CHRISTIANS TOGETHER IN COMBE MARTIN & BERRYNARBOR

Dear Friends,

I often play a simple word game, repeating a short sentence but changing the stress of the words and so altering the emphasis of what is being said.

Try for example, 'I would like a cup of tea'. See how the meaning changes by the different ways you can say the words.

Another example is to be found in the Easter account in John's Gospel with Mary Magdalene's words after finding the empty tomb, "I've seen the Lord!"

"I've seen the Lord!" - Me, Mary -- it's true!
"I've seen the Lord!" -- Me, Mary, with my own eyes - it's true!
"I've seen the Lord!" - Me, Mary, with my own eyes, I've seen Jesus our Master - it's true!
"I've seen the Lord!" - Me, Mary, with my own eyes, I've seen Jesus our Master, Jesus the Lord he's alive - it's true

And how did Mary speak the words? With excitement? Bewilderment? Determination? Joy?

How will we repeat the joyous shout on Easter Morning as we share in worship?

"He is risen!"
"He is risen indeed - Hallelujah!"

May the joy of Easter fill your hearts.

Peter Ellis, Methodist Pastor - Wesley Manse
Combe Martin

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CHRISTIANS TOGETHER IN COMBE MARTIN AND BERRYNARBOR
8th November 1999

Wesley Manse
Combe Martin

Dear Friends,

As from today 8th November - there are just fifty-three days until the celebrations begin.

53 days until we celebrate the 'Millennium'.

The churches in Combe Martin and Berrynarbor are seeking to ensure that every house in our villages will receive a special Millennium Candle and that as near to midnight on New Year's Eve, these candles will be lit as a short time of reflection on the significance of the moment. If you are not offered one, please contact a member of any of the churches.

Why a candle?

Christians believe that the significance of the Millennium is that it is the

2,000th celebration of the birth of Jesus, an event which led to the changing of the calendar, an event so great that even the years are dated from Jesus's birth. Jesus who came like a 'small light' to show a dark, sinful world how to live in harmony with God.

Of course before then we shall be celebrating Christmas Day - the day set aside each year to share in Jesus's birthday.

Happy Birthday Jesus! and to all who celebrate Christmas and the Millennium, remember

JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!

It's just a thought!

Peter Ellis

P.S. For the United Services for Christmas and the New Year, please see the At-A-Glance Diary, and do come along and celebrate - you will be made most welcome.

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

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CHRISTIANS TOGETHER IN COMBE MARTIN AND BERRYNARBOR

Wesley Manse
Combe Martin

12th July 1999

Dear Friends,

It's a beautiful warm sunny day as I sit in my study to write. Already some of the northern schools have started the long summer holiday and the caravan and camping sites are filling with summer visitors. The beaches have a smattering of people out to enjoy the rest and recreation of being by the sea. By the time you read this, our local school children will also be on holiday, and families will be leaving the villages as they set out to enjoy their planned holiday break.

August - a time for holidays. Whether we plan to spend them by the sea or in the country, to holiday in this country or to travel to foreign parts, whether we intend to be active or just take the time to rest and relax, most will enjoy some form of holiday.

It is worth reflecting on the fact that 'holidays' started as 'Holy Days'. The only time when the workers in field and factory were allowed time off to celebrate with their families the great festival of the church.

Might it be that we could all spare even just a short time on our holiday to reflect on the one whose coming we shall celebrate in 153 days time [from 1st August], when we are granted a special Bank Holiday to celebrate the Millennium, the 2000 birthday of the coming of Jesus, and turn 1st January 2000 back from being just another 'holiday' into being a festival, a 'Holy Day'.

It's just a thought.

Peter Ellis

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CHRISTIANS TOGETHER IN COMBE MARTIN & BERRYNARBOR

The spring is with us and the lighter evenings too. The darkness and coldness of winter days are behind us. We are beginning to appreciate the warmth of the sunshine and the budding life around us. The earth is thrusting forth new life. Seed time is here, and in God's gracious provision, the harvest will follow.

As April dawns, Holy Week moves on to its remembrance of those events in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus which we celebrate as Easter. Maundy Thursday is a day we remember as the day when Jesus met with his Disciples for the Last Supper, before moving out into the Garden of Gethsemane. Good Friday - a secular day for many in these modern times - recalls for us the Crucifixion, suffering and death of the sinless Son of God on a cruel Roman cross for the sin of mankind.

