From the Manse. Dear Friends,
At the end of October, when I tried to buy a simple greetings card to send to a relative, I was amazed to find Christmas items already adorning the shelves of the department store. “I’m not ready for Christmas,” I mumbled to myself and hurried away. Yet, there is no escaping the fact that we are now reading the November and December 2019 edition of the magazine with the hope and expectations of Advent and Christmas almost upon us.
Preparations for the celebrations are underway in homes, playgroups, schools, churches and in a myriad of places. As I slowly begin to get ready, I’m reminded of a story about a school Christmas production told to me a few years ago. You may know the story already, but I shall tell it again.
It was a familiar scene – parents, grandparents, guardians eagerly gathering in the school hall, scrambling for the seats with the best view and then each class of children slowly being led into the room to take their places. One by one the classes rose to their feet and took their turn at singing their “Christmas” song – some about reindeer, some about snowflakes, some about Father Christmas. But then came a song called “Christmas Love!”
As the class performing this song rose to their feet, it was evident that each child was also holding a piece of card and as they began to sing “C is for Christmas” and then “H is for Happy” each child in turn held up their card until the message was complete – CHRISTMAS LOVE.
Except that isn’t quite how the message came across! The little girl responsible for holding the letter “M” held it upside down and so it appeared to the audience as a “W”. Lots of the children present got the giggles and some of the teachers tried to “hush” the children. But as the song reached the climax and the letters were held high, the message became clear. However – not Christmas Love but “CHRIST WAS LOVE”.
An innocent mistake made by a young girl resulted in the message that is right at the heart of the Christmas story being told amongst the reindeer and the snowflakes.
1 John 4 v. 8 says “… God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him”. That is what we celebrate at Christmas – the love of God profoundly expressed in the birth of the Christ child, the love of God made real in flesh and bone.
Everyone loves to hear heart-warming stories, but the most heart-warming story of all is the one that is sometimes overlooked amongst all the trimmings – the fact that God in Christ came and lived among us, that we might know God for ourselves and experience his love and forgiveness in our lives.
Over the next few weeks there will be many opportunities to remember and retell the story that lies at the heart of our Advent and Christmas celebrations. “CHRIST WAS LOVE” and he still is today … Good News to share with a watching and waiting world.
Peace and blessings, Rev Debbie
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.
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Geoff’s family would like to say a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to the Church Family for your loving care, prayers and support throughout his illness and the time he spent in hospital in September.
Also, thank you for the many messages of sympathy, and the cards and flowers that we received following our loss.
We appreciated the amazing turn out for Dad’s Celebration Service and the special help we were given in catering for all of Dad’s friends and family.
MEET AND EAT CHURCH
The next three planned dates for this regular event are:
- Monday 4 November 2019
- Monday 2 December 2019
- Monday 6 January 2020
We meet at 5.30pm for 6.00pm. Please sign up on the lists when they are displayed in the Primary Room or get in touch with Mike.
A FAMILY CHRISTMAS STORY
Please put the date of Saturday 30 November in your diary.
On this evening our Singers will be joined by some members of our Messy Church and Holiday Club to present A Family Christmas Story.
Keith and Robin have come up with a script and the Singers are practising songs to tell the story. We also hope to have a band to lead the music.
The evening will start at 7.00pm and refreshments will be served afterwards.
GILLSHILL PRIMARY SCHOOL
Last December Year 6 from Gillshill Primary School used our church for their Year 6 Carol Service.
The children staged a very well rehearsed event using the church aisles for a procession and then they performed readings and carols to tell the Christmas Story. The singing was excellent.
The school has contacted us to ask if they can use our church again this year. We are delighted that they wish to make a return visit.
If you are free on the afternoon of Wednesday 18th December please come along to support the staff and children. If last year is anything to go by you will certainly enjoy the singing!
FLOURISH – REFLECTION
Rev Leslie Newton (Chair of District) opened the Flourish Booklet with these words.
“Welcome to Flourish. I’m looking forward to a great weekend together! As we gather from all around the District, I hope we’ll come with hearts full of anticipation and expectation for all that we’ll share together.”
As the Langdale’s, Margaret and Andrew travelled to Scarborough together for the ‘Flourish’ weekend there’s no doubt that their hearts were open to receive and absorb all that the weekend had to offer and what a weekend it was.
All ages were catered and provided for with a wide programme of events from a Creche run by professionals, to Ready, steady cook and a Silent disco for the youth.
For the rest of us there was a wonderful range of excellent workshops both indoor and out to encourage and delight us, whilst the Market Place helped us to see so many great things going on in the District.
The Opening Celebration began with a welcome from Leslie and the Vice-President of Conference, Clive, who along with himself brought greetings from the President Barbara and the Connexion.
In the evening a ‘Christian Comedian’ did an excellent stand up with not a sign of smut in it: a performance of witticism through word and song and the audience loved it.
