it means to have ‘the mind’ or ‘the outlook’ of Christ

It’s living the life of God’s Kingdom as we see it in the Lord’s prayer. There’s one purpose: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven. There’s our lifestyle: give us this day our daily bread – one cheeseburger not two! There’s seeking forgiveness for ourselves and others.  Remember how Gordon Wilson responded to the IRA bombing at the Enniskillen Remembrance Day parade in1987 when his daughter was one of those killed. If you’ve forgotten check it out via Wikipedia. There’s seeking avoidance of temptation and deliverance from evil – helping us to avoid the traps that come from others and our own personal appetite. It all comes under the banner of God’s Kingdom, power and glory.

Paul is writing about how the Holy Spirit directs our understanding to recognise how the mystery of God is revealed in the life and purpose of Christ, and how the mind of Christ leads us to passing on the light of Christ in the way we live and serve his kingdom.

Posted 14.05.20
Elfed Godding
Thoughts on John 13:1-15

Counter-Cultural Living

The Disciples jostled for position in preparation for the glory they believed to be imminent. Even those closest to Jesus struggled with ego.

However the sight of Jesus, the Son of God, bending down and washing their feet held up an uncomfortable mirror to their human condition; especially the perils of the pecking order. They were beginning to learn about counter-cultural living.

The challenge we face:

The shame of stepping out of line, breaking a social taboo or potentially demeaning ourselves before our peers is often a far more powerful force in our lives than guilt at disobeying even the most fundamental of God’s laws. When an expert in the Law asked Jesus a question in Luke 10:29, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ he was really hoping Jesus would reply ‘people just like you’. The fact that Jesus answered the question with a story in which the hero was from one of the most despised racial groups in his day shocked the expert. Counter cultural living means thinking and doing what is right not necessarily easy or popular.

The counter-cultural way of Jesus:

Jesus commended a variety of unlikely role models for people to learn from. Destitute widows (Luke 21:1-4), little children (Mark 10:14), Samaritan lepers (Luke 17:11-19) and Roman soldiers (Luke 7:1-10) to name a few. Our natural inclination in mission is often to reach people of power with the Gospel as a priority over people of potential influence. In our passage today Jesus’ inner security is so well rooted in his relationship with his Father in Heaven that any thought of ‘pecking order’ is entirely out of place, ‘You shall never wash my feet’ insisted Peter. That is until he understood that was Jesus was doing was prophetic of what his future apostles would do. Jesus was playing to an audience of one. He was interested in doing only what he saw his Father doing John 5:19. The coming of God’s counter-cultural Kingdom will confront and challenge our moral, racial, creedal hierarchies and restore the supremacy of love.

The counter-cultural example of the New Testament Church:

In his book ‘Surprised by Hope’ NT Wright writes: ‘In the first half of the book of Acts Jesus is announced as the Risen Messiah to the Jewish authorities and in the second half of Acts Jesus is announced as Lord to Caesar’. This cost many Christians their lives. They could have diluted their message to be palatable but they chose not to. A decision they made because Jesus taught them and showed them that the way to follow him was to take up their cross daily and live counter-culturally.

Let’s take a moment to consider what this means for us in Wales today. How should be pray, what should we do to communicate the Gospel to and live uncompromisingly?

Why not make Romans 12:1-2 our prayer?

May God continue to bless and strengthen us.

Posted 02.05.20
John Mainwaring
The God who makes all things new…
This May we commemorate 75 years since VE day in Europe. Many events that were planned will have been cancelled to accommodate social distancing brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Perhaps we will have time and space to reflect in our own way on what the days were like for Europeans coming out of the traumatic experience of World War 2.

In the UK the post war years were marked by economic instability and the newly elected Labour government implemented an austerity programme. Food, clothing and sources of energy were severely rationed and by 1947 some food rations were cut to well below wartime levels. Only when financial aid started funnelling in via the US Marshall Plan between 1948 and 1951 did Britain’s economic situation start to improve.

Beyond Politics and economics, a more sinister spiritual force had started to take hold. The two world wars and revelations of the atrocities that so called civilised man was capable of, lead many to the conclusion that there was now no moral certainty and belief in a benevolent God was shaken in some. The new threat of nuclear war and the beginnings of the cold war further cast doubt on man’s capacity for goodness and a cynicism and scepticism about ‘religious’ absolutes also crept in.

