Newsletter Feb 21st 2021

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Dear Friends,
I hope you enjoyed making pancakes this week, flipping them up to the ceiling and landing them back in the frying pan!
Maybe you added lemon and sugar or perhaps syrup? I confess we folded our pancakes over filled with blueberries (on special offer!) and ice cream!

Following Shrove Tuesday, you may have become aware of Ash Wednesday and spent a few quiet moments in quiet contemplation, confession and maybe even watching 'Pause for Thought!'

The season of Lent has begun, 40 days before we celebrate Easter. A time when we remember that Jesus went out into the wilderness to fast, pray and draw near to God before he began his public ministry.
The Judean wilderness has largely been uninhabited throughout history. It is an incredibly dry barren place where there is little water to be found. It was an ideal place for those on the run to hide out in its many caves, as David did when fleeing from King Saul.
It was also a place where many have sought solitude and retreat amongst its harsh conditions. In the Byzantine period, especially around the 6th century, the desert attracted many monks seeking solitude, prayer, and a life of contemplation.
There were about 65 monasteries built, one of which we visited on a trip to the Holy Land. Taking the cable car which came to a shuddering halt halfway up and swung in the hot breeze for what seemed an age our small group of five or six got rather anxious. 'What's the matter', said the guide, 'you believe in God don't you!' or words to that effect!

We finally arrived at the 'Monastery of Temptation', with its spectacular view overlooking Jericho and the Jordan Valley, literally clinging to the rock face. It is on this mountain that tradition has it that after fasting for 40 days Jesus faced several temptations, each one designed to test his commitment to God and his willingness to follow what eventually became the path of the cross.

Lent is set aside as a time within the life of the church where we are encouraged, like Jesus to draw even closer to God, to reflect on our willingness to walk in his ways and to be refreshed spiritually, aware that if Jesus can be tempted, so can we!

In the 'Prayer Course' we learnt the following helpful acronym as we come to pray.
P — Pause, take time to be still.
R — Rejoice, take time to praise God.
A — Ask God for those things that are upon our hearts.
Y — Yield to God's will and offer your day to him.

An Appeal for BrainResearch UK
By Nigel & Ann of Alton Methodist Church

Our youngest daughter Alice is normally super fit, running 5 Kilometres a day. However, on 11th May last year, she had a very severe headache, and her blood pressure was extremely high. A 111-call sent her to Frimley Park hospital from where she was rushed to St George's and diagnosed as having a bleed on the brain (subarachnoid haemorrhage). Half the patients with this die within 6 months, so it was serious.

Alice was in hospital for two weeks. For us, her recovery is an answer to our prayers. In Alice's own words "I feel very fortunate that I came out the other side and really appreciate everyone who got me back to health.
The good news is that I am running again and it is time to give something back to all those people who helped me. I have set myself the ridiculous challenge of running the 2021 London Marathon in October and raising funds for Brain Research UK"
If you would like to make a donation, please use the following web address: -
https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AliceAllan1
Please do support Alice if you are able too, it would be a great encouragement both to her and to Ann and Nigel. Thank you

Additional Notices
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
World Day of Prayer is on Friday 5th March — do look out for our local on-line services — a poster is attached for one being held at Wrecclesham.
https://cofewrecclesham.org.uk/world-day-of-prayer/

Worship Services
The On-Line Circuit Service this week is led by Liz George. The service can be accessed at www.altonmethodist.org.uk
Pause for Thought appears on a Wednesday on the church web site as we continue our series on the 'I Am' sayings of Jesus.

A Prayer for the first Sunday in Lent
God of feasting and fasting, mountaintop and desert, you gather us together by your Holy Spirit. May we follow Jesus into the wilderness, feeding on your living bread and tasting your water of life. We come hungry and thirsty for more of you, God. Amen.

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