Weekly Pastoral Letter - 29 July 2022

From Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

Do you remember, way back in March, when I gave out some sunflower seeds in a Sunday service?  I wonder if you were able to plant them and how they’re getting on.  We planted the seeds as a sign of hope. Of course, not every seed that is planted will germinate and grow and some plants will prosper better than others (and I heard of one person who put their seed outside for the birds to eat!)  It seems to me that sunflowers are very joyful and confident flowers, and they can give us a sense of joy and confidence too.  As we go about our daily lives, the small acts of kindness and words of encouragement that we offer to other people can be like seeds of hope and joy that we’re planting which can grow and produce more hope and joy.

The readings in our service this Sunday remind us of the dangers of greed and accumulating more and more possessions.  They assure us that we find meaning in life when we store up treasure in heaven.  The readings are Ecclesiastes 1: 2, 12-14 & 2:18-23 and Luke 12: 13-21; you might like to read and reflect on them before Sunday.  The reading from Ecclesiastes suggests that all life is meaningless, in fact much of the book of Ecclesiastes seems to point to a situation without hope.  However, right at the end of the book (chapter 12: 9-14), there is a voice of hope.  In verses 13-14 we read:

"The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone.  For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil."

SunflowerLife without God is meaningless, but life lived with God has purpose and hope.  There is much in our world at present that can dismay and worry us – the cost-of-living increases, climate change and the ongoing war in Ukraine, to name but a few.  Always remember that as Christian people we have our ultimate hope and confidence in God.  I hope that the sunflowers that we have grown might remind us of the hope and confidence that we have in God.  I hope that they will cheer our spirits and bring us joy too.

With every blessing

Catherine

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 22 July 2022

From Claire Knight, Church & Community Outreach Team Leader

Yesterday I had my Management Support Group meeting where we talk about things that I have done as part of my work and plans going forward.

You may also have seen that Catherine and I were interviewed recently and an article was published in The Wokingham Paper.

It can a very positive exercise to reflect on all that we do as a church when it is so easy to be caught up in the busyness of day to day life.

After a slow start of our activities a year ago following the lockdowns of the pandemic, the activities we run have gone from strength to strength.  Café Mosaic is running well and I’m pleased to say that with the commitment of Tina, Nancy and our amazing volunteers, we are not only serving more and more lunches, we are hosting groups such as the WI, Parkinson’s, Macular Society, The Link and Grief and a Cuppa nearly every day.  We are also noticing that we are now welcoming more and more passers-by from Peach Place.

Little Fishes, The Alzheimer’s Café and the Carers group are all getting increasingly busy and we are building strong relationships with those who attend, all of whom declare how valuable they find the groups.

Our Breakfast Church ‘Fresh Start is on a break now until September.  I find it sad that lots of our congregation don’t engage with it, perhaps it’s a tricky time or ‘Not for me’ all very valid reasons, but occasionally as followers of Christ, we are required to step out of our comfort zone in order to show God’s love.  We have worked hard to make sure that the format of Breakfast Church meets people’s needs wherever they are in their spiritual journey, it’s not just games and colouring!  We would all dearly love to see more families attend our Church and this is one way we can encourage our wider community to step over our threshold, but families will be reluctant to attend if they feel they are an add-on rather than a part of our church community.  This will be particularly important as we then welcome local Ukrainian families and their sponsors to support them as they settle in to Wokingham.

Perhaps we could pray and discern where we all fit into the outreach ministry of our Church, it may look quite different in 2022, it has evolved drastically in my 11 years of ministry here but it isn’t all about ‘Work‘ (remember Catherine’s Sermon last week about Mary and Martha?) but it is about journeying with our community and being present in God’s name and putting ourselves in the shoes of those in need.  It would not be difficult for us to be there, but would have a massive impact.

Claire Knight

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 15 July 2022

From Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

Mike and I have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Northumberland.  We visited lots of castles and Roman forts and enjoyed walking on some huge, beautiful beaches. We took a boat trip to the Farne Islands where we particularly enjoyed seeing the puffins, and we spent a day on Holy Island where we visited the remains of Lindisfarne Priory.  We packed a lot in to our time away, but we also found time to rest and relax and spent some time with some old friends in Whitley Bay who we had not seen for a long time.

All this reminds me that although it’s good to be busy and active, it is also good to rest and to have a break.  One of the keys to a healthy life is to have a good balance in our lives between activity and rest, and a balance between being and doing.  We’ll be exploring this is our worship on Sunday as we’ll be thinking about the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10: 38-42).  We’ll be seeing if we can find a good balance in our lives and if we can discern when it is right for us to be active and when we should find the time to pray and listen to Jesus.

The weather forecast for the weekend suggests that it is going to be very hot on Sunday.  We will keep good ventilation with the doors and windows open.  But you could wear loose, cool clothing and maybe bring some water with you to keep yourself hydrated.  Or you might decide that it is better for you to stay at home this week and listen to the recorded service on our website. 

With every blessing

Catherine

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 8 July 2022

A reflection from Rosi MorganBarry

A message found in a country church:

Good morning.

I am God.

Today I will be handling all of your problems.  Please remember that I do not need your help.

If the devil happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, DO NOT attempt to resolve it.  Kindly put in the SFJTD (Something For Jesus To Do) box.  It will be addressed in MY time, not yours.

Once the matter is placed in the box, do not hold on to it or attempt to remove it.  Holding on or removing will delay the resolution of your problem.

If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling, please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution.

Because I do not sleep or slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep.

Rest my child.

If you need to contact me, I am only a prayer away.

One of the problems of humankind is a sense of our own capabilities – a 'we can fix it' attitude which sometimes lets us down.  Partly because we cannot see all the possible outcomes of any situation.  Governments make decisions (which affect us all) in response to particular events which may well resolve one issue – but then gives rise to others which were unforeseen.  This also applies to our individual decisions, especially with reference to problems and difficulties.  As Christians we would do well to follow the words of the hymn:

'Have we trials and temptations, is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer'.  STF 531.

God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in time of trouble.  (Psalm 46:1)