The letter from the Minister is on the "From the Manse" page
The new is in the old concealed, the old is in the new revealed
The Christmas stories are familiar to us and understandably popular with children. Because of this we fail to look into them and discover what they are all about. We read how Joseph received a message that his wife to be would bear a son, a saviour called Jesus. This, it was claimed, was a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy centuries earlier of a virgin birth where the child would be called Emmanuel, meaning ‘God with us’. A strange claim indeed. Who would have been interested at something to happen 700 years in the future? Would we be interested in Brexit if it were in 2717? Of course not!
What then is going on? Isaiah’s country was threatened by invasion. The end of the Royal line seemed likely. The virgin he spoke of was Israel (we sometimes use the word ‘virgin’ to describe uncultivated land). She will not be ‘raped’ by invaders but ‘give birth’ (ie. ‘give rise’) to the coming King, Hezekiah. Hence Isaiah was not foretelling the birth of Jesus and in fact said nothing about an expectant woman becoming a mother, but rather a royal son becoming king.
Why then, bring all this into the Christmas story? It is inconceivable that Matthew thought of it merely as a simple proof text. He knew full well that prophets addressed their own generation. Matthew’s purpose is much bigger; he shows the birth of Jesus as part of God’s ongoing revelation. The sky doing extraordinary things, Jerusalem trembling and Herod’s’determination to do away with Jesus, are not a preview of what happened in the last days of Jesus’ ministry. Rather they are an echo of that time. The experience of Jesus death and resurrection enabled him to see how the searchings of the Old Testament find their fulfilment in him. His own mind may have coloured what he saw. But that God is with us he knew to be eternally true and that’s what mattered to him - and to us.
What has been explained about the Isaiah passage is true of all the Old Testament quotations immediately following. None is about the birth of Jesus! To do justice to them would take not merely a page in The Herald but the whole of the magazine in 2018 as well!
WHY GO TO CHURCH ON SUNDAYS?
A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.
He wrote: "I've gone for 30 years now, and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons, but for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time, the preachers and priests are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."
This started a real controversy in the "Letters to theEditor" column
Much to the delight of the editor, it went on for weeks until someone wrote this that clinched it.
- been married for almost 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. "But, for the life of me,I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals.
"But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today”.
"Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!" When you are DOWN to nothing, God is UP to something! Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible & receives the impossible! Thank God for our physical and our spiritual nourishment!
IF YOU CANNOT SEE GOD IN ALL, YOU CANNOT SEE GOD AT ALL !
B. I. B. L. E. simply means: Basic Instructions Before
You are about to forward this to others, the devil will discourage you. So go on! Forward this to people who are dear to you and TRUST GOD.
Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget.
-Author Unknown – sent by Jane Martland
Foxearth Meadows scoops special site status
It’s a pleasant cycle ride to ‘a tranquil haven’. Visit our nature reserve Foxearth Meadows – and leave your bike safely locked up – while you tour what is now officially one of the most valuable wildlife areas in Essex.
Foxearth Meadows has been recognised as a Local Wildlife Site. The 11-acre reserve also boasts the recent installation of galvanised steel cycle racks to encourage more bike riders to visit.
‘The designation is recognition of the significant conservation interest Foxearth Meadows holds and acknowledges that the site is of county significance,’ said Local Wildlife Sites Officer for Essex Wildlife Trust John More.
‘The selection of LoWS is based on the most important, distinctive and threatened species and habitats within a national, regional and local context. This makes them some of our most valuable wildlife areas.’
John described Foxearth Meadows as ‘a tranquil haven for wildlife and people’ as he congratulated us for attaining this special status. ‘In simple terms, Foxearth Meadows is a great site,’ he said.
‘More scientifically, the site fulfils two of the selection criteria for LoWS selection in Essex. The site has been shown to support a very significant assemblage of scarce invertebrates, including Red Data Book and Essex Red Data List species. The site also contains river floodplain habitat which is not intensively farmed.’
Welcoming John’s observations, our Reserve Manager Mark Prina said the status is a ‘stepping stone’ to become a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). Then Foxearth Meadows would be protected by law to conserve its wildlife.
‘Much of the LoWS recognition is focused on the dragonfly aspect,’ said Mark. ‘We’ve recorded 22 species on the site. That’s phenomenal!’ Mark hopes the new status – and the cycle racks – will draw more visitors.
‘We want to encourage sustainable forms of transport,’ he explained. ‘We want to encourage those who are prepared to leave the car at home.
Extract from A Rocha News
Notice Boards in the Link
In an attempt to keep us up-to-date with what is going on in the Circuit, District and the world, I have been printing out various reports and pinning them to the notice board in the Link. The effect is untidy so I shall stop doing this unless you tell me that you regularly read these and find them useful.
