We follow the journey of Chris as she shares her story with us. Chris talks of a number of people who influenced her and together guided her journey with Jesus. To my mind this shows the value of being part of a loving community where everyone contributes to the story. Please remember in your prayers all those who labour tirelessly, and sometimes unseen, to offer the love of Jesus to all in their community.
I was brought up in a very strict Methodist Family – no playing outside or exciting games on Sundays! In fact I still feel very guilty if I walk into a shop on a Sunday!
However it was a very happy childhood so much of our lives revolved around the local chapel where my father and his three brothers were very involved. I remember particularly that one uncle ran the young peoples' Sunday school group and on many Sundays the Bible passage was illustrated by us acting out the story. These were printed out on small pamphlets. I felt these often made the passages come alive and I am sure my faith was strengthened by them.
When I was about 16 we had a very charismatic young minister come to our church and one Sunday evening service he appealed for people who felt they wanted to give their life to Christ to come forward during the singing of "Take my life and let it be". I felt called to go forward but was too embarrassed. However at the fifth verse "Take my will and make it thine it shall be no longer mine" I felt I couldn't stay in my place any longer and had to go to the front. The small group of us then went on to attend membership classes and deeper Bible study. So began my journey of service to The Methodist Church firstly becoming a Sunday School teacher then whilst at training college in Cambridge joining Methsoc, gaining further from Bible study and discussion groups.
On coming to Aylesbury my membership was transferred to AMC where I helped with the youth club in a small way. Arthur and I met through school events but our relationship was consolidated by our connection with The Methodist Church.
After we were married with busy lives and no car at that time our involvement was sparse, but when our son was born and we brought him to be baptised we realised as we made those promises that we needed to once more put our faith into action and I became a teacher in the Sunday School and then a pastoral visitor. In a way this precluded any work out of AMC as I needed to be there every week.
When Arthur began preaching we decided it was something that we wanted to do together. As I accompanied him around the circuit I realised I enjoyed worshipping amongst the different congregations and getting to know them. When I was asked to become a circuit steward, I felt this was me being offered a chance to serve in a different role. This is my second term of office and it is still a joy to come alongside people to hear their stories and to share in their faith journeys.
I asked Emma about the work at Whitchurch – that's enough from me!
Forwarded message from a parent – Hi Emma, I hope this is of some use....
Little Chapel is a really welcoming place to come. Emma organises a wide range of activities that children of all ages can join in with. It's a great environment to gently introduce children to worship. As a parent I enjoy the fact that the sessions are always engaging but also calm and reflective. Alice and Rosie say that they enjoy playing with other children, singing and colouring. Alice would like to learn some new songs. The food always goes down a treat and all sitting and eating together makes the chapel feel like a big family.
On Sunday, our Little Chapel service started like every other, with a "soft-start", as families dribbled in when they were able. All with excitement, keen to see each other and share stories of the past couple of weeks, since we last met, parents and children alike, an invaluable and soul affirming catch-up. Stories of babies born, trophies won, lost teeth, full-nights in beds, new teachers and schools. All because we are very much a family, delighting in each other's lives, together in God's House.
Our time together is organic, never the same as our time before, or governed by the week's plan, but always reflecting the 'mood' of the room, and is always joyous.
Joyousness was our theme for worship this Sunday. The God-given gift of finding happiness and joy in all that we do, and passing it on. We reflected on Ecclesiastes 3:12-13.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live..
The children were asked, what made them happy, and as well as those fabulously childlike responses of ice-cream, sausages, cuddles, Christmas and Bugs, a resounding joy of coming to Chapel was shared. We then asked them to share what they enjoyed about our time together at Chapel, and to tell us of anything we could improve?
A resounding thumbs up was the topic of food!
Thankfully, pizza making was on the cards this week, organised, joyous chaos. No time in the end for our planned craft or singing, but time for sharing of food. All sat together, preceded by our thanksgiving prayer, the children, parents and leaders continue to chat, the ebb and flow of laughter filling our tea room. The children then run off to have a (unorganised, independent) play afterwards, whilst the adults all muck-in to clear up.
A harmony of shared belief, fellowship and joy, (all rolled up in the knowledge and understanding of how families are) before the next time we meet.
This week we join Pat Roberts on her journey of faith. Pat has been a member at Wingrave for many years; during that time she has held several positions, including running the Sunday School. She also served as Senior Steward, following in the footsteps of her husband, Leslie.
This week we are sharing Roger's journey of faith. This is a journey that has led him through both the harsh reality of life as it is still lived in too many places today, and the joys of knowing that God does indeed care for all his children no matter what. Please remember in your prayers those for whom life is not easy or fair and who start life in circumstances where the home comforts that we take for granted are just a dream.
We have all arrived at our relationship with God through different routes. Here are a few highlights from mine.
My Mother was a committed Christian whose faith had been strengthened during WWII by her experiences of Christian work whilst working in the Army both in the Blitz in London and on the Isle of Man.
Although a Baptist she ensured that her husband, an Army Regular who was not demobbed until the end of 1947, and her three children worshipped and went to Sunday School, in a small West London Methodist Chapel. This building was condemned as it almost fell down and the site was sold for housing. It was replaced by a new church building set on a huge Council estate used to rehome those displaced by the War (including my family), bringing with them extreme poverty, lawlessness, fractured families and broken people. It was perhaps what we would today call a "sink" estate.
It was here that I first experienced hostility to Faith, trust in God and the endurance and perseverance of Christian people. The church was beleaguered and having no full time Minister, relied upon loyal Local Preachers and then students from Richmond Theological College to administer Communion. It was beleaguered because it was seen as a centre planted by the "Authorities", its windows were continually smashed (in one year over 100 large panes were replaced), attempts made to burn the building down, its entrance repeatedly blocked and attendees at services shouted at.
Despite all these challenges the faithful congregation continued to worship and work showing both their love of God and how Christian love works in the real world, by meeting the many needs of the area, steadily integrating themselves and slowly growing in numbers.
Against this background I came to realise that I too wanted to share in the essence of Christianity and learn to love Christ and follow in his ways. After a 4 month Membership study course which really tested my commitment I formally became one of them at the age of 16, working for 5 years 3 nights a week and at weekends in that same now somewhat tamed church.
I could say my faith was shaped by this experience and events such as facing gangs of brick-throwing youths wielding bicycle chains, trying to gate-crash the Church youth club, and as a consequence sound all " goody two shoes" but this wouldn't be true. What really happened was that God was working his purpose out through some of his spirit-led people on earth. Their example of faithful worship and loving service so deeply affected me that I joyfully accepted the commitment that faith requires.
We may feel that our churches today, albeit in a different way, are beleaguered? I know I constantly fall short of what God wants for me, but long to be able to show the same faith, courage, steadfastness and love for others, first shown to me over 60 years ago.
It worked then. Let's continue to strive to make it work now.
Mike shares his story with us and makes the important point that ours is not just a passive faith where we are merely observers, but an active faith where we all take part, and all have a part to play. A valuable aspect of our faith, sometimes overlooked, is in the support we are able to offer one another individually, and also collectively to those who pass through our doors. Please pray for all those who nurture our young people and plant those vital seeds of the gospel.