Christmas 2015.

Its that time of year again when we stop, take stock and bore everyone rigid with the news from the Redshaw family!

It`s been a mixed and varied year: February brought a sudden attack of acute pancreatitis for Mike involving three days in the Queens Medic al Centre, Nottingham. A worrying time for the family but only to be followed by a further three days in Kirkwall hospital on Orkney when a similar attack took him whilst on holiday. Thankfully, the worst of that seems to be behind him, but coupled with the onset of diabetes health has been very varied this year.

Mike continues to be involved with Rotary and thoroughly enjoys the companionship and friendship. Church life continues to be busy for both Mike and Alison. Mike has recently been appointed to a new position of Deputy Chair of the Nottingham and Derby District, so goes into 2016 excited to learn what this new role has in store for him.

Alison still works part time as a dementia care Chaplain with MHA which she enjoys enormously, but is also becoming heavily involved with her Parish and Deanery work where she has been the main instigator of work in local residential homes.

Mikes Dad seems to `tick along` quite happily and still gets down to Burton to see us which we thoroughly enjoy. Alisons Mum also seems to enjoy good health but did have a time in hospital this year. We are aware that they are both 87 years and age with all its aches and pains creeps up.

Mikes brother Andrew has also spent time in hospital this year awaiting a knew replacement which seems to have gone well. He is such a great brother to have: Dad is spending Christmas with Andrew and Cath this year and although we'll miss him I know he'll have a great time.

All in all Mikes long awaited sabattical seems to have been centred on one hospital or another, either for himself or visiting others ! Poor Alison hasn’t really known which way to turn as shes been the one keeping up with the news and sending it to various other members of the family. Still, all are well and that’s the important thing.

Rebecca and Michelle are both happy and

contented in their own flat and with jobs. Rebecca seems to be well thought of in her job and it looks promising. They are a delightful pair and we're so proud of them.

The big news of the year is that we have become grandparents for the first time. Vikki and Mark became the proud parents of Piper Connie in November, and we know we are biased but she is absolutely beautiful. To top it all Mark and Vikki announced their engagement this week.

And so 2015 draws to its close: it's been manic, worrying, exciting, challenging but I'm sure it's the same for many folk in many ways. Alison and I remain convinced that we have the privilege of knowing Gods called us to this place for this season and it's an absolute joy to be here. We are also sure that just as God has led us through this year, so he will lead us through the coming year.
May every blessing be with you this Christmas time and in 2016.


President and Vice-Presidents Christmas message

The President of the Methodist Conference, Revd Steve Wild and the Vice-President, Mrs Jill Barber have issued their Christmas message. Here it is below……..

The President's message:

Mary and Joseph were not rich people; Jesus was born in a stable. It was a busy time when the census was being taken and this young couple had little resources. I wonder if people saw them as someone I had a conversation with on the train recently did? They described the refugees at Calais as an ‘inconvenience’. The kind innkeeper didn't treat this young couple as an inconvenience as others in Bethlehem did, but helped them in their time of need.

Emmanuel, 'God-with-us', is not selective to one particular class or type of person. No one is inconvenient to the God who is with us, His great grace reaches to all people whoever they are.

Jill Barber and I have both been blessed on our overseas journeys by being shown hospitality and care by some very poor people; the depth of care and love has made a profound impression on us.

This year one of our themes is Mission and Heritage. We cannot forget how many of the early Methodists were poor people: little in the bank but rich in faith. John Wesley wrote about social holiness – about being practical in your faith. As shown in the letter from James in the epistles, “faith without deeds is useless” (James 2:20). As early as 1740, not long after his own life-changing experience, John Wesley set out to make collections for the poor, he helped the unemployed, started a lending society, hospital visitations, a people's dispensary. He did all he could to feed and clothe the poor with organisations that seem quaint to us – ‘The Female Childbed Linen Society’ and ‘The Strangers Friend Society’. This has always been part of our Methodist DNA.

