Our Holiday Club this year, led by Anne Whitlam, took the theme of “Monsters Stink”. Over two hundred children sang, told jokes, listened to stories told by Brian, Terry, Ali and Bernie, made monster puppets, musical instruments and decorated monster biscuits, sharing their creations with each other.
DROP-IN FOR THE BEREAVED. Third Monday of each month. St Giles’ Church Hall, 2pm to 3.30pm. A friendly, informal opportunity for a chat, over a cup of tea, with other bereaved people and pastoral visitors. The next meeting is on Monday 17th September (then Monday 15th October). Just come along, or ring the Rectory (622970) if you would like to talk to someone first.
It’s early August as I write this article and summer has definitely arrived. We can dust off the BBQ, inflate the paddling pool, dig out the sun cream, shorts and sun glasses and enjoy different activities and a slower pace.
We do things differently in church in the summer too. Again, the Ickenham Churches’ Holiday Club brought young and old together in a week packed full of activities. Thank you to all those who helped on the team, and supported the event in a multitude of ways. The ‘Monsters Stink’ theme taught us that if we stay connected to God in our lives, then with His help, we can face all kinds of fears. Our 9.45am services at St Giles’ during the school holidays have been aimed at making it possible for all ages to worship together in a more relaxed summer style.
As we gear up for a new academic year, and church life returns to a more regular pattern, we are hoping to keep the creativity, freshness and all-age nature of these Summer activities going through a series of short informal afternoon worship services at 5pm on the 4th Sunday of each month starting on 23rd September in St Giles’ Church Hall. It would be great to welcome you, particularly if you haven’t been to church in Ickenham before.
Our summer season is also characterised by stopping some things to make more space and time for relaxation and re-creation. Before the memory of a restful summer fades, how about making time each day for a period of reflection and prayer? I am reminded of a verse from Isaiah 30 – ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength’. Spending time to meet with God, just as Jesus did each day, will help us to be spiritually re-created amidst the ‘busyness’ of normal life.
What a wonderful Holiday Club we have had! It was good to see the dedication of the leaders and helpers sharing their skills and interests with the children, and the creative contributions of children through the week in music, drama, sports, craft work, prayers, jokes and new words for songs. The theme for the week was Monsters Stink! – loosely based on the film Monsters Inc. A Christian guidebook helped us to think about our different fears and how to face them. The Holiday Club style provided a lot of fun and excitement while tackling an important subject.
Towards the end of the week some teenagers came to me with a video camera and the question, “Why do we have fears?” This was a question from the older ones wanting to probe more deeply. With only a little time to prepare, the answer I gave was something like this. We have fears because we face situations that we think will bring harm or embarrassment and we don’t know how to handle them. The strength of God, the example and love of Jesus, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit can help us, and if we know that God has led us through such situations in the past we can face more, with less fear. But weak faith, and lack of experience of God’s help, can cause fears to loom large.
Thinking further about this subject, I would want to add the importance of friends, family and colleagues when facing fears. We may have big fears because we are alone or can’t easily turn to others to share the burden. We may be afraid because we haven’t seen in others how faith in God can give confidence. It is often through others that God’s help comes.
Jesus himself faced fear – on the night when he knew he would be arrested, tortured, tried and executed. He went to a garden to pray, and asked his close friends to watch and pray with him. The Holiday Club material helpfully pointed out that Jesus was afraid because:
- his enemies would tell lies about him, like the serpent had misled Eve and Adam in our story on Monday
- he would be bullied, like David and the Israelites were by Goliath (Tuesday’s story)
- his friends would run away and leave him alone (worse than Wednesday’s story in which one sheep had wandered off and got lost)
Jesus’s friends fell asleep instead of praying with him. But Jesus found strength through prayer. Although at first he prayed that the suffering would be taken away, he regained confidence to face what he was afraid of when determined to carry out God’s will. This story on Thursday concluded with a Bible verse: “Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 1 Adrian used a similar verse at the Finale on Friday: “Perfect love drives out all fear.” 2
1 from the Letter to the Romans, chapter 8 verse 39
2 from the first letter of John chapter 4 verse 18