Alton Webteam: April 2020
My first appointment as a minister was in Bude, Cornwall (Sun, Sea and 80 mile an hour wind's!)
Having not long arrived I set out to visit one of the many sheep farmers in my congregations who attended a village chapel. Long before Sat Nav's I followed the map down all these little lanes until eventually I found the farm... and he was out!
Not one to give up I looked over the field gate and could see a tractor and a man down the bottom of the field. I walked all across the field until I came across the farmer. With a huge laugh he said in his broad Cornish accent... 'I thought it was a 'Farm Rep. coming to sell me something — If I had known it was you, I wouldn't have made you walk quite so far!'
So began a friendship that has lasted until this day — he rang me up this week to see how I was coping... and he's 92!
We shared many a laugh over the phone and my freind, always loving to be among people told me how frustrating being locked in was proving to be.
'Never mind', he said, 'On a Sunday I always ring about 10 people and they seem to enjoy that... and what's more my friend plays the organ and although we can't see each other she said 'If I play down the phone — you can sing to me' — and so I did hymns like: 'Great is thy faithfulness' followed by 'Guide me O thou great Jehovah.' Having enjoyed that we now do it every Sunday (his friend is 93!), and my daughter joins in on another phone, reads a bible lesson and says a prayer — its lovely, really lovely!' (shared with permission).
What a fantastic attitude to have in the midst of the present crisis — purposefully keeping in contact, enjoying good humour, and finding ingenious ways to hold onto our faith — even without the internet!
Being unable to get about as we would like, see friends and visit all those places featured in last weeks quiz (!) can at times prove incredibly frustrating but I am reminded of the words of St Paul where he says this:
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:10-13
Paul faced many difficult and frustrating situations in life whereby he couldn't achieve all that he longed to. Alongside the frustration of being unable to minister for long periods as happened on his journey across Asia Minor (Turkey), he also spent a considerable period chained to a Roman guard under house arrest and later was to spend two years in a cold dismal prison cell awaiting trial for his faith.
Maybe it was in such testing times that he learned the secret of finding contentment in all circumstances, and perhaps at such a time as this we can learn something of that secret too?
[Ways to Worship
NEWish! Sunday Worship — Hymns, Songs, Readings and Reflections created in a similar style as the previous two weeks by Liam Sheridan, a member at Alton and a Local Preacher in training. Thank you Liam, family and friends. The service is on the front page of this web site from Sunday morning.
The Methodist Church have provided a weekly printed sheet (attached) to help us share in worship whilst at home.
BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship at 8.10am — why not sing along with the hymns!
BBC 1 'Sunday Worship' — from Hereford Cathedral led by the Bishop of Dover (10.45am — double check time)
The BBC also offer 'Songs of Praise' at 1:15pm with Sean James... with 'Journeys to Sacred Places' being the theme.
And in other news...
I was reading a letter in the newspaper this week that praised the beauty of the blue and white humble 'Forget Me Not' that has invaded my garden — but looks great at this time of year beneath the shrubs, wallflowers and tulips. The letter suggested that we use it as a reminder of the work done by all the NHS staff. Having seen the pressure that the staff are under I can only be filled with praise and admiration for the courage and commitment of the doctors, nurses and support staff who work constantly under the pressure of the pandemic — they just long for it all to stop and for us to stay safe... at home.
A Celtic Blessing
Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you
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