Newsletter January 7th 2021

 

 

 

 

 

United Stockport Circuit (Manchester and Stockport District)

A Message from the Superintendent Minister          January 19th 2021                                                    

My Dear Friends,

The news this last week or so has been taken over by the rolling out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. As I write, more people have now received the vaccination than have tested positive for the coronavirus, so whilst we know that we still have a long way to go before any sense of normality can resume, we can at least believe that there is an end in sight. I know that some of you – those in the priority categories – have already had the jab and I want to encourage all of you, as soon as you are able to, to get it done. Surprisingly there does seem to be some resistance and scepticism around, possibly as a result of scaremongering and fake news, possibly as a result of fear of side effects or lack of confidence in the efficacy of the available vaccines. Please be assured that prior to each vaccination, you will be asked questions about any prior allergies or relevant health conditions and in the very small eventuality of the vaccination not being suitable for you, you will be informed. So do take the opportunity when you are offered it and give thanks for the skill and commitment of the scientists who have developed the vaccination in what is really a remarkably short space of time.

The vaccine, of course, is not just for our own protection. It is also our responsibility to have it to protect others – even if we have questions and concerns. As with many things at the moment, we all need to balance our rights with our responsibilities. For example, just because our churches have the legal right to be open does not necessarily mean that it is the responsible thing to do to be open. It might be a better witness to keep our church buildings closed to ensure that people are kept safe. We believe, after all, that church is about so much more than our buildings – we have learned over the last year that we can still be church even without the security of the sanctuary and church hall.  Another example - in the news this week it has been reported that the World Health Organisation has suggested we might be facing a global moral crisis, as it becomes clear that people in the wealthy developed world will more easily be able to get the vaccine than people in poorer nations, the very same nations in many instances which are themselves the major producers of the vaccines. We should ALL, as a human race, have the right and the possibility of receiving the vaccine as soon as is practically possible, but those of us in a more privileged place also have a responsibility to speak out to say that poorer nations have an equal right to supplies.

In all of this, I am thinking about Jesus’ response to the scribes when asked about the most important commandment. Love God, says Jesus, but also love your neighbour as you love yourself. The proverbial Golden Rule which is there in nearly all the major world faith traditions – treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. The Covid-19 vaccination is about finding a way forward as a global community – it is as much about others as it is about ourselves – even if this means putting to one side any personal feelings or anxieties we might have about it.

Actually, there are very few areas of our life and faith in which we have 100% certainly about things. Every time we set foot outside the door or move around our homes, we have placed our trust in others to ensure that things are safe, whether its road traffic management or the work of the emergency services, or the people who have built all the technical gadgets and machinery we rely on. We place our confidence in expertise and experience and although we have never met the people who make our lives easier and safer we trust that they have done a good job because to do otherwise would make our lives very difficult to live indeed; and in any case, our own experience tells us that by and large other people have done a good job in making sure things are for the best for us. And to that we bring our own common sense and reason.

As people of faith we know this all too well. There is a common misconception that faith is about certainty, and there are some who would tell us that being a Christian gives us a monopoly on truth and certainty. Yet one of my mantras has always been that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty; in other words, certainty is the enemy of faith! At the heart of faith is the acceptance that there will always be things that we cannot and do not know.

Certainty can make us complacent and arrogant and leave us with a sense that we don’t need anyone else to help us.  Faith, on the other hand means to have complete trust in something. Even something we do not fully understand. We continually engage with that inner sense of there being ‘something more’ without necessarily being able to put our finger on what that ‘something more’ is. Of course, we bring our reason and our experience into the picture as we grapple with the great questions of life. We then encounter scripture and the stories and teachings of Jesus and the journeys and liberations of the people of the Old Testament. And in all this we are led into the heart of the great mystery of faith which offers us the assurance of unconditional love and forgiveness. At the same time we are lead into a life which is lived in the service of others – to love God and to love one another, the New Commandment which if we open ourselves to it can guide and lead us in all that we do and in all the difficult decisions of life.

Stay safe everyone. And please remember as always, as we continue to live with lockdown measures:

In this time of isolation and separation may we feel the unity of God’s spirit in the bonds of peace and love which connect us to one another.

  • When we feel lonely let us know that in Christ we are never alone.
  • When we feel isolated may we be reminded that within the worldwide Body of Christ we are always connected.
  • When we need a hug help us to feel the warmth of God’s embrace
  • When we are compelled to keep our distance, may we be drawn close to each other within the Spirit of Companionship that flows from God and which moves through and between each one of us.

With love and blessings,

Rev Cathy.


NOTICES

Worship

See your local church notices for details but for the time being we are continuing our Circuit wide Zoom service at 3pm on Sundays.

See Services for full login details.


Circuit Prayer

As we continue into lockdown, let’s continue to say this prayer together when we can, at 11am on a Sunday morning. This way we stay connected in a very real and tangible way with all those who are not yet able to come back to church. You can also read more about each church on the Circuit Website www.stockportcircuit.org.uk

God of Love and Life,

We pray to you this morning for the life the United Stockport Methodist Circuit, for our sisters and brothers who belong to:

(pausing briefly to reflect after each name)

Christ Church Methodist /URC,  Dialstone Lane Methodist Church
Davenport Methodist Church,    Edgeley Community Church
Hazel Grove Methodist Church, Heaton Mersey Methodist Church
Heaton Moor United Church,      Jubilee Methodist Church, Marple Bridge
Marple Methodist Church,          The Ridge Methodist Church, Marple
Romiley Methodist Church,        St. Johns Methodist Church, Cheadle Heath
Tiviot Dale Methodist Church, centre of Stockport
Trinity Methodist Church, Bramhall Lane  
Windlehurst Methodist Church, High Lane

Woodley Methodist Church.

We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.  We ask that this time of crisis might pass and that those who suffer might find comfort and strength within the knowledge of your grace, revealed through the kindness and compassion of the people of God. Eternal God, though the self-offering of your Son you have filled our lives with your presence.  Help us in our sufferings and trials. Fill us with hope and strengthen us in our weakness.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


For all Church Council and Circuit Meeting Members

Churches today are required to have a level of 'professionalism' when engaging in work with communities and delivering their Mission. Our District Team are offering governance training for managing trustees, whether Church Council, or Circuit Meeting members, and all are strongly encouraged to attend.

There will be three training sessions during February, one in the daytime, one in the evening and one on a Saturday to encourage as many people as possible to attend. The sessions will be the same as each other so please do sign up for whichever suits you best. Please book early on

Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/135309635763


Looking Forward to Lent

Next time we will give more details about opportunities for Lenten Study and Reflection across the Circuit, but for now, please consider this request……During Lent, we want to share what our faith means to us with one another through social media. We'd love to hear about something that really helps you in your Christian journey, whether it's a favourite hymn or worship song, a particular bible reading, a place you find it easier to feel God's presence, a piece of music, a picture, or anything else. If you'd like to be part of this, please email let us know what helps you and a little bit about why and then look out for #FortyDaysOfFaith on our social media feeds. 

email admin@stockportcircuit.org.uk


 


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