Welcome to Wokingham Methodist Church
Sunday Morning Worship in the church restarted on 6th September, but is currently suspended during the November English lockdown. We plan to restart again on Sunday 6th December. The weekly recorded services are continuing. Craft @ 4 is also running (via Zoom).
Sunday 6 December: Advent 2
Recorded Service and 10.30am Holy Communion
Revd Catherine Bowstead
Weekly Pastoral Letter - 27 November 2020
From Rosi MorganBarry
Reflection for Advent Sunday
Advent Sunday should traditionally be celebrated with lighting the first candle on the Advent Ring, and according to John Bowker in his book 'A Year to Live', as this is the Christian New Year's Day, it should also be celebrated with the Wassail Cup or cup of good health. This was not for the faint-hearted, consisting as it does of: a number of spices, added to a considerable quantity of port or sherry (two to six bottles are recommended); warmed with one and a half pounds of sugar; the yolks of twelve and the whites of six eggs all whisked together until it froths, then twelve fine roasted apples added. This was said to have been made at the beginning of Advent in monasteries in a vast bowl, set before the abbot, then passed from person to person. Somewhere surely there must be a non-alcoholic version for the serious Methodist?
Perhaps after the difficult year we have all experienced, and the uncertainty that still surrounds future celebrations, some people may feel this is just what is needed. Indeed it feels right to try and celebrate the coming of Christmas with as much fun and feasting as can be managed within Covid restrictions, even if the making of a Wassail Cup might be going a bit too far. So we are being encouraged to light the Advent candles, decorate a Christmas Window (see last week's letter) and keep a spirit of good cheer as we write our Christmas cards with whom we wish to share the spirit of Christmas even though they may be far away.
But the season of Advent was also traditionally similar to that of Lent: a time of fasting, of quiet preparation and reflection; a time to remind ourselves why it was necessary that Christ should come to the world as a tiny child, and grow to adulthood to live, work, heal, and teach the truths the people of God seemed to have forgotten. To remind ourselves why it continues to be necessary to celebrate Advent not only with preparation of Christmas puddings and cake; of cards and presents; of cheerful decorations and even a Wassail Cup to be shared, but also with renewal of ourselves, our lives, the loving-kindness shown to our neighbours. Especially (as we were reminded in last week's lesson of the parable of the sheep and the goats) to the least of these.
How can we reconcile these two opposing traditions? My sincere and thoughtful Catholic friends tell me one way would be to fast from Monday to Saturday and feast on Sunday!
Finally to quote John Bowker's thoughts for this day:
“Let this be the resolution of our new (Advent) year, that we will recognise you, O Lord, in the poor, the oppressed, the homeless, the unhappy, the prisoner … so that the hands we take hold of to support and encourage those in need (Christ in the poor) are the hands which deliver to us the bread of life and the cup of salvation - Christ in us, the hope of glory”.
From Revd Catherine Bowstead
Rosi is writing our reflection this week, so there’s just a short letter from me.
We come out of national lock down next week, so we are intending to hold worship in our church building from Sunday 6th December – there will be a recorded service on the website too, of course. We will follow the same guidelines as before and ask that you book your place with Will by noon on Friday. We are planning to re-open Café Mosaic on Tuesday 8th December; and we will send out the new guidelines for the café next week.
I hope you have your Advent candles ready for our service this Sunday which is being led by Doreen Murgatroyd. She will be reflecting on the great themes of Advent using the lectionary readings of Isaiah 64: 1-9 and Mark 13: 24-37.
Churches Together in Wokingham are having a stall in the Wokingham Christmas Market on Sunday 6th December. We will be giving out goody bags with Christmas crafts and a Christmas Story book. Please let me know if you can spare an hour to help on the stall.
Please remember to send a picture of your nativity set to Claire for our virtual exhibition and don’t forget to get started on your Christmas Windows.
With every blessing
Weekly Pastoral Letter - 20 November 2020
From Revd Catherine Bowstead
Come to us, O Christ, as the wind that blows the autumn leaves, as the song that soothes the troubled child, as the melody that lifts the anxious spirit. Fill us with affection for you that is unrestrained and a yearning for you that throws caution to the winds, and this for your love’s sake. Amen
This prayer was the Methodist “Prayer of the Day” earlier this week. It was written by Richard Rolle in the early 14th century and yet its words still have relevance today. I found it extremely helpful as I reflected on its interesting images of ways in which we can encounter Christ, I hope that you might find it helpful too.
During this second period of lockdown we’ve had to adapt our ways of working once more as our buildings are closed. Last time, we found our “Zoom” coffee mornings proved to be a good way of keeping in touch. Please contact Claire if you’d like to take part in one next week and she will send you the link. Will, our administrator, will continue to work his usual hours, but he will be working from home. He is able to pick up messages left on the office answer phone from time to time, but the best way to contact him is via e-mail. As in the previous lockdown, Tina, Nancy and Christine will be furloughed, although Tina and Christine will be working some hours from home. We have also decided to furlough Claire for some of her hours, so she will be working on a part-time basis for the next few weeks. Do contact Claire if you need to but be aware that she might not be able to respond immediately.
I am leading our recorded service this week, with the help of Rosi and Bill. The theme is “Christ the King” and I’ll be using the lectionary readings Ephesians 1: 15-23 which is Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Ephesus and Matthew 25: 31-46, the parable of the sheep and goats. Have a look at the readings before Sunday and think about what God is saying to you through them.
Next Sunday (29th November) is Advent Sunday. If we were worshipping together in our building, we would light the first candle in our Advent ring as we begin our preparations to celebrate Christmas. As this won’t be possible this year (although I am hopeful that we might be able to worship in our building for at least some of Advent) I suggest that we each make our own Advent ring using materials we have at home. You will need a candle for each of the Sundays in Advent and a white candle to be lit on Christmas Day and you can light your candles during our worship each Sunday during Advent.
Our plans for Advent and Christmas are going well. Included with this mailing is some information from Churches Together in Wokingham about our “Wokingham Christmas Windows” project. The idea is that during Advent people decorate a window in their home with the weekly theme. You can join in every week or just one week and leave the decorations up for as long as you wish. Hopefully, people will notice our decorated windows while out for their daily walk, be reminded of the Christmas story and receive the hope that Jesus brings. We are planning to decorate the windows in our church building too, especially the big windows overlooking Peach Place.
Our Concern and Outreach committee were planning to have an exhibition of Christmas Cribs and Nativity sets during Advent. I wonder if we could have a virtual exhibition instead. If you would like to take part, please take a photograph of your Nativity set and write a few words about it – how old it is, where it came from, any special memories it has for you. Then send it to Claire who will make the virtual exhibition for us.
David is baking Christmas cakes, Jane and Sandra have made Christmas face-masks, Liz and Mike have offered to take on Christmas card deliveries, Dilys is taking Christmas orders for Traidcraft, lots of people are making angels – there’s plenty going on in our Church community and much to be thankful for.
I hope that you have a good week,
With every blessing