October 2017

Hope anchors the soulHello

I am Rev Dee, your new minister at Wesley Hall.

I am glad to be joining you at this time, especially as we move through October with a trinity of celebrations: Our Church Anniversary, Gift Day and Boys’ Brigade Centenary, plus the Theatre Club production coming soon.

But I also know I join you at a time when there are many of you struggling with illnesses and bereavements, and Wesley Hall is going through lots of changes because of that. This is not an easy time for many of you.

I will seek to laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep, as appropriate, in the coming weeks and years.

Life is that unending mixture of joy and pain.

We see it in;

Creation – finding beauty in the chaos
The Cross – finding life in death
The Church – finding love in our faith and failings

One of what are called ‘Fresh Expressions of Church’ is called Messy Church. But I think Church was always meant to be messy, we just have a tendency to try to make it too tidy and comfortable. As we work through our present messiness and pain may we discover new ways of being there for each other, new ways of seeing faith, new ways of celebrating life and death, new ways of reaching out to others with God’s love.

The Boys Brigade have the motto ‘Sure and Steadfast’ and have as their hymn ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?’ As we celebrate 100 years of the 19th London Company of Boys Brigade, as we celebrate our 111th Church Anniversary, and move forward into this new chapter of our lives at Wesley Hall, may we all know we have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure, whatever life brings.

May God bless and keep you in his love

Rev Dee

Who can separate us from the love of God.
Death cannot! Life cannot!
Angels cannot! Leaders cannot!
Hard things now or in the future cannot!
For I know that nothing can keep us from the love of God,
that is seen in Christ Jesus!

Romans 8: 38-39

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Quiz Night!

Question markThe next Wesley Hall Quiz Evening is on Saturday 14 October – come along to exercise your brain, or just to have a laugh!

  • Time: 7.00 for a 7.30pm start
  • Teams: Maximum 6 people
  • Tickets: £7 per person
  • Supper, tea and coffee provided during the evening
  • Please bring your own nibbles
  • There will be a raffle
  • All proceeds towards church funds

Contact us for more info and to book your team’s place. See you there!

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Harvest Thanksgiving Service – 24 September

harvest applesAll are welcome to the Harvest Thanksgiving Service on Sunday 24 September at 11am, where we shall be following tradition and accepting non-perishable food and gifts which will then be distributed to those in need in the area.

Please bring your gifts with you to the service, or if you would prefer to give a donation to All We Can, envelopes will be available.

Any contributions of flowers or other suitable items for decorating the church for the Harvest service will be gratefully received on Friday 22 September (6.30 – 9.30pm) or Saturday 23 September (11.00am).

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Dates for your diary

The Wesley Hall Sunday Service details for September to November 2017 have now been added to the online calendar.

Icalendarncluded on the calendar are the first service at Wesley Hall taken by our new minister, Reverend Denise Yeadon (welcome, Dee!) on 10 September, Harvest Festival on 24 September, the Church Anniversary on 8 October and our Remembrance Day service on 12 November, which starts at 10.50am to allow us to take part in the two-minute silence at exactly 11am.

The calendar also includes other events, such as the regular Theatre Club, Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade meetings. Additional special events will be added in due course.

Take a look at the calendar and if there’s something you expect to see but don’t, or if there’s anything you’d like to find out more about, do leave a reply and we’ll get back to you.

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July / August 2017

Enjoy your retirement message from 1st Sydenham GBDear Friends,

I’m writing this, my last pastoral letter, surrounded by boxes and things waiting to go to the charity shop or members of the family. Moving day approaches as we’re moving out early so that the manse can be completely refurbished: new kitchen, bathroom, patio door and garage doors and decorated throughout. It’s been a long time since it was last decorated and the kitchen doors keep falling off (mostly landing on my toes). It will be a lovely home for Dee when she moves in.

Meanwhile we’ve been refurbishing our own house. Refurbishing the house, sorting out the manse and getting rid of half the contents while working full-time has proved to be a bit of a juggling act, but we’re getting there. Tony has done most of the work on our house, ably assisted by Sophie who seems to have a talent for such things. I’ve been in charge of sorting the manse out. It’s all been about people doing what they’re best at and keeping going – a bit like life in general. I wouldn’t have had the faintest idea about installing a kitchen with all the plumbing involved, but fortunately Tony has.

Next a skip is arriving and then the packer uppers arrive and eventually cart everything away in a great big van. It will be strange returning to a house that is so familiar to us (we’ve owned it for 42 years) and yet it will also be different. The house is different, the neighbours are different and we are different. So familiar and yet so unfamiliar at the same time.

I’m certainly a changed person. The privilege of being alongside you in joys and sorrows, births, weddings, baptisms and bereavements has been the mainstay of my ministry. Then there is the preaching; wrestling with the text and thinking through how best to communicate its message week after week.

I have loved being your minister. Yes, even the meetings. Belonging to a wonderful group of people doing things together. I will miss this life.

A minister in a neighbouring circuit once said,

“Where is God in all this? I am well aware of one of the attributes of God being Immanence (always with us) but sometimes I think God has been quite lost amongst the clutter on my desk. And yet… for all the sleepless nights I have always got through the next day. Never once have I got to Sunday morning with nothing to say.”

I relate to that so much.

We do not do what we do in our own strength but as a part of the family of God, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Thank goodness. Sometimes I have felt so tired that I haven’t known how I’d get through a service or a meeting but then something happens and often they are the times when I feel closest to God. Strange and wonderful.

On behalf of both Tony and myself I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your support, encouragement and trust. For being there when things have been difficult, for listening and not judging.

