November 2018: Peace

red poppywhite poppyUnfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!
Psalm 85:10

Some experts claim that the way to achieve true peace is to finish things rather than have unfinished business hanging over us. One person took this advice literally and found peace by finishing things they had started. They were very content after finishing … a bottle of wine, a packet of biscuits, a bar of chocolate and a strawberry cheesecake.

Of course, that is not what was meant! But equally we are aware that unfinished issues continue to cause unrest in our world. This November we will be marking Remembrance Sunday and 100 years since the end of World War One. This may well make us ask what peace means in a world where troubles persist, wars are repeated and people continue to be treated inhumanely by others. There is unfinished business.

Is peace possible?
Is our God a God of peace?

When we look at the Old Testament we can find a God who seems to instigate war and enable his people to revel in destroying others, or who punishes his chosen people for their sins by letting them be destroyed by other nations. Also, in the New Testament it is not all love and peace. In one passage Jesus tells us not to think he came to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34). That of course has to be balanced with other passages that talk of peace and turning the other cheek. This is such a wide and complicated subject that I cannot begin to do it justice here, but as our verse from Psalm 85 above indicates, it’s not just about peace on its own: there has to be righteousness alongside peace, justice is part of peace. Sometimes it is Christian to fight for what is right, to stand up against injustice, be that to do with political rulers, trade issues, poverty, unfair benefit systems or whatever.

There are unfinished things that need sorting out.

Although complicated, and with no easy answers, I would encourage you try to think a bit more, as you prepare for Remembrance Sunday, about what peace means and how to let its lessons change your life for the future. Remembrance 100, which is part of the Hope movement, has been giving thoughts and prayers since 4 August for the 100 days leading up to Remembrance Sunday. Its not too late to look it up and let it help you as you seek to make sense of your experiences and beliefs about peace.

Whether we are white or red poppy wearers, pacifists or those who support military interventions, those who have experienced war or those who can’t imagine it, those who welcome refugees or those who feel we have to be more protective of our countries, may we each make sure we think it through and be at peace with what we believe, and respect and pray for each other in this.

And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are
good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honourable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.

And the God who gives peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:7-9

Blessings,

Rev Dee

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Quiz Night!

Question markThe next Wesley Hall Quiz Evening is on Saturday 10 November – 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 go towards church funds

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

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October 2018: Letting Go

tree symbolOn each side of the river was the tree of life.
It gives twelve different kinds of fruit.
It gives this fruit twelve times a year, new fruit each month.
Its leaves are used to heal the nations.

Revelation 22:2

October is the month where autumn starts to show and we are given the most beautiful display as the leaves change colour and then begin to drop. I love this season and its reminder of our amazing world and the glory of God. Americans call autumn the Fall and whilst I am not keen on Americanisms I do like the image of falling leaves and that being a symbol of our need to let things go in our lives.

I was recently talking to someone about the popular image of a butterfly and how it is very limiting because, although it is a beautiful image of resurrection and new life, in reality soon after the transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly, the butterfly only lives for about a week. I much prefer the image of a tree and the reality that we are all living and dying all the time, be it our hair, skin, thoughts, relationships, whatever. Life is seasonal and to live and grow we also have to let things die and let go.

As the leaves turn and fall this year may we be reminded of our need to let go of things in our lives. It may be people, worries, negative thoughts or behaviours, abilities, jobs, fears. The list is endless, but for us to grow we also have to let go.

Of course, this is a season when we do not expect much fruit from trees. Though walking by the allotments in Sydenham it does seem to have been a good year for fruit, even if the recent winds seems to have cleared most of it. The tree of life mentioned in Revelation 22 was a tree that would bear fruit each season and its leaves were for the healing of the nations. A reminder that even in the autumn and winter seasons faith is about bearing fruit and bringing healing and help.

As you enjoy this autumn season, often seen as a season of decay and dying but really a season of restoring and preparing for newness, may you be able to let go of what is stopping your life flourishing and growing, and seek to bear fruit and bring hope and healing to others.

Q: Why were so many people collecting leaves under a certain tree?
A: Because it was a poplar tree!

A corny joke, but interestingly the poplar tree has heart shaped leaves. May we be poplar trees this autumn where people find God’s heart of love and life.

Blessings,

Rev Dee

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Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spuds!

Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spuds!jacket potato

An evening of fun and food hosted by Wesley Hall Theatre Club:

Play Whist
Eat supper
Chat with friends

Come and join in the games – no experience necessary!

Jacket potatoes with a choice of toppings, tea, coffee and soft drinks will be served during the evening.

Saturday 6 October 2018
7.30pm start
£7 per person

whist

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September 2018: I believe in the Sun

All We Can Harvest 2018 banner
The light keeps shining in the dark,
and darkness has never put it out.
John 1:5

Three adventurous people were trying to figure out where to go on their next holiday. One suggested Mars, another the Moon, and another the Sun! The first two turned around and said, “You can’t go to the Sun. You would melt or burn up before you even got close!” To which the third one replied, “Not if you go at night!”

This year our Harvest material from All We Can encourages us to think about the sun as a renewable energy source and to let our lights shine. But I am also very aware that for some people it is also a difficult time of year, as we have remembrances of loved ones lost last year, and the funerals of two long time church members this month. We also face the uncertainties of life with continual bad news from around the world and the never-ending saga of Brexit. The news is often full of death, darkness and the problems of homelessness, abuse, crime and the awful conditions some suffer. Not to mention the many personal issues and struggles we may each face unbeknown to others. Where is the sun?

