I have spent time standing in the queue at the Royal Mail Collection Office in Basingstoke on several occasions recently. The last occasion was to collect a piece of mail which was not delivered because there had been insufficient stamps attached by the sender. While standing there and trying not to get annoyed by the wait (patience not being one of my virtues), I was musing about the different between the process that I was engaged in and the ‘process’ that we share in together when we welcome children and adults into the church through the sacrament of baptism.
To retrieve the item from the Royal Mail, I had to remember to take the card that the postman had kindly left, detailing that the letter would be waiting for me elsewhere and that, if I wanted it, I would need to produce some ID to prove that I was the intended recipient and £1.45 to pay the outstanding postage (45p) plus a handling fee of £1.00. The only slight difficulty was that the card simply said ‘Borgars’ with no indication as to which one of us that meant!
When we celebrate a baptism, as has happened recently at a few our Circuit churches, the person being baptised comes to church with nothing other than supportive family and friends and a congregation willing to pass on the gift of God’s grace that we receive through baptism. They didn’t need to prove who they were, they didn’t have to pay to receive what was offered and, in the case of the young children, they won’t remember anything about it… This is the good news of salvation that we are invited to share as the disciples of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to queue to become part of the family of God, you don’t have to prove who you are (God already knows that) and you don’t have to pay anything, although joining may be costly and will place demands on you.
In the next few weeks, the annual tickets of membership will be being delivered to church members. When you receive your card, can I invite you to look it and remind yourself what it represents… It is not a membership card for a club that requires an annual subscription; it is not a membership card for a closed group with a limit on numbers and I hope that it is not for a limited period only. It does however remind us that, in response to God’s grace, we have some commitments. If you are not yet a member, you may wish to think about becoming one and discuss it with your local minister:
Worship within the local church, including regular sharing in Holy Communion, and through personal prayer
Learning and Caring, through Bible study and meeting for fellowship, so that I may grow in faith and support others in their discipleship
Service, by being a good neighbour in the community, challenging injustice and using my resources to support the Church in its mission in the world
Evangelism, through working out my faith in daily life and sharing Christ with others.
May we rejoice in the gift of God’s grace and respond as he calls us to.
I am sure it won’t have escaped your notice that the phrase Local Arrangement seems to appear more regularly in notices or on the plan where it is shown as LA. This is a consequence of there being fewer ministers in the Circuit and fewer active Local Preachers to lead worship and to preach.
This change provides an important opportunity for everyone to be involved in shaping and leading worship on a Sunday. It is important that an act of worship is not something that someone else comes and does or provides for you. It never has been. Sunday worship is something everyone who is present shares in, beforehand by coming ready to worship, during by taking part and afterwards, by responding to and living out what has been shared. This last step is particularly significant because most of our time we are not together in a building, so we are called to worship through the whole of our lives.
At Thatcham Methodist Church we are also blessed by worship leaders who have been called, trained and commissioned to lead worship and to work with others in leading worship. These people are a special gift because they are local, part of the life of the local congregation. This gives them a unique ability to lead local worship from within and out of your particular setting. They offer themselves to this ministry. Leading worship is a very personal and a demanding thing. I am sure you appreciate that no one arrives at 10.30am in front of the congregation without a lot of work happening beforehand. I know your worship leaders are particularly faithful and thoughtful in their preparation.
Worship leaders are not trained to preach a sermon as local preachers are so this enables them to offer ways to explore the Bible and worship God differently and more creatively. As I have said worship is shared so it requires everyone to be willing to share in it as much as they can. That is especially true when the way that worship is happening may not be quite what ‘I prefer.’ We can liken this to family life in which we often have to make adjustments to accommodate the preferences of others in the family whether it is in choice of food, entertainment or what to do on holiday. The same is true of the family of the church gathered for worship. This can be challenging but it is healthy and enriching as we find we can appreciate other people’s choices as well as our own.
All your worship leaders are keen to grow and develop their worship leading and to benefit from constructive comments so that they can enable the whole congregation to worship God together. All they and I would ask is that those comments be shared gently and considerately. Think about how and when to share your feedback. Worship Leaders are real people with real feelings just like us all. If you have significant concerns or ideas for change come and talk to me first or consider joining the worship consultation group which meets 4 times a year to plan Sunday worship.
Thank you for reading this and for all you do to support one another. Let us all worship together with joy and delight with our whole selves and in the whole of our lives.
Psalmist in our Midst
Karen writes: "I asked Elaine to write a psalm for our Alternative Worship on 5 August. The psalm is beautiful. Several people suggested it is printed here for us to be able to use in our private worship”
“O Lord, your beauty is all around us –
I immediately think of the colourful flowers and mighty trees,
the birds in the garden, singing;
the blue, blue sky of a summer’s day,
the rich colours of autumn leaves,
the silent whiteness of falling snow in winter
and the fresh green of bursting buds in spring.
I marvel at stunning sunsets – you have created such a colourful world.
But there is also beauty in a sleeping baby,
the laughter of children playing,
the secret looks between lovers,
the smile of a friend – or stranger –
the lined face of an older person.
