Lexden Link Summer 2012

Lexden LinkSummer 2012

Issue No 37

From our Minister

This month we look forward to a variety of events celebrating the queen’s diamond jubilee. It’s an amazing celebration as we look back over the 60 years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and give thanks for her example and leadership. The last 60 years have seen many changes and so in many ways the Jubilee provides an opportunity for reflection as well as celebration.

Jubilee itself is not simply the celebration of an anniversary though. Its origins are biblical and the Old Testament idea of jubilee has much to teach us today. In Leviticus 25, God commands the people concerning times of rest and celebration and it is here that the people are commanded to celebrate a jubilee year every 50 years. The idea of jubilee is threefold; firstly there is freedom, secondly the return of land and people to their families and thirdly the idea of rest.

In a jubilee year the people of Israel were required to free any fellow Israelite who had become a servant in their household because of poverty, enabling them to return to their families and outstanding debts were cancelled. Farmland that had been sold, again because of poverty was returned to its owner (the price of land fluctuated accordingly when a jubilee year was near!) and people were encouraged to live simply, not planting crops to harvest, but instead living off what the land produced. It was a year of restoration and of rest which also prevented people from becoming too attached to land or possessions and enabled them to remember their reliance on God. Jubilee had principles of justice as those in bonded labour were freed and also allowed for that time of reflection as people rested from their labour in growing crops and renewed family bonds. It was also a year of challenge as people had to let go of valuable land and labour and to rely on the land for food. My bible commentary contains an interesting footnote suggesting that the people found this command very difficult to keep!

I wonder what of these jubilee principles challenge or appeal to us? Certainly there is a lot we can learn about our attitude to worldly commodities from the jubilee principle in today’s world where there is so much debt. Perhaps there is also something we can learn about justice and mercy as we seek to tackle society’s debt problems.

Finally the idea of living simply seems to me to be a key to the idea of jubilee, reminding us that all that we have comes from God and to be thankful for the basics of life rather than consciously seeking more and more.

This jubilee perhaps you will be returning to your family to celebrate with them, or perhaps you are looking forward to a time of rest as we enjoy our extra bank holiday. However as we celebrate, perhaps we too can aim to include the jubilee ideals of justice, freedom and rest into our lives and to share them with others.

God bless.

Ruth.

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile.

“What am I offered, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A pound, a pound. Then two! Only two?
Two pounds, and who’ll make it three?”

“Three pounds, once; three pounds, twice;
Going for three…” But no,
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;

Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loosened strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
As sweet as an angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.

“A thousand pounds, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice,
And going and gone,” said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand.
What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of the Master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd
Much like the old violin.

A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
A game — and he travels on.
He is “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”

But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

This poem by Myra Brooks Welch (1878-1950) formed part of Jane’s Sunday morning service on Sunday 27 May.

Editor’s note

Myra Brooks Welch is quoted as saying she heard a speaker address a group of students on the power of God to bring out the best in people. She said she herself became so filled with light and that “Touch of the Master’s Hand” was written in 30 minutes!
The finished poem was sent anonymously to the editor of her local church news bulletin. She felt it was a gift from God and didn’t need her name on it.

The Hymn Writers

An occasional series by Alan Beesley

Charles Wesley was the great hymn-writer of the Wesley family. He was the youngest son and 18th child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, born at Epworth Rectory on December 18, 1707.

In 1716 he went to Westminster School, and then in 1721 he was elected King’s Scholar, and as such received his board and education free.

In 1726 Charles Wesley was elected to a Westminster studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1729, and became a college tutor. In the early part of the same year his religious impressions were much deepened, and he became one of the first band of “Oxford Methodists.”

As a hymn-writer Charles Wesley was unique. He is said to have written no less than 6500 hymns. Although some were of unequal merit, and have since been forgotten, those that have stood the test of time have done so on their own excellence. His feelings and thoughts on every occasion of importance found their best expression in a hymn. His own conversion, his own marriage, every festival of the Christian Church and scenes from Scripture all furnished occasions for the exercise of his divine gift. It would not be possible to enumerate even those of the hymns which have become really classical.

