Welcome to Wokingham Methodist Church
A message from our Minister Revd Catherine Bowstead
It is with sadness that I have to inform you, that following Methodist Connexional advice, our Sunday Worship is suspended until further notice, all our Church meetings have been cancelled and Café Mosaic is closed.
Fortunately, our church community is more than our buildings so a group of us are thinking of ways in which we can continue to support each other and worship together. I will be writing to you towards the end of the week with details of our plans.
In the meantime, you can keep in contact with one another by ‘phone or e-mail and please contact me or Will in the Church Office if needed.
This time of crisis will pass, and our God will remain the same.
With love and prayers,
18 March 2020
We regret that the following are currently suspended/closed until further notice:
Alzheimer's Café and Carers Group
Café Mosaic and Little Fishes
Craft @ 4 and Creative Spirit
MorsContact (until 1 Sept)
Prayer and House Groups
Parent & Toddler Group
Railway & Transport Club
See new page: COVID-19 What are we doing?
Sunday 3 May
Church Annual Meeting postponed
Weekly Pastoral Letter - 3 April 2020
From Revd Catherine Bowstead
I hope that you are finding keeping in touch with church friends and your own family and friends helpful in this current situation. Lack of social contact is very difficult for many of us, it’s good to be able to see each other, but phone conversations are good too. Each of us has had to adapt and learn to do things differently. I’ve certainly found myself on a very steep learning curve for technology as I’ve learnt how to use “zoom” conferencing and how to record and send things on my computer and phone.
One of the technological skills that I have learnt is how to record my part of our Sunday service and then send it to someone else. It really is a team effort – for last week’s service, David, Christine and I each recorded our parts at our own homes, we sent them to Roger Prior who edited them together and added the music, he them sent it to Michael Wells, who put it onto our website. I am very grateful for the technical expertise of Roger and Michael and we are all thankful for the appreciative comments that we have received.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. I am preaching and Doreen and Peter Murgatroyd are helping with other parts of the service. Usually we would distribute palm crosses at church, you may still have a palm cross from last year that you could use. If not, I have two options for you - you can either make your own palm cross with the instructions attached to this letter, or you can draw a cross on the palm of your hand. You can use either or both of these as a focus for reflection during our Palm Sunday service and throughout Holy Week.
On Easter day we would have decorated our Lent Cross with flowers and transformed it into an Easter Cross – I have an idea for this too. During this coming week please make your own Easter cross - cut out a cardboard cross and decorate it however you wish – coloured pens, paper collage, scraps of fabric, leaves, flowers – you choose. When you have finished it send a photo of it to Claire if you can, and she will make a giant collage picture of our crosses for our website. On Easter Day you can put your cross in a window, so that others can see it as a sign of our hope in resurrection and new life.
Thank you to all those who are continuing to support the work of our church financially through this difficult time. If you don’t already do so, it would be good if you could make your offerings via standing order, please contact Will in the Church office if you would like to do this and he will be able to help you.
As ever, I am finding the Psalms helpful. This week I’ve been reading I’ve been reading Psalm 42:
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you, from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God.
The psalmist is lamenting that they are not able to worship with others in the temple, and they long to be with fellow worshippers. This is making them feel very bereft and sad. At times this feeling of sadness threatens to engulf them – like “waves and breakers” sweeping over them (v7). They know that God is with them and that they should trust him, but this feels very hard and at times they feel that they have been abandoned by God (v9). The psalmist realises that he needs to dig very deep in his reserves of faith in order to maintain his faith and hope in God. I think that echoes true for us too. It’s very hard for us that we are not able to worship together in our church building, our sadness and feelings of anxiety may threaten to overwhelm us, if so, we need to ‘dig deep’ into our relationship with God and repeat the Psalmists words: “put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my saviour and my God.”
Also attached with this letter are some reflections to use each day of Holy Week, I hope that you find them helpful.
Please do all you can to keep your faith alive and continue to pray for us all as we negotiate these strange new waters together.
With every blessing,
Weekly Pastoral Letter - 27 March 2020
From Revd Catherine Bowstead
I hope that you are managing to make the necessary adjustments to our living in these strange times. To help us keep in contact with each other, we have set up a system of “phone buddies” – everyone should get regular phone calls from their Pastoral Visitor or someone else in our church community. Of course, you can contact others by phone or e-mail too and if you know someone who does not have access to a computer perhaps you could ring them and read this letter to them. Claire is thinking of ways in which we can keep in touch with each other, she regularly posts things on our Facebook page and is exploring ways in which we can use the internet to have virtual gatherings.
I was pleased to receive appreciative comments about the service we recorded for the Church website last weekend. Our website struggled to cope with demand at one point but hopefully we have now sorted this out for this weekend. David and Christine Morgan and I are preparing this week’s service which will be on the website by Sunday morning. Direct link The gospel passage for this week is the “Raising of Lazarus”, from John 11:1-45, so you might like to read it in preparation for Sunday morning when we’ll listen to David’s sermon. Some people have told me that they enjoyed the services broadcast by the BBC and Songs of Praise as well as our service last Sunday. If we use the resources available to us, we can still keep Sunday special.
But these are worrying times. I am finding it helpful if I try to live one day at a time and not think too far ahead. I’m trying to keep some structure to each day, to get some fresh air and exercise, and to find some fun things to do too – craft activities and watching funny films are helping me. And I’m appreciating phone chats and other communications with people.
I’m also finding reading the Psalms very helpful:
Psalm 46 reminds us that:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging … the Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress … Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
Perhaps you could take time to read the whole of the Psalm slowly to yourself, pausing after every few words and asking God to speak to you through it. My hope and prayer is that you might find reassurance and comfort from God and a new awareness of his presence with you.
With every blessing,