After the silence of the tomb, came the glorious news and triumph of resurrection glory, and Easter Sunday was born! Jesus rose from death to die no more. No wonder the Christian rejoices and sings, "Hallelujah! What a Saviour!"

Here is the Gospel; here is the be proclaimed! Christians are not whose founder is dead, but of One who declared, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness". faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we can know and experience that life daily for ourselves. On Good Friday, there is a service of the Stations of the Cross at 10.00 a.m. at St.Mary's Roman Catholic Church, and at 2.00 p.m. there is a one-hour service at St. Peter ad Vincula Parish Church, Combe Martin. All our local churches will be holding Easter Sunday services and to all of them, whether in Combe Martin or Berrynarbor, everyone is welcome. Please check with your local church the times and details of services.

A very happy Easter to you all.

Rev. Alan Edwards
Baptist Minister

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CHRISTIANS TOGETHER IN COMBE MARTIN AND BERRYNARBOR

December is here, another year nearly over and already diaries are filling up with appointments for the New Year. All our thoughts are now turning towards Christmas. The commercial bonanza is something we almost inevitably get caught up in as the day approaches. Amidst it all we would be well advised to stop and ponder what the season is all about. In our homes, parcels will be sent and received, the tinsel will glitter, the fairy-lights will illuminate the tree, and the contents of the well-stocked larder will be consumed, etc., etc.

But is not the central fact of Christmas the birth of Jesus Christ? Yes, indeed! The shepherds came, the Wise Men began their journey, the stable housed not only animals, the angel choir sang, the star was in the sky - but why? Because Jesus Christ, the Saviour was born.

This is what Christmas is all about - the reason for the season! And, because of it, we can rejoice this Christmas. The coming of Jesus not only divided AD from BC, but divided society. Some accepted Him, recognising that He was indeed the Messiah - the Saviour - but others rejected Him. Today the division still stands. For many, this Christmas will be Christless. Let not this be your experience! Rather, let Christrnas be not just a season, a date on a calendar, but let it be a time to discover that the real joy of Christmas is to be found in a living faith in Christ.

There was no room in the inn two thousand years ago for Jesus Christ, but let it be that the words of the carol can truthfully be sung this year, "There is room in my heart for Thee".

A blessed Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year!

J. Alan Edwards
Baptist Minister

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

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CHRISTIANS TOGETHER IN COMBE MARTIN AND BERRYNARBOR

Wesley Manse
Combe Martin

May 1998

Dear Friends,

To-day is Father's Day. You will, no doubt, be thinking, 'Oh, no it's not! Father's Day is due to be celebrated on Sunday, 21st June.

I recently read a statistic contained in a National Opinion Poll report which states that '54% of fathers spend less than five minutes per week day with their children'. Of course, statistics are notorious for making things mean anything you want them to mean, according to how they are presented and interpreted, but just pause for a moment and think how many children represented by this survey have so little contact with their father. It set me thinking.

How long and how often are we in contact with God our heavenly father?

Do we pray regularly?
Do we read and meditate on God's word the Bible to find out God's will for us?
Do we live as through God is with us and is our constant companion?

We sometimes sing the hymn,

Whether or not we celebrate Father's Day, let us remember that every day should be Our Heavenly Father's Day.

Yours in His service.

Peter Ellis - Pastor,
Combe Mardn Methodist Church

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CHRISTIANS TOGETHER IN COMBE MARTIN & BERRYNARBOR

One of the great strengths of Christian witness in this area is that churches, through their members, are able to achieve so much in working and worshipping together. Whilst the situation is not tm unique to Combe Martin and Berrynarbor, it does emphasise the fact that churches representing various communities of Christian faith can and do come together, not from a position of weakness, but on the basis of strength drawn from common basic beliefs

This was surely in the mind and heart, as well as upon the lips, of Preb. Rudolph Eppingstone when he preached in April at the monthly united evening service. He passionately strove to bring Christians of different churches, denominations and traditions together. With his sudden passing from amongst us, we are to that extent at the very least, the poorer.

