Alton Webteam: February 2021
This Sunday falls on February 14th, St Valentine's Day — just in case you need a reminder.
Maybe you will now rush out and buy a card, a box of chocolates or indeed a bunch of red roses as a surprise for someone you love or admire!
I was pleased with myself for presenting my wife with a bunch of red roses earlier this week — only £5 from Sainsbury's — I suspect they will be much more expensive over the weekend and after all, Angela does like a bargain! Mind you she did dare suggest that I may have purchased them as a visual aid for this week's newsletter and on-line service too — how could she?!
I do sometimes have to give the reminder that all the flowers in the garden are grown just for her and they take much more effort than simply buying some off the shelf!
Anyway... The story behind St Valentine goes way back to 270 AD when Emperor Claudius complained that married men made poor soldiers. He made a rule to the effect that marriages were banned for his younger citizens.
Bishop Valentine dared to disagree and declared that marriage was all part of God's plan and purpose for his people. Being a man of conviction, and in defiance of the emperor he continued marrying young people in secret.
His growing reputation for conducting such weddings came to the ears of the authorities who had him thrown in prison and condemned to death.
Whilst in prison legend says that he fell in love with the jailor's daughter. On the night before he was to be executed, he managed to pass her a note which read 'from your Valentine'.
In honour of such an act, an estimated one billion Valentine's cards are sent each year, making it the second largest card sending occasion behind Christmas.
The first official Valentines Day was announced by Pope Gelasius in 496 AD in memory of the priest and his desire to promote the importance of love, marriage and relationships.
Over the weekend, (if you don't blush easily) you might like to read 'The Song of Songs' as an expression of the joy of love and human relationships celebrated in the bible (you will find it shortly after the book of Psalms)
Wonderfully romantic words...
How beautiful you are my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
Descending from the hills of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
Coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin, not one of them is missing!
The importance of seeking to 'love one another' is emphasised by Jesus and echoed by Paul in the bible as being one of the most important aims to have in life. Such love is not just to be displayed in words but most importantly in the down to earth and practical ways in which we live our lives.
Here is a poem written by Dave Hopwood:
Love is patient and kind.
It is not jealous or conceited or proud.
Love is difficult, often calling to us when we are busy.
Love is in the small things.
It can feel insignificant, too small to count.
Love rarely makes headlines yet it can change someone's world.
Love goes against the flow, cuts against the grain, points to the narrow road.
Love can feel like trudging up hill, battling against the wind, walking a lonely path.
But God is love.
And God has walked these ways before us. Love is pinned on a skyline, nailed to a darkened, belittled cross.
Love changes the world, one heartbeat, one sacrifice at a time.
The On-Line Circuit Service this week is led by David Betts.
We are grateful to Liz Strain and Helen Smith for reading and to Sarah Broadbent and Angela Simpkins for our prayers.
The service can be accessed at www.altonmethodist.org.uk
Pause for Thought appears on a Wednesday on the church web site and this week will focus on Ash Wednesday (Feb 17th)
Friends in Hospital
At present we know that visiting friends and family in hospital is very much restricted to limit the spread of disease to both patients and staff.
If you have anyone in hospital, please do let me know so that I can refer them (with consent) to the hospital chaplaincy teams who are often able to visit and pass on our love and concern. We are often in contact with the chaplaincy team at Hampshire Hospitals (Basingstoke, Winchester) and also Frimley Park Hospital where they do follow up such a request if able.
Rev Chris Blake also discovered that at Frimley Park you can send an email message to a loved one and it will be delivered to the patient and read out to them in due course (as he has proved!) Read more:
Obviously don't overload them with a 100 emails — but its good to know or to pass on to family.
The Prayer Course continues Thursday evenings at 7.30pm.
Hale Church Council via Zoom is on Tues. Feb 23rd at 7.30pm
Alton Church Council via Zoom is on Tues, March 2nd at 7.30pm
As we draw near to you,
Quiet our minds
Refresh our spirits
Inspire our hearts
Bind us together
With your truth.
We dwell in your promise
Rest in your grace
Bathe in your restoration
Meditate on your goodness.
Bind us together
With your love.
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