Tilehurst Methodist Church
(Click on the picture for worship resources)
Friday April 3rd 2020
For this year’s Palm Sunday I had in mind large crowds of cheering people, a route lined with friends, families and strangers waving flags and banners, in some places trumpets playing and drummers beating the rhythm of the pounding feet of those in the procession and everywhere voices calling out praise and encouragement. I’m referring of course to the Reading Half marathon that I and 15,000 others were supposed to have been running this Palm Sunday, though the parallels to the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem, described for us in Mark 11: 1-11 or John 12: 12-16,had not gone unnoticed. The Gospel accounts of Palm Sunday portray the anticipation of the crowd celebrating a coming king, Jesus, the one who was going to save them. I had intended to attach a palm cross to my running shirt this year as a reminder. The near deserted streets of Reading this year will be very different.
I was also reminded of the cheering crowds of Palm Sunday as I stood on my doorstep at 8.00 pm on Thursday night and joined in the saucepan bashing, clapping and cheering for our NHS heroes. It felt really odd that we were lining the streets, as if for a procession, and yet the road was empty, apart from a cat startled by the noise and running for cover. Cheering and acknowledging those on the “front line”, and those supporting them, felt a bit more like the Palm Sunday acknowledgement of praising those who can “save us” as our health professionals are doing their best to do just that. Interestingly the BBC News on Friday morning reported on Thursday night’s “Clap for Carers” as “Our new weekly act of worship”.
Inevitably, as I applauded the NHS, my mind turned to thinking of Frances, one of our Church members who died last week (not Covid-19 related), who had dedicated her life to serving God and her community as a Midwife. Our bereavement support team, “The Listening Place” who would normally have been meeting today, are instead lighting a candle for Frances in their own homes as a way of remembering her, giving thanks for her life, and praying for Yvonne and her family. Frances’ Funeral service will take place on Thursday 16th April at 1.00 pm. Whilst you won’t be able to join us in person you might set aside this time to remember her and use the “I can’t get to a funeral” service.
In the original Palm Sunday story that begins our Holy Week journey, the kind of King and Saviour that Jesus became was very different from the one the people had expected. Perhaps our current experience is helping us to re-evaluate what and who we hold as the most valuable and important in our lives and who, or what, we turn to as we seek to be saved.
For those of you near enough to include passing the Church this Sunday during your own Palm Sunday Procession, otherwise known as your 1 hour of daily exercise, you will find a basket of Palm Crosses available for you to take one if you wish.
Please use the worship resources in the coming days.
March 27th 2020 - Pastoral Letter from Rev. Andy Moffoot
Jeremiah. 29:7, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (NRSV)
I’ve heard this text 8 times over the last 4 days. It was given as the title for the presentation being given by each of the Candidates I’ve been interviewing this last week as part of the Methodist Connexional (National) Ministerial Selection Committee.
There may be a feeling at the moment that we are all “in exile” even in the midst of our town, city or community. Unlike some of the other prophets at the time, who call on the people to be ready for the Exile to end, Jeremiah prepares the people of Israel for a longer stay, to get used to it, and use the time to pray, “Pray to the Lord on its (The community’s) behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” The welfare of our community and our own welfare depend on us remaining in exile, at least for a time, and in exile we are called to pray, for one another and our community.
Whilst our buildings may be closed, our Church, the people, our worship, learning, caring, service and mission, are all very much active and on-going, though maybe in new ways.
This week Lola has been live streaming sessions for Jolly Tots, Wow and Gap for our children and young people. I am hearing about fellowship groups trying to meet using video conferencing and I’m reading many accounts of people caring for one another and their neighbours. Thank you for all the ways you are remaining connected. To help us in our worship life several ideas and resources have been shared and are on the TMC website. There are links below to Live Streaming Methodist services and this Sunday all Local BBC Radio stations are broadcasting last Sunday’s service from Methodist Central Hall Westminster at 8.00 am.
One of the candidates I interviewed this week interpreted Jeremiah’s words as referring to all of us here on earth being “in exile” from our true home which is with God, in heaven. I hope, like me, you might find this interpretation of the passage comforting and helpful as I share with you the sad news that Frances Hide died early on Wednesday morning. Frances is no longer in exile, but has returned home, to be with God. The normal ways in which we would express our grief and show our care at times such as this may not be possible and I know many of us will find this difficult but I will treasure the time I had sitting with Frances and Yvonne a few days before she died.
Let us pray,
Lord God, you are always with us.
You are with us in the day and in the night.
You are with us when we are happy and when we are sad.
You are with us when we are healthy and when we are ill.
You are with us when we are peaceful and when we are worried.
You are with us when we are at home and when we are in exile, even when we feel in exile in our own homes.
Help us to remember that you love us and are with us in everything.
(Editor's note: the list of worship resources has been updated.)
March 17th 2020
Covid-19 and Tilehurst Methodist Church
In response to Government advice and in line with the Government’s guidelines The Methodist Church has today (March 17th 2020) advised that all Methodist acts of worship should be suspended until further notice.
The weekly 9.00 o’clock and 10.30 am services and the monthly 6.30 pm service held at Tilehurst Methodist Church will not now take place until further notice.
We have also been advised that all other groups connected to, or overseen by, the Church are also to be suspended.
Whilst this announcement is made with regret, the wellbeing of those who attend services or groups, our volunteers and staff, must be our highest priority.
Alternative resources for worship are being planned, and a list is being compiled.
Please refer to this website or the National Methodist Church website for more information.
Let us hold one another in our prayers at this anxious time and if yourself, or someone you know, would benefit from additional support in some way, then please let me know.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
God of all hope we call on you today.
We pray for those who are living in fear:
Fear of illness, fear for loved ones, fear of other’s reactions to them.
May your Spirit give us a sense of calmness and peace.
We pray for your church in this time of uncertainty.
For those people who are worried about attending worship.
For those needing to make decisions in order to care for others.
For those who will feel more isolated by not being able to attend.
Grant us your wisdom.
Holy God, we remember that you have promised that
Nothing will separate us from your love – demonstrated to us in Jesus Christ.
Help us turn our eyes, hearts and minds to you.
Revd. Andy Moffoot