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Minister's message - February

Dear Friends

As I write this letter, we have been completing the final stages of clearing away Christmas. Every year, after we put the boxes of decorations up into the roof, there are always odd items to be discovered that have been left out. No doubt at some point in the coming weeks I will feel the sharp pain of a stray pine needle, as it finds its way from the carpet into my foot - it usually happens. It is as if the last remnants of the Christmas celebration are still with us.

The month of February offers us a pause in our Christian journey, as we leave the story of Christmas behind and wait for the Easter story to unfold. For some Christian traditions, the month begins with the feast of Candlemas (2 February) which focuses on the dedication of the infant Christ in the temple, in readiness for what lies ahead (Luke 2:22-38). It is a story of celebration and welcome, as expressed by Anna, but also a story with an edge, shown in Simeon's prophecy about Jesus and Mary, with its reference to division and hurt. Even before the celebrations have wholly ended, there is a note of foreboding.

You might find it helpful to see this month of February, with its Candlemas focus, as a turning point - from looking back one final time towards Christmas, we now turn to look at the cross, as Lent and Holy Week beckon. Candlemas reminds us that we cannot have Christmas on its own; only as a prelude to the whole of the Gospel story. And so, in the words of the hymn, we are encouraged to make the links between Christmas and Easter:

'Trace we the babe, who has retrieved our love,
From his poor manger to the bitter cross'

The Christ who shares our human birth is the one and the same Christ who shares our human death. The helplessness of a tiny child becomes the helplessness of a mature man. Symbolically, the wood of the manger is the wood of the cross. Our Christian task is to follow faithfully from Christmas to Easter, and to make the connection between the two.

Yet it is so easy not to make the connection. How many celebrate the birth of the child in the manger, but then leave him there. those who don't ask what happens next, or what the child did when he grew up. There are some people who leave their Christmas decorations up longer than everybody else, because they do not like to take them down - they are like someone who is not prepered to move on with the story. But we are called not only to keep the celebration, but also to share in the cost of a gospel anchored in the needs and hurts of this world. For this is good news of salvation and a gospel for all people everywhere!

Phil Drake


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Pancakes and Poems at Thornton

Pancakes and Poems, what a great evening we had on 13th February (Shrove Tuesday), in aid of 2nd Mile Project.

People were invited to come along for tea/supper and enjoy a variety of pancakes both savoury and sweet.

The selection was most tempting with fillings such as chilli. chicken and avocado, mushroom or cheese and onion. The sweet fillings were too many to mention, but my favourite was fresh fruits with ice cream – yum, yum.

Throughout the evening, many people had brought poems to read to everyone. The genre of this was amazing with funny, romantic, knowledgeable and even a little bit naughty.

It was good to be together with laughter and smiles all round. A special thank you to everyone who came and all who helped.

Elaine B, Thornton

Virtual Worship - 14 June 2020

Call to worship (based on Psalm 100)Shout with joy to the Lord
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Know that the Lord is God
It is God who made us, and we are God’sEnter God’s gates with thanksgiving
Come into God’s courts with praise Give thanks to God and praise God’s holy name.
The Lord is good God’s love endures for ever. Amen.
PrayerLord God, you made us, and we are yours, we are your people, the sheep of your pasture. As we focus on you this morning, and acknowledge that your presence makes the place in which we do this (wherever it is) a holy space, touch our hearts afresh with your love, that our lips may praise you and our lives serve you in all things. Amen.

You might like to sing, or reflect on the words of, Hymn StF 363, which begins, “My Jesus, my Saviour, Lord there is none like you. All of my days I want to praise the wonders of your mighty love”.

Read Romans 5:1-8First silently to yourself, then, if you can, out loud, from the Message Bible. I love the way…

Virtual Worship - 19 July 2020

Service sheet (pdf) Opening sentence:Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God...the Spirit makes you God’s children and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, ‘Abba, Father.
Song:Join in with or listen to ‘Sing of the Lord’s goodness’ (Singing the Faith 65) as we offer our praise to God. Alternatively, use a well-known hymn such as ‘Lord of all hopefulness’ (Singing the Faith 526, Hymns and Psalms 552) as we affirm the presence of God in our worship today.

Opening prayers:Creator God
We come to praise your name today,
We are confident of your love for us,
knowing that you want the very best for us and for your world.
Help us to be a people strong in Spirit
and faithful to your call,
so that the confidence you show in us
may be shown to be well placed.
And encourage us to share in the work of Jesus
that the good news of your saving grace
may be a message of hope and rejoicing
for all creation.

The Lord’s Prayer may be said here.
Gospel reading:Matthew 13.24-30
24 He put before …