Instead, the information can be found on-line at
Rota to help Community Worker with St John’s outreach
Please do consider whether you could offer some time to this work. Ideally there should be at least 3 people at each session. A new rota to cover December and January has been put up in the Link. You will see that the 1-3 session from January is another session for tots. If you could help in any of the sessions – even if only two or three occasions over the two months, do sign up. If you could do more than two or three that would be really helpful.
A very big thank to everyone who helped in any way with November’s Family Fair.
Whilst we do all the advanced organising, this would be of little use without everyone’s help setting up St Peter’s, running the various stalls, providing items for those stalls, preparing food, serving customers, washing up and of course clearing up afterwards. With all this help we raised our usual excellent total, a breakdown of which you will see below.
Thanks must also go to Weston’s Bakery in Gaol Lane who helped us with the bread and hot cross buns this year.
We made a point of speaking to all the stallholders that we rented tables out to and they mostly did very well. It was the very first event for Steve doing the handmade wooden items and he was very pleased. Most notably though were the comments made by Colin from “Simply Handmade Too”, the arts and crafts centre on the Stour Valley Business Centre in Brundon Lane. He has been attending craft events all over the East Anglian Region for many years. He said “everyone was friendly and there was a lovely atmosphere; he goes to a lot of events and ours was the best of the lot so book him in for next year”.
We will finish with an advanced notice. Next year’s Family Fair will be a little earlier in the year on SATURDAY 27TH OCTOBER so please put that in your diaries and keep that day free. Remember, we do not claim to be the founts of all knowledge so if you should have an inspired idea for that day, please speak to one of us
Andrew, Julie & Gill
FAMILY FAIR RESULTS 2017
Entrance Donations £ 83.16
Cakes £ 95.31
Bric a Brac £ 93.20
Books £ 64.05
Bobble Hats £ 8.00
Children’s Activities £ 5.71
October 24, 2017
Joint Statement from:
- All We Can, Methodist relief and development (Britain)
- United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR, USA)
- UnitingWorld (Australia)
- Irish Methodist World Development & Relief
Rohingya refugee crisis: Global agencies unite to respond and raise awareness of humanitarian catastrophe
We are committed to standing together in solidarity as Methodist and affiliated international development and relief agencies bringing urgent emergency assistance to the Rohingya people fleeing violence and unrest in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Since 25 August 2017, more than 519,000 refugees from Rakhine State have been forced to cross the border seeking safety in Bangladesh, resulting in a massive humanitarian crisis. Those fleeing violence have made their way to Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district and joining hundreds-of-thousands of women, men and children in the region in desperate need. Urgent humanitarian support is needed in Rakhine State, Myanmar, for those who remain, and also in neighbouring Bangladesh - food insecurity, a lack of access to shelter, safe water and health care. Many of those fleeing violence are children, who are especially vulnerable to malnutrition and disease when living in makeshift settlements.
We believe there is an imperative at this time for individuals, churches and groups around the world to draw together collectively to respond to this crisis. The Government of Bangladesh has kept its borders open to enable people to seek safety and to allow the international community to provide the required humanitarian assistance.
Through our trusted international humanitarian aid partners and our different emergency relief programmes in the region, we are responding to those most in need both in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
This expression of unity marks our dedication to providing people with ways to engage with the global movement of church communities tackling injustice and poverty and responding to humanitarian disasters with compassion and care. We stand together in our sorrow at the recent suffering and deaths resulting from this crisis and we come together in our concern for the thousands suffering in Myanmar and in neighbouring countries. We also unite in prayer for the leaders of countries affected by the crisis for wisdom in making decisions that will aid the most vulnerable.
We appreciate and thank those who have already given so generously to our appeals for this crisis and continue to ask the Christian community, whom we are privileged to serve, to be fervent in prayer and to give generously and quickly to this humanitarian crisis.
Review of The Shack – The Book and The Film!
I first read The Shack a few years ago, and then re-read it before going to see the film. I found the beginning difficult, not because of the storyline, but because it simply doesn’t deal with the emotions of the tragic event that forms the basis for the book in a way that impacts on the reader. It is as if it is written through a veil; the description is detached and tepid. Think of John's admonishment to the Church at Laodicea -"You are neither cold not hot".
Mack, the character on whom the book is focussed, is a lukewarm Christian who takes his three children on a camping trip. The youngest child is abducted and murdered; her body is never found, but remains of her clothing and blood are found at the shack. The killer is being hunted by the FBI, but never leaves any clues which will help them in their search. Mack is grief stricken, and copes badly with the aftermath as does his elder daughter. Yet somehow the raw emotion just doesn’t come across. It is as if it is being experienced second hand.