As far as church attendance went in the European nations affected by the Second World War, the idea that ‘Faith in your own self’ as the only option in a world now increasingly thought to be devoid of God, lead to a decline.

It was against this backdrop that Christian philosopher, C S Lewis wrote his children’s book ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. It’s a story with a strong Christian theme to it. In it there is a good world, Narnia, that has been cursed and locked in 100 years of winter by the White Witch. In spite of this, within that broken world there still exists beauty, truth, joy and the working of a Saviour, Aslan the Lion, who by sacrificing his own life and rising from the dead breaks the curse over Narnia and its winter comes to an end.
Towards the end of the book of Revelation in the Bible, God gives this promise, “And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” ” To make doubly sure we get it, God follows those words with… “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 

Even the darkest days come to an end. Our part is to trust the Saviour to “make all things new”.
Posted 10.04.20
Elfed Godding
Easter thoughts on Ephesians 2:11-22
At the moment of the death of Jesus on the cross, the curtain of the Temple in Jerusalem was torn in two from top to bottom Matthew 27:50-51. It signalled death to any other means of atonement for the sins of the human race and that Jesus was achieving what no one else could.

In this way the events of Easter can be understood as both destructive and constructive.

Our main scripture passage today in Ephesians 2:12-22.

Ephesians 2:14 ‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’

The death and resurrection of Jesus a work of destruction:

  • the atoning work of Jesus Christ targets the works of evil ‘the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work’ 1John 3:8. This includes oppressive regimes. In the 20th Century 119 million people were killed through world wars and the evil oppression of despots including Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and Sadam Hussain and yet more people became Christians than in any previous century
  • it deals with our sin. Through laying down his life Christ dealt with the greatest barrier between us and God; our sin ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace’ Roman 3:23. Sin is ‘missing the mark,’ it is ‘falling short of the target’
  • it deals with those structures which perpetuate our ‘falleness’ such as racial and social division

Ephesians 2:15 ‘His purpose was to create one new man out of the two’.

The death and resurrection of Jesus is a work of construction:

  • he is building his Kingdom. Changed rule. ‘no longer foreigners and aliens but fellow citizens’ Ephesians 2:19a
  • he is growing his family. Changed relationships. ‘members of God’s household ‘Ephesians 2:19b
  • he is establishing his temple. Changed usage. ‘to become a holy temple in the Lord … to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit’ Ephesians 2:21-22

Why not take a moment to thank Jesus for facing the cross and bearing our sins 1 Peter 2:24?

Thank him for his glorious resurrection ‘Christ has indeed been raised from the dead’! 1 Corinthians 15:20.

The price is paid! Death has been conquered! Sin has been conquered! ‘If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Romans 10:9

Take time to pray for family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours to meet Jesus.

If you are able, worship the Lord by listening to a recording of the Hymn ‘When I survey the wondrous Cross’.

Posted 29.03.20
Elfed Godding
Some devotional thoughts on Psalm 46:1-11 24
We are travelling through uncharted waters. We don’t know what things will look like in a few months, weeks or even days, but we know our unchanging God.
Many have been instructed to self-isolate which of course brings its own challenges.
We have never faced anything like this before. The emotions of fear, anxiety and worry are real, and we should acknowledge them. Every emotion is known to God, and Jesus Himself has had experience of our emotions: He entered completely into our world and knows everything about us and our situations. Lament, sorrow or yearning for the past are all part of who we are, and God speaks into these scripture tells us that we should not be overwhelmed by fear, because we have a resource far greater than what we face. We join with the Apostle Paul who learned how to advance in adversity: ‘I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’ Philippians 3:14.
God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear. (Psalm 46:1-2)
We can be certain of God’s presence all the time – Matthew 28:20 ‘I am with you always to the very end of the age’
The call is to see our genuine concerns through the lens of God, His care and His grace. Then we can rest our anxieties on Him because of His steadfast care for us (1 Peter 5:17). It is not always easy to see beyond ourselves, but faith calls us to look to God.
Be Still and know that I am God’ Psalm 46:10
The literal translation of this reads ‘Stop fighting and know that I am God’. We can surrender all those warring and painful emotions, our fears and our uncertainties to God. The certainty of His presence outweighs immeasurably all of our current concerns.
Spend a moment praying reflecting on this verse, then pray for your family, your neighbours and the UK Governments during this time of global uncertainty.
Take a moment to pray the prayer of St Paul in Ephesians 3:20-21.

