Christmas Everyday

It’s nearly Christmas. A year ago our services were almost entirely online – this year I’m glad that we’ll be able to celebrate together in church.

We’ll once again be hearing those seasonal readings and singing those familiar carols. We’ll encounter again the Angels, Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds and the Magi as we’re drawn once more into the story that changed the world.

I sometimes wonder: What happened next to the Shepherds and Magi? Have you ever wondered that? Scripture doesn’t mention them again after the stories of Jesus’ birth – so we don’t know – but I’m curious about them …

In the short term we know that the Shepherds were full of joy, dancing in the streets and telling everyone about Jesus. But what happened the day after that? Or a few weeks on? Or many years later? What long term effect did meeting Jesus have on them?

When the Magi met Jesus they were overjoyed and gave their gifts in awe and reverence. We know that God spoke to them in their dreams, and having met Jesus a new route home needed to be taken. But what was that journey home like? What did they tell people once they returned? What impact did meeting Jesus have on their lives as the memory of their epic journey faded over the years?

Why the curiosity? I guess it’s because I can relate to the joy and awe of the Shepherds and Magi. I can testify to encounters with Christ which leave me, “lost in wonder, love and praise” as the old hymn puts it. But I also know what it is for that joy and awe to run dry, for faith to feel mundane and to wonder what difference Jesus really makes (just being honest). So it makes me wonder how life panned out for these guys in the long run if they never met Jesus again.

Thankfully the good news for us is that meeting Jesus is not meant to be a one-off, once in a life-time, one-time encounter. Maybe the Shepherds and Magidid only meet Jesus once but thanks to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we are invited to be with him every day! God doesn’t call us to meet him just on special occasions – but he invites us to share our very lives with him, day by day, moment by moment. The invitation is always there but how often do we pass it up and miss out?

Christmas may be annual – but a relationship with Jesus can be constant. Draw near to him again this Advent and Christmas. Use this time to recommit to a daily walk and moment by moment relationship with God. As we do I pray we will all be overjoyed at the presence of Jesus this Christmas – and always.

This edition of Jottings has information about our Christmas events and services, please get the dates in your diary, pray for the events and invite people along.

With love

Jottings Advent Update

Dear friends at St Johns Church,

We hope you are well and wish you a blessed Advent.

We have had a very busy 2021. We thought you might like an update on what we have been up to.
Alison was interviewed during Anti-Bullying week by several radio stations. She raised awareness of adult bullying and spoke about workplace & institutional bullying.

Malcolm has continued to see an increase in his online sales, selling garden machinery spare parts through his online business AMF Services. He also works 4 days a week in his employed job as a workshop manager. He started his level 4 counselling training in September, some weeks online and now face to face.

Alison has continued to create handmade silver clay jewellery and recycled Christmas cards. If you are looking for a special gift or cards, do get in touch. The cards cost £1 each or 6 for £5 and jewellery from £15 upwards.

Alison’s counselling, supervision and training business, has continued to see a huge increase in demand, particularly working with increasingly complex trauma cases.

Our airbnb was fully booked, from April until the end of October. We had visitors from all over the UK. We imagine we will start to see more international visitors next year.

We wish you a peaceful Christmas and Happy 2022.
We will be taking time away from all the commercialism to travel and take time to be still. Hoping we can see you in person before too long and in the meantime, send you our love and prayers.

Malcolm & Alison Fox xx

Children’s and Families Worker appointment

Interviews were held for this post in November and, as a result, Susie Coopey has been appointed as our Children’s and Families worker.

The role will involve leading our current church-based children’s activities, developing new projects and working in close partnership with St John’s Primary school.

Susie has many skills and years of experience of church and school based work. She has a great passion for children and families and is already leading a fantastic ministry here.

We have secured external funding for this post but within the next four years the post will need to be funded by the church. The post is initially part-time and Susie will be starting in December. Please pray for her as she gets started and begins to develop this ministry.

COURGETTES MEDITERRANEAN STYLE

We have all been hearing a lot about the climate crisis and climate action lately. Now, most people will be feeling that something needs to be done and quickly. The question is HOW to make a difference. Here’s something to get you started; a warming nourishing plant-based meal.

Preparation 10-15 minutes, cooking 40 minutes. Serves 4.