I will just mention my favourite – Love Devine, All Loves excelling. It first appeared in Wesley’s Hymns for those that Seek, and those that Have Redemption (Bristol, 1747). It was apparently intended as a Christianisation of the song “Fairest Isle” sung by Venus in Act 5 of John Dryden’s operatic play King Arthur. Compare the words when you have the opportunity.

This was originally sung to the tune ‘Westminster’ although nowadays we are more familiar with the livelier tune of Blaenwern, composed by William Penfro Rowlands (1860–1937)

Lexden Link – Easter 2012

Lexden Link – Easter 2012 Issue No 36
From our Minister“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with Good” Romans 12:21

Ever had that feeling that nothing is going right? Perhaps a chance remark gets taken out of context and is blown out of all proportion, perhaps several things go wrong at the once leaving you wondering what will happen next or perhaps an ongoing worry seems set to take over your life. In these situations it is very tempting to give up, pull up the barriers and to try to protect ourselves at all costs.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul expresses this struggle with evil in terms that we can probably all identify with ‘when I want to do good, evil lies close at hand’ He is very honest about the power of temptation and the way that wrongness can seem to overwhelm us, but throughout he is also clear that this is not the case, evil will not have the last word, but will be overcome by good. His evidence for this is the event that we celebrate at Easter, Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The story of the cross at first seems to be a story of despair as Jesus, an innocent man, faces every kind of violence and abuse before death seems like the end of the story. His followers and friends must have felt like there was no hope left and yet, after three days Jesus offers an answer to sin and evil that cannot be overcome; new life, new hope; his resurrection. God’s goodness cannot be kept down; it will always have the last word.

Paul emphasises this victory over evil to his readers and in turn calls on them to challenge evil where they meet it in their lives, not by building barriers, but by breaking them down. Instead of seeking vengeance they are called to treat their enemies with kindness, instead of fearing the unknown they are to offer hospitality to strangers and instead of holding grudges they are to forgive.

I wonder if any of you, like me are fans of the Archers? If so you will know all about Alan the vicar’s Lenten challenge to his flock – to give up gossip and instead to indulge in random acts of kindness. This seems to me to be one modern day outworking of Paul’s advice; instead of sharing rumours that can hurt, to think of what we can do each day to build one another up. It is not an easy challenge to seek to overcome evil with good, but in Jesus Christ we have one who has done the hard work for us and his power will give us the strength we need.

May God bless us all this Eastertide.

Ruth.

Greetings from SomersetRik and I are enjoying life here in the West Country, and although we don’t drive out each sunny day, we do like to take our holidays locally and explore the area. One rather cloudy wet day last summer we went to Buckfast Abbey. I’d heard of the amazing stained glass windows there and I wanted to see them.

It was true – it was brilliant! It sparkled richly even though outside the day was wet and dreary. Rik and I sat in the quiet Abbey and listened to the monks celebrating mid-day prayers. The calming words of the prayers and simple chanting of the plainsong were soothing and restful.

The Abbey was cool and dim but just visible above the top of the screen behind the altar was a band of glorious colour.

After the prayers were over, we sat for a while thinking – then curiosity got the better of me, and we walked towards the magnetic stained glass windows – they draw you to them, you just have to go to look and gaze in amazement.

As we walked behind the screen we were caught up in “wonder, love and praise” as the true richness of the wonderful colours shone before us. In front of us was Christ at the last supper, and either side windows glowed red and orange, and green and blue. Where did the sparkle come from on such a dull day?

The artist, Father Charles Norris had his workshop at the abbey. He made his famous window of the Blessed Sacrament in 1996. He worked using coarse pieces of glass rather like that used in medieval times. The uneven thickness, the angles on the surface and the flaws in the glass itself all work together to create the shining light as it is bent and refracted to sparkle so brightly even on the darkest days.

What a reassuring thought that just as the light shines through the imperfections to glow in the window, so God can use us and our imperfections – to show His light and His love to the world.

May we be glad to show our true colours!!!

Iris Chapple

The Real Easter EggI have just bought a real Easter egg. What you may ask is a real Easter egg. Well that is a question I asked as well.

