It was great to see so many people at Tuesday Coffee this week in Church.
There was a hubbub of conversation amongst familiar friends old and new.
One such conversation led me to be asked if I had come across 'A Comedian's Prayer Book' by Frank Skinner. As it happens, I had, having been given it on Father's Day as a present.
Being written by the comedian I did not know what to expect or what reaction it would evoke, something that also played upon the mind of the author.
In his introduction Frank writes:
Of course, believers are also notoriously po-faced, as indeed are atheists, so I may have come up with a formula that alienates and annoys just about everyone. Anyway, I've written a prayer book. At least no one can accuse me of being too commercial.
What I didn't expect was a very amusing and thought-provoking series of reflections by a practicing Catholic. What's more the honest soul-searching conversation Frank has with God gave me much food for thought.
In the opening chapter Frank writes:
Why pray at all?
I once read an interview with Johnny Cash, talking about his friend, Bob Dylan. Cash said he and Dylan were so close they would sometimes fish side by side, for four or five hours without speaking.
I'd like to think you and I (God) are at least as close as Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. I can't tell you anything about me you don't already know. In fact, I'm the one who needs the feedback. You should be doing the talking...
And then he concludes the chapter by saying with great honesty and openness:
I never hear your voice – no mighty wind – or, if I do, I don't recognise it, but I have sensed you in the silence. And I rest there for just a short time. I sort of know where the glory is, but it's a place I feel too naked to stay long.
What a tremendous thought!
Will we take time to be still in the presence of God?
Will we simply enjoy being in his presence, perhaps without saying a word?
Have we ever sensed the glory and voice of God in the silence?
It may remind you of the story of Elijah where the despondent prophet stands at the mouth of the cave:
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart... but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake... but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
After the fire came a gentle whisper.
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' (1 Kings 19.11-13)
Or perhaps the hymn:
Breath through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and thy balm.
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire.
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still small voice of calm. (STF 495)
Frank Skinner's book is definitely worth a read!
Last week Angela invited neighbours and a limited number of friends to a fundraising event in the Manse Garden.
It was to raise money for 'Breast Cancer Now'
Tea, cakes and sandwiches were enjoyed by everyone and £221 was raised for a cause that has no doubt touched many hearts and lives.
AMC Stay & Play
A new parent and toddler group begins in the church from Wednesday 8th Sept. 10 to 11.30am led by Liz and Angela.
Please do advertise 'Stay & Play' and share the news – we would love to meet lots of new friends!
Some Dates for September
Thursday 2nd Sept. at 10.30am Willow Court Devotional Service led by Rev Gordon Randall.
Wednesdays from 10am – 'AMC Stay & Play' – A new Parent & Toddler Group led by Angela & Liz.
Sunday Sept. 12th Circuit Service at 4pm at Fleet Methodist Church. A welcome service for Rev Nick Oborski as he becomes our superintendent minister.
Wednesday 15th Sept at 7.30 Circuit Meeting at the Spire, Farnham.
Sunday 19th Sept at 4pm Alton Church AGM followed by bring & share refreshments – all welcome.
Sunday 26th Sept at 10am Harvest Festival
We continue to welcome many friends back to Sunday worship. Refreshments afterwards.
This Sunday's service is led by Pam Jones at 10am.
Hants Surrey Border Circuit services can continue to be found at www.altonmethodist.org.uk.
Congratulations to David & Christine Allan on their Golden Wedding Anniversary (Sept 3rd)