Newsletter Nov. 8th

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Dear Friends,

As you will be aware this weekend is Remembrance Sunday. We will be unable to gather around cenotaphs or be present in town and village parades and services but our on-line service will be a special Remembrance Day Service led by Rev Michael Hopkins of The Spire URC/Methodist Church, Farnham with members of our different churches taking part.

Earlier in the year I came across a field full of poppies, the poppy being a symbol of remembrance showing support for our Armed Forces, veterans, and families. The reality of war came home to me when a short time ago my son and I watched the award winning Film 1917 set in the trenches. It follows the story of two lads tasked with crossing no mans land and entering occupied territory to get a vital message to commanders up ahead to call off a doomed attack. The message was especially important to one of the young men as his brother would be part of that attack. Watching such a moving and dramatic film highlighted the cost and devastation of war collectively and personally. And yet it is from those bleak, barren and muddy fields that were fought over, that resilient bright red Flanders poppies grew and flourished in their thousands thus becoming a symbol of hope and remembrance.

You may find the words of the following hymn helpful:

By a monument of marble,
Or a simple wooden cross,
Here we gather to remember
Sacrifice and tragic loss.
Blood-red poppy petals flutter,
Each a symbol for a life,
Drifting in a crimson curtain,
Shadow of our constant strife.

Solemn silence now surrounds us
As we stand in memory.
Why must factions stir up conflict?
This eternal mystery
Troubles hearts and stirs the conscience,
Urges us to think again;
Face the curse of confrontation,
Yet reduce this searing pain.

For the sound of war still thunders
Through our planet, on this day.
Every hour new victims suffer,
Even as we meet to pray.
God, we need your help and guidance
In our constant search for peace.
Move us on to new solutions
As we pray that wars may cease.
(Marjorie Dobson (b1940) StF 131

A Remembrance Day Prayer

God of peace and gentleness
we remember with deep sorrow
the fault, fear, and failure
that repeatedly leads to the forming of enemies,
the escalation of hatred
and to war.
We repent of our complicity in cycles of violence
for colluding with anger
or defaulting to patterns of hostility.
We pray,
as we remember those who have
suffered as a result of our forgetfulness
or our inhumanity one to another,
that we may also disarm our desire to overpower, capture or vanquish.

Help us to resist peacefully every form of violence
so that we can follow you
in ways of gentleness and justice,
continually resolving to form life-giving relationships,
strengthened by the forgiveness of Jesus
the fearlessness of the Spirit
the transforming love of the Creator.
(Rev'd Barbara Glasson — Past President of the Methodist Conference)

Comedian Bobby Ball

It was interesting to read something of the life story of the comedian Bobby Ball last week who has died at the age of 76. The Cannon & Ball Show was one of ITV's most successful programmes with the catchphrase 'Rock on Tommy.'
Following such a rise to stardom Bobby Ball amassed both fame and fortune. Unfortunately, it also led to drink, fights, womanising and falling out with his stage partner.

The turning point came when Bobby was appearing in Pantomime in Bradford and had conversations with the Theatre's chaplain. He subsequently gave his life to Christ and made amends with his fellow comedian Tommy. Seven years later he also became a Christian and together they not only did comedy tours but also gospel shows. They wrote a book: 'Faith, God & All That'. Its wonderful to be reminded yet again of the way in which an encounter with Jesus can change lives!

Christmas Cards
This year we will be selling Christmas cards in aid of Alton Methodist Church funds.
The designs have simple, colourful nativity scenes on them. They feature Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem and the Wise Men on their way to the nativity scene. They have the greeting inside 'Wishing you a Peaceful & Blessed Christmas'.
They cost £2.25 per pack of 10 cards and you can pay by cheque or bank transfer to Alton Methodist Church.
Please contact Debby Bridger.

Worship Services

Following the announcement of 'Lockdown' from the 5th November we are no longer allowed to continue with live worship services and access to our buildings is once again limited to those with permission to enter.

On-Line Worship-Remembrance Day.

The recorded on-line service this week is led by Rev Michael Hopkins with contributions from church friends. To access the service go to www.altonmethodist.org.uk

The Bible Course
This runs on a Thursday evening 7.30-8.30pm on Zoom for 8 weeks from Nov 5th. We have a lively group of people signed up — if anyone else wishes to join let Philip know.

A Blessing
May God help and sustain us through all the changing scenes of life and grant us his peace. Amen.

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