He is invited a few years later to the shack. Mack doesn’t know who has sent the invitation, and is naturally suspicious that it is the killer wanting to taunt him. It is here that the story takes on life. He goes prepared for the worst, ready to kill the man who killed his daughter and instead meets the Trinity. Suddenly the story takes on life and has you in its grip. It becomes real and you start to become a part of it. In fact, I wanted to read it quickly because it was such a thrill being with Mack when he is with the Trinity, and at the same time I wanted to make it last as long as possible, again because it was such a joy. I felt as if I was in the presence of the Trinity as well and enjoyed every moment.
This was the strength of the book and the vivid encounter with the Trinity contrasted with the previous chapters was conspicuous.
There was joy and sadness in the encounter, along with reconciliation and healing. I felt I was seeing the Trinity in a new light, just as Mack did.
Did this translate across the film? Well no, not really. In fact, I think it is reading it and spending those few days with Mack and the Trinity by reading, rather than just watching the big screen made it far more real. You had to engage and that is what makes the difference between the book and the film. What the book did have in common with the film was the way it dealt with the abduction and murder of Missy, Mack’s daughter. Tragedy, such as this, overwhelms you. It is raw and all encompassing; in the initial stages of your grief it almost defines who you are, yet this just does not come across in either the book or the film.
The book I recommend. The presentation of the Trinity is wonderful and Mack’s encounter with them is the saving of The Shack. Although, I did love the picture of God’s garden seen from an aerial view (showing order and patterns, whilst it looked like a wilderness on the ground from Mack’s view), it is not enough for the film.
If you find reading The Shack difficult at first, persevere. I guarantee you will find it worthwhile. The film was enjoyable, but sadly it simply did not make the same impact.
Jane Brooker. Central Methodist Church.
In Christmas through the Keyhole, an Advent Course, we are led through the songs of Mary, Zechariah, Simeon and the angels at Bethlehem to see the wonderful truth that “in the town of David a Saviour has been born to us”.
The meetings are all at 10.00 am at St John’s
November 29th – Jesus – the hope of the needy
December 6th – Jesus - the Redeemer of the Worls
December 13th – Jesus – the joy of the Earth
December 20th – Jesus – the light of the nations
The reason we include the word ‘community in our school name is that all our children are local and as far as possible we recruit staff and make purchases, from the community. In turn they help us and we give support as appropriate.
We are always on the look out for new and innovative ways to spread our support to the wider Maruvango Village Community and consider this extended community work a very important aspect of the project.
We also have a policy of ‘helping villagers to help themselves,’ rather than providing direct hand-outs. These are a short-term fix and can lead to a culture of dependency. Here's how we do it......
Wherever possible, we employ our staff from in and around Maruvango Village including most of our teachers, our headteacher, and all of our non teaching staff and support staff.
We have provided employment for parents in particularly difficult circumstances by developing projects such as our chicken house, our shoe making workshop and vegetable growing.
All of our building workers including our Building Manager and specialists such as carpenters, welders, plumbers are employed locally.
A very important aspect of our project is the involvement of the family members, especially during the early stages of constructing our new buildings.
Although families are not in a position to pay money for any aspect of their child's education, they are more than willing to pay in kind, and large parties of mothers, grandmothers, brothers, uncles etc organise themselves to help to clear the land, to dig and carry gravel, and to collect stones.
When specific projects are undertaken, such as bringing piped water to the school, voluntary working parties get together to dig trenches or whatever work is required.
We support the local community by sourcing and purchasing all of our fresh fruit, vegetables and dry foodstuffs from the local market or local villagers. We also purchase our milk fresh each day in the village.
Our desks, chairs and other furnishings are all made by a local craftsman from locally sourced grevillea wood and our building materials are all purchased from local suppliers.
We also aim to source all of our teaching materials and office furnishings locally, or at least in the nearby towns of Moshi or Arusha.
If we become aware of parents or family members who have specific personal needs we do our best to respond - such as finding medical help for a parent with serious medical issues.
Where possible we provide part time or full time employment for parents in particularly difficult circumstances - such as the father who was unable to pay for a roof for his home. Others include a father who was left disabled as the sole survivor of a mining accident, and unable to support his family and a mother who had to leave her family home for reasons of her own personal safety.
We also encourage our staff to develop their skills and provide the funds or the support required, wherever possible.
If you would like further information – or to donate – go to https://www.eastmerucommunityschool.org/community-initiatives
What? No Christmas dinner?
This year we thought we would try something different. We will be having a celebratory Christmas tea
at 4.30 pm on Sunday December 17th. This will allow everyone to go on to the Carol Service at 6.30 pm.
Watch out for further details.