We hope that you are all keeping well. It is now six months since our first newsletter to you as a result of coronavirus. Little did we think then that after all this time we would still be writing to you. Whilst the Church is open again for Sunday Morning Worship, there are still many restrictions in place and there is concern that further controls may be necessary.
Harvest Oct 4th A time to help others
The Drive has a long history of celebrating Harvest by helping others. This year you will realise that the celebration needs to be different. Trinity School has just opened again and their Food Bank is very short of non-perishable food items to give to families who are struggling during this difficult time. We can help them by giving items – Pasta, Cereals, Fruit Juice, Squash, Biscuits, Tinned Soup, Tea or Coffee.
If you can donate just a few of these items they would be very gratefully received. Please bring them to church on Sunday 4th October in a carrier bag and you will be told where to place the bag when you arrive. Following the service all gifts will, in due course, be taken to Trinity School.
For many years our Harvest gifts have been sent to Deptford Mission and we do not intend to ignore them this year. If you would like to contribute to them, monetary gifts can be sent to John by way of a cheque payable to The Drive Methodist Church, or you can make a direct payment to the Church bank account Sort Code 40-40-32 Account number 41027174. Please make sure you make reference to Harvest in your payment.
Many thanks in anticipation for your support.
Tuneless Hymns – an item from Valerie Ruddle While we are waiting for permission to sing hymns again, I am enjoying hymns without the distraction of music. Instead of being pulled along by a tune, I can read a hymn at my own pace and pause to look over a line again or when it asks a question. One can sometimes gain greater understanding by reading words, especially if usually sung to a particularly rousing tune. Try reading ‘And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood?’ (SF345). John Wesley’s ‘Open, Lord, my inward ear, and bid my heart rejoice’ (SF450) makes a wonderful prayer, read slowly, verse by verse. A hymn like Shirley Erena Murray’s ‘God weeps at love withheld’ (SF 700) seems more heart-rending when read rather than sung. There are also worship songs we don’t like to sing but the words are good. Even in church I would suggest it is better to read hymns as poetry rather than matching the words to the tune being played. Forget the tunes for a while longer and enjoy the words!
For several years, Mary Wells has made and sold Christmas Cards with proceeds shared between World Missions and The Drive. She has already made a considerable number again this year although under the current circumstances they will not be on display in the Church as usual. If you would like to purchase your cards for this year please place your order by speaking to Mary on 01732 451035. You will of course need to make your own arrangements for collection and payment.
A message from Robert Bright. ‘I also wanted to say a huge thank you to all the friends at the Drive who have upheld me with their prayers, phone calls and thoughtful mail. It has been wonderful to be so uplifted and supported. Bless you all. We hope to keep our batteries safe and recharged and look forward to seeing as many as possible on 27th September. With love to you all.’
Church Walk. The next church walk is arranged for 29th September from Dryhill Park. Meet in the car park for a 10-30 start. Contact Mary Burch (01732 451204) if you wish to take part.
With an earlier newsletter, we included two of the ‘standard’ contributions previously published in Drive News, a ‘Message from the Manse’ from Dermot and ‘Pray Without Ceasing’ prepared by Gerald Gardiner and Kathy Walsh. Once again these are enclosed and they will hopefully be a regular monthly item.
We repeat again that if you have any news or information you would like to share, please do let us know.
We hope you will continue to stay safe and keep well.
Our prayers and best wishes to you all.
John and Grace Archer
Senior Stewards 22nd September 2020
Message From The Manse.
Sawubona! If you read my address or were present at the service this past Sunday you will remember I ended my address with an explanation of Sawubona! It is a respectful Zulu greeting and means how we recognise humanity in each other.
As we hurtle towards what will be my second Harvest with you, here are a few thoughts on the season plus the usual meditation.
Do you agree with me that we have so much to be thankful for – God has indeed been so generous? I think of the words of the hymn refrain ‘all good things around us are sent by God above, then thank the Lord yes thank the Lord for all his love. However, please note this year due to restrictions we are not expecting to have the intensity of decoration in the church. Harvest will mark the beginning of the 7 Acts of the Bible series, starting with Creation.
The Manikin – what prompted me to set it up?
During the apartheid years in South Africa most churches had permanent images to remind everyone of the evil of the situation. A colleague and victim of those years said to me ‘please do not let people forget how we suffered’. Very often these images would be accompanied by an Amnesty International candle i.e. wrapped in barbed wire. It happened again with the current pandemic. A person grieving over a loss caused by the pandemic said to me. ‘My biggest fear is that people will forget my suffering and the suffering of others. They seemed to have forgotten already with the obsession to disregard COVID 19 rules of lockdown’.
The Manikin is a statement about remembering. The image is of a medical doctor with a candle and a lock and chain to symbolise the pandemic and lockdown. Some members feel it is too ghostly. Yes it is ghostly but I guess so is the pandemic in the realms of the horror. However, I will not get caught up in a creative tantrum so appreciating the constructive criticism I am now redesigning the manikin. Maybe there is a parable in that? In the gap I have left a candle with symbolic chains which should be lit at the beginning of services.
Weekly Working period. I am aware that lockdown has caused havoc with establishing a concrete working pattern. However, this is not ideal so would like to emphasise that my working week is as follows:
- Sun to Tuesday
- Wed Open day.
- While Thursday – to Saturday is non-working. The exception being a funeral or marriage or indeed a crisis. My door is always open if there is a need.
