Newsletter Feb 28th 2021

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Dear Friends,
Signs of spring are all around us with snowdrops, crocus, and early daffodils adding colour to our daily walks and gardens.
It is also the time of year when my wife must patiently endure the joy and excitement of me planting seeds and encouraging them to germinate by placing them in the bedroom!
Waking up in the morning is bringing great pleasure as overnight tiny seedlings are poking through the soil.

It reminds me of the hymn:
For the fruits of all creation,
Thanks be to God.
For the gifts to every nation,
Thanks be to God
For the ploughing, sowing, reaping,
Silent growth while we are sleeping,
Future needs in earth's safe keeping,
Thanks be to God.

For some reason I don't understand why Angela rolls her eyes when I start singing that line... again!

Lent is a time when we are encouraged not only to examine ourselves but also to consider our own spiritual growth.

Faith planted within us like a tiny seed perhaps from childhood, a spiritual quest, a conversation with a friend, an inspiring preacher or a unique God moment has hopefully developed and grown over the years by the grace of God.

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 1 Corinthians 3.6

One way in which we can nurture our faith is by developing a regular time and place where we make space to be with God the Father — as Jesus did by going out into the wilderness or taking a walk amongst the hills. When teaching his disciples about prayer he also said:
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. (Matthew 6.6)

One of the advantages of my son studying theology from home is that I get to see all the books he is asked to read. One that I can recommend is 'Spiritual Pathways' by Gary Thomas.

In this book he recognises that 'Good spiritual directors understand that people have different spiritual temperaments, that what feeds one doesn't feed all.'

He goes on to describe the different spiritual pathways through which, by temperament, we best draw near to God.
There is the Naturalist — They prefer to leave any building, however beautiful, to pray to God by a river... take a walk through the woods, mountains or open meadows.

Then there is the Sensates — Who want to be lost in the awe and beauty and splendour of God. They are drawn to the liturgical, the majestic, the grand.

Some people are Traditionalists — Fed by rituals, symbols, sacraments and sacrifice.

Other people are Ascetics — They want nothing more than to be left alone in prayer... take away the liturgy, the trappings of religion, the noise of the outside world.

Maybe you might be classed as Caregivers — They often claim to see Christ in the poor and needy, and their faith is built up by interacting with other people.

We could go on to talk about the Enthusiasts — who enjoy excitement and mystery in worship... inspired by joyful celebration.

Then there is the Intellectual — simply loving God through the mind. Faith is something to be understood as much as experienced. They feel closest to God when they understand something new about him.

Of course, whilst we may lean towards one spiritual pathway or another, we are often a mixture of two or three traits.
Understanding the different ways we draw close to God not only helps us to understand ourselves but also appreciate others who like to worship in a different way to us.

I wonder what spiritual temperament you recognise most within yourself.

Thomas writes: If you are in a spiritual malaise, it might be that you just need to change your diet.

I can only imagine that God, like the gardener, gets excited when he sees us grow and develop in our faith, whether as a tiny seed just starting out or a mature plant flourishing and bearing fruit!

Happy Birthday
We would like to wish Ray Patey birthday greetings as he celebrates his 100th birthday on the 4th March!
Ray is a valued member of our church in Alton, a great character and an inspiring man of faith who was able to worship with us until relatively recently but is now less well.

Alton Covid Testing
Work is being done with East Hampshire District Council in partnership with Hampshire County Council and the Department of Health and Social Care on plans for a new Community Testing site in Alton, this site will support our local essential workers and volunteers and stop the spread of this virus by helping to identify those who are asymptomatic.
Volunteers are needed in a number of roles to support the smooth running of the site, so if you have a few hours each week to spare please find further details and a link to register at Volunteer-to-help-beat-covid-19-in Alton

Worship Services
The On-Line Circuit Service this week is led by Rev Nick Oborski. 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, however, look out for St David's Day this coming week!

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