December 2017: Blue Christmas

Christmas Tree B/WO little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Maybe the first thing we think about when we hear the term ‘Blue Christmas’ is the song made famous by Elvis Presley. And as we begin December no doubt this tune will be ringing out in stores and from radio stations very soon.

Or maybe it might refer to the colour scheme for your Christmas decorations. It is fashionable nowadays to have alternative colour schemes to the traditional red, green and gold.

But Blue Christmas also refers to the idea that for lots of people Christmas can make them feel blue. It is not a happy time, it is not the most wonderful time of the year. This may be because they struggle due to facing debt, homelessness, not being able to buy their children the presents they want. Or they are facing illness or a breakdown in family relationships, living with those who have drink issues or facing the first Christmas without a loved one. The pressures of Christmas are so great that suicide rates increase, family breakdowns rise, because the expectation at Christmas is to celebrate – to eat, drink and be merry – regardless of what we face.

But the real message of the first Christmas is one of God coming…

to those in difficult family relationships, a young girl pregnant in need
to a family forced to be refugees, to save their child from political powers
to shepherds in the fields who were poor and dirty and looked down on
to those living in darkness, pain, with death, fears.

The whole point of Christmas is not about avoiding the reality of real life, but finding God within it. That the good news is about giving hope and the promise of God’s presence to those who need it most.

Elvis sings ‘I’ll have a blue Christmas without you’ and I know this is particularly so for some in our church this year after bereavements, but may we know that Christmas, even if blue, is about knowing we do not celebrate it without God. And if we celebrate it truly, as the story of the first Christmas leads us to, then we will find hope, peace, light and God’s love with us, however we feel and whatever we face. And maybe we will find the most joy, peace and love by being there for others, be that through visiting the lonely, helping at meals for the homeless, giving to the foodbank or charities, protesting about injustices. So, then their Christmas may not be quite as blue as it might otherwise be… without you.

May you have a blessed Christmas and know Immanuel.

God is with us!
God is born in us!

Now that is something to celebrate.

Christmas Blessings.

Rev Dee

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A Christmas Afternoon

Christmas cookiesJoin us for A Christmas Afternoon on 2 December.

There will be stalls to browse and pick up some Christmassy treats and gifts, musical entertainment and a festive afternoon tea…
If you’re looking for a lovely afternoon to begin Advent and get you in the mood for Christmas, look no further!

Date: Saturday 2 December 2017
Time: 2 – 5pm
Tickets: Adults £5 / Children £3
Contact us for more info / to book tickets, or just pay on the door.

All welcome!

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Help your neighbour at Christmas – Gift and Toy Service

Christmas giftsSunday 3 December 2017, 11.00am

Next Sunday we will be holding our annual Christmas Gift and Toy Service, with donations welcomed for the Voluntary Services Lewisham Christmas Project. Your gifts will be made into hampers for elderly and vulnerable people and children in need in the local area.

Non-perishable foods and toys are needed, such as:

  • tins of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, rice pudding, custard or cream
  • tea and coffee
  • biscuits, sweets and chocolates
  • jars of jam or marmalade
  • Christmas puddings
  • vouchers, money or toys (in good condition)

Here’s a 2015 video about the project:

We look forward to seeing you, and thank you for your support!

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December dates for your diary – Advent, Christmas and New Year

Sunday 3 December is the First Sunday in Advent and we will light the first Advent candle during the Sunday Service. It’s a busy time of year, so here are all the key Christmas services and events that are coming up at Wesley Hall:

  • Christmas TreeSaturday 2 December: A Christmas Afternoon, 2-5pm
    Join us for carols, cakes and company – contact us for more info & tickets.
  • Sunday 3 December: Gift and Toy Service, 11am
    Bring gifts for Voluntary Services Lewisham to use making hampers for the elderly and children in need in the local community. What to bring.
  • Sunday 17 December: Nativity Service, 11am
    Join us for a traditional Nativity service.
  • Sunday 24 December: Carol Service, 11am
    Nine lessons and carols
  • Sunday 24 December: Midnight Communion Service, 11.15pm
    Join us at Forest Hill Methodist Church.
  • Sunday 25 December: Christmas Day Service, 10.30am
    A slightly earlier than usual service. Children are asked to bring a present that they’ve received, to show & tell.
  • Saturday 31 December: Watchnight Service, 11.15pm
    Join us at Forest Hill Methodist Church.