I was looking for a nice plain egg that I could get for Alan and I was rather pleased with the one that was giving a charity donation for Baby Lifeline and Traidcraft from every egg. It was also Fairtrade so I thought that’ll do.

Then I noticed something unusual. The picture on the box had the usual fluffy chicks and bunny rabbits but, there on the hill top, were three crosses.

I turned the box over and read all about the real meaning of Easter. This was amazing – an Easter egg that actually mentioned Jesus. Fascinated I went on their web site to read all about the Meaningful Chocolate Company and their ethical approach to chocolate. How in 2008 one of their co-founders, with a ten year record of promoting ethical trading and even longer working for the faith and voluntary sector, came up with the idea of The Real Easter Egg.

The Meaningful Chocolate Company Ltd developed the egg and with the help of bishops, schools and parents it was launched to a warm welcome in September 2010. Not all shops and supermarkets agreed to stock the product but amazingly they still managed to sell tens of thousands of them. They have proved that there is demand for an egg that tells the Easter story on the box and they hope that next year they will be able to produce even more to meet demand and customers will have more choice on where to buy the egg.

I got mine from the Co-op.

Christine Beesley

Holy WeekReflections for Holy Week

Monday 2nd 7:30 – 9:00pm – at Lexden Methodist Church

Tuesday 3rd 10:00 – 10:20am –at Boxted Methodist Church

Wednesday 4th 1:00 – 2:00pm – at Marks Tey Methodist Church

(You can come at 12 midday and bring lunch)

Thursday 5th 2:00 – 2:20pm – at West Bergholt Methodist Church

Good Friday 6th 11:00 – 11:20 at Eight Ash Green Methodist Church

Holy Saturday 7th 1:45 – 1:55 Fingringhoe Methodist Church

Other Services

Thursday 5th 7:30pm Agapé Meal at Lexden Methodist Church

Good Friday 6th 3:00 – 4:00pm Boxted Methodist Church with the Silver Band

Good Friday 6th 7:30pm Service at the Mercury Theatre organised by

Churches Together in West Colchester

Easter Sunday at Lexden Methodist Church

10:30am Morning Worship led by our Worship Leaders

6.00pm Prayer Time

6:30pm Songs of Praise including Holy Communion led by Rev’d Ruth Ridge

Step by Step
He does not lead me year by yearNor even day by day

But step by step my path unfolds

My Lord directs my way.

Tomorrow’s plans I do not know

I only know this minute

But He will say “This is the Way”

By faith now walk ye in it.

And I am glad that it is soToday’s enough to bear

And when tomorrow comes, His Grace

Shall far exceed its care.

What need to worry then or fret

The God who gave His Son

Holds all my moments in His hand

And gives them one by one.

Author unknown

Thank you to everyone for their support in producing this newsletter.Please let me have articles for the Summer edition by middle of June.

Christine Beesley – Editor

Lexden Link – February 2012

Magazine Issue No. 35

February Newsletter – from our Minister

February is a month that marks the transition from winter to spring and as we see the days are getting longer and the bulbs beginning to appear in our gardens, so we too might start getting ready for the change in season by doing some spring cleaning. If like me you are a bit of a hoarder then this provides the perfect opportunity to clear out some of the clutter that has been building up and make a fresh start.

It always takes me ages to sit down and do some clearing out, but when I do I really enjoy it. First of all there is the delight of finding some lovely surprises in the clutter – a family photo amidst the papers, the scarf that reminds you of a particular party at the bottom of a drawer and secondly there is the satisfaction of creating space – being able to open the cupboard without things falling out and being able to shut a drawer without forcing it. Spring cleaning reveals hidden gems and helps us to appreciate the space that we have.

This month also sees the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday 22nd February. Lent is a time which is often linked with fasting and giving things up, but to me it seems like an ideal opportunity for a spiritual spring clean. As we reflect on the time that Jesus spent in the desert, giving up on all distractions so that he could listen carefully to God, so we can make use of the 40 days of Lent to clear away some of the clutter that keeps us from listening to God.