Of course we shall continue to promote those events and ministries in which we can share together, and in so doing proclaim the Good News which is centred in Jesus Christ. There is such a rich diversity of emphasis in our worship, work and witness that Christians have a very real need to share with each other and leam from one another. As we do so, our spiritual life is quickened, our understanding is enhanced and our motive for mission is stimulated.

Rev. J. Alan L. Edwards
[Baptist Minister, Combe Martin]

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CHRISTIANS TOGETHER in COMBE MARTIN and BERRYNARBOR

Wesley Manse
Castle Street
Combe Martin

March 1997

Dear Friends,

Recently, while driving to an appointment, I was listening to the car radio. The programme had already started so Tm not sure of the title, nor did I catch the name of the man who was talking, but what he said caught my attention. He said he belonged to the 'Iorta Tribe'.

Immediately I thought that perhaps I had mis-heard, or misunderstood his accent, and that he meant the 'Aorta tribe', possibly a group of people who had had major heart surgery. But no, he repeated again that he belonged to the Ilona Tribe'. It soon transpired that I, too, belong to the same tribe, because what he was saying was that he often says to himself, 'I ought to do this', or 'I ought to do that' but never does.

Isn't it sad that we often have great ideals, good intentions, good motives but never get round to putting them into action.

The next time we think 'I ought to visit Mr. . . . in hospital', or 'I ought to help the harassed young mum next door', perhaps we will actually do it!

Jesus said, "As much as you did it to the least of these my brothers and sisters you did it to me. " [Matthew 25 v. 401

May God bless you in his service,

Peter Ellis
Pastor, Methodist Church

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CHRISTIANS TOGETHER IN COMBE MARTIN & BERRYNARBOR

Since arriving in Combe Martin in the summer of last year, it has been very encouraging to discover how Christians from different traditions work so well together in the context of the local churches and community. Whilst none of us would claim to be perfect, recognising that none of us have all the answers and we all have so much to learn from one another, we also realise that much is being accomplished.

In recent weeks we have been able to share in a united carol service and enjoy an evening of relaxation at a New Year social. As I the January united evening service is still to be held, but more are planned for the coming months, and on Ash Wednesday there will be a united communion service. The three resident Ministers in Combe Martin take it in turns to conduct an act of worship in our village school once a week. There are also regular meetings of the local to share times of thinking together and planning together, as well as to pray together. And talking of prayer reminds me to say that church members meet together once a month to pray for our churches, our community and the wider concerns we have for our nation and world.

Through Lent this year we are running a 5-week series to be held in the Parish

Church Hall, Combe Martin, and everyone is welcome at 7.30 p.m., beginning on Thursday, 20th February and concluding on Thursday, 20th March. Based on audio tapes under the title 'Jesus', we hear as though first-hand, accounts of Jesus's life, work and ministry. There will be opportunity for discussion, fellowship and some light refreshment as well, so why not come and share in these 5 meetings which we believe will be so worthwhile?

Finally, we wish Preb. Eppingstone a speedy recovery following his operation for a replacement hip joint and look forward to the day when once again he is able to take up his ministry.

Rev. J. Alan L. Edward - Baptist Minister

Combe Martin

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CHRISTIANS TOGETHER IN COMBE MARTIN & BERRYNARBOR

Wesley Manse
Combe Martin
November 1996

Dear Friends,

There sometimes seems to be an unofficial competition from people claiming to have heard the first Cuckoo of Spring. I wonder if I can claim to have heard the first Carol of Christmas - and this in a Barnstaple shop in late October! The words of the first verse of the carol I heard were:

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign

I love the Christmas season for all sorts of reasons. I like the fact that the Christmas message is depicted on the greetings cards we exchange with family and friends, and I am pleased that a great number of these have representations of the birth of Jesus, which after all is 'The reason for the season'!

I take great pleasure in hearing Christmas carols being sung as I enter shops and stores and to hear people humming along to the familiar tunes. I welcome the feeling of goodwill generated by the lights and decorations in homes, shops and streets. I love the joy which shines from children's faces as they share the Christmas message in Nativity plays and concerts.

The carol ends:

Love shall be our token,
Love be your and love be mine.
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

May the love, joy, and peace which Jesus brought into the world, be with you all, not just for the Christmas season but all through the year. I hope you will take the opportunity to attend one of the Christmas services to thank God for his present to us of Jesus.

Peter Ellis
Pastor, Methodist Church

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