We look forward to seeing you at one or more of these events and services!

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Dates for your diary

The Wesley Hall Sunday Service details for December 2017 to February 2018 have now been added to the online calendar.

calendarIncluded on the calendar are many Christmas dates and celebrations – as always, everyone is welcome to come and join us at this very special time of year.

Advent begins on Sunday, 3 December and we will be lighting the first Advent candle to mark the beginning of the season.

The calendar also includes other events, such as the regular Theatre Club, Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade meetings.

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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Come to Wesley Towers for a dining experience to remember!

Wesley Towers poster

Friday 17 November 2017, 7.30pm
Saturday 18 November 2017, 2.30pm

Tickets £10 for adults, £6 for children,
please book in advance.

All are invited to the ‘Wesley Towers’ dining experience! This year’s Theatre Club Show is a cheeky and fun celebration of bygone comedy favourites, accompanied by a three course meal (what could possibly go wrong…?).

All proceeds to charity.

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November 2017: Remember! Remember!

Remember15 The Lord answers, “Can a woman forget the baby she nurses?
Can she feel no kindness for the child to which she gave birth?
Even if she could forget her children,
I will not forget you.
16 See, I have written your name on my hand.

Isaiah 49:15-16

November is the month of remembering.

We started with All Saints Day and remembering those who have gone before us, great and small. Traditionally we have thought about those who have been martyred for their faith, but it is about recognising and remembering all who are doing good and living out the faith in our world, past and present.

Then we had Bonfire Night and remembering Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot. Though the fireworks have been going off for weeks so no chance of forgetting that! But do we remember the plots to overthrow governments in our world today and that politics and protests are part of life, something some give their lives for still?

Remembrance Sunday follows, when we honour those who have given and continue to give their lives for others. We join the chorus of “We will remember them”, but for how long? One day? Once a year? And does our remembering reach as far as the ex-soldier in prison because they cannot cope with all that war has made them remember, so struggled to live.

And I must not forget Women against Violence Sunday at the end of the month. Not as well known as the others but equally as important as one of our Special Sundays in Methodism.

Memory of course is something we should not take for granted, especially as we hear of the increase in those suffering from dementia. We never know how long our memories will last. One aid that is suggested may help us to remember is that of tying a piece of string around our finger.  A constant reminder of what we must not forget. Isaiah encourages us by assuring us that God does not have us tied around his finger, but does have our names engraved on his hand. Even if the intimate bond of a parent and child can be forgotten, God will never forget each of us.

The question is, how good are we at remembering each other?

A modern parable tells of a mouse who feared for his life after the farmer bought a mousetrap. The mouse called a meeting and proclaimed “There is a mousetrap in the house!” but the hen just clucked and said, “it has no consequences for me.” The pig sympathised with the mouse saying there was nothing they could do but would pray for the mouse. The cow said “It is nothing I can be bothered with, I have more important things to do.”

But that night the mouse trap struck and caught a snake. The snake then bit the farmer’s wife and the known treatment for snake bites was chicken soup and so the farmer sacrificed the chicken. In her illness friends and neighbours came to visit and the farmer needed to feed them. The bacon and ham from the pig was delicious. Finally, the wife died and so for the funeral the fatted cow was slaughtered to feed them all.

And the mouse remembered what they had said.

May we remember those who have issues in life and remember those issues can have consequences for us all. May we be those who continue to remember and give our lives to bring goodness in this world.

May we remember God will never forget us, or the many others whose names are written on his hands. May that bring us comfort and challenge.

Blessings,

Rev Dee

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