This might mean switching off the radio and television in order to take some quiet time each day, it might be about giving up a luxury to remind you of the blessings we take for granted or it might be about taking time for a quiet walk or some scripture reading each day as an opportunity to centre yourself on God. Our lives tend to be so busy these days that we rush around gaining clutter without even noticing until we have no quiet time left, but Lent gives us the chance to regain that sense of peace. As we do so we may find some surprises along the way too; taking space to reflect on our lives helps us to remember what is truly important and in taking time to listen for God we may find Him speaking in new and exciting ways.

As you clear away the clutter this Lent may God give you wonderful reminders of his faithfulness and the space to experience His love.

God bless.

Ruth.

Self-denial > World Mission > Lent

In 1886 the founder of the Salvation Army was inspired by an idea of one of his officers had who promised to do without his pudding each day and the money he saved would be donated to the Army’s work abroad. (The very fact that the word pudding was mentioned probably indicated that he was used to having a somewhat stodgy diet and his health was probably better off by giving it up.) The idea was adopted and the Army introduced a week called self-denial week where it’s soldiers were encouraged to give something up, and what they saved they donated to the funds. Here is a verse of a hymn which was sung on these occasions:-
This our week of Self-Denial we as faithful soldiers keep;

By our consecrated giving wider fields our comrades reap.

Souls in darkness yet are calling, come and help us still they cry;

With our gifts our hearts outpouring, we will help them lest they die.
It started in a small way but quickly expanded to a financial drive when members of the public were invited to donate to the Army’s social work. House to house collections were made, flag days organised, and all manner of money raising activities were encouraged.

The period of self-denial though, was always in the winter when people going from house to house could get lost in the dark or slide on the ice. Other hazards could befall the unsuspecting as the following lines from an ‘odd ode’ clearly demonstrated, written by a wag in the style of the past radio comic Cyril Fletcher:-
This is the tale of ol’ Bill Lyle

Who went round collectin’ for self-denial

And when he went around the ‘ouses,

A dog came out and bit ‘is trouses.
Realising the difficulties of winter collecting, the Army changed it’s financial appeal week from winter to early autumn, and it also changed the name from Self-denial to the Red Shield Appeal. Up to a very few years ago, self-denial envelopes were being given out in the Methodist Church early in the year. Who coined the name or the idea of self-denial first? Was it the Methodist or the Army? It may have been the Methodist as the founder of the Salvation Army was once a Methodist preacher. The fact remains though, that even in the Methodist Church the term self-denial has fallen by the wayside, for we now have World Mission envelopes instead of Self-denial envelopes which are given out early in the New Year. This year in particular it couldn’t have been earlier as these were given out on the first of January.

The term self-denial seems to have been consigned to the pages of history, though it is to be hoped that the concept of benefiting others as a result of personal sacrifice is not dead.

There is a similarity between self-denial giving and lent in that both require us to ‘give up’ something. However, neither Self-denial, World Mission collections, or even the observance of lent are based directly on biblical commands, though it could be argued that all are observing the spirit of biblical teaching.

The fact that lent was not directly biblical, led some people during the time of the reformation to state that they would not be observing this tradition. Zwingli preached in 1522 that only the Bible is binding on Christians, hence the cantonal civil government in Zurich ruled that the New Testament imposed no fasts. Needless to say the Bishop was furious that the cantonal authorities practically rejected his jurisdiction and forthwith sent a delegation to Zurich to reprimand them. In the end, a compromise was reached and the authorities stated that ‘fasts could be observed for the sake of good order.’ Even so, the Zurich burgomaster laid down the rule that the pure word of God was to be preached, and thus the road to revolution with the Roman Catholic Church was fully open.

Lent is a part of our church calender and was finally established in 325 at the council of Nicaea. Prior to this there is no record of the observance of lent. It is a time of prayer and fasting in commemoration of our Lord’s forty days and nights fasting in the wilderness, although I have to wonder why we should all be urged to fast for 46 days and not just for 40 days. The readings in the quarterly plan for the seven weeks before Easter come under the heading of lent. In the Anglican Church a more sombre mood is set in the church by not decorating the church with flowers.

