Welcome to Wokingham Methodist Church
Weekly Pastoral Letter - 25 September 2020
From Revd Catherine Bowstead
I hope that you have had a good week, that you were able to enjoy the sunshine with perhaps the warmest weather that we will have for a while. There’s a definite feel of change in the air as we move into autumn. Autumn is a time of bounty, fruitfulness, and maturity as we enjoy the harvest and then watch the change of the season as nature begins to settle down for the cold and dark months ahead.
Government announcements have led to more restrictions for us this week and for some people this has caused a rise in anxiety. I think that we need to remember that this difficult time will not last for ever and that the restrictions are in place to protect the most vulnerable members of our families and communities. I am sure that we can work together as a community to get through this difficult time. But the next few months are undoubtedly going to be challenging for all of us and so I think it’s worth thinking about how we are going to get through this time. It’s helpful to have a structure to each day, to spend some time in the open air and to remember to connect with others – in person, if at all possible, even if that’s a brief conversation physically distanced on the doorstep. And try not to think too far ahead, we don’t know what will happen by Christmas so it’s not helpful to start worrying about it now! Let’s try to take a few days or weeks at a time and do ask for help if you need it.
Perhaps you could use the next few months to read some books that you’ve never got round to reading (or listening to them as audio books), you could catch up with some films or documentaries on TV, there are some really good podcasts too. The new series of “All Creatures Great and Small” is lovely escapist television, I recommend it! Many people have enjoyed gardening this year, maybe you could sort out some photos of your garden (send some to Will for inclusion in our newsletter) and start planning for next year, by planting some bulbs. Remember to be kind to yourself and to those around you.
Perhaps, most significantly you could spend some time nurturing your spiritual life by studying the Bible, reading some Christian books, and finding time to pray. The Methodist Church website www.methodist.org.uk has a daily “Word in time Bible study” and a prayer for each day which you might find helpful. There is also a weekly online prayer meeting at 12:45 each Tuesday lunchtime, you can find details of that on the website too.
Our service this week is led by Kim Tame. The readings are Matthew 21: 23-32, and Philippians 2: 1 – 13 which have the theme of authority. The Pharisees ask Jesus by what authority he acts, and, in the epistle, Paul writes that Jesus did not claim his rights as God but took the form of a servant. You might find it helpful to read these Bible passages before Sunday and reflect on the concepts of authority that you find there. If you would like to join the congregation in the church building, please book by noon on Friday and the service will be on the website by Sunday morning.
As we go through the next few months, we may need to keep reminding ourselves that God is faithful, his promise to us is that he will not abandon us and that he is our constant companion and guide through difficult times. And because he is with us, he tells us that we do not need to be afraid.
With every blessing,
Weekly Pastoral Letter - 18 September 2020
From Rosi MorganBarry
Reflection for Harvest
Browsing the fruit section in the supermarket made me think of the basket of fruit occurs in the book of Amos (8:1) where he has a vision and God asks him 'What do you see?' Amos answers: 'A basket of ripe fruit' and God replies: 'The end has come for my people'. This doesn't make much sense in English, but the Hebrew words for 'fruit' and 'end' sound uncannily alike. Alec Motyer ('The Message of Amos') makes this comment:
'In the fall of the year the Feast of Booths was kept at which token offerings … were brought in thankfulness … The sense of prosperity would have filled the minds of the worshippers as they brought their harvest hampers to the shrines of Israel'.
Into this situation came a bitter word from the Lord: 'Ripe? Ripe indeed for judgement!'
Chapter 8, verses 4 – 6 go on to outline where the people of Israel have fallen short of God's laws.
The importance of dodgy business dealings seem to be uppermost in their minds.
If what we learn in church on Sundays ('keep the law', 'be generous and kind-hearted', don't be miserly', 'love your neighbour as yourself', 'do good even to your enemies') doesn't carry over into the business world of Monday to Friday then, according to Amos, we will be ripe for judgement indeed!
On a more light-hearted note: in Paul's letter to the Galatians we read of the 'fruits of the spirit' (Galatians 5:22 – 23) and somewhere on my travels I found the following in a little country church – sadly I don't know where it was, but I think the children of the church wrote it. It seems to fit Harvest Sunday:
Love is a strawberry, red and heart-shaped.
Joy is an orange because each segment is a smiley mouth.
Peace is a pineapple, because it can be cut into 'peaces'.
Patience is a kiwi – you need lots of patience to get all the pips out of your teeth!
Kindness is a grape – take a bunch of them to people in hospital.
Goodness is a blueberry – it's a super good food.
Faithfulness is a banana, because they grow bunched together.
Gentleness is a peach, it has a soft inside.
Self-control is an apple – Eve didn't have any self-control!
Enjoy the fruits of the harvest, remembering to give thanks for all that harvest brings.
This Sunday we celebrate our Harvest Festival. Obviously, we can’t celebrate this year in the way that we are used too, by decorating our worship space and bringing our harvest gifts to share. Instead you could donate to our local food bank at one of the collection points in local supermarkets or by donating to our Harvest project. This year we have decided to support the work of “All We Can”, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund. Their project this year is called “Change begins with a Bicycle” and we shall be learning more about it in both our on-line and live worship on Sunday.
You can make a donation via their website, or by donating through our church bank account, clearly marking that the donation is for “All We Can”.