Newsletter and Service March 29th 2020

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Dear Friends,

I am sure that we are grateful for the beautiful spring weather that we have enjoyed this week. It has given us much to be thankful for in this time of uncertainty and anxiety as our daily lives have in many ways been turned upside down.

A hymn that brings me reassurance and comfort is:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

It was written by Thomas Chisholm, who after becoming a Christian entered the ministry when 36 years of age. He suffered from ill health and soon had to retire. In such difficult times he expressed his faith in poetry and on penning this hymn wrote:

Despite my poor health and limited income, I must record the unfailing faithfulness of my God.
He has given me many wonderful displays of his providing care, for which I am astonishing grateful.

The words of this hymn are based on the little read book of Lamentations which is full of doom and gloom! Jeremiah, it's author, was going through dark and difficult days yet after crying out to God lifted his eyes to the heavens and said:

Yet this I call to mind and therefore have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.' (Ch. 3.21-24)

And so, like many before us we learn to 'wait' on God — it's not easy! But as we wait let's ask God for the strength to cope with each day and to look around us and find that for which we can be thankful — like the cowslips in my garden!

Watch Over One Another in Love...

It has been a privilege to be able to speak to so many people on the phone this week and to hear of the wonderful ways that people are helping and supporting one another. We encourage Church Family Visitors to ring those under your care.

Food and pharmaceutical shopping are being done through the kindness of neighbours, friends and families.
Telephone calls and emails are being made to ensure that we are not alone.

Books are being recommended — thanks to Brenda who recommended that I read 'The Book of God' by Walter Wangerin — I can't put it down! (Kindle download)

I also learned that one of our church friends has a Whatsapp group for their Close so that they keep in touch.
Parents are discovering the joys and challenges of teaching their children at home as they juggle their own work commitments.

Bereft of meetings, my colleagues have set up 'Zoom' meetings on line — Whilst seeing all their theological books on shelves, I realised that behind me were my son's collection of Snow Globes!

And most importantly we are praying for one another — with accounts of those who lit a candle and placed it in their window at 7pm last Sunday following Justin Welby's call to prayer.

Ways to Worship

The Methodist Church have provided a weekly printed sheet (email attachment) to help us share in worship whilst at home.
At 10am on Sunday I would encourage you to use this resource, knowing that you are joining with others doing the same.

It is great to discover that the BBC have brought back 'Sunday Worship' — this week at 11:30am from Bangor Cathedral, North Wales. We watched last week and it was really uplifting.

The BBC also offer 'Songs of Praise' at 1:15pm with Aled Jones and the Archbishop of York designate Stephen Cottrell

Daily Devotions and Sunday Worship at 10am can be enjoyed via the URC Church by copying and pasting this link into your google search bar and signing in. https://devotions.urc.org.uk/

And in other News...!

Happy Birthday to Bob Weighton — who celebrates his 112th birthday on the 29th March. It was a pleasure to speak to Bob this week as a faithful and wise member of our Alton congregation, and now the World's oldest man!

Useful information from https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ . For up to date information for shopping, savings, employers, employees, self-employed.

Sainsburys are offering click and collect for the elderly and vulnerable.

A Prayer
For each step that we might take,
Be our guide, O Lord of life.
For each load that we might bear,
Be our strength, O Lord of life.
For each mountain we might face,
Be our power, O Lord of life.
For each river that might impede,
Be our safety, O Lord of life.
For each place where we might rest,
Be our peace, O Lord of life.
For each sunrise and sunset,
Be our joy, O Lord of life.
(www.faithandworship.com/prayer)

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