God will bless us as we wait on Him.
Posted 17.03.20
John Mainwaring
Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!
In the Bible it says that, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I recently saw the war film 1917. It tells the story of two young British soldiers during the First World War who are ordered to deliver a message calling off a doomed attack. There has been a lot said about the way that cinematographer, Roger Deakins filmed 1917 to look like one long, uncut shot that follows the soldiers as they go through the hazards of No Man’s Land on their mission.

For all of its acclaim, perhaps the one thing that may be missing from the graphic portrayal of 
the war-torn battlefield might be the cries (in the many different languages of those involved in the conflict) of the trapped and wounded calling out for help. Which brings me to ‘Mayday, Mayday!’

‘Mayday’, is a corruption of the French ‘m’aider’, which simply means, ‘Help me’. A cry that would have been heard in field hospitals and No Man’s Land during the conflict and to the English soldiers’ ears would have sounded exactly like the word ‘Mayday’.

‘Mayday’ (repeated 3 times) is used internationally as a distress signal in radio communications. It was first adopted in the early days of cross-channel aviation in the 1920s as a signal that English and French pilots and ground staff could understand and it is still with us today. (SOS is used for text communication such as morse code because it is shorter and easier to remember).

It’s good to know that everyone who sends out a genuine ‘Mayday’ call to the Lord (or even an SOS) will be heard by him. When we find ourselves in spiritual No Man’s Land, then is the time to ‘call on the name of the Lord’, for he has promised to hear our cry and to save us
Posted 17.02.20
Peter Cousins
Squirrel for dinner… well very nearly!
Jesus told us to love our enemies. I was thinking about that recently amidst the political back-stabbing and falling out that has characterised British politics in recent times. I wondered what Jesus would say about it all. It cast my mind back to a few winters ago.
Our new house was a buy-to-let property before we bought it: unloved and unadorned, with nowhere more uncared for than the garden. The weed-choked lawn, ivy smothered fence and cracked patio all shrieked one word: ‘Neglect!’ But February brought a surprise when a heap of bare earth in front of the window burst out in a riot of yellow daffodils, blue and yellow crocuses and a few hopeful tulips.
We were pleased by our flash of spring until the local squirrel took a fancy to the yellow crocuses. He trampled the patch of plants, digging up the bulbs one at a time before scuttling to the top of the fence and looking me defiantly in the eye while munching on them.
A rodent with attitude! I railed at him. I threatened that squirrel fricassee would be on the menu for Sunday lunch if he kept fattening himself up. But in the end we compromised. As the blue crocuses were apparently not to his taste, I let him eat his fill of the yellow ones.
Of such uneasy truces is civilisation constructed. I almost felt sorry for him when the magpies chased him away last week. But Jesus was right. The way we treat our enemies defines us as people and as a society. It is the measure of our humanity. Our nation would do well to heed his words.
Posted 07.12.19
Peter Cousins
The True Light
A ray of sunlight left the radiant surface of our star about 8 minutes and 20 seconds ago. No one saw it.
Three and a half minutes ago it passed through the orbit of Venus. Not a soul noticed it. A second ago it flashed past the International Space Station. None of the astronauts glimpsed it. Nobody saw the ray of light because it is invisible in a vacuum. It isn’t until it enters our atmosphere, collides with particles in the air, or a wall, or your child’s face that it bounces off, scattering its energy, entering our eyes and becoming visible to us. If it doesn’t interact with anything, then it will disappear into infinity unobserved.
All of which makes me think about what the Gospel of John says about Jesus, Son of God: The true light that gives light to every one was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. (John 1:9-10) Just as light is invisible until it interacts with something, so Jesus’ presence in the universe is hidden from our eyes until he changes something or someone close to us. He illumines our spiritual darkness.
Jesus changed the world two thousand years ago when he entered our society in a Bethlehem stable, and he continues changing our world now, touching hearts and leading us into his world of love, peace, justice, and, above all, a life filled with God.
Press release
Date Friday 20 September, 2019
