The Archbishop of Canterbury was waiting for a telephone call from me

Dear Friends,

I was told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was waiting for a telephone call from me so I gave him a call and he had a message for me. Hes got a message for you to and Ive been told I can pass on his number, so here it is. If you are speaking to someone else who wants to hear a voice of hope you can give them the number as well.

We can look forward in HOPE but not know how to express what we mean with appropriate words, but the above number might be the signpost you can provide to help people find what they need. As Mark asked yesterday in the service led by the Worship Group, are we ready to explain the reason for our HOPE if we were asked? You might not be confident to explain it (yet!), but what is important to remember is that you — that needs to be emphasised, YOU! — ARE, or rather your voice on the phone, is a sign HOPE.

You might tremble with fear like shepherds in their fields (Luke 2: 9) when speaking to people, but you dont need to be afraid because when you put the phone down they might follow the sign you have given them and find what you know to be true. You were like them once and needed the voice of an angel, or a great heavenly host, to go and find the meaning of the message. The angels on the phone only have part of the story so tell people to go and find the new life for themselves.

Just imagine, YOU can be the voice of an ANGEL and the HOPE you provide can be in the directions you give. When people are lost they ask for directions so if you cant give them a bible and dont know how to express your faith (yet!) give them a phone number to help them find their way.

I was on a Zoom session with the charity, Faith in Later Life, and we were told how Daily Hopehas become a lifeline for so many people and can now be accessed in every prison cell in all 120 prisons in the country. Its not only a lifeline for older people, but can be the HOPE for all lonely people putting Christmas into every home on the phone with bible stories, carols and prayers.

We can point people to you tube videos, websites and zoom services, but there are two and a half million older people who are not connected to the internet. There are also many more who are, but are not confident in using it so the phone can be a lifeline through this very challenging Christmas period. The first voice they heard could be the words of HOPE so they overcome their fear to hear a song of PEACE that fills them with JOY before they find the LOVE that gives them new LIFE! The story of ADVENT VOICES leading us to Christmas. The first voice is the signpost for the journey and that can be YOURS — so start calling.

I gave Justin Welby a call and got given a number of options, including some chair exercises to keep me fit before listening to bible stories, carols and prayers. The telephone number could be the gift of hope that someone needs to break the lonely darkness this Christmas.

There is a change of plan for next Sunday and I hope it doesnt change again after the Government announce any new guidelines this week. Instead of having a morning service at 1030 am we will have a celebration of Advent Loveat 3pm after which we will sing carols to the High Street doorsteps at 4pm. If the weather is anything like it was yesterday the doorstep carols might be abandoned but we will have a 3 oclock celebration.

If you have a favourite Christmas poem you would like to share or a carol you would like to sing on your own please let me know. Or you might like to use the words of a carol that have inspired you. If you dont want to do any of that, but do want to be in Church please remember to let me know as soon as you can because of the usual need to limit numbers.

There will also be a service on Christmas Day at 1030 and the usual reflections and prayers this Friday from 6pm with the link being provided on Friday.

A new date for your diary is that of Church Meeting on Thursday January 21st at 7pm by Zoom.

Laura has received a message from Christine and Frank with Christmas greetings to us all:

Thank you for your Christmas Greetings. We also send our best wishes to you and your family.

We hope that this year has not been too dreadful for you all. Our year as you know has not been good. I have recuperated well from my fractured tibia. My back injury has also settled down.

Frank is happy in the Care Home. The staff are good and he likes the Home Manager.

His last experience of Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General was very poor. The medical care was fine. Frank went in with pneumonia this time. The basic nursing care was very poor. Getting information was worse than trying to pull hens teeth. They discharged him back to the home last Monday at 7.30.Pm with no discharge letter. Ann had the devils own job getting information from the hospital and his GP. It was a good job that Frank knew that he had to restrict his fluids. I feel very sorry for patients who are confused and cannot speak up for themselves. Thankfully Frank has a tongue in his head.

We send you our best wishes for a better 2021 and a peaceful Christmas.

May you travel through the week with JOY and share the Advent LOVE that gives healing and new life.

God Bless, Richard