Issue No 39
From our Minister
As I write this article we have just seen several key leaders appointed across the world in different spheres. The United States of America have elected a new president and China also has a new political leader. The Anglican Church have appointed a new Archbishop of Canterbury and the Coptic church in Egypt have chosen a new Pope. In each of these cases the selection process has been very different; the American people voted to choose the president, in China the communist hierarchy selected their leader from a shortlist, the crown appointments panel had the job of picking the archbishop from a range of nominations and in Egypt a blindfolded child picked the name of the new pope from a bowl containing named slips of paper. Each of those nominated will be a powerful leader with far reaching influence and this led me to reflect on how God chooses those who will serve him.
God does not always choose people who look the likely ones to be leaders and prophets. If you look through the pages of the Old Testament you will find Gideon, who was an illegitimate child, Amos who was a shepherd and farmer, Ruth, a foreigner from a despised land and David, the youngest son of a large family who served as a shepherd. Time and again God chooses not the rich and powerful, but those who are willing to listen to Him and each of these in spite of their background are given the ability to achieve great things.
All of this seems particularly relevant as we look to the Christmas story where God chooses an unmarried teenager to take on the greatest role of all, to be the mother of God’s own Son. Jesus is born, not into wealth and power, but into a family with tensions and struggles such as many of us would recognise. And Jesus’ first visitors, chosen by the angels to receive the good news of His birth – are shepherds; workers doing the most menial of jobs. God comes to all people and for all people, entrusting himself to those whom he knows will listen and respond and giving them a place in His salvation plan.
What about us? This Christmas as we read and hear again the story of Mary’s ‘yes’ to the angel and of the shepherds telling the Good News to all who will listen, will we reflect on what God is saying to us and will we be ready to respond to his call? The characters that I’ve mentioned are all willing to allow God to change their lives as he calls them; to lead them to new countries and to call them to speak to people they never dreamed that they would meet. What are we willing to give up in order to answer God’s call, how much are we willing to change? Let’s ask for God’s grace to help us respond as Mary does when our call comes – ‘let it be to me according to your will’.
Every blessing for this Christmas and the New Year
‘Walking in the Footsteps of the Methodist Preachers’ in 2012
Looking back over the programme that was devised at the beginning of the year and comparing it with the walks that actually took place, it is noticeable that a goodly number of changes took place to what had been originally planned! However, despite some variable weather conditions throughout the year, a number of walks did take place. Colchester’s Grymes Dyke and Roman River was the location of an early year walk and in good weather and with good ground conditions an enjoyable Saturday morning resulted. As this walk started from and finished at the church, we started (and finished) with only a few and gathered other folk (and they departed from us) as we passed close to where they lived.
By the time that May arrived the good spell of weather of March and early April had been replaced by much wetter conditions and our proposed walk amongst the bluebells in Chalkney Woods had to be postponed because the clay soil in the wood had become a quagmire! It was underfoot conditions that really dictated much of the rest of the year with regards to walks. Despite everything, we did manage an excellent afternoon on Tollesbury Wick Marshes when it was possible to enjoy 360 degrees of sky and good visibility. Although our full day of walking at Boxted was not possible, we did manage a half-day walk when we did a circular from the Methodist Chapel to the Parish Church and then enjoyed a cup-of-tea in the company of Boxted’s Jenny and Ian back at the chapel.
A cup of tea was also enjoyed after a walk from Frinton Methodist Church when we journeyed out towards Little Holland before taking the footpath that cuts across the hallowed fairways of the Frinton Golf Club and then walking back along the sea-front. West Bergholt has, once again, been a venue for a walk and two intrepid souls did manage the day-long walk on the old railway route from Lavenham to Sudbury.
Avril has agreed to help with the planning and execution of the next programme and she and I will be meeting shortly to see what interesting walks we can come up with for 2013.
The Forgotten Guest
Sorry, can’t stop, I really must flee, I’ve got to rush off and get the tree.
There’s the holly and the mistletoe, so much to do I really must go
I’ll check my list again to see there’s gifts for all upon the tree.
With tinsel and with fairy lights it’ll really be a lovely sight.
I’ve got the pudding, I’ve got the cake, there’s only one more trip to make.
Now shall we have turkey or shall we have goose?
With so much to do I really must choose.
With so many coming I’ve got to stock up
With biscuits and chocolate and drinks for the cup.
Perhaps I should get a bottle of wine with so many people coming to dine.
I’ve checked through the list and everything’s done;
But I’ve a very strange feeling I’ve forgotten someone.
It really is strange, I just cannot see, it really is worrying,
Oh who can it be?
Why can’t it be Christmas every day?
With happy people going their way.
Looking for presents to give to each other,
Spreading such love, one to another.
The giving of gifts is such a fine thing,
You can’t hope to measure the joy it may bring.
Why must we wait till Christmas is here,
Before sharing our love and spreading good cheer?
Why limit your giving to one week in the year?
With so many people just longing to hear
A small word of comfort to brighten their day.
Just spare a few moments of each God given day.
You do not need Christmas to share in God’s love.
When Jesus came from his mansion above
He taught us the way to love one another,
So that the whole world may be sister and brother.
Don’t wait for Christmas to share in God’s love
With grateful thanks to Betty Taylor for sharing these poems
The Hymn Writers
Timothy Dudley-Smith was born in Manchester, in the North of England, on December 26th 1926. He moved to Derbyshire as a child with his family as his father was a schoolmaster there. He was schooled at Tonbridge in Kent before attending Pembroke College in Cambridge. It was at university he found his talent for writing – especially comic verse. After his degree he stayed in Cambridge to study theology at Ridley Hall before his ordination into the Church of England in 1950.
His ecclesiastical career began with a job as curate of St Pauls, Rochester from 1950 to 1953.In 1953 he became head of the Cambridge University Mission in Bermondsey until 1955. He was also honorary chaplain to the Bishop of Rochester from 1953 until 1960 and he was founder editor of the Crusade magazine (1953 to 1960). He was secretary of the Church Pastoral Aid Society from 1959 to 1973 when he was appointed as Archdeacon of Norwich. In 1981 he was appointed as Suffragan Bishop of Thetford until he retired in 1992. He now lives in Ford near Salisbury in Wiltshire.
In 2003 he was awarded the OBE for services to hymnody and in 2009 Durham University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a member and honorary vice-president of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
It seems surprising that with such a busy career Dudley-Smith had any time to write hymns and carols. He managed to do this by producing them while on his annual holidays in Cornwall with his wife (Arlette who died in 2007), son and two daughters. Whilst he has written a number of hymns he is perhaps best known for his hymn based on The Magnificat which goes ‘Tell out, my soul the greatness of the Lord’. This was the first hymn written by him in 1961 and came about when Canon Herbert Taylor asked him if he had ever written a hymn as he was looking for new hymns for the Anglican Hymnbook. He said no, but he had written a verse after reading The New English Bible. He went away, and as they say, the rest is history.
He is still alive and composing carols to this day. He has also written a number of books including “A Collection of hymns, 1961 to 1981” and “Praying with the English Hymn Writers in 1989”.
|Thank you to everyone for their contributions to this quarter’s newsletter.Please let me have articles for the Spring edition by the middle of March.
Christine Beesley – Editor