His finale took us through the whole bible from Genesis to Revelation to the tune of American Pie by Don McLean. It was fast, clever, hi-tech and imaginative and for many people was a highlight.
Throughout the weekend Communion was celebrated every day for those who chose to go. Worship, led by various bands was uplifting and invigorating. With over 1,000 people praising the Lord in song how could it not be.
The key note speakers all spoke passionately and powerfully giving a message of hope to be the people God is calling us to be. Worship on the Sunday morning catered for all tastes with a Family Praise Party for the young people and the choice of Taize, Celtic, Forest and a Traditional service with Holy Communion.
As we gathered for ‘A Final Flourish’ led by Leslie and I went forward to receive our Circuits Candle I looked out over a sea of smiling faces and felt so honoured and privileged to be a part of such a great community of people.
Later I asked Phil, Margaret and Andrew what their favourite parts of the weekend were: Phil said the Comedian and Speakers, for Margaret it was Celtic Worship and the Julian of Norwich Reflection, for Andrew the Lou Fellingham concert.
Me, well I’ve never been good at making choices. But in truth, what lifted my heart the most was seeing so many Methodist people all gathered together, laughing, praising, relaxing and sharing their faith because their passion for Christ had brought them here. We all had a great time. Maybe you might want to consider coming yourself next time.
APPEAL TO SPONSOR GRACE PENN-TIMITY TO GO ON S.A.C.T.S MISSION FOR THREE MONTHS
From 1st April to 1st July 2020, the SACTS Chair Lady will be taking an unpaid leave from her work as a Nurse to go to Malawi and Sierra Leone to support children and their families to improve health and wellbeing through education.
What does she hope to achieve?
The SACTS chairlady aims to provide buckets with taps on for schools. This is to encourage regular hand hygiene (Hand washing) in schools where they lack running water.
Conduct lessons on Basic First Aid and CPR in schools across Sierra Leone and Malawi for children. Helping them to understand recovery position for people with epilepsy (when they are fitting/seizing), perform CPR (for cardiac arrest, feminine hygiene, how to look out for signs of Stroke (F.A.S.T. approach), and basic diabetic care.
Provide support and encouragement for teachers and families on simple tips to promote good health and well being.
GRACE IS HOPING TO RAISE £1600 TO COVER SOME OF HER COST WHILE ON THIS MISSION.
Here are ways you can support Grace:
- Go fund me page: “Taking love, hope and helping hand to Africa”. SACTS website www.give.net/sacts2019 with specific note to say “for Grace’s mission”
- You can give to Grace or Lansford when they are around. Or send a donation.
Please donate to help Grace fulfil this mission.
Many thanks, from SACTS Admin.
FUTURE EVENTS – ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS
|Musical Evening||30 November|
|Gift Service and Sutton Village Christmas Fair||1 December|
|Christmas Craft Afternoon and Carol Service||15 December|
|Candlelight Service 6.30 pm||22 December|
|Christmas Eve Christingle Service at 5.00 pm||24 December|
|Christmas Eve Communion Service at 11.15 pm||24 December|
|Christmas Day Service||25 December|
|Covenant Sunday Service||5 January 2020|
FEEDBACK FROM CHURCH COUNCIL MEETING
In May we had a Spring Market which raised £586.00. Our Barn Dance and Harvest Supper in October is a social event and we managed to get £280.00, the band was given £300.00 with donations covering the shortfall. This event saw 49 people get together including the Guides, 7 members of St James and lots of people from outside the church which means we are reaching out to others in the community.
The next event is the Christmas Fair on Saturday 23rd November followed by the Sutton Village Fair on Sunday 1st December when the street will be closed off.
The next Pantomime is arranged for Saturday 29th February 2020 and will be Cinderella.
This year’s Christmas card has been designed by a member of the Ladies Fellowship and this will be sent off to the printers shortly in plenty of time for us to distribute.
We are currently in the process of collating information for the banner on the notice board in order to have it redesigned with the correct information together with Debbie’s name on.
SUNDAY SERVICES AT BRANSHOLME
Weekly services at Bransholme Methodist Church have been temporarily suspended, but are expected to return in one form or another. Some services may be held during the fortnightly women fellowship meetings, obviously, these will be open to men and women.
Information about services will be disseminated through regular activities at the Church and possibly through Sunday notices at other Churches.
Please bear with us while we work out the best way of continuing our formal worship at Bransholme. Meanwhile, all the weekly activities continue as normal. Bransholme Methodist Church will value your prayers at this time as to our vision for the future.
SEND A CHILD TO SCHOOL
The circuit is supporting the Send a Child to School charity, details of which are on the circuit website.
We are no longer collecting hymn books, bibles or other books for Sierra Leone and Malawi. We are still collecting cash or cheque donations for school fees, stationary for school children, used computers, laptops, children’s clothes, toys, shoes, school bags, stacking or folding chairs and tables and any other school related items.
Many thanks for your continued support to these poor and vulnerable children of Africa.
In His Service, Lansford Penn-Timity.
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