17 January 2021 (and an activity sheet for the children) - You can also join in with us by clicking on this link on Sunday morning: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVPVWJuIEj3VOn5orov1-J80sXTx5swt_ The service will be available to watch from 10am on Sunday morning.
Words from our Minister
I write this week’s update with a keen sense of excitement and anticipation. I mentioned last week about our hope of a match in the Diaconal Stationing processes of the Methodist Church of Great Britain and, indeed, we have been matched! Good news! Over the course of this weekend that match is being explored, albeit in the sanitised confines of Zoom! Frustratingly, I am not allowed to say much more than that owing to one of the particular quirks of the Diaconal Stationing process.
Please do remember those tasked with having a conversation with the Deacon we’ve been matched with over the course of this weekend as well as the Deacon concerned. Pray that it may be an affirming one which reveals the breadth of opportunity this match might hold for us as we seek to move forward in mission and ministry together.
The appointment itself is to work alongside me in forming a Team Ministry working across the London Road, Partridge Green and St Andrew’s Churches and, personally, I am quite excited at the opportunity this match presents us with. As we look to their arrival in the summer we will expand on the opportunities this appointment will bring but if you want to know more about Diaconal Ministry please do explore the relevant section of the Connexional Website which you can find here: https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/the-methodist-church/the-diaconal-order/
This week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and services are taking place virtually across the town. Please see the Horsham Churches Together notice sheet regarding how to join in. At London Road we will be hosting the service for Friday evening at 7:30pm.
10 January 2021 (and an activity sheet for the children) - You can also join in with us by clicking on this link on Sunday morning: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVPVWJuIEj3WH40x_loT2Lg3Lg6ZNWqyz The service will be available to watch from 10am on Sunday morning.
Words from our Minister
A somewhat belated Happy New Year to you all! I am sure that, by now, we’re all well on our way into 2021 and I would hazard a guess there may even be some resolutions already lying in tatters along the way! Rest assured they obviously weren’t the important ones so it’s all good, just hang in there with the rest of them!
Maybe contending with our resolutions might be a useful distraction from the other news unfolding round about us. The ongoing crisis surrounding the US election is disturbing to say the least but nevertheless serves as stark reminder as to the fragility of systems and government, especially when it begins to lose sight of it’s high calling and becomes self-serving. Jesus continually reminded us that leadership is about service and self-giving. I know as well as you that that is not always as easy to implement as it is to acknowledge but by His grace we are able.
Of course, the situation here is not much better as we consider the constant prevarication of leadership which seems to hint at an unwillingness to make the hard choices sooner and then lay claim to having to make the necessary choice as not being their fault but that circumstances dictated it! We need to pray for our leaders that they will act decisively to help bring this pandemic under control and navigate a safe passage out of it.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, though, is it? No, we are indeed fortunate that there are now two vaccines being deployed and we trust that, as God has provided this cure it will indeed be used wisely and effectively in helping us to reclaim our lives albeit, I think, with a renewed sense of what is real and what is not, of what is significant and what is not, of what is of ultimate value and what is not. If that can be true for us then, indeed, difficult as the journey may have been, it won’t have been in vain. May God grant the wisdom and grace to help us arrive at that place. I think the Serenity prayer might be a useful tool to get us there: ‘Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.’ Reinhold Niebuhr. This is Niebuhr’s earliest rendition of the prayer. It became especially popular with 12-Step programmes and Alcoholics Anonymous use an expanded form of it but just as it is stated here I think it helps us on this journey so I offer it for your ongoing reflection.
Of course, for us, as we begin this New Year we do so in anticipation and hope as the Circuit explores the possibility of a Diaconal Appointment for this section of the Circuit. Even as you read this letter the Stationing processes of the Diaconate are underway to match a Deacon with our Circuit and we anticipate their appointment from 1st September to be confirmed. Please do remember the various bodies involved in this process and especially the person at the heart of it that God would indeed bring into the staffing mix of the Circuit just the right person for the role. The Deacon will be working with me in a team ministry across the three churches in Horsham and Partridge Green and I look forward to that opportunity in keen anticipation. Over the coming months, once we know who has been appointed, we will share with you just what we believe this appointment can bring for us so watch this space!
27 December 2020 (and some for the children - children's sheet and colouring sheet) - You can also join in with us by clicking on this link on Sunday morning: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVPVWJuIEj3Xj2sjvdOd41U5NWBp-ILqm The service will be available to watch from 10am on Sunday morning.
Our Minister is taking a well-earned holiday
25 December 2020 (and some some colouring sheets for the children - Nativity Manger and Three Kings) - You can also join in with us by clicking on this link on Christmas morning: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVPVWJuIEj3UaNcVRmXoCXyd6Igo2oWqq The service will be available to watch from 10am on Christmas morning.
Words from our Minister
As I sit to write this column today I am struck by the fragility of hope. Just a few short weeks ago we were heralding the arrival of not one but three vaccines. I’m sure that for all of us there was a palpable sense of ‘It’s over!’ Hope. Now, suddenly, we’re on the brink of being consigned to Tier 4 and everything seems to be spiralling out of control. Where has that hope gone?
That question leads me to another scenario of hope, one that unfolded in the obscurity of a room best described as a stable, in circumstances of shame and ignominy and with no-one of note taking note and yet, there it was, hope was born.
