Christmas Shoeboxes

Rhos Methodist Church are involved organising Christmas shoeboxes once again.

Details of what to do if you want to take part are here.

Our local drop off point is the Grand Prix Express warehouse at Mochdre Business Park.

If you need any further details please contact Rev Bev and I will put you in contact with Edwin and Angela Nuttall.

Reset the Debt – new campaign

A new campaign has been launched by JPIT, the Joint Public Issues Team of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, partnered in this report by Church Action on Poverty.

Dear Friends,
We’re launching our new campaign:

Reset The Debt. During lockdown, millions of families in the UK have been forced to borrow money to make ends meet – with the biggest increase in debt amoungst the poorest households.

Six million people have fallen behind on rent, council tax and other household bills because of Covid-19.

Almost one in five households borrowed money to buy food or other essentials in July.

This is an urgent problem that demands a solution. So we’re proposing that the Chancellor creates a Jubilee Fund, that will provide grants to pay off and cancel unavoidable debts accrued by households during the lockdown period. We believe that a Jubilee would allow relationships to be reset, communities to be re-balanced, and people’s dignity to be restored.

We’ve partnered with Church Action on Poverty to launch our new report, and share stories of lived experience of those trapped in debt by Covid-19.Visit the Website

We need your support, to make sure those who have been pushed into debt by Covid-19 are heard. Here’s what you could do today:

If you’ve got two minutes, watch our video to hear the stories of Leonie, Andrzej and Leanne, who have been pushed into debt by Covid-19. Hear their stories

If you’ve got five minutes, write to your MP calling on them to ask the Chancellor what the Government’s plans are to address this crisis. You can find your MP and send them an email on our website.Write to your MP

If you’ve got twenty minutes, read our report, exploring the UK’s covid-debt crisis, and why we think the biblical principle of Jubilee offers a solution. Read the reportIt’s not right that those with the fewest resources should bear the heaviest burden of the lockdown for years to come. We believe it’s time to Reset The Debt.

Keep an eye on our social media and our upcoming newsletters to hear more about how you can get involved in the campaign.

If you have any questions, or would like to share your stories of how Covid-19 debt is affecting your community, get in touch with us at enquiries@jointpublicissues.org.uk.

Pop-up Church

From the feedback I have received and the good feeling I had myself yesterday afternoon, it seems that pop-up church was a great success. Rhian Smith shares her thoughts about it:

I LOVED pop-up church, it felt normal in amongst all the abnormal that these times are.  The shouts of ‘don’t stand in the dog poo’ and the familiar faces, although many unseen since Christmas.

I struggled in April and May to describe the unsettled feeling I had, until I happened upon the phrase that life felt monochrome.  I had a good wage coming in, I had work to do, I had food in my fridge.  But life was monochrome, I was existing at the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs!   I missed colour, the colour of the company of others whether that be in church, at the theatre or meals out, or even of my close family.

Pop-up church was colour, the colours of creation in the park, the colours of welly boots and jumpers.  But also the colour of human interaction done safely, intergenerational fun, chats, stick fights and a simple piece of art we left behind in the park for others to see and share. 

We are reminded in nature programmes that we need to learn to share the resources of nature better if we are to avoid damaging it irreparably.  So we shared yesterday, we picked up things that had been left behind such as leaves fallen from the tree, or a feather.  And I was given a conker by a little boy who was in the park with his mum and sister.  He saw me looking for conkers and he asked if I would like one as he ‘had more than he needed’.  Yesterday in the park was a gift from God to us all, a gift of community and normality in amongst the beauty of His creation.

Some people took photos too. Here are a few.

“Found these two of nature’s treasures in the park today. Lesley”
Our creativity on display
A beautifully socially-distanced gathering

Open Doors – Standing Strong

Open Doors, (a ministry serving persecuted Christians and churches worldwide), UK & Ireland Standing Strong 2020 celebration was held on Saturday evening, October 3rd, online, bringing greater connection to those who regularly cannot worship freely together. Over 1,700 watchers were recorded, from all parts of the UK and Ireland, and a few other countries too. Celebrating 65 years since Brother Andrew first smuggled Christian literature into communist countries, (read about it in his book God’s Smuggler), and the Open Doors movement was started. The countries highlighted in the event were China, Syria and Nigeria, some of the most costly places to be a Christian.

During this year of continued persecution and poverty has been added the pandemic, but in the midst of strife and hardship God is at work. We are all part of the Body of Christ, standing with those who share our faith but not our freedom.

