Newsletter March 7th 2021

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Dear Friends,
I wonder if you are an early riser?

If you are, you may be enjoying your cup of tea in bed whilst listening to the dawn chorus somewhere around 6am!
Those 'feathered alarm clocks' are at it again as they spring into song — it's a lovely sound (most of the time!)

Hearing the dawn chorus caused me to do a little research in order to discover that the reason for their singing is to defend their territory and also, they sing to attract a mate!

The first birds sing about an hour before sunrise, with the early risers being the skylarks, song thrushes, robins, and blackbirds.

To encourage us to get up in the morning my old mum used to say that oft heard phrase: 'The early bird catches the worm!' Maybe there is truth in the saying as blackbirds, being up early then set to work feeding on the ground.

I also discovered on the RSPB website that 'Singing is hard work and uses hard won food reserves, so it is the fittest, best fed males who produce the strongest, most impressive song. Females choose a mate who sings best (it's a good job Angela is hard of hearing!!), because such a male is likely to be good at raising chicks, to have good territory and to pass on their genes to their young.'

And I loved this next quote:
'Once a female has been attracted, the male will sing less often. (!) A bird that sings on and on, late into the season, is probably a lonely bachelor who has failed to attract a mate.'

One of reasons given for being hesitant in a return to Sunday worship, apart from Covid, is the frustration at not yet being allowed to sing.

Like the birds many of us love to sing, not to mark our territory or to attract a partner (it wouldn't have worked in my case!) but to give praise and thanks to God.

The Psalms start with many an invitation to raise our voices in song.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our Salvation. (Psalm 95)
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. (Psalm 96)

And the hymn has the fitting words:

Morning has broken,
Like the first morning;
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird.
Praise for the singing!
Praise for the morning!
Praise for them, springing
Fresh from the Word!
Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965)

As we listen to the dawn chorus, may we be reminded to awaken our soul to offer praise to God.

Pete Greig writes:
If adoration fails to erupt spontaneously when I first approach God in prayer, I take hold of my soul quite firmly and make it wake up!

This is what the Psalmist often does — he uses his will to direct him to a place of praise.

Praise the Lord, O my soul,
All my inmost being praise his holy name. (Psalm 103)

Hopefully, soon we will be able to sing once more in church, but in the meantime lets allow the dawn chorus to remind us to be a people of praise!

News from the Church Councils

Hale Methodist Church
It was good to see so many people from Hale meet on Zoom for our recent church council.
We are encouraged to know that following the refurbishment of the building the nursery are going to be using both the hall and the sanctuary five days a week, working in an around church activities when we can meet again.
The TMCP Conservation Officer asked how the refurb had gone last week, wanted me to send photos and expecting me to say that the building was not yet in use — how delighted she was to find otherwise — enough to use the story on her website as an example to others!

The council also heard that the church is in good heart financially and looking forward to the day when we can return to Sunday worship, likely to be following Step 3 of the 'Roadmap out of lockdown' (around May 23rd fittingly Pentecost).

Alton Methodist Church

We were delighted to welcome three new people to the steward's team in Judy Nicholls, David Allan and Helen Smith. A stronger team of six will help us as we prepare to plan the way ahead.

We discussed the next steps to opening for worship with mixed views on when this might be. We agreed that we would seek to hold an Easter Day service at 10am all being well, review the situation, but effectively aim to begin regular worship as of May 16th when Liam is planned for his final trial service in order to become an accredited Local Preacher.

We looked forward to make some tentative plans for late spring & summer which included a guided walk on May 18th led by David Allan, a belated World Day of Prayer service on Friday July 2nd and a 'Cream Tea in the Manse Garden along with our annual Gift Day on Saturday July 17th — bring your sunshades!

We are thankful to the generosity of all our friends and members as we maintain a workable balance in the church coffers. We noted that as banks charge to deposit cheques it would be great for those who give in this way to consider a monthly donation, or to set up a standing order via the treasurer.

Rowledge Methodist Church

The Church Council meets on March 31st at 10am. on Zoom.

Worship Service

The On-Line Circuit Service this week is led by Rev Philip Simpkins. 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.

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