From the Manse. Dear Friends,
I am always amazed at the skill and dexterity needed to make a piece of pottery. Many years ago, a friend of mine bought a potter’s wheel and, over time, learnt how to produce a wide range of beautiful pots of different shapes and for varying uses.
I will never forget her patience and concentration and her sheer devotion to the task as she laboured long and hard over each one of her pots, however large or small it happened to be.
At some event, perhaps, we have been encouraged to take a small piece of clay and make it into a shape. I remember such an occasion.
I made a little pot and, as I held it in my hands, I acknowledged its imperfections … but I had made it and … I loved it and I wanted the very best for my little pot, despite its lumps and bumps and quirky shape.
A few days ago, contemplating the fresh start that a new year always offers, I came across this verse in my early morning Bible reading: ‘Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand.’ (Isaiah 64.8).
It called me to place my life, with all its imperfections, once more into the hands of the master potter. I asked the Lord to shape me into a more useful vessel for living and serving over the coming year.
It is breathtakingly marvellous to think that God has made each one of us with our different shapes, and colours, and personalities, and skills.
God loves us, the whole of us, our souls, our inner selves, everything about us.
Just as a potter works at their creation, God moulds us and forms us, but having made us, continues the moulding process, guiding us as we live our lives, holding us in loving hands, helping us to change and shaping us into the people he would have us be.
The apostle Paul was only too aware of his human weaknesses, but he also knew how much God loved him and that “inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4.16).
I wonder what your hopes are for the coming year? Helen Keller, who overcame incredible challenges once said: “Security is a myth. The reason we don’t experience it is because it doesn’t exist. Avoiding danger or failure is no safer in the long run than out-right risk. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
As you set out on the adventure of a new year and rise to its challenges, I pray you will know the hands of the divine potter holding you up, believing that where the Lord leads and where the Lord calls, he will provide, and he will equip.
Yours in Christ,
Change my heart, O God, make it ever true; change my heart, O God, may I be like you.
You are the potter, I am the clay; mould me and make me, this is what I pray.Eddie Espinosa | copyright 1982 Mercy/Vineyard
We continue to pray for and remember those who have recently lost loved ones.
We continue to pray for those living in residential homes and we pray for those who are unable to come to worship due to ill health or mobility problems.
We also pray for Our Minister, Debbie, and the other Circuit Staff. The needs of the Circuit, the Circuit Stewards and individual churches in the Circuit and the issues that face the Circuit in the coming year 2019.
LINKS WITH SCHOOLS
During December Sutton Methodist Church followed through links with several schools in a variety of ways. On Tuesday 4th December a group of us visited Cavendish Primary School to lead an afternoon whole school Advent assembly.
As in previous years Christingles were made and their significance discussed. This was followed by a drama entitled ‘The Grumpy Shepherd’. The children also sang some of the carols that they had been practising.
A similar format was used when the same group from our Church visited Spring Cottage Primary School on the afternoon of Monday 17th December.
Again, it was a whole school assembly and the children participated by making Christingles, providing actors to take the parts of Mary and Joseph in the drama, and singing some carols.
Tuesday 18th December was a very busy day! In the morning several members of our congregation went along to enjoy Sutton Methodist Pre- School’s Nativity and Christmas Concert.
The children did so well performing in front of so many people! The Pre-School Staff created a lovely Christmassy atmosphere and mums, dads, grandmas, granddads and other family members and friends were delighted by the whole show.
Meanwhile Deacon Sue was leading a special assembly at Pearson Primary School on the other side of town. Sue acts as a Chaplain to the school, on behalf of the Open Doors Project, and she visits the school regularly during the year.
On the same day, in the afternoon, Gillshill Primary School Year 6 held their Christmas Carol Service in our Church.
The traditional Christmas readings were read by some of the children and all the children sang a wide range of carols, some very well-known and some not so well known.
The singing was wonderful and parents and grandparents who were able to attend were very proud of the children. Lots of credit to the school staff too as they had rehearsed the children in a very short window of time.
All the children at Cavendish and Spring Cottage Primary Schools received one of our Church Christmas cards and some of them attended the Christmas Messy Church afternoon on Sunday 16th December and/or the 5 o’clock Christmas Eve Christingle Service.
It’s good that children in our local area are familiar with our Church and are becoming more aware of some of our activities. We shall keep up the links in the year ahead.
FORTH COMING EVENTS
A Jumble Sale will be held on 9th March so when you are turning out all your old clothes to put your new Christmas items away it would be appreciated if you could pass them on to us for future events together with any unwanted gifts to use as prizes.
We would be grateful if you could hang onto these items until after the pantomime on 12th January as we cannot store these items due to limited space. Many thanks for all your help.
Spring Fair – 11th May Barn Dance – 5th October
We hope to update the Remembrance Book early this year. If you have any names that you would like to add please give them to Rev Debbie Lucas.
FORTY YEARS AGO
Reverend Arnold Johnson’s message in the February 1979 Newsletter read:
As I write we continue to be in the grip of a winter which is the worst we have had for a long time: a winter of snow and ice but also a winter of ‘discontent’ as Richard the Third might have expressed it.
Discontent expressed by many through strike action, causing discontent for others through lay-offs. Others feel discontent because of strong disagreement, even disgust, at the action of the discontented strikers or lack of action by the government – and so it goes on.
Perhaps by the time that you read this, winter’s icy grip will be losing its hold, weather-wise, because, for me, February has always the promise of spring and, hopefully, the hint of a ‘glorious summer’.
On the national front, it seems that as soon as one storm passes another looms ahead. ‘Glorious summer’ seems out of view and one wonders whether it will come at all.
I feel that many exaggerate our country’s situation and talk too easily about ‘chaos’ and the ‘precipice’, ‘disaster’ and so on. We’ve heard it all before.
Yet, unless there is some change of attitude, emphasis and spirit in our country as a whole, ‘winter’ will continue indefinitely.
The Prime Minister was asking the other day, “What sort of country do we want?” He urged people to turn away from an acquisitive attitude, ever wanting more of this and more of that, and from narrow sectional interests.
He also urged people to find a greater sense of responsibility for the nation and world as a whole, and a readiness to give rather than get.
Perhaps we’ve heard this before but it is close to the Christian ideal.
However, this will only come about if people have more of Christ Himself in their hearts and lives. The ‘winter of our discontent’ will only turn to ‘glorious summer’ by this ‘Sun’.
Your friend and minister, Arnold S. Johnson