I thank you that I am able to see, feel and hear all these things you have made.
O Lord, your beautiful world is awesome!"
Thank you for helping us get the warehouse ready for the harvest season when we usually receive many donations and gifts from different source – businesses, schools, pre-schools as well as from churches, supermarkets and individuals. Lists for donations are in the foyer – please help yourself to one if you wish to add an item to your shopping list for the foodbank. The list includes tinned vegetables (peas, carrots, sweetcorn), as well as tins of tomatoes, rice pudding, meats, fruit, custard (or in packets) , instant coffee, mug shots, pot noodles, long life fruit juice, shaving gel, shampoo, deodorant, washing up liquid. To enhance the food we provide the store cupboard boxes which do make a difference to the meals they can make for themselves. Donations of stock cubes, mixed herbs, sunflower oil (500g), tubes of tomato puree and garlic 500g of SR flour, and packets of dried onions can also be made.
Thank you in advance for your generosity in supporting those in food crisis, not just at specific times but all though the year. The Westberks Foodbanks are open somewhere in West Berkshire Monday to Friday for the distribution of food and that donations can be made any time not just at Harvest. Our clients are so grateful for your generous donations and the signposting we offer to help them out of their crisis. So a Big Thank You.
The focus of our Harvest Celebration on 8th October this year is not the Foodbank but ‘Chirp for Joy’ with All We Can which looks beyond our shores.
At our only meeting in September we welcomed Elizabeth who is a retired chaplain having worked part time in Wormwood Scrubs. It was very interesting and informative. We heard not just some facts and figures but how inmate spent their days, about the overcrowding, the pressures on both inmates and staff and the role of the chaplain in a prison.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 3rd October at 10.00 when we will consider other forms of imprisonment – poverty, sickness, mental health issues, redundancy and unemployment and the problems and situations which people encounter.
We meet weekly on Tuesday mornings at 10.00 from now until 12th December. The plan is as follows:-
- From 10th to the 24th October we shall be looking at the book of Jonah in 3 sessions which include Jonah’s disobedience and prayer; Jonah’s obedience; and Jonah’s anger.
- From 31st October to 14th November we will look Joel in 3 sessions. They will include the locust invasion, return to the Lord and the day of the Lord.
- 21st November. We shall start discussion of Advent book which will continue on Tuesdays 28th November, 5th and 12th December. We shall be considering which book to follow before the end of October.
There will be no meeting on 19th, 26th December and 2nd January.
Everyone is very welcome to join us. If you require transport at any time, I am sure we shall be able to arrange it. We are always pleased to have others join in our fellowship
Following our morning Service on Sunday 8th October, there will be a Bring and Share Harvest Lunch – a chance for the whole Church to get together and share fellowship and food.
Christian Aid AGM
Thursday 12th October, 7.30pm at Thatcham Baptist Church.
Cake and coffee and a video on the work of Christian Aid – please come and support if you can.
Christian Aid date for your diary:
Saturday 16th December – from 10 – 12am Carol singing in the Kingsland Centre, near Waitrose.
Christian Aid are planning a Beetle Drive – possibly this Autumn or in the Spring – dates to be confirmed when venue confirmed so keep eyes open for notices.
The Pie and Mash Quiz Lunch
Pastoral Group 1 invite you to join them for their annual fundraiser for Church funds.
We look forward to seeing you at 12:30 on Saturday 21st October.
Tickets cost £7 and are available from Jane and Elaine.
Beenham Wind Orchestra - Concert 11th November 2017
All aboard for Beenham Wind Orchestra’s Sea Pictures, a concert of music inspired by all things maritime. Experience the grace and beauty of 'Tall Ships', revel in Henry Wood’s 'Fantasia on British Sea Songs' and swash your best buckle with the 'Crimson Pirate' and a selection from 'Pirates of the Caribbean'.
To complement the music, there will also be a small exhibition of seascapes by local artists.
Ship Departs : St Mary's Church, Thatcham
On : Saturday 11th November 2017
At : 7.30pm.
Tickets : £10 in advance, £12 on the door, U18s £2
Available from Band Members
Image is Tintagel Cove, copyright Amanda Bates 2017.Used with permission.
The real Advent Calendar is now available via Marilyn. Apart from 24 festive shapes in Fairtrade chocolate, it includes a 24 page Christmas activity book. A real Advent calendar for both children and adults. They are £3.99 each. Please put your name on the list in the foyer and I will get it to you as soon as I can and certainly before 30th November.
I am buying them from Shoemaker’s Christian Bookshop in Newbury. The manufacturers are advertising their calendars and encouraging us to buy them on-line. This has a knock on effect for Christian bookshops everywhere – and they do need our support. Shoemakers offers a range of books, CD’s, cards, and gifts as well as the opportunity to sit down and have a hot drink while gathering shopping lists and thoughts together.
The next edition will be available earlier than normal on October 22nd due to us being away in the following week .
Please therefore pass any items to Pete or Sandra by October 16th or email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Items for the weekly news may be given to Howard, or sent by email to:
Handel99@hotmail.com Please send by Thursday each week.