Did you visit the Christmas Tree Festival at Frodsham Methodist Church last year? If not, you missed a real treat! It all started in a quite magical way, as the snow began to fall. You crunched over the frozen surface into the church in the darkness of early evening, to find the space filled with beautifully decorated trees, their scent filling the air and their fairy lights twinkling to light your way into this winter wonderland.
Then there was the warmth of hospitality, good food and friends to meet, activities for the children and so much more. If you didn’t go last year, don’t miss out in 2011!
This year half the proceeds of the Festival are going to the international charity ‘Emmaus’, which is our chosen Church charity for 2012. This charity, started in France by the Abbé Pierre in 1949, exists to provide a home in a
community for people who have been made homeless. There are currently 21 Communities in the UK, and Terry Waite is the national President. Each Community aims to be self-sufficient as far as possible, by taking in donated gifts of good quality furniture and household goods, renovating them and selling them on in the Community shop.
Thus people learn a trade, or other skills such as working in the shop or doing admin work. Money is also raised by such things as Community allotments. As the Preston Community states, their mission is “to maintain and develop a safe and stable community that provides hope, opportunity and personal growth for people in need, to enable each individual to play their part in today’s world with confidence in their own ability to fulfil their potential.”
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who himself became homeless, what better way could there be to help others? So come along to the Christmas Tree Festival, help others, and enjoy yourself in a very special way.
To learn more about Emmaus, visit their website.
The vintage will fail,
the fruit harvest will not come ...
until a spirit from on high is poured out on us,
and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
The effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
Isaiah 32:10, 15-17 (NRSV)
What does a “wilderness” require to become “a fruitful field”? And what does “a fruitful field” require to become “a forest”?
The Methodist Church is called to be a discipleship movement shaped for mission—a movement which makes disciples of Jesus—a movement which deepens the discipleship of God’s people—a movement which helps us all to work out how to be Christ-like in an often un-Christlike but never Christless world.
The Methodist Church has always invested heavily to equip God’s people for discipleship and mission. John Wesley sought to provide rigorous training for his preachers and an empowering Christian education for his followers. Today the Methodist Church supports a network of learning institutions, educational centres and theological educators across the country. Their task is to support, in direct and indirect ways, the ministries of the Church and the growth in faith of God’s people.
But, driven by a yearning to be a better discipleship movement, the Methodist Church is changing. We are experiencing growth and renewal in many ways. For instance, revitalised patterns of worship and increasing numbers of ‘fresh expressions’, like our Messy Church and 0930 Live! here in Frodsham, widening ecumenical partnerships, such as Frodsham Churches Together, and an increasingly rich and diverse membership.
And as the Methodist Church changes, so also must the connexional resources which seek to equip, support and enrich its leaders and members. As part of a project called ‘the fruitful field’, the Methodist Church is asking for feedback on how it currently teaches and trains people. All are invited to respond by firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to The Fruitful Field, Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR, before 23rd December.
December and January – what a busy time of year for so many of us! A time to catch up with family and friends, to buy presents, send cards, share meals and if you are like me – eat too many mince pies.
Our Church will be celebrating the birth of Jesus through worship, service and caring and gives us many opportunities to invite family and friends to join us. Once again we will have a ‘Sock Tree’ on which to hang new socks for those in need. Also the opportunity to put a greeting to friends on a red heart which will be hung on the Church Christmas Tree together with the white hearts of Celebration and Remembrance. These trees will be joined by others for our Christmas Tree Festival and on the final day, Monday, we will hold a short service among the trees which will be followed by Christmas refreshments. Our Nativity Service at 10.45am and Carols by Candlelight at 6pm will both be held on 18th December and we meet at 10.45am on Christmas Day. On 8th January at 5pm there will be a Christingle Party to which all are invited and on 15th January our Covenant Service at 10.45am.
But, amidst the celebrations there is often sadness for loved ones who are no longer with us and perhaps also a yearning for Christmases of long ago when we were children and life was much simpler. Yet the message of Christmas remains the same; the story of our God who loves us so much that He sent His own Son to be born as a helpless baby to a young girl and a hard working man. God Incarnate – God with us!
So for each of us, even in the sadness there is the hope that springs afresh as we hear the Christmas story, see the children dress up as shepherds and angels and sing the well loved carols. A Christmas card I have says it all, ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’. May this message be on your lips and bring you peace as we enter a new year together.
I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.
Blog posts written by the Minister & Members of Frodsham Methodist Church.