'Thank You Pam' leaving lunch banner, June 2017

No one will ever replace me because I have had my time among you, but the Rev Dee Yeadon will carve out her own place among you as your ministers have done for over a hundred years. Each with their place, bringing their gifts and their weaknesses.

'Thank You Pam' leaving lunch banner, June 2017

I know you will support Dee in the way you have supported and encouraged me – she is in good hands and so are you. It is a time of new beginnings for us and you.

'Thank You Pam' leaving lunch banner, June 2017

I wish you all well and be assured that I will continue to pray for all of you. May God be with you always and bless you richly.

With love,

Pam

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June 2017

Dear Friends

desert starsWhen I was preparing to preach at the circuit Easter Offering service, I wondered what the subject would be on this occasion. I was intrigued to find that the title was ‘Shine like a star’. By the Thursday before the service I was no further ahead with deciding what direction this should take, when someone asked where my favourite place was.

This was an impossible question to answer. I could have said the Lake District, or the North York Moors, Wales or Cornwall, or Scotland… but then there’s… Or the places we’ve been fortunate enough to have visited abroad: Rome, Athens, Istanbul, Ephesus… My mind settled eventually, and three particular places came into focus in connection with the idea of stars.

The first place was at a time when there were certainly no stars in sight except the sun. Instead there was desert and the Step Pyramid; we were in Egypt – it was hot and parched and we were virtually the only people there, but it was very special. Did I mention that it was hot? The sun was searing everything around us and we couldn’t spend long there as there was no shade. There weren’t even any lizards to be seen. It was a star too close for comfort.

The second place was the same desert but in a different country – Morocco – the majestic Sahara. I said I’d never go on a camel again after Egypt, but there we were on camels going over the most amazing sand dunes at dusk. It was golden and it looked just like a picture postcard. We swayed silently back and forth on our patient camels, it was so peaceful and no-one spoke. It was dark by the time we returned to the camp for refreshments and we didn’t notice the stars and the milky way appearing at first. It was a moonless night and a stunning sight; billions and billions of stars just like our sun, but so far away. It was one of those times when I was so aware of the vastness of creation and how small we are.

The third place was another desert. This time the Wadi Rum in Jordan, a stunning place with smooth sand in places, it had been covered by sea at some point in its past. The most amazing rock formations rising majestically from the flatness and nestled under one of these towering rocks was the Bedouin camp we were staying in. We experienced delicious food cooked on a fire pit while we listened to stories of Laurence of Arabia – this was his desert after all. If I was expecting stars I was to be disappointed. There was no light pollution, but as we settled down in our sleeping bags under the stars we realised that there would be no star gazing that night. We couldn’t see them because the moon was so big and full that it appeared they had vanished. Instead we could see the rocks bathed in a beautiful silver light; every detail shining clearly. We stayed out there absorbing the beauty of this place until someone spotted a hyena and then there was mention of scorpions and we decided that the tent might be safer and to be honest warmer. I know – what wimps!

What on earth has this got to do with the Easter offering service you may ask? I found myself wondering if God was like the sun in Egypt so filled with light, holiness, grace and power that we couldn’t gaze in his direction or even be in his presence – was God like that, unfiltered? A blinding light too holy for us to bear? Is that why Jesus came, so that we could see what his Father was like in a form we could understand and relate to? Seeing ultimate holiness through the filter of a human being who could stand in the presence of the God and show us what it means for humanity?

I concluded that God is less like the stars shining brightly in the vast universe, beautiful and too numerous to count, but far away, unconcerned about our very small corner of the galaxy – that isn’t a very helpful image of the God we know who promised to be with us always. However, the moon struck a chord with me. It has no light of its own but it reflects the light of the much greater power that is the Sun. This is an image I can work with; surely we are called to reflect the greater light that is God in the same way the moon reflects the Sun. We aren’t people who gaze at God from afar as we do the stars and say “Wow! They’re beautiful”. They remain far away and mysterious. We are a people who have the potential to know God in the depth of our being. The light doesn’t just shine upon us but has the potential to grow within us. Jesus said “I am the light of the world,” and then “I am in the Father and the Father is in me and we are in you.”

We are called to a very intimate relationship with the Holy God through Jesus and to reflect the light that is shed in our lives because of this. Not that we can do this consciously of course, if we were to go round saying to ourselves “I’m going to reflect the light of God today” that might be a bit weird. Instead as we draw closer to God and allow the light to shine on us it should happen automatically in the way we live our lives and deal with others. But the moon waxes and wanes – it’s still there but some parts are turned away from the sun at various times. In our lives God is always there but sometimes we find ourselves living in shadows caused by pain, or grief, or lack of love and care, or having taken a wrong path and not being able to find our way back. It’s then that something else happens. We realise that we’re not alone but part of something very great – called together as this organic organisation called church to pool our light and create something beautiful, so that if there are shadows somewhere in our lives the light of Christ still shines on us in other people protecting, guiding, caring, teaching…

How lucky are we that we don’t travel alone. That God is with us and that we have a family to be a part of – we are bound together with cords that cannot be broken.

God Bless

Pam

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Dates for your diary

calendarThe Wesley Hall Sunday Service details for June to August 2017 have now been added to the online calendar.

Additional forthcoming events include the Circuit Missions Garden Party, our minister Pam Clews’ retirement celebration, and the Girls’ and Boys’ Brigade summer camp.

Take a look at the calendar and if there’s something you expect to see but don’t, or if there’s anything you’d like to find out more about, do leave a reply and we’ll get back to you.

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