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Dear Church Family friends,

I do hope you have had a good week, as we adjust to the limitations and restrictions of lockdown once again and navigate our way through what is possible.

We are trying our best to be creative in finding ways of keeping in touch with one another. Indeed, we held a lovely Quiz Night on Saturday evening. Do look out for our future Saturdays at 7pm programme: Games Night (6 Feb) and Come Dine With Me (20 March).

New variant and next steps

The main message nationally is a very plain and simple one: “stay at home”. This means two things for us:

  1. we keep our church building open, as at present, for private prayer: Mon to Fri 8am to 12noon; but that
  2. we offer our public services on-line once again.

The Prayer Room: It will be lovely if people on their daily exercise can find their way into the church, not only to light a candle but also, if you wish, to experience and make use of the Prayer Room. This has been updated for the new year and offers some further reflection and ideas for prayer and meditation for 2021. Do come and see!

Private Prayer: A gentle reminder that we need to keep socially distanced and wear masks, please, even if we are the only person in the building. I am hugely grateful to the members of the hospitality team who continue to “host” each weekday.

Sunday Worship: we had very positive feedback from our live-stream on Zoom this past Sunday both at 10am and also at 6.30pm. We plan to continue with this for the time being.

The 10am service is also being recorded and will be posted on YouTube at 11.30am for those who might like to catch it later. You can see last week’s there now.

The 6.30pm “Songs of Praise” was a particularly welcome addition to the programme. Each week four members of our church family will be invited to choose a hymn/song and explain why it is important to them. We hope this will prove a lovely way of getting to know one another better and have more of a sense of what God is doing amongst us at present. Last week’s song choices, made by the Staff Team, were:

Josey: Who am I?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiRKTvqsnlw

David: Abide with me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deJDkU6qiGE

John: Yet not I but through Christ in me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zundjUFazfg

Emma: Belovedness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlcoEC-hNfg

This next week it is Caroline and Trevor Walker and Lynette and Martin Eberhardt.

We will review the situation on 15 February (ie. at half-term).

If you have comments or observations, please do let us know. We want to be able to do the right thing for the largest number of people possible.

Small Groups

We have three exciting groups meeting during the week. Please do contact the person named, if you would like to take part:

Tuesday evening: 7.45pm The Alpha Course: This will take place on Zoom and is a great opportunity to explore faith with videos and discussion.  If you want to find out more about Alpha do visit https://www.alpha.org/try-alpha/ or please contact Josey directly on josey.cyfm@standrewsfarnham.org

Wednesday evening: 7.30pm Wisdom may be the first thing that comes to mind when we think of King Solomon, but a deeper reading of his life shows a combination of wisdom and folly as he drifted from God despite God blessing him so much.  Which might make us wonder why do we also drift away from God, even in good times?  Why not join us on a 5-week journey through the life and times of Solomon to find out what we can learn from him to apply in our own lives?  If you would like to join this group, please contact Martin directly on meberhardt50@hotmail.co.uk

Thursday evening: 8pm An Introduction to Physics for Non-Scientists with observations from a Christian perspective, led by Andrew Partridge

Why do objects behave like they do? What is everything made of? What about sound and light? What is ‘quantum’ physics? What is ‘relativity’? The universe and life

If you want to explore this theme with Andrew, please contact him directly on adw.partridge@gmail.com

Sunday 17 January

8am           No Service

9.15am      Pre-service prayers      (Zoom Code 463 669 5984)

10am          Morning Service           (Zoom Code 599 647 1397)

KOSTA Online             (YouTube)

11.30am     Morning Service           (Recording on YouTube)

6.30pm     “Songs of Praise”         (Zoom Code 599 647 1397)

Monday 18

8.30am      Morning Prayer             (Zoom Code 599 647 1397)

Tuesday 19

11.30am    Holy Communion          No service

7.45pm      The Alpha Course

Wednesday 20

7.30pm      Small Group study on Wisdom

Thursday 21

7pm            Youth Group               

8pm            Physics for non-scientists: an introduction

 

Also coming up … An Evening with Brian Kay – Thursday 28 January 2021: 7pm

Join us for a fascinating evening in conversation with Brian Kay, Vice-President of the RSCM. A founding member of the King’s Singers, Brian has spent a lifetime in music and is well-known for BBC Radio broadcasts as well as his work as an international choral and orchestral conductor. He has a rich store of tales to tell!

Brian and Hugh will spend the first 45 minutes in lively conversation and will be discussing his new book, Music, My Life: A Gallimaufry of Musical Memories and there will be an open Q&A session at the end.
For more information and to book a ticket click here. You can also send your questions in advance by emailing enquiries@rscm.com or submit them live by chat during the talk.

At home: this week has brought joy in David Attenborough’s new TV programme, A Perfect Plant, all about volcanoes (David), getting to grips with on-line teaching now from home (Kathryn) and satisfaction in a particular research project which is coming to fruition (Josh).

And finally, a short reflection from one of the Bible Readings in Morning Prayer this week from Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 1:

I always give thanks to my God for you because of the grace he has given you through Christ Jesus. For in union with Christ you have become rich in all things, including all speech and all knowledge. The message about Christ has become so firmly established in you that you have not failed to receive a single blessing, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be faultless on the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is to be trusted, the God who called you to have fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.

In all of Paul’s letter to the churches, there is a wonderful sense of his love for them, and his appreciation of all they have and are. So, he begins with thanks because of the grace they have been given. Grace is the unmerited favour of God towards those he loves. Someone has said we might think of it as Great Riches At Christ’s Expense (GRACE). The love of God expressed in the free giving of his Son for us is our foundation and our rock.

This grace leads to riches, expressed in speech and knowledge. As Christians we have this reminder that what we say and how we say it really matters. Our relationship with God will also be developed and nurtured by ongoing life-long learning. This pursuit of knowledge can be individual or in small groups. In 2021 we have resources available to us as never before – with the internet just there at the tip of our fingers and learning opportunities in the local church family programme.

The message about Christ firmly established means that – however frightening or uncertain it may be – whatever we see going on around us finds its proper place in the context of God’s over-arching sovereignty and our utter reliance on him. In this we are truly blessed.

Our waiting also is not just for the pandemic to be over and for life to get back to normal, our waiting is also for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. Living our lives in the light of this sure expectation leads to our being kept firm to the end and faultless.

In the midst of so many worries about depression, anxiety, well-being and fragile mental health, Paul reminds us that God is to be trusted (when politicians often seem so apparently unreliable) and that we are called into fellowship, into relationship with his Son, Jesus. Unlike a human family bond, which can at times be fractured and damaged, this one can never be broken.

In these few short verses, then, we can take confidence in the grace of God, the riches of life with him, the message about him firmly established, our proper waiting for him to be revealed one day, and our everyday trusting in his love, his call and his promises.

With these few things in mind, and at the start of this new year with all its uncertainty and concern, Kathryn joins me in assuring you of our continuing thoughts and prayers.

With all good wishes, as ever,

David                                                                                                 13 January 2021