White Church Alternative Notices Week 36
Dear Church Friends,
How are you all today? Thursday was a ‘do you want the good news or the bad news’ sort of day. We’re still in Tier 3 so not a lot of change for Fylde. The good news is that Places of Worship are permitted to hold services once again and we hope to reopen on Sunday 6th December. For 5 days around Christmas, people will be able to travel to join loved ones if they feel that is the right thing for them to do. Non-essential shops will be able to reopen, but those associated with hotels, pubs, cafes, restaurants and the entertainment industry are having a tough time and will be disappointed. When we think of the Christmas story, we remember Mary and Joseph having to make the long journey to Bethlehem. Mary was due to give birth any day and travel would have been slow, but they arrived at their destination only to find everywhere was full and they couldn’t find a room for the night until the innkeeper offered a stable at the back. What must they have thought? They would have been so relieved to find shelter somewhere, that they were grateful for anywhere. Think of what that lowly birth led to… We must have the same attitude and be thankful for what we can do this Christmas and hope that there will soon be even more light at the end of the tunnel. As I have read recently “ there’s always something good to be said; something to live for; something to brighten even the dullest day; something higher and finer we can aim at; something pleasant to recall; something to thank God for.”
There is a story that one cold winter night two people were seeking accommodation in a small hotel, only to be told by the receptionist that all the rooms were full. As they were about to leave the receptionist asked them if they would be willing to use his room. They were reluctant until he said he could sleep in the office so they gratefully accepted his offer. The next morning the man said to the receptionist “ you should be manager of the best hotel in the country.” The receptionist smiled and thanked him. A few years later he was surprised when the same couple invited him to visit them in New York. He went and was shown round a huge hotel which he was asked to be the manager of. Apparently the gentleman was the famous William Waldorf Astor! One never knows where a deed of kindness may lead.
Usually there is a facility for Christmas cards to be exchanged at church, or for those of you who don’t send individual cards, an opportunity to send one card to all Church Friends. Unfortunately we will be unable to use the church for that purpose this year. Some of you will no doubt hand deliver cards to your friends but for anyone unable to do this or anyone who would like to send greetings via a newsletter, I will compile an extra pre-Christmas congregational newsletter containing any Christmas greeting/wishes people would like to communicate to the Church Family. Please send me details of what you would like to be included and I will use your own words in the greeting.
We’ve noticed that the birds are singing again. The squirrel(s) in the garden are regularly raiding the bird feeder to stock up their winter larders all around the garden!. Even my planters of pansies and wallflowers are not immune – easy, soft compost in those! Some months ago we saw three squirrels at the same time, but don’t know how many visit now as we only see one at a time. Swan V6D and family share their time between the water near St Annes swimming pool and that opposite the Grand Hotel. I think more people feed them by the latter. This morning we noticed some lavender with a few flowers on it and we still have hollyhocks in flower and we have also passed many roses in bloom. All signs to cheer us up.
Notification of Intention to attend a Sunday Service.
As there is a limit on numbers attending and in order to avoid any confusion, please contact me every week by email or phone if you intend to come to the next Sunday service.
In case you need a reminder, see What to Expect at Present.
If anyone who visits our Church is unfortunate to receive a positive test result at any time, please would you let me know.
Our Worship on Sunday 6th December will be led by Richard Golding and will include Communion. If possible, please bring your own individual portion of bread and wine (squash or water) for communion services. There will be some individual prepacked cups with wafers available for anyone who forgets, so no one will miss out.
If you are intending to come, please will you let me know by 6pm on Saturday 5th December.
December thoughts from Rev Janet Calderley.
If like me you are of a certain age you are probably thinking around this time, ‘Christmas gets earlier every year’. The Christmas adverts have begun on television and, as has now become the norm, the John Lewis advert has once more made it into the news. Even the government has got in on the act this year. At the beginning of October we were being urged to do our Christmas shopping early by government spokespersons, though this year there is sadly very good reason for this. We need to spread out our Christmas buying to ease the problems of crowding and to help to preserve social distancing in the hope that we might be able to control the rise in Covid 19 cases.
We are however used to TV adverts appearing on our screens weeks or even months in advance. After all we have to be shown what this years ‘must have’ gifts are, be persuaded that we really do need them, and be given plenty of time to go out and buy them before stocks run out! One of the earliest Christmas notices I ever saw though was while I was minister of St. Mark’s in Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland. At the very beginning of August, at the height of the summer holiday season, I saw a handwritten sign in one of the gift shops, ‘Only 127 shopping days to Christmas’ (that was in the days before Sunday opening, it would have been 146 days including Sundays, and the number was changed each day from then on until Christmas eve).
