I have just received my new T-Shirt from the worship group The Rend Collective with the slogan: January, February, Quarantine, December! I think it pretty much sums up this year well. It has been a strange year but also a very challenging one for so many of us. There are many things that have been different this year from Lockdowns to Test and Trace, from R-Rates to Face Masks. We had no idea that the BREXIT we were all talking about last Christmas would turn into COVID a few months later. When I first met David back in February about my placement, if someone would of said the church buildings would be closed and live worship being suspended we would of laughed. But sadly the current pandemic we are going through is no joke. With so many families grieving loved ones who have died, the vulnerable being isolated more than normal and the mental health of the community being at an all time low it is a great concern for all. However, and it’s a big however, there is one thing that has not changed and remains the same yesterday, today and forever and that is the love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As that famous Psalm 23: 1-4 tells us:-The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters,he refreshes my soul.He guides me along the right pathsfor his name’s sake.Even though I walkthrough the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,for you are with me;your rod and your staff,they comfort me. Times may be tough, times may be really hard, but our Lord is with us, caring for us and guarding us every second of everyday. Not only that but we are a family in this together. At the time of writing this letter in November, I am not sure what Christmas will look like. But this year more than ever we need to Walk the Way of Jesus in our communities. Phone anyone who may be alone this year, support the homeless shelters, or even bake a nice cake for a student minister! Let’s flood the community with the love of Christ, lets ensure we are the Light of the community where we live and share the peace (in a virtual way) to all we meet! All that remains is to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year from all of us in the Ministry Team. God Bless, Adam Woodhouse
Captives’ HymnThe service on November 1st was based on the words of the Captives’ Hymn composed by Margaret Dryburgh in the Palembang houses camp in 1942 and first sung by herself, Shelagh Brown and Dorothy MacLeod at a Sunday service. Thereafter the hymn was sung by the women every Sunday even throughout the later years in captivity when they encountered suffering and death all around them. When in 1943, some internees were repatriated from Palembang to Singapore, the hymn was taken with them, and as a result, it found fame in the camps there too. I feel that this hymn reflects a similar commitment that we all need to have at the current time during Covid 19. There are five verses, and these were used and meditated one at a time throughout the service.In the introduction, it states that I am aware of the Lord’s presence and those women in the camp in the second World War must have been aware of his presence to be able to write this captives’ hymn and to sing it when they suffered and became malnourished and scarred by their containment in a camp. Are we suffering in the same way in shielding, social distancing, and not having the freedom we are used to? As we journey through this second lockdown, let us keep these words and thoughts to be our strength and guidance as our Lord and His Holy Spirit strengthens us each moment, day and week. May God continue to bless you. Sara Father in captivityWe would lift our prayers to Thee,Keep us ever in Thy Love.Grant that daily we may proveThose who place their trust in TheeMore than conquerors may be.Give us patience to endureKeep our hearts serene and pure,Grant us courage, charity,Greater faith, humility,Readiness to own Thy Will,Be we free or captive still.For our country we would prayIn this hour be Thou her stay.Pride and selfishness forgive,Teach her, by Thy Laws, to live,By Thy Grace may all men see,That true greatness comes from Thee. Contd
For our loved ones we would prayBe their guardians, night and day,From all dangers, keep them free,Banish all anxiety.May they trust us to Thy care,Know that Thou our pains dost share.May the day of freedom dawnPeace and justice be reborn,Grant that nations loving TheeO’er the world may brothers be,Cleansed by suffering, know rebirth,See Thy Kingdom come on earth.Church Secretary’s NotesThese are strange times! We have continued to open for prayer with about ten people attending each Sunday. Hopefully from December 6th we should be back to opening for services on Sundays as we did during October – still with masks, no singing and 2m spacing etc. Ernie is due to take that service, with Adam & David taking the other services in the month (unless there are any new restrictions). Peter Dawson will be taking our Christmas day service and we have decided not to open the church for a service on 27th Dec.The Advent reflective online service, led by David, went well with about 40 people involved and there will be a similar carol & readings service on Thursday 24th Dec at 5pm. This service will be available as the You-tube service for Sunday 27th Dec.As I mentioned last time, Elders elections are imminent with Peter, John, Kathleen & Andrew due to stand down. I have received only one nomination. Please give this your prayerful consideration – if we delay the stand down that will only create a bigger problem next year. Please contact me if you need to know more or feel you could contribute in any way.Finally since we haven’t had a church meeting for some time, we will be holding an information meeting on Zoom on Mon 30th Nov at 7pm to keep you all up to date and answer any questions.Hope you can all Zoom in!Adrian
Treasurers ReportYou are thanked for Offerings in October totalling £2,426 As we near the year end, a year which has been a difficult one financially, we thought readers may be interested in some of the facts and figures from our Accounts over the year so far.On the Income side, our Offertory receipts from the Free Will Offering Scheme, have thankfully remained very similar to contributions in 2019.However, our "loose " collections from Sunday mornings have as anticipated, reduced. The income from this source is around £2000 less compared to last year.On a good note, our Gift Day proceeds have been very generous and, when gift aid is included, will be £4235 compared to a figure of £2712 last year. Other Gift Aid income on our general sources amounted to £4690 this year - £5885 last year.Due to the pandemic, we have suffered a major loss of income from rent arising from the letting of our buildings, principally from the Pre-School. They re-opened for a short period in July and started up again in September but for staffing problems, had to close for a short time again during the term. Their numbers are considerably down at present time and to assist their financial difficulties, we have had to reduce the rent they pay, in the short term.Our income from Pre-School this year will be £7,380 - last year was £16,595 - a considerable reduction, plus lost revenue from other lettings of over £1600.Looking at the Expenditure figures, we have obviously saved on Utilities costs, cleaning costs and expenses in relation to pulpit supply, organist costs and other miscellaneous costs.In summary therefore we have to report that the loss of income overall is far greater than the savings and thus will show a greater deficit by end of this year than the figure at end of 2019.We are very grateful for all your continued financial giving over the year. Many thanks Mary A and Richard W
News of Members and FriendsThe Havell Familywould like to express their thanks to everyone at St John’s for their sympathy and support for us on the passing of Cynthia Havell. The Thanksgiving service presided over by Peter Dawson was appreciated by all who were able to attend.Please pray for Barbara N who is now in a Care Home and Sylvia J who is unwell and in hospital.