3 tbsps olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
450g/1 lb courgettes, finely sliced or diced
1 level tsp oregano and seasoning
225g/8oz cooked haricot beans or any other cooked beans
1 x 400g/14oz approx. jar tomato pasta sauce

1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onion, garlic and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes.
3. Add the cooked beans, tomato pasta sauce and courgettes. Stir well.
4. Add the oregano and seasoning, and stir again. 5. Cover and cook slowly for 30 minutes.
6. Serve on a bed of rice

This is one of my favourites and simple to do.

Valerie Collings

This is part of the latest letter from Pat Blanchard (our Link Mission Partner in Peru)

I finally arrived back in Lima on 16 July and was encouraged by the ministry and perseverance of the church community during my absence. Sunday services started in August and the WhatsApp platform remains very active for daily devotions.

This is my last letter to you from Peru, as after 21 years of ministry I feel it’s time to step back from Shalom and Peru and return permanently to the UK. Diocesan Bishop Jorge Aguilar presided over a special service in Shalom on Sunday 15 August where the Shalom family were told the news and I shared testimony of God’s faithfulness throughout the years and the burden I now feel to return to my family. It certainly was a surprise for them and quite an emotional time. In the service Rev Raul Taipe was named as the new rector of Shalom and he has taken over day-to-day leadership. God has given me peace and confirmation of this important decision I have made with him. The church moves forward with a group of committed Christians who I have seen grow so much through the years and especially through the challenges and trials during the Peru COVID pandemic. They have a strong commitment to remain connected to God and with each other and to serve others in a shared vulnerability, especially with the disabled community around them. Pray for Raul and the church as they move forward in faith into this new phase.

I return permanently to the UK at the beginning of December, and am thankful that the red list has disappeared! Great answer to prayer! I will be in touch in the New Year to organise visits to thank you in person for your support and partnership during these 21 years. Please continue to pray for Peru with the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and political changes and uncertainty.

I quote again from Psalm 40:5; Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

That’s so true and I thank God for the privilege of experiencing so many amazing things and having the opportunity to share my life and faith with so many wonderful people in Peru and in the UK. Thank you for the part you have played in all these memories and experiences. What a privilege it’s been and the ministry continues on… for all of us, wherever we may be!

Life after COP26

Recently, I watched some of the COP 26 interviews. What is being discussed is simply NOT ENOUGH! I can’t say this strong enough. We can’t sit back and simply let the leaders do what they feel is right. We all need to do our bit to Make a Difference.

What does this mean to you and me? How can we make a difference where we are? Remember the story of the star fish? We can all make a difference even if it’s small in comparison to this international summit.

What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint?

  • Turndown your thermostat by a degree.
  • Think about your transport, could I walk/ car share? Is the journey necessary or could I use public transport? Fly less or consider alternatives where appropriate?
  • Buy local produce where possible to reduce the carbon footprint of your purchase. Anything that has been transported by logistics will increase its carbon footprint.
  • Eat less meat. There was a recent article by MP George Eustice, Environment Secretary, commenting on how we should rethink our agricultural policies and alter our eating habits. This is big, how many individuals would find it hard to give up meat?
  • I watched a programme about Asda supermarket offering refill points; reducing packaging and plastics – suggestion – use the local refill shop in town. Lobby your local supermarket to have refill aisles.
  • Get involved in a tree planting scheme or plant a green space as these will have a long-term effect on reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Support Tear Fund, who are impacting the front line, financially and practically.

I don’t feel that it is enough to just do these things. We have to change our lifestyles that have created the problem. Although recycling plastics or clearing them from our oceans is very necessary, good and welcome, we need to find another way to store our food or items that we buy. By not producing plastics that are harmful, we can put a stop to this type of pollution.

What about you? What can you do to make a difference before it’s too late?

I finish with this thought. I feel very passionate that we should be good stewards of our world. Demonstrating this by taking care of it, not abusing what we have been given. My overriding thought is that we worship the creator not the created. Lord I stand in awe of you.

Phil Childs

Study, study and more study…

As most of you will now know I am studying Applied Theology at Moorlands College. The ‘applied’ aspect refers to the placement hours which I am undertaking here at St Johns which is augmented by the academic obligations through college.

I thought it would be nice to let you know a little more about my progress, while also asking to be included in your prayers.

