Newsletter Dec 6th 2020

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Dear Friends,

One of the carols we often sing during this second Sunday of Advent has the words:

Long ago, prophets knew
Christ would come, born a Jew,
Come to make all things new;
Bear his people's burden,
Freely love and pardon.
Ring bells, ring, ring, ring,
Sing choirs, sing, sing, sing!
When he comes,
When he comes,
Who will make him welcome?

This opening verse reminds us that long before Jesus was born, men of old looked forward in hope to a time when God's Messiah would come.

The origins of a coming Saviour can be traced all the way back to the book of Genesis hence the traditional nine lessons and carols includes readings from Genesis 3 & 22.

Perhaps more familiar Christmas readings are found in the words of the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 7:14
"Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
This verse was written around 700 years before Jesus was born. Scholars believe that these verses point towards the manner of his birth and who he is believed to be — Immanuel, God with us.

When visited by the Magi from the East we remember that King Herod's advisors recognised this prophecy from Micah, written around 800 years before his birth.

Micah 5:2
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

Such remarkable words remind us that the coming of Christ was all part of God's plan to bring hope to the world.
They show that behind the scenes God is in control and working his purpose out in his own good time (and not ours!)
It is remarkable to think of the way the Old Testament and the New Testament form one big God story — even though written by many different authors, separated by time.
The Advent prophecies reminds us that God is faithful to his word and keeps his promises.

The chorus of the carol concludes with a question 'Who will make him welcome?'
Despite such prophecies many people did not make him welcome, he was often despised and rejected — yet to those who did, he became and becomes the source of life!

Messy Church is Back! (on Zoom!) Next Sunday 13th Dec. at 3pm

A couple of weeks ago we had a 'trial run' Messy Church/Lighthouse event held on Zoom.

It was held as an experiment to see what was possible! Liz and I met on line with Rachel, Liam, Emma, Noah and Anna on a Sunday afternoon. It was great to see them all around the kitchen table!

We began with a Zoom scavenger hunt — and invited them to run around the house, find various random items and be first back to show it on screen — blue socks, Arsenal scarves and all sorts of other items appeared in quick time!
A video clip from Toy Story introduced the theme of friends and following discussion led into a cartoon story of the four friends who helped the paralysed man see Jesus and be healed.

Craft materials had been dropped around to Rachel & Liam's house and with a possible new vocation as a Blue Peter presenter on the horizon a short video showed how to make a lollipop stretcher with a pipe cleaner man. We wrote on the stretcher those we might pray for.

Knowing that Lego is popular in the Sheridan household we held a group challenge to build a very quick lego house with flat roof and outside stairs. It was amazing what they came up with — far better than mine!

We finished off with another Blue Peter style craft making 4 people from folded paper — and all whilst enjoying 'trailing' the possibility of doing on-line Messy Church.

Worship Services

The On-Line service this week is led by Rev Philip Simpkins and thanks to Oliver and Thomas 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

Following discussion with Church Council members and stewards at our various churches the following decisions were made.
Hale — no live services at present, Christmas week services under review.
Rowledge — no live services at present, Christmas week services under review.
Alton — no live services at present, Zoom and recorded services are being prepared for Christmas week. (A possible review re Dec 20th if the Government puts us back into Tier 1)
The Spire — Farnham — Live services resume.

We trust that you understand that our priority is to keep everyone safe, protecting your Christmas bubbles where possible.

Action For Children — Carols & Fundraiser
'Starry Night'
Tuesday 8th December 6.30-7.30pm
Hosted by Channel 4 News' Jon Snow a virtual concert featuring live musical performances, carols, and special guests. £10 per household
You copy the URL and click on the website: www.starry-night.co.uk
When you have paid, you will then receive an email on the day of the concert — enjoy the event!

Local Food Support for Families

Alton Mutual Aid offers support for anyone having to isolate due to Covid-19. There is a team of local volunteers available to offer free support with shopping, food vouchers, collecting/delivering prescriptions, delivering post or simply a friendly voice to talk to. Call Freephone: 0800 066 3697 (Mon, Wed, Fri 10am-12pm) Email: altonmutualaid@protonmail.com
Also visit: www.alton.gov.uk for other means of support at this time.

A Blessing
God of hope, who brought love into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon,
be the centre, the focus of our lives
always, and particularly this Advent time.

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