Alton Webteam: January 2021
Last Sunday, Pam in her on-line service quoted from Minnie Louise Haskins poem 'The Gate of the Year.'
A poem which it is said was handed to her father by the young 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth. It became an inspiration for the Kings Christmas Broadcast during the height of World War II in 1939 during some very dark days.
THE GATE OF THE YEAR
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied:
"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
As we travel through these winter months, we must encourage each other once more to put our hand into the Hand of God and trust him to lead us one day at a time.
For some the lockdown brings with it the inability to meet with friends, the weariness of the same four walls and the frustration of not being able to get out and about.
Let us not grow tired of supporting one another, making that phone call and bearing one another's burdens.
For others, the challenge of this difficult period is experienced in the incredible busyness of work.
We think of the teachers among us providing on-line learning as well as running lessons for those in school.
We also remember the challenge of parents working from home whilst also home schooling.
Our hospitals are also under incredible pressure at the moment as they are overwhelmed with patients.
The dedication of the staff, the compassion and care they show is mingled with the ongoing fear of taking infection home to their own families and indeed themselves.
So, let us pray, support each other in whatever way we can and put our hand into the hand of God, remembering to take just one day at a time.
I invited Rev Rachel Sturt to share with us something of her work with older people during the last couple of months. Rachel is working 10 hours a week in this role whilst also using her other talents as a trained nurse to be part of the vaccination programme in Farnham.
When lockdown began in March, I was put on furlough for six months. I was very worried about having so little contact with care home residents, warden-controlled homes and all the organisations and lunch clubs I visit. Everything closed and it was desperately sad.
However, two things are apparent. God is at work (of course) and the older generation are much tougher than I had realised. They have accepted contact by email and services on CDs. I have taken many funerals including one in a garden and another on the phone. This year has brought many more deaths, including dear Bob Weighton and Arthur Harvey. I keep photographs of them on my bookcase for inspiration.
Zoom has proved invaluable for services and conversations in the care homes. To my surprise some congregations in the care homes have increased in number and at Brendoncare they require a second sitting! Some residents have emerged as superb lesson readers and prayer improvisors.
I realise now that faith laid down in earlier years (and often honed by suffering) bears fruit later. It is also evident to me that much of the private prayer, generous giving and peer support is done by older people. (see Psalm 92:14)
The Prayer Course — Sign up now!
We will run 'The Prayer Course' via Zoom which offers an 8 week study taking us through Lent based around each line of the Lord's Prayer.
A good group has formed with the preference for an evening meeting so the course will begin on Thursdays from Jan 28th at 7.30pm
Please let me know if you would like to join
The course contains a video talk and an opportunity for discussion and prayer.
We will look at:
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.
You can find out more by going to the website:
https://prayercourse.org/about/ and also order the book on Amazon.
Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.
Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air,
His watchword at the gates of death--
He enters Heav'n with prayer.
Worship Services — All on line
The On-Line service this week is led
by Liz George The service is at www.altonmethodist.org.uk
Pause for Thought appears on a Wednesday on the church web site as we begin a new series on the 'I Am' sayings of Jesus.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(Traditional Gaelic blessing)
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