Message from Cathy Bird 9th Dec

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Image: 6th sept WEB

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Dear Friends,

As I write, the signs of Christmas are emerging, although truth be told, the lights and decorations did start to appear somewhat earlier this year as people grasped at the chance to introduce some much needed joy and frivolity into life. There is also of course the relentless Christmas marketing machine which we might think is somewhat hopeful in the face of the current economic uncertainty and what we have been told will be the worst recession in history! Perhaps, just perhaps, a more cautious approach to spending this year will allow people to focus on the story behind the festival and the meanings contained within that story. In all sorts of way, across the Circuit, we are trying to tap into the heart of the Christmas story, which leads us towards an understanding of pain and poverty and exclusion, rather than spending and overeating. Several churches in the United Stockport Circuit are part of programmes to address the reality of holiday hunger, offering food to local schools which they will redistribute to families of children who attend those schools. Many of you, through your churches, will be continuing to support food banks and toy collection projects to ensure that those who will be struggling financially at the moment can create at least a little bit of the Christmas Day atmosphere that so many of us take for granted. Many of our churches will, in one way or another be ensuring that our elderly and vulnerable members and friends receive a phone call or a greeting of some kind, although visiting is of course still very difficult, even with the relaxed rules for a few days over Christmas.

Of course, this is often a time of year with mixed feelings. It is a time when we are supposed to feel excited and happy and full of anticipation, Christmas gifts, family gatherings, New Year resolutions and so on. But of course, it is often a time of deep sadness — poverty, loneliness, unemployment and bereavement become all the harder to bear in the face of what we imagine is everyone else's happiness. Perhaps that is why it is at Christmas time that the Church's call to hospitality and service becomes all the more important. To be a community — in whatever ways we can this year — of warmth and welcome, to be the ones who tell the Greatest Story with love and clarity and fun — these are privileges in which we can all share, lifting our own hearts and those of others. I am pleased that the Coronavirus will not stop us celebrating, in church, online and outside. As you take a look at our busy Circuit schedule you will see the life that is continuing to flow throughout our body. Join us for 'Drive-In Carols' at the Hazel Grove Park and Ride on Saturday 19th December — bring family and friends along to sing some of the great Christmas songs of our Church tradition (yes, you will be allowed to sing!) and hear the story of the birth of Christ, because no matter how many times you hear it, there is always something new to discover. Then join us for our online Zoom Christingle on Christmas Eve — both of these events are great ways of witnessing to the love of Christ in our local area, and we hope will attract and engage with people who we have not met before. On Christmas Day, some of our churches will be holding live worship services, but if you cannot make one of those then there will be a specially recorded Christmas Day service, led by all the ministers, which you can watch at any time on Christmas Day. Details of how to access all these events can be found on the circuit website www.stockportciruit.org.uk or call your minister.

If you love the Christmas season then take the opportunity to share some of that love; if you dread it, find company and solace in the embrace of a Christian community, in prayer and in the service of God. Either way, be a part of ensuring that the message which is at the heart of Christmas still lives on: in simplicity God comes into the world, one who lives and breathes peace, and who calls us, no matter who we are, to follow in that way.

May I take this opportunity to personally wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year! My next letter will be during the week commencing 4th January. Thanks for those early Christmas greetings which I have already received, and in anticipation of those which I'm sure will follow! I also include thanks for all the good wishes and prayers for my mother, who some of you will know is very seriously ill at the moment. Whether you celebrate the season with family, friends or on your own, may you experience the love and peace of the Christ Child.

And please remember as always, as we continue to live with lockdown measures:
In this time of isolation and separation may we feel the unity of God's spirit in the bonds of peace and love which connect us to one another.

  • When we feel lonely let us know that in Christ we are never alone.
  • When we feel isolated may we be reminded that within the worldwide Body of Christ we are always connected.
  • When we need a hug help us to feel the warmth of God's embrace
  • When we are compelled to keep our distance, may we be drawn close to each other within the Spirit of Companionship that flows from God and which moves through and between each one of us.

    With love and blessings in this special season, Rev Cathy. €

    NOTICES

    Worship
    See your local church notices for details of 'live' worship in your church, but for the time being we are continuing our Circuit wide Zoom service at 3pm on Sundays.
    Login details as usual as follows:
    https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87212246881?pwd=VXpyMzRYV21UZ1ZoYlkvc2R4dmV1QT09

    Meeting ID: 872 1224 6881 Password: 974333

    Christmas Day, pre-recorded service available at any time to watch. See Circuit website for details.

    Circuit Prayer

    Even though some of our churches are once again able to open for worship, let's continue to say this prayer together when we can, at 11am on a Sunday morning. This way we stay connected in a very really and tangible way with all those who are not yet able to come back to church. You can also read more about each church on the Circuit Website www.stockportcircuit.org.uk

    God of Love and Life, we pray to you this morning for the life the United Stockport Methodist Circuit, for our sisters and brothers who belong to:

    (pausing briefly to reflect after each name)

    Christ Church Methodist /URC , Dialstone Lane Methodist Church , Davenport Methodist Church , Edgeley Community Church , Hazel Grove Methodist Church, Heaton Mersey Methodist , Heaton Moor United Church, Jubilee Methodist Church, (Marple Bridge), Marple Methodist Church, The Ridge Methodist Church, (Marple), Romiley Methodist Church, St. Johns Methodist Church, (Cheadle Heath), Tiviot Dale Methodist Church (centre of Stockport), Trinity Methodist Church, (Bramhall Lane ), Windlehurst Methodist Church ( High Lane ), Woodley Methodist Church
    We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. We ask that this time of crisis might pass and that those who suffer might find comfort and strength within the knowledge of your grace, revealed through the kindness and compassion of the people of God. Eternal God, though the self-offering of your Son you have filled our lives with your presence. Help us in our sufferings and trials. Fill us with hope and strengthen us in our weakness. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Circuit Christingle Service 24th December 3pm
    This year we will be holding our annual Christingle Service, jointly across the Circuit, on Zoom on Christmas Eve at 3pm. Look out for details about collecting your Christingle Kit from your local church — details for joining the service will be in the bag with everything else you need to make a wonderful Christingle.

    Circuit 'Carols in the Car' Event Saturday 19th December

    The United Stockport Methodist Circuit are organising and hosting a fabulous event on Saturday 19th December
    Carols in the Car @ Hazel Grove Park and Ride
    Choose your time: 4pm, 6pm or 8pm
    Join us for a COVID-secure chance to sing your heart out to your favourite Christmas carols, brought to you by the United Stockport Circuit and played by local music groups.
    This drive-in event will bring the Christmas Spirit and the Christmas Story to Stockport in a unique way.
    Tickets are £6 per car, of which £5 will go to Mind, supporting mental health in our area.
    To buy tickets, go to www.carolsinthecar.co.uk

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