Minister from South Wales inducted at Church Community in Flintshire
A Church Community in Flintshire celebrated the appointment of a new minister on Saturday 14th September. At a packed church service, the Rev. Elfed Godding and his wife Jackie were welcomed to Bethania Church Community in Leeswood and Elfed was inducted as the new minister there. It was a wonderful family event with all ages participating in the induction and greetings from local churches and friends from near and far.
Elfed Godding brings a vast wealth of wisdom and experience to the region, serving as a pastor in Bournemouth and Oswestry in the 1980s and 1990s. Jackie and he have since lived in Cardiff from 2000 while Elfed served as Director of the Evangelical Alliance in Wales until moving to North Wales in November, 2018.
As the longest-serving member of the Evangelical Alliance’s leadership team, Elfed left a remarkable legacy, which included partnering with CARE, Cornerstone Church Swansea and Tearfund to set up Gweini, the government-recognised council for the Christian voluntary sector in Wales.
Another one of the numerous accomplishments of the Evangelical Alliance in Wales under the leadership of Elfed was the launch of the Cymru Institute for Contemporary Christianity (CICC) in 2010, with the backing of several organisations including CARE and the Bible Society. CICC helps Christians in Wales understand their environments and engage biblically with contemporary issues and people.
Since starting ministry at Bethania, Elfed has already met a number of Leeswood residents through visits to the Community Centre, especially the café on a Thursday morning, and by walking around the village, as he familiarises himself with the neighbourhood.
‘I am delighted to have started my new season of ministry in Leeswood’ says Rev. Elfed Godding, ‘and I look forward to getting to know the communities within the village. As a church minister my prayer is for the Kingdom of God to advance bringing peace, justice and hope to the residents of Leeswood and district’.
Bethania Church Community, part of the Baptist Union, goes from strength to strength and also marked its 150th anniversary last year, with a well attended week of events, and by distributing a copy of Mark’s Gospel to every household in the village. For more information about Bethania go to
ENDS For media enquiries contact John Mainwaring on 07901 810013.
Posted 01.07.19
Ian Dyson
What’s the best news you’ve ever heard?
That’s the slogan of a course called Christianity Explored that we at Bethania have been running in recent months. It’s a pretty informal short course that looks at the basics of the Christian faith: humankind’s evident inability to sort out the mess it’s in, the help on offer as a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and how we as individuals can get in touch with God and tap into that offer of help.
There’s no obligation and no pressure.
It runs for seven sessions of about an hour to an hour and a half (it depends on how long we chat for!) – we’ve been running it once a fortnight. The course is based on Mark’s gospel, and in each session we read a short passage, then watch a short video to help stimulate our thinking, and then spend some time discussing things. That discussion is the best bit. It’s certainly not a case of ‘We have all the answers, so listen up!’ – mainly because we don’t have all the answers… It’s much more about chatting and sharing our different experiences of life and learning from
one another using the gospel as our guide.
Thanks to all those who’ve been involved. I’ve enjoyed it a lot, and I think everyone else has –
at least, they keep coming back!
We’re coming to the end of the course now, but we’re thinking of running it again in the autumn.
If you’re interested in joining us or to find out more, call 07901 810013. You can also visit the website, and watch 
a short film that explains what the course is
all about.
Posted 23.05.19
Ian Dyson
The Leeswood blessing
Several folk recently have pointed out to me what seems to be a growing trend in some circles: running down the community of Leeswood, dwelling on all the bad things that go on and forgetting the good stuff. Yes, the place has its bad side – what place hasn’t? – but there are good things happening too.
I’m not going to give you my list of good stuff – make your own! Go out and look for the good things that are happening in the community, and be thankful for them. One way to improve things in Leeswood, it seems to me, is to focus on the positives and build on them.
Oh yes, and prayer… At Bethania, we end our Sunday morning service each week with a prayer for God to bless this community of ours – after all, he loves it too, and all the people in it. Here’s the prayer we use – would you like to join in?
