Newsletter Sept 13th 2020

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Dear Friends,

Many of us are familiar with the saying:

'There is a light at the end of the tunnel.'

It is of course a phrase which gives us hope in dark and difficult times that better days are ahead.

Of course, some wag might then add:
'Yes — but it's the light of an oncoming train!'

During the last couple of months, with the easing of lockdown, it has appeared that there was 'a light at the end of the tunnel.'
We enjoyed a little more freedom, people were encouraged back to work, some of us were fortunate enough to enjoy holidays and others being a little more vulnerable were able to sit in in the park and enjoy some much needed company alongside the trees and flowers.

However, as autumn approaches, the news this week is less encouraging with the rise of Covid19 infections and government restrictions limiting social gatherings inside and out to six people.

The light at the end of the tunnel does appear to some to be that of 'a train a coming!'

During our time away we visited a friend who had been through several years of difficulty and heartache.
Even as a man of great faith, there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. He questioned 'why?' whilst also becoming physically and emotionally exhausted.

And then, after some time, whether in a vision, a dream or a God given moment of realisation he remembered the Severn Tunnel.

The Severn Railway Tunnel runs under the Severn Estuary and provides a link between England and Wales. Being over 4 miles long it was the longest such railway tunnel to be in existence in the world for over 100 years being opened in 1886.

Whilst working as a fireman in that area he had been into the tunnel on many occasions for training purposes. He recalled that whilst one might expect the tunnel to be straight — it had two significant bends in it which prevented you from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

He saw this as a God given picture of encouragement — sometimes in life we cannot see the light at the end of a dark tunnel because there are bends in it. However, this does not alter the fact that there will come a time when the last bend is turned and the light we long for, will appear.

We may well feel very disappointed, as I do, that the new restrictions are in place, that our freedoms are limited and that winter is ahead but let us not forget that it is just another bend in the tunnel, and that one day light will dawn.

As Christians we, like everyone else may well journey through dark times but let us try and hold onto the hope that we have within us.

A Stuart Townend Song has the words:

There is a hope that burns within my heart,
That gives me strength for every passing day;
A glimpse of glory now revealed in meagre part,
Yet drives all doubt away:
I stand in Christ, with sins forgiven;
And Christ in me, the hope of heaven!
My highest calling and my deepest joy,
To make His will my home.

There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
Through present sufferings, future's fear,
He whispers 'courage' in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.

Worship Services

Thankfully, the new government restrictions do not affect worship services and some other groups that are able to meet in a safe way.

At Alton:

NEW — Live Pause for Thought — Wednesdays in church at 11am for 20-30 mins. Starting this week (Sept 16th).

This will include reflective music, prayers, reading and a reflection led by Philip.

The church will provide a safe setting should you wish to attend.
Book by preferably emailing altonmethodist@hotmail.com or ring Liz George
A steward will welcome you and show you to your safely distanced seat.
Hand sanitizer will be given at the door
Everyone apart from the person leading is required to wear a mask.
A steward will guide you as you leave in a socially distanced way.
The church is and will be Covid cleaned before and after we meet.

This will provide opportunity for meeting together, sharing in worship and also helping us to prepare for Sunday worship to resume.

Alton: Sunday Worship

This will resume as of October 4th at 10am with a celebration of Harvest. Conditions and booking as for Pause for Thought is essential as numbers are limited due to social distancing requirements.

Rowledge: Sunday Worship

This will resume on Sunday September 20th at 10am with a service led by Rev Philip Simpkins.

Hale - Ongoing conversations with members of the congregation are beginning to take place and risk assessments to complete. The building is ready for worship when the time is deemed right.

Farnham — Zoom services on Sundays at 9.30am, Pause for Thought resuming in church from Friday 18th Sept and live worship in church from October 4th. (see 'The Spire' website for details)

On-Line Worship
This will continue and this weeks Circuit wide service is found at www.altonmethodist.org.uk

A Blessing
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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