Newsletter Dec 13th 2020

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Dear Friends,
We were never allowed to buy Christmas presents as a child growing up until the beginning of December — and quite right too!
I must admit that Black Friday and Cyber Monday with the thought of an on-line 'bargain' have tempered my views!

One man who was known for giving presents was St. Nicholas, whose Saints Day was celebrated within the wider church on Dec. 6th.
Nicholas was born in the 3rd Century in a village in Asia Minor (Turkey). His parents raised him to be a devout Christian, however they sadly died during an epidemic whilst he was still young.
The young man was left with a large inheritance, as his parents had been rich. Instead of keeping his wealth to himself he took to heart the words of Jesus to 'Sell what you own and give the money to the poor.'
Nicholas used much of his inheritance to help the needy, those who were sick and also the suffering.
He became a Bishop and was said to be respected for his generosity to all in need, his love for children and his concern for sailors.
Sadly, during a time of Roman persecution this kind and generous man suffered for his faith and was imprisoned. It was said at the time that the jails were so full of bishops and priests that there was no room for thieves and murderers!
Eventually he was released from prison and was able to attend the Council of Nicea in AD325 (Nicene Creed 'We believe in one God...'etc.).
He died on Dec. 6th AD343 and was buried in his Cathedral Church and is remembered for his compassionate nature, generosity, and the way he left gifts for those in need to treasure and enjoy.

As we approach Christmas we can be inspired by the likes of St Nicholas. He reminds us to reflect on the teaching of Christ and the generosity of God remembering that we too can bless others with small acts of kindness that ensure that people feel cared for and valued.

A Prayer from 'Faith in Foodbanks?'

You call us Lord to serve.
You call us to be alongside the community around us.
You call us not to abandon those who are in need.
You remind us that though we may gain much, in the end we will end with nothing.
That however much we profit without others we will be left living alone.
And yet it is in others that we see you.
In the hungry whom we offer food to and the thirsty to who we give a drink.
In the stranger we welcome, and in those we clothe.
In the sick we care for and the prisoner we visit. In each person we meet, we see you.
And may they through all we do, see you. Amen

The Bible Course
Ten of us meet each Thursday evening on Zoom to enjoy discussion and fellowship as we watch in two parts our second running of 'The Bible Course'. We are on week 6 of 8 and have been taken on a whistle-stop tour of the Old Testament complete with all its surprises, challenges and difficulties and this week see how it all fits together with the New Testament.

The Prayer Course

Early in the New Year I plan to run 'The Prayer Course' via Zoom which offers an 8 week course based around each line of the Lord's Prayer — maybe on a Thursday? It also contains a video talk and an opportunity for discussion and prayer.
We will look at:
Why Pray?
Adoration
Petition
Intercession
Unanswered Prayer
Contemplation
Listening
Spiritual Warfare

A companion book is called 'How to Pray' written by Pete Greig who runs the Emmaus Church in Guildford. I have read this book — it is accessible, down to earth and insightful — a great Christmas present to ask for!
You can find out more by going to the website:
https://prayercourse.org/about/
and also order the book on Amazon.
Please let me know if you would be interested and whether you would like a day course or an evening course. (we may be able to run both).

Messy Church on Zoom!

This Sunday at 3pm we will hold our first Messy Church via Zoom. Several families have asked for the Zoom link and craft bag which will be delivered to their home along with a few goodies to nibble along the way!

We will then meet up and have a game, listen to the video story and share in some crafts from home — the good news is there is no clearing up — for the Messy Church team at least! If you have children who would like to join in (alongside you) please email Philip for the Zoom invitation.

Worship Services
The On-Line service this week is led by Liz George. Thanks to Emma, Noah & Anna for lighting the Advent Candles.
The service is at www.altonmethodist.org.uk

Pause for Thought appears on a Wednesday.

Future Live Services Pre Christmas

Alton — no live services at present — Zoom and recorded services are being prepared for Christmas Eve 7pm and Christmas Day 10am.
Hale — no live services at present, Christmas week services under review.
Rowledge — no live services at present, Christmas week services under review.
The Spire — Farnham — Live services resume, this week led by Rev Philip Simpkins.

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