Reports included the continuing persecution, in many cases worsening, with the added problems the Covid pandemic has brought with loss of income, increasing hunger.

The report from China mentioned they have ‘moved from doing church to being church’, reaching out to support the communities with food parcels, medical care, support. Showing the love of Jesus to all indiscriminately. They even defied the curfew in Wuhan to deliver food parcels to those in need. They will pay any price to help the most vulnerable and meanwhile spreading the Hope of Christ.

In China, as the situation eased and lockdown was lifted, some felt they needed to get together physically as  ‘something happens when we gather that cannot happen in any other context’, ‘If zoom is the same as your church service, don’t go back to it’. They are astonished some churches in Britain are still not open.

However, some of the watchers posted comments; ‘for some zoom is the only way possible, then God understands’, how it helps the housebound, and with zoom there are no distractions from other people!

Please
– Pray
– Speak out on behalf of persecuted Christians, making those with influence and power, such as your MP, aware of the situation so that something can be done about it
– Give – to help the work continue

More information can be found at www.opendoorsuk.org 

There will be more details of the event in the next edition of Connections in December.

Mary Jones
Open Doors representative, St John’s

Note: Both St John’s, Llandudno, and St David’s, Craig y Don, are partner churches of Open Doors. St David’s representative is Maria Carter. Ed.

Sunday Worship

This Sunday’s worship is led by Mark Ramsden on the theme of “the first family in lockdown” (Noah’s family, in case you were wondering.) Services will be held at 10am at St David’s, Craig y Don, and 11am at St John’s, Llandudno. The service will also be live-streamed at 10am – you can find it here. For those needing the text of the service, it can be found here.

Other services around the circuit are being held at:
St John’s, Conwy 10.30am
Rhos 10.30am
Rhuddlan 10.30am

Image by Contributed by Wycliffe Russia from https://www.freebibleimages.org/


Pop-up Church

Just a reminder that we are holding pop-up church in the park this Sunday 11th October at 3pm, Queen’s Park, Craig y Don. It will be short, simple and socially distanced, with an activity for us all to share in. We will be focussing on the season of autumn. It is suitable for all ages.

The weather forecast is looking good for Sunday afternoon, if a bit breezy. Please remember to come suitably dressed for the time of year.

National Methodist Choir

An update from Helen Cooper about being part of this virtual choir. It sounds great, Helen.

After a break over the summer months, we have been busy in the last few weeks rehearsing via zoom and YouTube and then recording our songs with mobile phones!

Our first song was “O, Lord, the clouds are gathering” which was written by Graham Kendrick, who sang the solos parts for us.

Our latest recording is a harvest hymn “Come, ye thankful people, come.” We sang this to the accompaniment of the organ at Methodist Central Hall. It is probably the only time Chris and I will be part of a choir in the Central Hall – albeit virtually!

We have already had our first rehearsal for the next release, “Love Divine.” We will be singing it to a beautiful tune written by Howard Goodall for the Millenium.

In these Covid times, when we are unable to sing in our usual choir, it has been a real privilege to join with Methodists around the world and unite together in song.

Prayers for healing and wholeness

Our service of prayers for healing and wholeness take place at St John’s, Llandudno, today at 1.45pm. The service would have been led by Ellie Jones, but, as she lives out of the Conwy area, it is not sensible for her to come in the light of our local lockdown. However, she has sent a reflection in which Audrey Sherrington is going to use in the service and which I share here. Thank you to Ellie for writing this and to Audrey for leading the servcie in her place.

‘My grace is sufficient for you,
For my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9)

In the ministry of Christ healing was a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom, bringing renewal and wholeness of life to those who turned to God in their need.  Jesus commissioned his disciples to proclaim the kingdom and heal the sick (Luke 9:2).  The Church believes that the healing power of Christ is exercised through medical and related professions, through faith and prayer, and the care of the Christian community. 

God desires wholeness for all people. We bring to God our frailty and brokenness  –  felt not only in physical illness, but in guilt, anxiety, and all the burdens which weigh us down.  We also bring our concerns for others and for the world. We come to God who knows our needs before we ask, and whose love revealed in Jesus Christ is stronger than suffering and death.

To start, take some time to bring yourself into an awareness of the presence of God. If it helps, imagine yourself sitting in your church alone, resting in the prayerful atmosphere.

We come in this service to God
In our need, and bringing with us the needs of the world.

