From our Minister
It seems like a lot of the news at present has to do with co-operation and how we work together with others; from the alliances being built to tackle the conflicts across the world to the discussions around Scottish independence and the impact of the referendum, both on Scotland and the wider UK, the question seems to be, how far can we work with others?
This seems to me to be a question faced by the Church too and one that is faced at every level, from the dialogues between denominations to how we as a group of 11 churches relate as a circuit. Whatever we do we cannot work in isolation and there is great benefit to be had from sharing together, the thing is how do we manage this in a way that fully recognises the contributions of all?
Jesus in his great prayer to the Father on the night of his betrayal prays about his followers ‘may they be one, heavenly Father, as you and I are one.’ This prayer is often taken as the mandate for ecumenical work and a marker against which we measure ourselves. It is God’s own call that we should ‘be one’, the question is, how does that look in 21st century society?
Jesus prays ‘may they be one’, he does not say ‘may they all be the same’ and indeed the twelve that he chooses as apostles are a witness to that, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds with very little in common. Yet, for all their bickering, the disciples are united by their faithfulness to Jesus and so it is with us the Church. The things that we hold in common are far more important than the things that divide us and whenever we come together it is good to remember that.
I very much enjoyed being part of a family fun festival held at the beginning of September in Castle Park and organised by a wide group of churches across Colchester. One of the great blessings was meeting people from fellowships I knew relatively little about and learning from them. We didn’t agree on everything, but I felt richer for the conversations, which enabled my own faith to grow.
As churches in the circuit facing important decisions at this time we need to really reflect on how we fulfil Jesus wish to ‘be one’. Are we supporting one another in prayer and seeking to build one another up or is there a sense of competition to see who is ‘biggest and best’? We will not always agree, but we do need to talk together, pray together, worship together and share in fellowship together in order to build up our own faith life and the life of our wider community. This means supporting events at other churches as well as our own and finding out the needs and concerns of others as well as being prepared to share honestly ourselves. As we do so we hold fast to the One who prayed for his followers to come together so that His prophecy may be fulfilled and ‘the world may believe.’
God bless.. Ruth
The Four Seasons
by Myrtle I Sparke
I love to walk through meadows green
On a lovely day in Spring
To loiter near the sparkling stream
To hear the birds that sing
My heart is light I trip along
There’s so much to delight
Far away from the busy town
Here it’s calm and bright
There are butter cups and daises
Bluebells in the wood
Up above the sky is blue
and everything is good
And so I wander on my way
Watch the little lambs at play
Feel the cool refreshing breeze
In the tall and verdant trees
And so at length I turn around
Back I go to the busy town
Calmed and refreshed by what I’ve seen
In those pleasant fields so green.
Summer time again is here
The season which I like best
The lovely flowers which then appear
Will in all their robes be dressed
Roses red, carnations too
Flowers of every kind and hue
Smell their fragrance in the breeze
Hear the droning of the bees
Summer days are long and bright
Today there is not a cloud in sight
So let us go down to the sea
For that is where I long to be
The children playing on the beach
Are happy as can be
Some are sitting in a row
To watch a Punch and Judy show
Others go on the pier
Lots of fun and amusements here
Slot machines try your luck
Win some pennies, that’s the stuff
And then of course there are the stalls
Tell your fortune, ping pong, balls
Helter Skelter, oh what fun
Then to rest, bask in the sun.
We’ve said goodbye to summer
To the long hot sunny days
But not goodbye to beauty
It’s with us here always
So let us walk down shady lanes
To view the golden splendour
Of the trees that once were green
With budding leaves so tender
The glorious tints of autumn
Are spread before our eyes
There’s beauty in the hedgerow
There’s splendour in the skies
So let us linger while we may
Fill our hearts with quiet content
To gather all the sweetness in
Surely it is time well spent
For soon the leaves will fall
To rustle beneath our feet
The swallows too will fly away
In other lands to meet.
The seasons come, the seasons go
Autumn will soon fade away
But the sun will surely shine
To welcome in another day
Winter with its icy blast
Is here with us again
The trees are bare, the skies are grey
Snow has whitened all the plain
And as I gazed from window pane
Upon the wintry scene
A perky little robin came
Its feathers he did preen
And as he hopped upon the snow
His crimson breast all aglow
The sun came out, all was bright
Robin chirped with all his might
And this is what he seemed to say
The world is very bright and gay
This lovely snow beneath my feet
is nicer than the stony street
The children too will laugh and shout
Throw the snowballs all about
For those who find it cold and bleak
There’s comfort near the chimney seat
So let us not be sad but gay
For time is ever on the wing
Around the corner, hovers spring.
With thanks to Roz for sharing this with us
The Hymn Writers – Reverend Fred Pratt-Green
The Reverend Fred Pratt Green CBE was a British Methodist minister, hymn writer and poet. He was born in Roby, Lancashire, on 2nd September 1903 and died on 22nd October 2000. After hearing a sermon on John Masefield’s The Everlasting Mercy he went to Didsbury Theological College where he graduated in 1928 and began his ministry in the Filey circuit. There he met Marjorie Dowsett and they married in 1931. By 1939, Pratt Green was a minister on the Ilford circuit and was soon combining spiritual duties with those as an air raid warden. In 1944 he moved to Finsbury Park, Three years later he was transferred to Brighton, where at the Dome concert hall he regularly preached to congregations of 2,000.
Fred Pratt Green was appointed MBE in 1995. His wife predeceased him in 1993. There were no children, but they raised Elizabeth Shepherd, the daughter of a missionary who had died of leprosy in India.
The Reverend Fred Pratt Green wrote more than 300 hymns, and was one of the most prolific hymn writers of the 20th century. The most remarkable aspect of his career as a hymn writer was that he did not begin to write hymns until his late sixties, when he was on the verge of retirement from the Methodist ministry.
In 1967 he was co-opted onto a committee planning a supplement to The Methodist Hymn Book. In 1977, the Church of England turned to Pratt Green after rejecting Sir John Betjeman’s contribution to the Jubilee. Pratt Green came up with a replacement, sung to the rhythm of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and to a tune by Walford Davies, Vision:
It is God who holds the nations
in the hollow of his hand;
It is God whose light is shining
in the darkness of the land;
It is God who builds his City on
the Rock and not on sand;
May the living God be praised!
Thank you to everyone for their contributions to this quarter’s newsletter.Please let me have articles for the Winter 2014 edition by the start of December.
Christine Beesley – Editor