God’s blessing on Leeswood. God’s blessing on our families, God’s blessing on our children, God’s blessing on those who live alone. God’s blessing on the schools, God’s blessing on the businesses, God’s blessing on the land and those who work it. God’s blessing on the weak, God’s blessing on the strong. The blessing of the Father who loves us, the blessing of the Son who died for us, the blessing of the Holy Spirit who comforts and leads us, The blessing of the one God be on our community, this day and always.
Posted 23.04.19
Peter Cousins
Hiding in plain sight
“Sometimes the truth’s hiding in plain sight,” I told myself, looking for the door key only to discover it in the lock already. The thought returned to me the other day while thinking about God as I usually do while out walking. I was basking in the warm glow of spring, enjoying not just the sunshine but also the fond memories of Easter Sunday mornings when dozens of us from various local churches share a service on the beach at Rhos Point.
Our church always bounces with health and vitality as we belt out our Easter hymns celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. The Easter Sunday service is the biggest of the year for us Christians, far more important than the festivities of Christmas. The conviction that Jesus is alive for evermore unfailingly fills us with hope. That’s why I remembered the key incident.
It struck me that God is much closer than we imagine.
A recent YouGuv government poll revealed that almost half the folk in Britain are more likely to associate chocolate eggs than Jesus Christ with Easter. Now, I enjoy the over-priced chocolate as much as anyone, but isn’t this another case of the truth hiding in plain sight? For me Easter buzzes with the presence of God, which is what I silently told the Almighty as I walked. Our Faith is built on the events of the first Easter when Jesus appeared to his friends.
It’s the key to understanding God. That’s why if you saw me that day on the promenade, you’d have noticed I was smiling gently.
Posted 23.03.19
John Mainwaring
Steering a safe and steady course through life’s stormy waters
It’s a sobering thought that some of our more wilful and self-centred life choices can often end disastrously, not only for ourselves, but also for those around us. If we look back with humility at those times when we’ve chosen unwisely, we can see how God – wanting the best for us – was working on our conscience, trying to get us to change our minds, or to steer us towards a better way.
With God there is always forgiveness for what is past… but how willing are we TODAY to heed God’s warnings – be that through the Bible, a preacher, our circumstances or the people around us – when He points us towards the direction of safety?
You may have read this transcript of a radio conversation between a US Naval vessel and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland that supposedly took place in 1995.
US Naval vessel: Please divert your course
15 degrees to the North to avoid a Collision.
Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course
15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
US Naval vessel: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship.
I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
US Naval vessel: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States’ Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that’s one five degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.
Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.
The US Navy has since debunked this conversation as an urban legend, so in all likelihood it never really happened, but the illustration is still a powerful one.
The Bible urges us to “submit our lives to God”, or in other words – “take on board God’s advice and get his help”. God has the bigger picture and when He acts as the lighthouse of our soul, we do well to heed His timely and helpful warnings and adjust our direction – at the earliest opportunity!
Posted 20.02.19
Peter Cousins
“I take your point”…
“I just don’t get church,” she said lifting the cappuccino to her lips. “Thank you!” I commented. “What?” “You said ‘thank you’ when I opened the café door for you,” I replied, “and thank you to the lady behind the counter, and thank you to the waitress. So I go to church on a Sunday to say thank you to God for life, for existence, for being here and for a million other things.”
She thought for a second. “I get your point,” she said. “And sorry!” I commented. “What?” “We say sorry a lot in life, so I go to church to apologise to God for my behaviour and bad mind-set.” “I take your point,” she said. “And please, of course!” “What?” I put my flat white back on the saucer and explained. “Look, if we see a toddler fall over we pick it up and hand it back to the parent to hug and comfort. So on Sundays we lift up a broken, hurting world and hand it back to its creator to hold and to heal. And we ask God, please, to help here.”
