Weekly Pastoral Letter - 19 November 2021

From Claire Knight Church & Community Outreach Team Leader

Dear Friends,

Last Saturday at ‘A Fresh Start’ we welcomed members of our church family from different generations and as a special treat, not only did we enjoy our muffin of the month but we also had bacon rolls!  Aside from our amazing feast, we focused and reflected on the story of Noah and God’s promise to us.

Noah faithfully followed God’s instruction – a huge undertaking, with a faithful and willing heart but I can only imagine how he must have been feeling when God spoke to him.

I have said before in this letter how even when we feel overwhelmed with what we are called to do, God guides and supports us to cope and gives us just enough.  Sometimes it is easy to feel as though we are being put on and unable to manage.  This can cloud how we feel about tasks, and effect how we approach them and often how we make others feel.

I am the worst at this but have noticed that if I approach things with an open, willing and faithful heart like Noah,  I feel more positive and better equipped and so do others around me.

Since last year, we have seen our volunteers step up and support our reopening of the café, Alzheimer’s groups and other outreach activities with a willing and faithful heart and I am grateful for this.

I wonder how Noah would have reacted to some of the things we are called to do today?

A ‘Fresh Start’ meets every second Saturday from 9am – 10.30am in the Café.  There is something for everyone!  Do join us and bring some friends!

Claire Knight

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 12 November 2021

From Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

November is certainly the time for Remembering.  The month begins with days for All Saints and All Souls when we remember the lives of all the faithful who have gone before us.   We held our own Remembering Service at the end of October when a number of us gathered to remember individuals known to us and light candles in their memory.  Those who were able to be there appreciated the opportunity very much and a recording of the service is on our website if you would like to listen.

Last weekend was Bonfire Night when we “Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.”  I wonder if you were startled or exhilarated by the sounds and sights of fireworks?

We took a remembering theme for Creative Spirit using Psalm 77 as the basis for our reflections and creative work recalling that we are comforted through the bad times by remembering God’s help in the past.  In Breakfast Church this Saturday (13th Nov) will be thinking about the story of Noah and how the rainbow acts as a reminder of God’s covenant with his people.

And now we’re at Remembrance weekend.  This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday and there will be many Acts of Remembrance taking place around the country as we remember the sacrifices of war.  Christine Morgan is leading our service using the Bible passages Mark 13.1-8 and Hebrews 10.11-14, 19-25.  She will take the theme of 'Standing Firm' despite all that is happening in the world, relating especially to COP26.

Much of this remembering is somewhat sombre so it’s good to remind ourselves of the hope and confidence that our faith in God can give us, not least in our understanding of a life that goes beyond death into an eternal future with God.  You might like to reflect on the words of the hymn by Isaac Watts often used at remembrance services (it’s no. 132 in Singing the Faith):

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.

With every blessing
Catherine

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 5 November 2021

Reflection from Rosi MorganBarry

'Charity begins at home'.  Yes, of course – with family, friends, neighbours.

Think of your neighbours, those living next door, over the road, down the street.  What might they need?  In material terms, maybe not a lot.  This is Wokingham after all.  But then, maybe they do need something, help of some kind.  How might you know?  What might you do?  Perhaps they just need a friendly smile, a word, a bit of conversation over the fence, in the street.  Who knows where that might lead?

Jesus said: 'Love your neighbour' and added a story of an opportunity to help a complete stranger seized.  So we need to think of 'neighbours' in the wider sense: across the town, the country, the world.  Here the opportunities are vast and wide-ranging and our involvement dependent on our circumstances and what means we have at our disposal.  Only we – as individuals – know that.  But we can consider our responses to charity appeals – then consider what we can do, and how and where we can make those responses. 

Materially our efforts may not seem to go far, but accompanied by prayer, they can span the world.

Rosi MorganBarry

 
Letter from Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

Rosi is writing our reflection this week, so there are just a few pieces of information from me.

Breakfast Church this month meets on Saturday 13th November 9-10:30am.  We will be serving bacon rolls as well as the usual fruit, cereals and “Muffin of the Month.”  After breakfast we’ll be continuing our journey through the Old Testament by looking at the story of Noah.  This will form the basis for our craft activities, games and discussion.  Why not give it a try?  You’d be most welcome and I’m sure that you would enjoy the friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

This Sunday falls in the middle of the COP26 Climate Change Conference.  We shall be taking a Creation and Climate Change theme for our morning worship and reflecting on the challenge in A Methodist Way of Life that “as far as we are able, with God’s help we will care for creation and all God’s gifts”.  Our Bible readings are the account of creation in Genesis chapter 1 and Romans 8: 18-22, you might like to read and reflect on these readings before Sunday.  As COP26 proceeds, we can continue to pray for them perhaps using this prayer from Tear Fund:

To our God
who made and can move mountains,
who created people and can touch their hearts and minds,
who declared that the world was very good and can make it to be so again,
who has the world in his hands,
be praise and glory.

We lift before you the COP climate talks and the future of the planet.
We are sorry for the damage that has been done,
but we come before you knowing that you are a God of mercy and miracles.
We pray for the world leaders gathering in Glasgow,
that they would do what is right and fair.
May the common desire to protect the world enable good conversations, positive actions and bring about unity.

We pray for those joining from countries on the frontline of climate change
who are experiencing the worst impacts, having contributed the least.
We pray that their voices would carry weight and power,
and that you, God, would protect their place at the negotiating table.

Lord, would you help us in the UK to host with humility, compassion, and generosity.

You are a God for whom nothing is impossible or too late.
In the face of this climate crisis, we hold on to the hope found in you.
Hear the cries of your people, O God.

Amen.

I hope that you have a good week,

With every blessing
Catherine

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 29 October 2021

From Kim Tame, Church Steward

From ancient times, the seven-day week gave life its familiar rhythms of work and rest.  Add to that the concept of years and seasons; then the festivals of our Christian year.  Spring to Winter, Christmas to Easter, punctuate our calendars and we have a good sense of what we are supposed to be doing and when.  Or do we?

Modern life seems to push and squeeze the year into other shapes, and sabotages traditional patterns.

Sometimes I've found my sense of time and occasion challenged; working shifts in a care home destroyed my sense of the shape of a week, as there was rarely a week when I worked five days in a row, or had two days off together.  Working in marketing, and having to choose the company Christmas cards in June distorted my sense of the year.  In September this year, I noticed that supermarkets were selling both mince pies and hot cross buns.  Then, last week, when I took my grandchildren out to a garden centre, they were delighted in turn with the Halloween and the Christmas displays, which were just a few feet away from each other.  Many musicians and bands will right now be brushing up their Christmas repertoire and planning their Christmas concerts - as is the Uxbridge Accordion Band, to which I belong. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 contains a beautiful poem;

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace."

I'd like to add the line:

"a time for clarity and a time for confusion."

Our preacher this Sunday is David Morgan.  He will be looking at Jesus' answer to the question "Which is the most important commandment?"  -  which basically is "love of God and neighbour is more important than any form of ritual obedience, or religious adherence."

Kim Tame