We come to God, who comes to us in Jesus,
And who knows by experience what human life is like.

We come with our faith and with our doubts.
We come with our hopes and with our fears.

We come as we are, because it is God who invites us to come,
And God has promised never to turn us away.

Let us pray.

As if it were not enough to bring sound from silence,
light from darkness,
order from confusion;

as if it were not enough
to make the world excellent and intricate;
you gave the kiss of life to the dust of the earth,

You made male and female,
me and us.

So we thank you, creating God.

As if it were not enough
to watch the world you had created,
to admire your handiwork from eternity;

as if it were not enough
to care and be kind at a distance;
you sent your Son to be flesh of our flesh,
bone of our bone,
to live and walk beside
me and us.

So we thank you, loving God.

As if it were not enough
to do all this and return, triumphant, to glory,
you still hear our cries in the courts of high heaven,
and promise your Spirit for the healing of the nations
for me and for us.

So we thank you, God of power,
Lord of our weakness,
Spirit of our salvation.

Reflection

Psalm 62:5-8 (Good News Bible):
I depend on God alone; I put my hope in him. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated. My salvation and honour depend on God; he is my strong protector ; he is my shelter. Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge.

In these troubled times of global pandemic, it is vital that we feel safe.

What does that mean? Does it mean that we try at all times to follow the government advice and wash our hands thoroughly and regularly, wear a face mask in indoor public places and keep a social distance apart whenever we can?

Well, yes, it does, and when we are in local lockdown as we are in the county of Conwy, it means taking even more precautions against catching coronovirus.

We have to be careful because if we are careless of our own safety, we may put others into danger.

In Philippians chapter 2, St Paul asks the members of the young church in Philippi to do all they can to be as like Christ as they can. He says in verse 4, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” That verse has been resonating with me lately, because it is particularly relevant to where we are today. If we all did just as we liked, we would risk letting Covid 19 run loose through our towns and villages, wouldn’t we?

So we do what we can to follow the guidelines set down by the government and the local councils so that we can feel physically safe.

But what about feeling mentally and emotionally and spiritually safe? How can we as individual people feel safe in our hearts and minds and souls? We can still feel unsafe even if we follow all the government guidelines.

That is unless we remember the words Psalm 62, a Psalm of David, when we are encouraged to, “Trust in God at all times”. The psalmist tells us to, “Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge”.

When we remember those words, we can really begin to relax, to feel really safe, to stop being afraid, to know that God is with us always, no matter what we do.

So if we are fed up with the restrictions on our freedom that trying to stop the coronovirus entails, we need to remember that God is where we go when we need to feel really safe. We don’t need to go far. He is right by our side, holding our hand – helping us to cope if we are ill, giving us strength to carry on if we are grieving, keeping us topped up with courage if we are having to care for a loved one who has a long term illness or is suffering from depression.

God is by our side, right next to us, helping us to put a smile on our faces to help lift the spirits of others who may be struggling even more than we are ourselves.

God gave Joshua a bit of a pep talk when he took over from Moses when Moses had died, and in order to encourage him he said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5b).

May God bless us all with the peace of mind that comes from knowing he is with us always. Amen

We continue in prayer.

O Christ our Lord, as in times past
not all the sick and suffering found their way to your side,
but had to have their hands taken, or their bodies carried,
or their names mentioned,
so we, confident of your goodness, bring others to you.

As in times past, you looked at the faith of friends
and let peace and healing be known through them,
look on our faith, even our little faith
And let your kingdom come.

We name before you
those for whom pain is the greatest problem;
who are remembered more for their distress than their potential;
who at night cry, ‘I wish to God it were morning’
and in the morning cry, ‘I wish to God it were night’.
Lord Jesus Christ, Lover of all,
Bring healing, bring peace.

We name before you
those whose problem is psychological;
those haunted by the nightmares of their past
or the spectres of their future,
those whose minds are shackled
to neuroses, depression or fears,
those who do not know what is wrong
or what to pray.
Bring healing, bring peace.

We name before you those in whose experience
light has turned to darkness,
as the end of a life or the breaking of a relationship
leaves them stunned in their souls
and silent in their conversation,
not knowing where to turn or who to turn to,
or whether life has a purpose any more.
Bring healing, bring peace.

And others whose troubles we do not know
or whose names we could not say aloud,
and all the troubles of the world,
we bring to you now in silence
a silence which you understand.
Bring healing, bring peace.