So… I am in Year two, in fact approximately halfway through my studies. This academic year I have already completed an assignment on the Old Testament. I am working towards another on Titus, also preparing to preach for my leadership unit and working on another unit entitled ‘Theological Frameworks’. I am yet to truly understand what this actually is! First Prayer Point please!

In December I will attend another block week at the college. We will have an intensive week looking at one specific topic. This one will be preaching which is quite exciting. Despite the interest it is difficult to be away from home, especially after only being married for a couple of months.

Undertaking this course was always a huge act of faith. As I already have a degree, I am unable to get any student finance meaning I must pay nearly 9k a year just for fees. God has been amazing and faithful to get me this far with just enough financial provision. I am sure He will continue to provide.

I would truly appreciate your prayers for understanding, financial provision, clarity and of course wisdom around time management.

It has been wonderful to become part of this church. Karen and I are grateful for your welcome.

Pete Naylor

The F Church

I know this sounds like an odd title for this short article, but when we were looking on the internet for the ‘right church’ to join in Weymouth, a number of words cropped up, all beginning with the letter F, reflecting the character of the church we wanted to try out. After mulling over this we thought we’d share with you our personal list of F words (in no particular order). They are:-

A Friendly Church where friendships are established and valued. A warm welcome is so important as well as making connections over time with other church members.

When Christians gather together, Fellowship results. We are one in the spirit, even though we may be very different in terms of personality and interests.

Faithfulness underpins our Christianity – faithful to God, Christ and to each other, especially in tough times, as we rely on good biblical teaching.

Fun. God has given us the gift of fun and laughter. Seeing miserable Christians does sadden us and not what God would want. Obviously this is balanced by times of sadness in the church.

A Festive Church which celebrates Christian festivals throughout the church year.

Freedom in worship and being able to be ourselves, assuming it doesn’t disrupt the running of the church.

Healing of relationships involves Forgiveness, which is such an important act of love. It is difficult, but necessary if relationships are to grow.

Forward looking. As a church we need to have a future vision for where God is leading us.

Family. The church is very much a family, most important for those without close living relatives or have fallen out with their natural family.

Fruitfulness on the Frontline of everyday life, and reflecting the fruit of the spirit. The Bible has plenty to teach us on this topic!

Accepting Failure, so that we can face our shortcomings and mistakes, learn from them and move forward.

I could add free parking and refreshments as well! No doubt there are other F words which others may come up with.

Mike and Hilary Lidstone

Peace at Christmas

Will you help bring peace to Nigeria?

I am horrified by the violence, death and abductions in Nigeria which we constantly see on the news. Nigeria is now widely regarded as the most dangerous place in the world.

Boko Haram may have initiated such violence but Christian groups have often responded negatively, sometimes leading to even more violence and long-term mistrust.

Will you pray for Love Language, a ground breaking project which seeks to train and equip local Christians to engage with their Muslim neighbours in a loving Christ-like way?

Soon, we will be celebrating Christmas. It would be wonderful to PRAY for Love Language that the message of the Angels “of great JOY and PEACE to all people” will be especially powerful in Northern Nigeria.

Meg Fox

December Diary

Wed 1st
9am Prayer at St John’s/Zoom
10am – 12 Open Church St.J

Fri 3rd
7.30pm Create for Christmas St.J

Sun 5th
Services at St John’s 9am/10.30am

Mon 6th
10-11.30am Little Fishes St.J

Wed 8th
9am Prayer at St John’s/Zoom
10am – 12 Open Church St.J

Sun 12th
Services at St John’s 9am/10.30am
4pm Cakes and Carols PC

Mon 13th
10-11.30am Little Fishes St.J

Wed 15th
9am Prayer at St John’s/Zoom
10am – 12 Open Church St.J

Sun 19th
Services at St John’s 9am/10.30am
4pm Pop Up Nativity & Carols St.J

Tues
21st 5pm Open Air Carol Sing-along St.J

Fri 24th
6.30pm Carol Service St.J
11.30pm Midnight Communion St,J

Sat 25th
10.30pm A celebration for All Ages with Communion. St.J

Sun 26th
9am Communion Service St.J

Many thanks to all our writers. The views and opinions expressed are those of the contributors.

There will not be a January edition so please submit articles for February (of less than 300 words), dates or information to Linda and Michael Miles before Friday 21st January.

We wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year
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