From Waddesdon, Coral guides our thoughts, and reminds us just how important the legacy is that we leave for future generations. We never know the impact we will have on those who follow us, but we pray that the foundations we build for them will be solid and laid on good teaching and faithful discipleship, that will enable them to flourish and grow into faith in the Lord Jesus. Give thanks in your prayers for those who have gone before and given so much for us.
"For all the saints, who from their labours rest", to quote the words and tune of a favourite hymn and tune, No 814 in Hymns & Psalms. The dictionary quotes 'Person of exceptional holiness' (for saint).
Those faithful souls from this chapel would not have boasted of being 'Saints'. However, their influence on us here today began in Sunday School, into adulthood, and continual prayer, had a rich harvest in God's Good Time of our commitment and dedication to follow in our Lord's footsteps and to show God's love to all in our community and beyond.
I recall some of those whose faces shone with that love of the Holy Spirit. Faith Fowler, Enid Kirtland, Dorothy Harding, Mary Stabler, Joan Coles, Mary Norris.
I pray that we will be worthy of our calling to "Go forth and tell" by word and deed, in Jesus' name, Amen.
#Sunday June 18th was the turn of Christchurch Thame to be the focus of our Circuit Prayers
This week we hear from Ann who shares the highs and lows of her journey of faith with us. Ann has her feet on the ground and works tirelessly to ensure that all those around her feel and share the joys that are ours when we walk with our Lord. Please pray for all whose faith is tested, that their prayers may be answered.
Brought up in two Presbyterian Manses in Wales by very active Christian parents, in the Church and community one would say I had a very good start to my Christian journey.
My faith wavered at times when nursing in a Children's Hospital; a child dying in my care sometimes due to child neglect or poverty in 60's Liverpool sorely tested me but then it was restored when treatments were successful and well children went home to grateful parents.
In 1967 on moving to Thame I had a visit from the Rev Hodsman, the Minister of the Methodist Church, inviting me to the Church where I was welcomed and made many friends.
Over the years I have been part of the many changes that resulted in the beautiful building and fellowship that is Christchurch now. Here is a place open to the community and with people of faith, generosity and love attending regularly to praise God from whom all blessings flow. I give thanks every day for the privilege of being part of this fellowship and although many good friends are no longer with us, their contributions to the life of the Church live on.
I have strived to be a 'practical Christian' because that is what I feel comfortable with. The role of Pastoral Leader and visitor for 35 years has been a privilege and honour and I thank all the visitors who have served and are still serving the Church in this important role.
We thank Richard and Keith for their Ministry and Pastoral care through the last year. It has been really appreciated and enjoyed.
We are looking forward to meeting the Rev Moon in August. He can be sure of our support and a warm welcome from us all in Christchurch.
Best wishes to all friends in the Circuit,
As a circuit over the last few years we have often discussed the welcome that we offer to visitors and Chris confirms below how vital it is that we do our very best to get that welcome right. Also he confirms how discussion groups where we listen and exchange ideas in an open and non-judgemental fashion can be another area where we can put people at their ease in a non-threatening environment. Please pray for all those who tread the path that Chris took when he walked into Swanbourne Chapel for the first time and pray that we also offer an effective and warm welcome.
I first started attending the small chapel in Swanbourne nearly 5 years ago and found it to be a very welcoming place. In 2019, I took up membership, having found a place which was engaged with the kind of social activities that I was also interested in. The chapel has a presence in the community that people can access and is developing these further over time.
I was confirmed in the Anglican Church, and I quite like the ritual of high church, but couldn't find somewhere where I felt at home. I have found the more informal nature of the Methodist Church, where you can talk as equals even with those leading worship, suits me.
As well as the small and growing core congregation, which meets on Sunday evenings, there is 'Sunday Sox' which meets in the morning for children. This draws in some families, and we have larger numbers for family services including some communion services and particularly for Harvest Suppers.
The house meetings, which Frankie and Ken facilitate, usually monthly, but with weekly study groups for Lent and before Advent, provide opportunities for sharing thoughts and ideas in which we can gently challenge each other in a loving way. On the third Wednesday of the month, we have a morning 'Drop in for Coffee' which is attended by members of the Anglican church and non-churchgoers as well, where there is always lively discussion.
Our minister Rev. Noreen Daley-Lee and her husband Lafton and son Emmanuel have settled in well into the community, coming as a family to the services that Noreen leads, and she has brought a new perspective on worship, which we all welcome. We also have good relations with the Anglican Church and with their new vicar Yvonne, who joins in the Drop-in sessions. Some of the congregation attend our Covenant service each year, and we join them for Palm Sunday and Christingle services, which I also value.
Thanks to Ruth and David Marsden, we are again holding our annual Barn Service with brass band on Sunday 25th June at 5.00 pm at Brises Farm, Nearton End, Swanbourne MK17 0SL. Poster attached, please circulate. Teas will be served in the chapel from 2.30 pm onwards. We would particularly like to invite all of you to this unique and special service.
Sue makes some really good observations below about how difficult we find it to talk in public about our 'Deep Feelings'. It is not easy because we have to lay bare our feelings and hence run the risk of being hurt by the thoughts and words of others. But once we take the plunge, the results can be amazing and so helpful to those around us who are seeking to know and understand the love of Christ in all its richness. Please pray for those lovely folk at Stone this Sunday that they may all feel the wonder of the love and strength that comes from accepting Jesus into our lives.
Well, 'testimony' is an old Methodist word which takes me back in memory to my earliest days of 'going to Chapel'. Taken by my mum from the age of about four, I recall the – to me – old, old men and they were almost always men who would tell in the Services they led on Sunday afternoons, how they came to faith. Mostly bored, I would turn the pages of my Bible story book. I think on looking back that my Mum and the others in the congregation, although admiring, were quite often a bit bored too and possibly embarrassed: rural Methodists were not on the whole very upfront about their deep feelings. Probably still aren't, actually.
Still, I grew to know Jesus through these good people – preachers and congregation, and most especially my mum in whom I saw the love of Jesus manifested in our family and neighbours. Anyone in trouble or who needed any sort of help, and my mum was the Good Samaritan; supported by my dad who though he seldom came to Services had all the Christian virtues.
So, aged just 16, I became a 'Member of the Methodist Church', having attended the preparation meetings with the Minister in his Manse next to AMC in those days. The really difficult thing for me at those meetings was the necessity to pray extempore – not easy then, or now, although I hope I've learned a little since.
Bible verses that have resonated with me all my life are those in James 2, 14 – 18:
"faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead......I will show you my faith by what I do."
It's a big claim, and by golly how many times have I failed in 60-odd years! But I do keep trying, through God's grace, because although I understand that as you say, the emphasis on these weekly prayer slots should 'move away from listing events and money raised', those things are after all some of the outward expressions of our faith and commitment to Jesus in our communities: they are what people who don't come to Services see and perhaps wonder 'why', which can be our opportunity to say ' Come and see'.