Unlike the Roman Catholic church, most protestant churches give their members an option on how much or little they as individuals are going to commemorate lent. In the Roman Catholic church they very often are asked to declare what they are going to give up for lent.

As we make up our minds how lent, by our voluntary action, can alter our life and spiritual perspective, our prayer is that God will help us carry out Paul’s directive to ‘pray continuously’, but I plead with you not to put on sack cloth and ashes and go about with long faces. Be cheerful and give happily!

Finally husbands, be careful how you mention to your wives that you will be giving up ‘washing up’ for lent. They may not like it; and remember you have to clear such a resolution with your maker!

Laurie

Thoughts on Survival in a Faster World

Some words found on a gravestone in Kent, which say much about the dilemma we all face today:-
“He overtook the hurrying car, and the speeding van;

he tried again with a load of hay, and slowly passed away.”
I am sure my father had many faults, but he didn’t rush about all the time. He was born in 1893, one year before they opened Tower Bridge, “if its worth doing, then its worth doing well”, he would say. He tried hard to instil this into his three children, and you had best ask my wife if he succeeded in my case, she has known me now for 45 years.

My father came from a reasonably well off family in Surrey, where his grandfather had been the head of the Thames Conservancy during Queen Victoria’s rein, but the family lost their wealth when he was a teenager, and he suddenly became a marine apprentice in an Isle of Wight shipyard. This change must have been a huge culture shock for him, and the first job they gave this naïve young man was to sit across a propeller shaft at the back of a destroyer on the slipway, and for him to cut a large shaped slot, or keyway, into that shaft so the propeller would rotate when the shaft was turned by the engine. He hadn’t even known that you could cut metal with a saw when he started this, nor that you could chip out the hard bits with a ‘cold chisel’ to form the groove. Then he had to file that slot to the proper size. It’s a good job he took his time with this job, or that propeller would be somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean by now.

When I was a teenager I took a metalwork course amongst other things, and I distinctly remember one time when I was very proud of a piece that I had made on modern machine tools that was ultra accurate. To my utter dismay, my father then made another one ‘off the cuff’ by filing it out of a solid piece of metal. The infuriating part from my point of view was that his was flatter, and even more accurate than mine was, so some of his old skills were still there 60 odd years later.

These older ‘skilful chaps’ have all but died out now, as has the practice of passing skills down the generations by example and nurturing. This was the basis of the apprenticeship culture in much of the UK in years gone by, but today there seems less pride in doing that sort of thing anymore. Maybe the general speeding up in the world has gone hand in hand with a reduction in personal pride in doing a job well. Whatever job that might be, from engineering, to the office environment, to computing, and even aerospace, pride is important, even more so with aerospace.

Personally I have had several distinctly different phases during my working life, from the initial education phase, to working within a large group of iron founders, to making steam turbines for the electrical generation industry, to running my own business in the aluminium sector. In all of these I have tried not to ask people to do something that I wasn’t prepared to spend a little time to learn and try for myself, at least once. This not only acquired for me some extra skills, and a deeper insight into the make up of the respective companies, but I found it generated respect and comradeship with the people as well. I can to this day distinctly remember many, many years ago standing on a platform up in the air pouring 20 tonnes of white-hot molten metal into a moulding box to cast a large engine for an American railway locomotive. That was a long time ago now, and once was enough for me I have to say.

So what message has this for today’s world – keep talking to the people who know what they are doing. It’s often said that you can’t put an old head on young shoulders, and I am sure this is correct. You still need help when you do anything, because the people who often know the best way of doing it, are those closest to the activity. Much of the Japanese culture of making good quality goods came from a modern way of incorporating this philosophy into their everyday way of life, their so called Quality Circle approach.

So keep on talking to each other, keep on talking to your own family, keep on talking to the church, that’s the way to survive in today’s ultra fast world, and at your peril ignore those who are closest to the sharp end.

Best wishes to all for 2012.

David Beale

From the Editor

That’s all folks!! Very many thanks to this month’s contributors and to all who have given me items over the last 3 years.

Alan and Christine Beesley will be taking over The Link after this edition and it will come out on a quarterly basis. Please let them have articles for the next edition.


Produced and printed by Lexden Methodist Church.