She looked at me over the table for a moment and reached out for a piece of the lemon drizzle cake. “I take your point,” she said. “And that’s partly why I do church,” I concluded, “to stop for an hour or two on Sunday with like-minded people and reach out to God.” “Hmm,” she concurred, “it’s a bit like a coffee-shop God moment.” “I take your point,” I said.
Posted 08.01.19
John Mainwaring
Supposing we really found him?
Growing up in the 1970s, one of the Christmas presents I received annually was a blank diary. Each year I set out to keep it, but with the Blast woods and other places around Leeswood to explore with my mates, I had usually failed by about January or February. Sometimes I got a bit further if it was one of those diddy, week-to-a-page, pocket diaries with room for about 4 words for each day. Being an un-churched person back then, I always wondered what the word ‘Epiphany’ meant, printed in italics on January 6th. It always struck me as a strange and alien word. I’ve since discovered that ‘Epiphany’ is a Christian feast day also known as ‘Three Kings Day’ where those ‘wise men that sought Jesus’ are remembered during the closing part of the Christmas celebrations.
What if we, like those wise men, set out on a journey, of 100s, even 1000s of miles, looking for the King of the Jews? And suppose, like them, we really did find him! What if we, through faith took the journey further, and found him to be not just an earthly king, but God himself, come down to “dwell amongst us” as John’s gospel describes.
C S Lewis in his book ‘Miracles’ talks about our search for God, or more accurately, God’s search for us, like this: It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. ‘Look out!’ we cry, ‘it’s alive’. And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back – I would have done so myself if I could – and proceed no further with Christianity. An ‘impersonal God’ – well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads – better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap – best of all. But God Himself!, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband – that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?
Wherever we are in life, may God find each one of us in 2019.
Posted 09.12.18
Peter Cousins
Keeping it simple this Christmas
We’ve slipped an owl into our Christmas tree. Not a real one of course. That would be too much work… and cruel. But it looks cute, peeping out between the fairy lights and the baubles. Owls don’t have anything to do with Christmas, needless to say. But thinking about it, neither do robins, doves nor pigeons. And to be strictly honest we must acknowledge that camels and donkeys don’t appear in the Bible accounts either. In fact the list goes on. You will find no mention of fir trees, holly, ivy, mistletoe, turkeys, snowmen, crackers, cards or tinsel. Most of that was invented in fairly recent times. Indeed, if you go back to medieval days you’ll discover that Christmas was a short festival with special food, plenty to drink, catchy music and a special church service or two. “Ah, if it could only be that simple again!” I hear you say. I sympathise. It’s all pretty overwhelming and could be much easier. It is, after all, supposed to be a celebration centred on Jesus himself.
The Bible seems to agree. Even in the New Testament the accounts of the circumstances surrounding his amazing and rather strange birth don’t occupy much space. The four writers who tell us the story of Jesus’ life in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John spend little time on the birth of Christ. They seem keen to get down to business with their story-telling and focus on Jesus’ adult life, his miracles and teaching, as well as explaining how he came to save us by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. In fact Mark and John’s gospels leave out the story of Jesus’ birth entirely, beginning their accounts when Jesus was around 30 years of age. You might be surprised to know that the early Christians didn’t celebrate Christmas at all. Easter was the big annual event for them.
That’s why many Christians try to keep things simple at this time of year. We organise church services where we recall the events of the first Christmas in song and stories. We make sure that at some point around December 25th we walk into church with expectation and gratitude to give thanks to God for the gift of his son, Jesus. The churches of Leeswood, including Bethania will have open doors several times over the coming weeks for you to come and join us. You will be very welcome.