Stress and Tension
The more I talk to people the more I hear of genuine concerns as to the future. It is unnatural for us to be isolated. Increased restrictions every few weeks means more pressure to adapt. We somehow feel we are never going to relieve ourselves from this dilemma. We had these thoughts in South Africa during apartheid (separate development!) and we prayed on a regular basis. We even handed out cards to remind people to pray at a certain time during the week. Our prayers were answered by an “internal combustion” of the political situation. Of course now in South Africa people have been given their freedom and it is up to them to do the best with it. Though the apartheid era has had its negative affect on the wellbeing of people.
I want to continue to tackle the issue of wellbeing. Below you will find another ‘lockdown meditation’. The mindful experience as help for my stress and anxiety. I am under no allusions about the potential of falling into a pit of depression especially in these times. I will always be happy to help even if it is a silent presence beside you or a discussion on the topic of your choice.
LOCKDOWN MEDITATION 3 OFFICE If you remember I began the lockdown meditation with the DOOR and HALL and then the LOUNGE and DINER. I am now moving to the OFFICE. In the office we think about how valuable it is to focus on the PRESENT MOMENT. Imagine you have a home office. I want you to imagine that this office represents the PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE. The PAST is a FILING CABINET which contains all your memories. The PRESENT is a DESK which represents the present active moment. The FUTURE is a WALLCHART which records FUTURE plans. In essence these are all healthy activities until we excessively worry about thoughts from the PAST or the FUTURE. Often, we are preoccupied by the PAST and the FUTURE and devalue the power of the PRESENT moment. Often, we forget that God is alive with us in the present moment. There is a tendency for us to develop dark narratives of worry about the past or the future. Christian Mindfulness encourages us to develop a focus on the present moment.
I experienced this when lying in hospital for 24 days after a simple appendicectomy keyhole operation turned septic which brought on severe complications. This is where I discovered this element of mindfulness. I rather focused on the present moment. I found that much of the gospels emphasized the present moment. I felt a true healing of the body, mind and spirit as I went into contemplative posture and kept reflecting on the present moment. Prof. Ronald Segal in the Science Of Mindfulness has suggested that after 100,000 years of defensive hunting and gathering, our negative defensive thoughts are attached to us like Velcro while good positive thoughts fall away as in Teflon. Begin with a moment of silence. Now think that it is out of this silence that God’s creative energy emerges. Silence has an enduring hallmark because it was never created. In moments Jesus reminds us of this hallmark when he is beginning momentous tasks. Think of your posture, upright or lying on a bed relaxed but open and attentive with expectation. Feel your breath and chest and acknowledge the breath of life which is God’s creative spirit and the Holy Spirit which is within us. Look at your PAST ( The filing cabinet) and the FUTURE (Wallchart ) They both have something in common. THEY DO NOT EXIST! They only exist in our minds. In our minds we interconnect our thoughts in a “daisy chain” pattern. They become larger than life and push us out of the PRESENT MOMENT. However, these thoughts are real and we cannot deny them. However the reality of life is in the PRESENT moment. I believe that the bible is written for the present moment. Any past or future reference is about leading us to the present moment. It is to encourage us to be alive with God and His son in the present moment. You can open your bible as any of the following references. Luke 15:17 The son comes to his senses; Luke 17:21 The kingdom of God is within you; Matt 6:25-34 Where Jesus calls us into the present moment by not worrying about the future. Now anchored in the present moments consider the past and future moments which give value to the present moment.
Before I sign off, I would like to say on behalf of Charlene and myself ‘what a year it has been’ in Sevenoaks! We have enjoyed our first year with you all. We have been delighted at the interaction and the desires to move forward. As far as Covid-19 is concerned, yes it is here in the middle of our lives, reaching out its tentacles but
so is Christ in the middle of our lives and this gives us hope indeed!
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
Please pray for – (Blank dates are for you to fill in with your own ideas)
- People in areas where the virus is still spreading
- Our political leaders making difficult decisions that affect us all
- Rev Dermot as he prepares for our Harvest Festival service
- Workers in agriculture and retail, bringing us our daily food
- The Brexit talks and the Northern Ireland problem re trade
- The Uigar people in China suffering loss of their culture
- People in USA who have lost homes and loved ones in wild fires
- Syrian refugees made homeless after fire in their camp
- All involved in preparation for our morning services
- Dorothy Allen as she prepares for the morning service tomorrow
- Spiritual guidance in the coming days and weeks
- Those who enjoy the fellowship of the Church Walks
- People still in isolation and families divided because of Covid19
- People and staff in Care Homes – problems about testing
- Businesses badly affected by pandemic, creating unemployment
- Charities having to close down for lack of income
- Rev Dermot as he prepares for the service tomorrow morning
- For time and energy to do those tasks left undone
- The bereaved both in the church and the wider community
- People who are anxious about loved ones, near and far away
- For and give thanks for our church community
- Young people back in school, university and at work
- Kathy Walsh as she prepares for tomorrow morning’s service
- Time to be silent with God and listen
- The people of Belarus protesting for democracy and justice
- The Church on line reaching out beyond the church walls
- Our world leaders, that they will take the problems of Climate Change seriously
- Our fellow Christians throughout the Weald of Kent circuit
- Openness to God’s calling and our obedience in response
- People we know in local Care Homes and the staff who care for them
Compiled by Gerald Gardiner and Kathy Walsh