Lexden Link Winter 2013

Lexden Link

Winter 2013

From our Minister

One of my favourite hymns is ‘Joy to the world’ – a hymn that is often sung for Advent and Christmas time. It seems to me that the words of this song really capture the spirit of the season, a deep joy that encompasses all creation.

At Christmas time we seem to be very much caught up in the idea of happiness. Songs like ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’ offer us a reminder of happy family times and we tend to wish everyone we meet a ‘happy Christmas’. Happiness however can be quite an elusive thing; happiness in giving and receiving gifts gives way to anxiety in January as we realise how much the festive season has cost and’ happy’ family gathering can become the catalyst for stress as characters clash. For many Christmas is not necessarily happy at all, those with relatives far away, those who have no home or family to share with are marginalised by the traditional cosy Christmas image.

Joy on the other hand seems to be a much deeper and longer lasting emotion than happiness. It is something that takes root in our souls and can provide us with strength even when we are at our lowest ebb. The joy of Christmas is the news that God loves us so much that he comes to be with us, sharing not just in human happiness, but in the complexities of human life too.

Taken back to the starkness of the Gospel, the nativity story is not necessarily a happy one, but it is one that contains great joy, especially for those who are usually on the edges of society looking in. Jesus comes as a baby born to unmarried parents, born in a stable because that is the only shelter that can be found. He is visited by shepherds, those who are given society’s dirty work and by magi, strangers and foreigners with no idea of the local politics and customs and he is proclaimed in the temple by an old man and a widow. It is on the margins that Jesus is recognised and celebrated and this offers joy to all of us who feel outcast today. God comes first of all to those in need to bring hope and a new sense of value.

In this there is perhaps a warning to those who find Christmas too comfortable, to make sure that the trimmings of the season do not stop us from recognising Immanuel in our midst. The innkeepers of Bethlehem were too tied up with profit to see the need of an expectant mother and who knows, maybe Mary and Joseph were even turned away by extended family who feared scandal. We need to make sure that this Christmas we do not allow happiness to blind us to the deeper joy of God who is both love and justice coming to dwell in our midst.

Every Blessing for a joyful Christmastide.

Ruth.

Shelter

All they wanted was a shelter, just a place to call their own,

But there wasn’t room to house them in that overcrowded town.

For it seems the Welfare Service was the sort that soon breaks down.

So don’t sing Alleluia and don’t sing Gloria!

They were strangers, Galileans, and the man a carpenter.

Though not quite the helpless people who are permanently poor.

No one beckoned them to enter as they knocked from door to door.

So don’t sing Alleluia and don’t sing Gloria!

She was pregnant, more’s the pity, and her time was not far off.

It’s the awkward complication that upsets the planner’s graph:

If it wasn’t so pathetic it would make the angels laugh.

So don’t sing Alleluia and don’t sing Gloria!

As we know, they found a lodging in the backyard of an inn,

Not the best accommodation she could have her baby in.

But it’s all a God can hope for when he’s up against our sin.

So don’t sing Alleluia and don’t sing Gloria!

But to know that his salvation is an all-embracing care;

But to see what Christ is doing and to find a way to share;

Is to sing our hymns and carols as a challenge to despair.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Gloria!

F Pratt Green 1975

WHAT THE DONKEY SAW

No room in the inn, of course, and not that much in the stable,

What with the shepherds, Magi, Mary, Joseph, the heavenly host –

Not to mention the baby using our manger as a cot.

You couldn’t have squeezed another cherub in for love or money.

Still, in spite of the overcrowding, I did my best to make them feel wanted.

I could see the baby and I Would be going places together.

Ursula Fanthorpe

With thanks to Vivian and Geoff for sharing these Christmas thoughts with us

‘Walking in the Footsteps of the Methodist Preachers’ in 2013

The weather has been kind to us this year with only one of our 11 planned walks having to be cancelled and we’ve only experienced light showers at worst while out walking.

Whilst we were a little too early for the best of the snowdrops in our February walk at Wormingford, we did manage to get the walk in May at just the right time for the bluebells in Arger Fen were at their very best. Whilst the bluebells provided a spectacular display, not so pretty in the Fen was the sight of the ash trees affected by the ash die-back disease.

Looking back at the list of walks, it is noticeable that we have been at almost all the points of the compass from Colchester. We have been at Mersea for the ‘Action for Children’ sponsored walk; at Walton where we walked around the Naze; at Stoke-by-Nayland where we had a country walk and called on a relative of Janet’s along the way; at Layer Marney when we walked to Tiptree; at Ford Street for a walk to Marks Tey; and at Chalkney Woods near Earls Colne. An early year walk was along paths within the Borough of Colchester and our last of the season was at West Bergholt when friends from the Methodist chapel provided us with some welcome refreshments on our return. In December, we shall join with Gerald to tap into his wealth of knowledge and experience in organising walks for a morning of planning for 2014.

Derek and Avril

A Boomerang of Flowers

words by Mary Philip

A child lying cradled here

Beneath the slender gum.

The God of might has left his home

And to Australia come.

The kookaburra laughs with glee

The shy koala peeps

The magpie carols blissfully

As little Jesus sleeps.

What shall we give our infant king?

A boomerang of flowers,

To say come back and stay with us

And be forever ours

One day a cross will hold him fast

And lest we should forget,

Above him in the sapphire sky

A cross of stars is set.

But there’ll be no pain for today

But peace and joy and love

Beneath the slender gum he sleeps

And magpies sing above.

What shall we give our infant king?

A boomerang of flowers,

To say come back and stay with us

And be forever ours

With thanks to Laurie Berris

Thank you to everyone for their contributions to this quarter’s newsletter.

Please let me have articles for the Spring 2014 edition by the start of March.

Christine Beesley – Editor