Lord God,
you alone are skilled to know the cure
for every sickness and every soul.
If, by our lives, your grace may be known,
then in us, through us, and, if need be, despite us,
Let your kingdom come.

We ask your blessing on all who tend the sick,
counsel the distressed, sit with the dying,
or advance medical research,
that in caring for your people
they may meet and serve you.
Let your kingdom come.

For those who, in this land,
administer the agencies of health and welfare,
we ask your guidance that, in all they do,
human worth may be valued,
and the service of human need be fully resourced.
Let your kingdom come.

For those in positions of authority who seek justice and peace
And work for the healing of the nations.
Let your kingdom come.

These prayers we ask in the name of him whose flesh and blood
have made all God’s children special.  Amen

Together, let us bring to the Lord those for whom we have been asked to pray….

Peg T
Dafydd W
Margaret B
David & Carolyn S
David B
Eva D
Aiden
Joan L

Take some time now to bring your concerns to God. If it helps, try saying them out loud. Feel yourself held in God’s safe hands.

We say the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples:

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the
power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen

Now may the God of hope fill us
With joy and peace in believing,
That we may abound in hope
In the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Further reflections on koinonia

My comments at Sunday worship on koinonia seemed to be well received (you canf ind it here.) Several people have spoken to me and one, Elden Small, has shared some further thoughts on the topic. Thank you, Elden, for sharing these with us. That sharing, in itself, is a component of koinonia in action!

Yesterday’s service reminded me of an event back in my student days at Sheffield University (here I go reminiscing again?), when I was a member of the Free Church Society (Sheffield’s ecumenical version of Meth Soc). We worshipped in our own denominational churches on Sunday mornings but joined together for a united service at the local URC church in the evening, which was preceded by a ‘bring and share’ tea. We also met together on Wednesday evenings for worship, discussion, speaker led meetings etc. It was a busy group with lots of other opportunities arranged to share together in fellowship, socially, and supporting local community projects etc. The friendship and fellowship we shared was very supportive, very encouraging, very enriching….. 

On one occasion we had a Saturday study day on KOINONIA. And the activity I really remember was a JIGSAW MODEL of Christian fellowship (or even God’s Kingdom?) We were all given a large jigsaw piece made of plain white card. We were asked to draw a simple self portrait on this and words/images/symbols to represent our skills/interests/talents/gifts/personality. We were then told we were going to use these pieces to complete a large jigsaw picture of KOINONIA. 

But our speaker explained this was no ordinary jigsaw! 

Firstly – all the pieces were identical in shape and size – representing that each one of us is equal in God’s sight, ALL are his children, created, special and loved equally by him. 

Also each piece can fit anywhere in the jigsaw – and so we all fit in fully into God’s KOINONIA (not a case of ‘I know my place!’) Each filling a gap – each playing our part and supporting those around us in fellowship with one another?

But, then we notice that each piece although identical in size and shape is totally different from any other – just as each of us are unique! We each bring our own interests, skills, gifts, tallents, which we can use in building up KOINONIA, each playing our own special part enriching the fellowship and extending God’s kingdom?

This jigsaw started with three large pieces joined together in the centre, labelled: ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’. Representing our triune God. And all other pieces of our KOINONIA jigsaw attached onto that, spreading out, just as God is at the very centre of our KOINONIA, our fellowship and all that we do?

Normally, when doing a jigsaw you start with four corner pieces and edge pieces? But this KOINONIA jigsaw had no edge pieces! It is not finite or limited to a certain size or number of pieces – there is always room to add on more pieces. And in Christian fellowship there are no limits.There is always room for more. All are welcome. Until that time when ‘At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord…..’ and God’s Kingdom is complete?

I found this a fascinating model of KOINONIA, Christian fellowship.
We also spent time reflecting on the words of one of Charles Wesley’s hymns which talk about KOINONIA and I will use these to draw together my thoughts.

All praise to our redeeming Lord,
who joins us by his grace,
and bids us, each to each restored,
together seek his face.

He bids us build each other up;
and gathered into one,
to our high calling’s glorious hope,
we hand in hand go on.

The gift which he on one bestows
we all delight to prove;
the grace through every vessel flows,
in purest streams of love.

Even now we think and speak the same,
and cordially agree;
concentered all, through Jesus’ name,
in perfect harmony.

We all partake the joy of one,
the common peace we feel,
a peace to sensual minds unknown,
a joy unspeakable.

And if our fellowship below
in Jesus be so sweet,
What height of rapture shall we know
When round his throne we meet.