Maybe we sometimes feel that we are in a night-time state and not able to see the sun. Struggling with faith and joy in our lives and world. Of course, the sun is always shining somewhere, even in our darkness and night, and even if we cannot see it. And that is a reminder of how God is always with us, even if we cannot see or feel that either.

But maybe even greater, may I suggest we can also let our lights shine, even when we are struggling to see the light ourselves. The wonder of life and faith is that the light is not put out, even when we fail to see it, and we can still be a source of renewable life and light to others. So, as we celebrate our Harvest this year may we bring hope to the people of Malawi who are being supported by All We Can. And bring love to those who receive our goods via Voluntary Services Lewisham. God is good all the time!

I finish with some of those amazing words found in the cellar of a concentration camp, written by an unknown Jew. May they renew and encourage us.

‘I believe in the sun even when it is not shining
and I believe in love, even when there’s no one there.
I believe in God, even when he is silent.

I believe through any trial, there is always a way.

May there someday be sunshine
May there someday be happiness
May there someday be love
May there someday be peace… ‘

May God be near and bless you whatever you are going through.

Rev Dee

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July 2018: What is so special about July?

Specials menu

‘There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.’
Ecclesiastes 3:1

The Methodist Church has certain Sundays throughout the year designated as ‘Special Sundays‘, and in July so far we have had Action for Children Sunday and Conference Sunday. I have also come across a website that tells us about the many other special days we have – something for almost every day of the year. Some of these days are at bit whacky and bizarre: the month of July does have ‘Compliment your Mirror Day’, ‘Chicken Wing Day’, ‘National Milk Chocolate Day’ and ‘Take your houseplant for a walk Day’.

But equally it has –

‘International Friendship Day’ (30 July) encouraging peace between people and countries.

‘Aunt and Uncle Day’ (26 July), ‘Father in Law Day’ (30 July) and ‘Cousins Day’ (24 July) all encouraging an appreciation of the wider family.

And my favourite…

‘Cheer up the Lonely Day’ (11 July) which is much needed as we hear about the epidemic that loneliness has become across all ages in our world.

Action for Children are encouraging us to think about ‘two by two’ this year. How Jesus did not send his disciples out alone or to be alone, but with support and company. So, may we make a special effort this month to watch out for one another and our neighbours, especially as we reach this season of holidays and people’s normal support structures not being there.

Our verse from Ecclesiastes above says that ‘everything has a time and special season’ and indicates that every day is special and that we need to celebrate each day, whatever is happening. So, every day this month may you find something you can celebrate, however strange or trivial it may seem. We can be thankful for houseplants and chocolate, for a breeze or a bird, for jigsaws or TV programmes, for hospital staff or even for pain, that can be a sign of our bodies needing rest or mending. May we look for the special and God in the ordinariness of life each day.

And something that is not special this particular mont, but is special every month, is the Bible Study. We meet every fourth Thursday of the month at 2.30pm at Forest Hill Church. We have been studying the book of Ecclesiastes. If you would like to come along please let me or Sandra know if you need a lift. And keep looking out for the reverse of our notice sheet each week which will tell you of the special things that are happening in our church and circuit and community this month.

May we all have a special month in July knowing that, in the context of Ecclesiastes 3, it does not depend on our circumstances but on our faith in God.

‘Christ gave each one of us the special gift of grace’
Ephesians 4:7

May God be especially close to you this month.

Blessings,

Rev Dee

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June 2018: GPDR – God Please Don’t Read

Data General Regulation Legislation Gdpr European

The story is told of a woman who had a long password for her laptop…. EveMosesDavidJosephRuthJudasMaryJesusJerusalem

When asked why it was so long and complicated she responded, “Well it said it had to be eight characters long and include one capital!”

As I write this, we have reached the day when the new General Data Protection rules come into force. The thoughts behind them are that we need to be careful about how we hold and use the personal information we have about others. For some, the numerous emails they have had asking if they want to remain on someone’s contact list have been annoying… but also helpful in getting them to realise just how many people have their details and then being able to decide if they want that person or organisation to keep them. As a church and Christians sometimes we act as if we have a God given right to have people’s contact details and pass them on to whoever we want, but we do not. We need to respect others’ privacy as we would want them to respect ours. In this world where data can easily be used to abuse people, we need to recognise this important part of our safeguarding ourselves and others.

And it may be helpful at this time to imagine God sending us that email or letter, asking if we still want him to hold our details, if we still want to be known and loved by him. A time for recommitment to what is important to us.

But also, what if we sent that email or letter to God, asking if we can still hold his details and proclaim his name in how we live our lives? Please spend some time this month thinking about how much you know about God and how much God knows about you and how you can respectfully pass those details on to others.

And thankfully the Bible is not covered under data protection in this country so feel free to look up the details of the eight characters listed above in that password and see what they have to tell you about God and life. And that city which is still very much in the news today.

Thankfully we have a God whose name is known and universal, who does not have an address but is everywhere, who does not need a phone number but is available through prayer, and does not have a date of birth but is ageless.

God does not need our addresses, phone numbers or dates of birth, but knows us – who we are, not how we are labelled.

Maybe we ought to be more like our God and hold personal details more lightly but make personal contact more important.

You have looked deep into my heart, LORD, and you know all about me.
You know when I am resting or when I am working, and from heaven you discover my thoughts

(Psalm 139: 1-2. Contemporary English Version)

Please read all of Psalm 139 if you can.

Blessings,

Rev Dee

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