Posted 18.10.18
John Mainwaring
Joining with millions remembering 100 years since the end of World War I
As well as marking 150 years in the village, this year Bethania joins many others in the UK in marking the centenary of the end of World War 1. On Remembrance Sunday 11 November 2018, people around the Commonwealth will be reflecting on the lives that were changed irrevocably, and those that were lost. Here at Bethania we will be holding a service of thought, prayer and reflection at 10:15 and then joining others from the village at the Cenotaph at 12 noon.
Some 65 million men were mobilised across Europe during World War 1. Nearly a third of them – some 21 million – were wounded. Another 8.5 million were killed and some 7.7 million were taken prisoners of war. All of them had family and friends whose lives were changed forever by the events of 1914 – 1918.
Bethania itself has a memorial, written in Welsh, to Robert Humphreys, who is remembered as one its ‘faithful members… who died serving his country in the Great War, August 27, 1918, aged 28 years.’
This year gives us the chance to remember, but also to pray and work for peace, looking forward with hope.
Often we use set words at remembrance events as we think about those who have given their lives in war.
There is the Kohima Epitaph: “When you go home tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today.” There is the Ode of Remembrance: “They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.” and there is this Prayer of Remembrance.
Almighty and eternal God, from whose love in Christ we cannot be parted, either by death or life: hear our prayers and thanksgivings for all who we remember this day, fulfil in them the purpose of your love; and bring us all with them, to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This year let us use the two minutes silence at 11am on 11.11.18 to look back with gratitude for the sacrifice made by so many in war, to reflect on our own lives and to look forward with hope.
Posted 07.09.18
John Mainwaring
This September, Bethania Church Community are marking the founding of its chapel in Leeswood with a week long programme of activities designed to appeal to all ages. Everyone is welcome!
The chapel dates back to 1868, when it was funded and built by Welsh speaking miners from Treuddyn. Initially, the miners bought a piece of land in New Row, which is now County Road, for £44-10-0d. Their plan was to build a chapel and manse, to as they put it, “further the Baptist cause.” The majority of the twelve founding trustees were miners from the neighbouring village – up the road – Treuddyn, but two were from Leeswood itself; John Hellin, who lived in the Smithy on Stryt Cae Rheddyn, and Charles Jones, who sadly passed away before the chapel was completed.
Since those early days, the Bethania Church Community, part of the Baptist Union, has continued to go from strength to strength. To celebrate the chapel’s hundred and fiftieth anniversary, a series of events will run from Friday, 14th September through to Sunday, 23rd September, starting with a ‘Pubs and Chapels’ heritage walk with local historian David Rowe and the Reverend Martin M’Caw. Throughout the week there will be inspiring speakers, a film night, young children’s activities, a sensory event for people with special needs, a live band at the Community Centre and much more.
Earlier in the year the church community also organised a barn dance and music evening to mark the anniversary, and distributed a copy of Mark’s Gospel to every household in the village.
The week’s celebrations seeks to reflect the effort and faith of the original Welsh miners who founded the chapel whose aim was to bring the good news they had embraced about Jesus to Leeswood, which was then a predominantly Welsh speaking village.
Apart from all of the fun things we have planned involving lots of good food and plenty of puppets and balloons for the children, a highlight of the week will be readings from the Gospels each week-day morning at 10:00am, with a gospel service on Sunday 16th at 10:15am. We will also have a special, informal Welsh Language Service on Sunday 16th September at 4pm which will be the first to be held in the chapel’s founders’ mother tongue since the 1960s. The programme will culminate with a Celebration Service (with a surprise?) on Sunday 23rd September at 10:15 am.
We’d like to invite people to get involved by checking out the events page on this website and choosing to join in with at least one event. We’re looking forward to an exciting week and to welcoming everyone to come along and celebrate this momentous anniversary with us this September.
Posted 19.3.18
Ian Dyson
Easter again! Doesn’t it come round quickly? Deadlines dictate that, as I’m composing this, there’s still a fair bit of snow lying about in the village, although the worst does seem to be over (for now!). Even so, there are a few hopeful signs: the snowdrops have been out for a while now, and the daffodils are beginning to appear on the Leeswood verges, and it won’t be long till the trees start covering themselves in blossom, and while I haven’t heard a cuckoo yet, all the signs are hopeful! I like the spring, with all its promise of new life, new hope, new possibilities. Hence all the cute bunnies and the fluffy chicks on the Easter cards. The cold, dead grip of winter is gradually loosened and things start to show signs of life again. For the Christian believer, there’s an extra dimension to all this new life at Easter time. On Good Friday we remember Jesus’s agonisingly painful death, strung up on a Roman gibbet. But then comes Easter Sunday, and we celebrate the fact that he rose to life again, a new life, new hope, new possibilities. Easter Sunday encourages us to believe that, for us too, pain and suffering and death are not the final scene. Like the daffodils hiding away under the snow and the frost and then bursting out in new shoots, like the trees standing bare and (apparently) lifeless all winter and then suddenly being covered in blossom, the Easter message is that there is new hope after despair, new life after death, new possibilities after what seems to be the end. Jesus’ rising from the dead means there’s hope for us all… Every blessing to you this Easter time!