Weekly Pastoral Letter - 9 October 2020

From Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

Revd Sam Funnell is leading both our live and recorded services this week.  As I mentioned last week, Sam is our Assistant Chair of District who is based in Woking.  In our worship she is using two of the lectionary passages set for this week: Matthew 22:1-14 & Philippians 4:1-9.  The Gospel reading is the parable of the wedding banquet, when people who are invited to the wedding banquet turn down the invitation and waifs and strays were invited instead.  Matthew also includes the puzzling reference to the guest being thrown out because he is not wearing the right clothes. The passage from Philippians is about rejoicing always. Both passages are rich in detail, so do read and reflect on them before Sunday.

Café Mosaic continues to go well and has been very busy this week. It’s really helpful if customers can remember our safely guidelines to keep 2m distance from each other and limit the number of people they interact with when in the café.  This will help to keep everyone safe.

The next few months are inevitably going to be tough for each of us.  There is a fine balance to be found between keeping informed about the spread of Covid 19 without becoming overwhelmed.  On a personal level, we need to do all we can to keep ourselves safe from the virus whilst preserving our mental well-being.  We need to recognise the things which are within our control and learn not to worry about those things outside our control.  The advice seems to be very simple – take one day at a time, learn to enjoy the present moment, be kind to yourself by eating healthily, taking exercise each day, spending some time outdoors, and finding interesting things to do – listening to music or reading for example. And do find time to pray and reflect on God’s word, for if you are feeling anxious or afraid this will help you to find some calm.

It’s also important to keep up social contacts.  As the weather turns colder it will be more difficult to meet up with others outside.  Please keep in touch with each other by phone, e-mail or letter if meeting up in person is difficult. 

It’s been lovely to see some garden photos and hear family news over the past few weeks, so send anything for inclusion to the church office.

I hope that you have a good week,

With every blessing,
Catherine

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 2 October 2020

Reflection from Angela Burrell

Dear Friends,

Covid 19, shall we ever forget the year 2020?  This nasty virus has dominated the news and our way of life for so long.  It has been a worldwide catastrophe, or has it?

The main sadness of this virus has been the suffering of those on an invasive respirator and the untimely death of others, not to mention those who have been anxious or lonely.  Loss of jobs and failing business has, and still is, a worry.  There are, however many positives to this pandemic.

We have seen kindness and helpfulness, the rediscovery of the simplicity of life.  We have had precious time to reflect, both on our lives and God’s Word and find the time for prayer in what were busy lives.  We have perhaps read books that have lain dusty with the intention to ‘read sometime’.

Thanks to much good weather some of us, fortunate to have gardens, have spent much time in them and others have enjoyed cooking and maybe house maintenance.

What about the beauty of birdsong in our gardens in the mornings when the traffic has been much less noisy?  It has been a slower way of life and this may continue for some time.  Of course we miss our meeting together, but with modern technology we can meet and pray together virtually.  Our café has cautiously opened again with due care.

* * *

A little off the subject, we managed a trip away in August in our caravan to meet up with friends, and because of the good weather it was easy to distance outside.  They are friends from the church we go to in Somerset, which is currently closed.  As with other churches, there is a sermon online each Sunday, and the week following on the Tuesday, they have a follow-up Bible School to which we went with our friends.

Numbers were limited to 30 and bookings had to be made.  Face coverings were mandatory and there was hand sanitizer at the door.  This recently extended church had chairs randomly placed around a very large hall, mostly in twos, so there was plenty of room.

The subject that evening was, ‘Sunday Observance’, which I found most interesting as we shared views and were pointed to the Scriptures:

Observance of The Sabbath was one of many Jewish laws in the O.T.  The Sabbath for us as Christians should be a daily walk with God in all that we do, whether at work or anything else we are involved with.

‘The Lord’s Day’ is a day of rest and celebration as Christians together, usually the first day of the week, but could be any agreed day.

What do we think of as ‘rest’?  It was suggested that after the celebration time together as Christians, we might meet up with family, be involved in hospitality and much more, or just enjoy a quiet day after 6 days of work.

It was interesting to note that Jesus healed the sick and was happy for the disciples to eat the corn they had picked on The Sabbath!

* * *

This virus has given us a much-needed rest.  God knows that we need to.  He did after His work of creation.  Let’s be thankful for it. and recognise that whatever we have to face,  He allows, for our good in His wisdom.  He has the larger picture.  Let’s trust Him!

With kindest regards to you all,
Angela

Sunday Services, from Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

Our service this Sunday will be led by me assisted by Ian Cole.  The live service in the church building will include Holy Communion so do let me know if you would like extended communion brought to your home.   The Bible readings we’re using are Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matthew 21: 33-46, both are about vineyards.  The Gospel passage follows on from last week’s reading and includes the parable of the tenants.  You might like to read these two passages before Sunday.

Next week we have our new Assistant Chair of District, Revd Sam Funnell leading our worship.  Sam has been a minister in our District for several years and has recently moved to Woking in order to take up her new role.  If you wish to join the congregation in the building, please remember to book your space by 12 noon on Friday. Sam will be leading our recorded service too.  

Also next Sunday (11th Oct) is Craft@4.  We had a lovely time when we met in the park last month.  It was a beautiful warm afternoon and we enjoyed listening to our Bible story and sharing our reflections and questions about it. This time we are planning to hold Craft@4 in our café area, with each household seated at a separate table.  Please tell Claire if you would like to attend so that she can arrange for enough craft materials to be ready and remember to bring your own pencil case and packed tea.

I hope that you have a good week,

With every blessing,
Catherine

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 25 September 2020

From Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

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,
Catherine

Weekly Pastoral Letter - 18 September 2020

From Rosi MorganBarry

Dear Friends,

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.

Rosi MB

Harvest Festival

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”.