Services in St John’s (Subject to Covid Decisions) and Online
2nd AdventCommunion (Online)
Rev Ernie Bossé
Adam Woodhouse Toy Service
Rev Ernie Bossé
Rev David Rees
Rev David Rees
St John’s Not Open
Peter Dawson 10:30
St John’s Not Open
Recording of Christmas EveReflection
Rev David Rees
Thought for the DayLord, help us not toLook on you as an umbrella,But as someone whoHelps us to enjoyThe rain.From "Sometimes I weep" by Ken Walsh
Sound Services are just on one number now 01473 938542 and you get a choice after dialling: 1. This Week; 2. Last Week; 3. A Reflection; and if anything is over 30 minutes it would be 4. Sara is reading ‘Why Me’ on 3 at present. If you have not tried the Sound Service line this, at under 4 minutes, is a good start for the Advent season.
Special Christmas Bible Study which will be on Tuesday, December 8th at 10.30 am hosted by Castle Hill URC’s Zoom and telephone account. Everyone is welcome to attend as we look with fresh eyes on The Birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-6. You are welcome to listen or contribute as much as you like. God Bless, Adam Woodhouse (Minister in Training)
Just to let you know we have placed the collection boxes for FIND just by the door into the Worship Area. Over the last eight months FIND have been very busy supporting those in need and I know they will appreciate us restarting our collections. If you are not able to get to church at the moment but would like to contribute, please give me a call and I will be happy to collect from you.Mary A What are the best items to donate to FIND in the run-up to Christmas?Tubs of sweets, chocolates and biscuits for its Christmas hampers;Biscuits, crisps, nuts, tea, coffee, sugar, long life UHT milk, long life fruit juice, cereal;Toiletries such as soap, body wash, deodorant. Items they don't need at the moment are: pasta, soup, baked beans, porridge.
Christmas Gift Collection Ideas 2020St John’s are hoping to take toys etc., from our Toy Service on 13 December to them but you can make your own arrangements like getting someone to bring them to the service or sending them yourself. Below is what they have asked for. Please can all donated gifts be left unwrapped.Gift Cards in £5 dominations are extremely useful, these can be from any local store such as Primark, The Works, Argos, B&M Store, Sports Direct and any supermarket. These are wonderful for last minute gifts for arrivals just before and in between Christmas and New Year.
Scarves & Gloves, Perfume/body Sprays/Deodorants Lipstick Hair Stylers i.e. Hair Dryers, Straighteners, Curling Tongs Hair brush, Handbag, Crafts i.e. Sewing, Tapestry, Painting Nightwear, Dressing Gowns/Slippers, Chocolates/Sweets, Body Lotions/Body Butter, Nail Polish/ Pamper/Manicure Sets, Face Masks, Diaries/Calendars, Fleecy Throws, Make Up or Make Up Sets, DVDs (non violent) Chocolates!Wrapping paper, gift tags and sellotape are also extremely useful.
Outdoor Toys, Early Years Shapes, Stackers, Baby Teething Toys, Friction Engine Type, ToysDolls/Barbie/Action Figures, Dressing Up Clothes, Bath Toys, Happy Land Play Sets, Board Games, Cars & Trucks, Lego/Duplo, Electronic Games, Craft Sets/Play Dough, DVDs (under 15s), Roller skates/Scooters, Chocolate/Sweets, Dressing Gowns/Slippers/Nightwear, Footballs/Balls/Hoola HoopsWrapping paper, gift tags and sellotape are also extremely useful.
Our Collection on Christmas Day is for FIND
We intend to fund FIND by creating a St John’s Christmas Card and sharing it for a donation of £ 3 +
I have recently published a book called, “Cry of Faith A Book of Sermons”. It contains 33 sermons covering a wide variety of subjects and biblical passages. Some sermons tackle difficult questions such as why does an all powerful and loving God allow some terrible suffering? The sermons were written between 1980 and 2020. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to St John’s Hospice, Lancaster. The book costs £8.00.Copies can be purchased from David Atkinson, 13 Ashford Close, Lancaster, LA1 4QH. Tel: 01524 572702. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A previous minister of St John’s, Rev David Atkinson (1995 – 2004)