Newsletter March 21st 2021

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Dear Friends,

My first superintendent minister when I was stationed as young minister in Bude, Cornwall, always reminded us that March 17th was St Patricks Day. Rev Paddy Kyle was proud of his Irish heritage and told many a funny story about the 'shenanigans' he and his pals got up too during his upbringing. He was a great minister full of love for the Lord, a passion for the gospel and a pastoral heart.

St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland is celebrated for bringing Christianity to the country.
Being born in Britain to a wealthy family, legend has it that he was kidnapped and shipped to Ireland as a slave. It was during this time that he developed his faith and began to learn that he could talk to God anywhere:
'I prayed in the woods, on the mountain, even before dawn, I felt no harm from the snow or ice or rain.'

After six years he dreamt that he would one day escape the emerald shores. After trekking for miles, he eventually reached the coast, found a boat and made his daring escape to England.

Patrick went on to train as a priest and then a bishop. He felt a call to return to Ireland and going with a missionary spirit is said to have converted many to Christianity.

He wasn't welcome everywhere — some people opposed him, but nothing stopped him courageously sharing his love for God and inviting people to follow Christ.

He is famous for his ability to teach for example about the trinity in ways that ordinary people might understand using the shamrock and its trifoliate leaves to explain the mystery of there being one God revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

He died in the year 460AD living to about 70 years of age.

A prayer for protection often attributed to St Patrick has these moving words:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Why not take a moment to pray this prayer and be encouraged by the promise of God to be always with us.

I am sure many of you will be interested to know that our 'very own' Debbie Thrower will feature on this week's service on the radio.
BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship, March 21, 2021, Passion Sunday, 8.10am to 8.50am on 'The Lost Years.'
As the nation is about to mark the anniversary of the first lockdown, Debbie Thrower — broadcaster and founder of Anna Chaplaincy which promotes the spiritual welfare of older people — marks the loss of more than one hundred and twenty-five thousand lives to the pandemic. Many of those who died were in their later years — some living in care homes.
There are currently 160 or so Anna Chaplains (and others in equivalent roles) in the national network ministering to older people across the UK.
Named after the widow, Anna, in Luke's gospel, the chaplains help older men and women reflect on the narrative of their lives, to seek meaning and purpose and to foster hope and resilience in old age. The Anna name reinforces the fact that much of the work is with those who have suffered loss and bereavement.
Yet it is a hope-filled ministry, highlighting the tradition of older people having prophetic voices. It recognises that many in retirement have wisdom to impart to younger generations and key life lessons to share when it comes to spiritual formation. Appropriately, for a ministry that is a gracious offering from church to the community, the name Anna means 'gift' or 'grace'.

Worship Service
The On-Line Service this week is led by Rev Philip Simpkins. The service, as it happens, also features an interview with Rev Rachel Sturt who is our present Anna Chaplain in Alton — it will be great to catch up with her!

The service can be accessed at www.altonmethodist.org.uk
Pause for Thought appears on the church web site on a Wednesday and this week will focus on the last of the 'I Am' sayings of Jesus.

Easter Services — Services will be on-line during the Easter Period.
We will however hold an Easter Day Service at Alton at 10am with covid restrictions in place (social distancing, masks and sadly no singing). Booking will be essential via email: altonmethodist@hotmail.com or by telephoning Liz George in due course.

It is hoped that regular 'live services' will be able to resume, following review, after step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown towards the end of May.

Irish Blessing
May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow.
May the soft winds freshen your spirit.
May the sunshine brighten your heart
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you.
And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.

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