In both instances the critical question, I think, is just what does hope look like for us? You see, I have a suspicion that, all too often, we confuse hope with relief. It’s like all of a sudden, this thing has happened and, because it has, everything is going to be ok. I can relax and let down my guard – I don’t have to worry anymore!
No, that’s not hope.
Hope is that thing that helps me see through the darkness, to catch a glimpse of the opportunity that lies before me and spurs me on to help make it real. Hope is that force that enables me to redouble my efforts and, in the face of the steepest odds, keep going in the same direction to be part of the very thing that I am hoping for.
So, as we contemplate the Incarnation once more may we see more than simply the lovely story of a Babe in a Manger. May we see the birth of hope. May we recognise that in this moment God is longing for us to catch a glimpse of who God is and who we are, of where God is and where we are. And, armed with that glimpse, to work with God in becoming the realisation of that hope in this time and space.
As we do that, the other thing will also fall into place and, despite the darkness of the night, the dawn will come.
Hope, of course, will always be tested. In the very midst of writing these words, things are set to change again and we have just held a meeting of the Coronavirus Response Group to assess where we are in relation to these changes. We will be seeking the decision of the Church Council as Managing Trustees as to how we should proceed and we will inform you early in the next week as to what that decision might be so please watch this space.
So, as we enter the final stages of our Advent Journey, a blessing from the Writer of the Letter to the Hebrews: Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21) From all of us at the manse to all of you – may you have a blessed and hope filled celebration of the Incarnation and a safe passage into and through the New Year.
CHRISTMAS DAY COLLECTION – THANDU’SANA
A reminder that our Christmas Day collection is going to the Thandu’sana project of the Newton Park Methodist Church in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. You can donate here: https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/15397#!/DonationDetails and if you want to find out more about the project there is a short video available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLMPKoKnsb0 or see our information page.
SUNDAY 3RD JANUARY 2021 – COVENANT COMMUNION SERVICE
Our next live worship service, should it go ahead, will be the annual Covenant Service to be led by the Rev Sue Conroy at 10am at London Road on the 3rd. Online booking for this service will be open from 9am on Tuesday until 10am on Saturday by following this link: https://www.lrmchorsham.org/services/ and clicking on the BOOKING LINK highlighted on the page. To book by phone please call 07835 964822 between 9am – 6pm Tuesday to Friday and 9-10am Saturday.
20 December 2020 (and some for the children - children's sheet and colouring sheet) - You can also join in with us by clicking on this link on Sunday morning: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVPVWJuIEj3XA2DRSJdyHjWsksDjk70Ye The service will be available to watch from 10am on Sunday morning.
Words from our Minister
This week’s Advent Journey has been focussing on the virtue of humility and what a journey it has been. Unsurprisingly, Tom Wright brought us to Philippians 2 on Wednesday, that incredible poem/hymn that Paul uses to describe Jesus and just what he has done.
Tom frames the question: What does heroic leadership look like? Stop and think about that for a minute. He refers to two examples from the ancient world who would have impacted Paul’s as well as his hearers’ understanding. Alexander the Great and the emperor Augustus. Two great examples of heroic leadership who expanded Empire and impacted the world forever. Who might yours be?
You see, Tom goes on to say: “Only when we grasp this do we see how deeply subversive, how utterly counter-cultural, was Paul’s gospel message concerning Jesus of Nazareth, whose resurrection had declared him to be Israel’s Messiah and the world’s true Lord. He was the reality and Alexander and Augustus were the caricature. This is what true global sovereignty looked like. Hadn’t Jesus himself said something similar? ‘World rulers lord it over their subjects, but it mustn’t be like that with you: with you, the ruler must be the slave, because the son of man came to give his life a ransom for many’(Mark10:42-45)”1
He then goes on to unpack just what it is God has done, is doing, for us in the incarnation. Laying it all aside in quite an exceptional way. Not making a fuss of his place in the Godhead. Not claiming status or power. Humbling himself utterly, even to the point of a death on the cross. This is the Christmas story, the incarnation of God. Luke uses different imagery but makes the same fundamental point. It’s not the powerful people who receive the gift or even pay any attention to it – it’s the little people of the world, the marginalised and discarded ones. And then, just in case we missed the point of his birth, Jesus emphatically makes the statement at the other end of his life when he enters Jerusalem for the final time riding on an Ass and the foal of an Ass. Of course, everything in-between reiterates that point if we would but look closely enough but there aren’t enough lines available to do that now!
So, perhaps, as we prepare to celebrate his coming in the midst of the pain and the mess of this particular Christmas season, maybe that’s where the message of hope is found. Not in the image of the all-conquering hero coming to obliterate everything that’s wrong with the world, but rather the One who manifests his presence in the midst of the mess. Who comes in obscurity and invades it with hope. Who embraces our pain and shows us the way of resurrection to transform both it and us as we discover the way of salvation prepared for the world by God in Him.
Let me take this opportunity of wishing you well as you prepare to celebrate this very different Christmas and may the difference of it be a source of renewed wonder and joy at the amazing gift of God in the Babe in the Manger.
1. Advent For Everyone: A Journey with the Apostles. Tom Wright © Nicholas Thomas Wright 2017 pg68