In the church the traditional time of preparation begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas – Advent Sunday. That is when we start our countdown of four Sundays each representing one of the stages on the way to the fulfilment of God’s promise or the people who kept the hope alive and made it come to fruition. We celebrate God’s chosen people and his promise to them, the prophets who continued to proclaim God’s word, John the Baptist who announced Christ’s coming, and Mary who through obedience to God became the mother of his son.
Even within the church though, there are some things that we have to do well in advance to be ready in time for Christmas. In a ‘normal’ year well before Advent begins we will have made preparations for our nativity play, gift service, Christingle and carol services, the week before Advent we would put up the Christmas tree and decorate the church, and many churches would also have made preparations for an Advent Bible Study course. But do we start getting ready too soon?
The people of Israel had been preparing for Christ’s coming for hundreds of years. And God had been preparing for even longer! One Advent Bible study course which I led, “The Voice of the Prophet”, focused on the book of Isaiah which was probably written in three stages between about 740 BC and 515 BC. Isaiah looks forward in hope from very troubled times to a time when God will save his people through his chosen Messiah, prophesies which Jesus used to explain his mission and which Christians believe are fulfilled in him.
So it can never be too early to celebrate Christmas because God is with us always. Ever since Christ was born we have been people of the incarnation. And more than that, through his death, resurrection, ascension and his gift of the Holy Spirit we are one with God in Christ. Whatever you think of the pop song by Wizzard, “I wish it could be Christmas every day” for us it is Christmas every day because we are Christmas people, living with the incarnation – God is with us – now and forever – it is always Christmas!
Wishing you a blessed Christmas and a peaceful New Year. Janet.
Christmas 2020 Services. As mentioned in the Update Letter, the intention is to hold a service on:
EITHER 24th December – Welcoming Christmas, including Holy Communion “ at 11.30pm
OR 25th December – Family Service for Christmas Day “ at 10.30am
Please would anyone who is likely to come to one of those services, inform me of their preferred choice. This is your last chance to notify me of your preference as a decision needs to be made this week for publicity purposes. There has only been a very limited response so far.
Churches Together in St Annes. Lytham St Annes Express Christmas Supplement
Rev Stephen Heath Minister of Church Road Methodist Church St Annes has informed us that the Lytham St Annes Express has offered to work with Churches Together in St Annes, to produce an 8 page Christmas supplement. Topics covered may include telling the Christmas Story, publicising services, highlighting some of the challenges we have overcome over the course of the year and how the churches are engaging with their local communities.
CTiSA are happy to include other churches in Fylde if they wish to be involved. The Elders at the White Church have expressed an interest in participating and ask anyone who has any Christmas poems, stories, puzzles, cartoons, pictures or anything suitable to put in, to please send details to me or to Joan B on email@example.com who is co-ordinating this. I’ve not received anything so far. Please help if you have anything suitable.
A Christmas Meal Delivery Service
There will be a free Christmas meal delivery for isolated individuals or needy families.
Can you nominate anyone that you are aware of (including yourself) who is unlikely to be able to make a Christmas meal or unable to join family/friends for a Christmas meal?
Nominations with names and telephone numbers must be passed to Ruth on firstname.lastname@example.org or Joan B no later than Dec 12th.
Each nomination is followed up with a phone call from the organisers asking——
Are they happy to receive a meal, free of charge.
Where the meal should be delivered.
How many people want a meal.
Access to premises.
Each recipient will be given a number to ring for emergencies/changes of circumstances.
Each recipient will be called to confirm their delivery and the approximate time of delivery on Christmas Day.
Sunday Zoom Worship
Rev Daleen Ten Cate will be providing a Zoom Worship for Advent Sunday on 29th November and I have already sent out the link to it. The service will begin at 11am.
Sunday Communion Services
Rev Jim and Rev Janet conduct a regular Communion service on Sundays at 7pm. This can be accessed on Zoom and by phone. People should ring Jim – 01253 896371 or Janet – 01253 896056 for details and access.
Let us pray
Dear Father God,
As we come to the end of another week, we pray for all those who are suffering from illness, bereavement, loneliness, anxiety and any sort of pain. Please be with them in the coming weeks and pour your love and strength into them. We give thanks for all those working in the health service in any capacity and pray that they have the strength to cope with the current influx of new patients. Bless everyone and draw us close to you today and surround us with your strength, peace and love. In your name. Amen
Please join me in saying the Grace together.
May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen
God Bless you all