The message of Emmanuel, 'God-with-us', is a message people need to hear. I sometimes think that the way my children behaved on Christmas morning is a parable of many people’s attitude in society today. They would open lovely presents and then leave the present and start to play with the empty box or the wrapping paper! Many folk today are like that they miss out on the main point of Christmas – Jesus, Emmanuel, 'God-with-us' – and instead get taken up with the wrappings, the busyness, spending and overeating.

At Christmas there are great opportunities for local evangelism. It's such a good time to invite people to worship with you. When I was in Knutsford recently a lady came to faith who had got into conversation with one of the church ladies at the coffee morning. She’d said that she’d like to come to church and the Methodist lady arranged to pick her up in the car and sit with her in the service. Not all of us have a car but we can all invite someone and sit with them, a way of your church helping to bring someone to faith.

There is an energy in ‘Emmanuel’. It is the ever-present God to whom none of us are an inconvenience but are loved and cherished.

The Vice-President's message:

As we’ve travelled around the Connexion and visited churches and communities in these islands and around the world, we have been welcomed, we have been fed, we have shared stories and we have encountered God in expected and unexpected ways. In the coming days as we once again celebrate the coming of the Christ-child, let us see beyond the wrappings and the tinsel – that can so easily disguise the true meaning and numb our senses – to encounter the one who is Emmanuel, 'God-with-us'.

In that first coming: there were journeys across country and across countries; there was the fearful experience of no welcome, no room; there was the dependence upon the ingenuity and sheer dogged determination of parents-to-be; there was the terrifying escape from tyrants and violence; there was the horror of news of those who didn’t or couldn’t escape; and there were days on the road heading into another land. This is the experience of our God coming among us and this is the experience of millions of people around the world today, tomorrow and in the coming days.

We have received welcome. Can we now be that prophetic people who seek to offer welcome, to challenge injustice and take steps, however small, to work for justice and peace in our communities and in our world? Part of that will be through generous giving to such things as All We Can: Methodist relief and development, and part of it will be opening hearts and lives to the stranger. The Enoughcampaign, launched by the Methodist Church with our partner Churches, calls on the government to ensure that the welfare state holds to its founding principles, and seeks to provide enough for a basic standard of living, so that every family and every child can survive and thrive. It will also involve being that prophetic voice, which can be so unpopular, that speaks out and gives voice to those who either have no voice or whose voice is silent.

As we reminded the Methodist Conference in our addresses we are called to find our voice and be a people of prayer, prophecy, protest and passion so that the Word may become flesh and dwell among us full of grace and truth.

I know you……!

At the moment I'm sitting in one of my Chapels having conducted an afternoon baptism and I'm now waiting to commence the evening worship.

At the Baptism a young child came up to me and said “I know you…..” Apparently she's in one of the schools I visit and she recognised me. Afterwards I had a wander around the village and a young lad came to me with the same words “I know you…..” and again it was a school (different one) I visit. In each school I'm exploring being a school governor so that my visits can be more purposeful.

But it's set me thinking, “I know you…..” is a scary comment for your first thought is 'HOW?' And your second is 'I hope it's good'

Many of us live our lives in such a hurry that we don't always get to 'know' people properly, and perhaps this is a part of the problem of the world today. We don't spend time building and forming deep meaningful relationships: yes we have some, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, family but very few of us stop to get to know others around us. How well do we know our postie, our shop keeper, our neighbours and so on ?

Perhaps it's not only because of business, maybe it's also to do with vulnerability. Many of us don't want to be known too well in case it shows a weak spot, a thin area if our lives whereby we can be hurt too easily. Maybe it's because we're genuinely scared that others will judge us on what they see, and maybe we don't offer too well the good side of our nature.

Whatever it is we come back surely to the need for relationships. Today in worship we look at John the Baptist who pointed to the coming of Jesus and so began the message of getting to know him; the one who came from Heaven as a little child to start that relationship so that in the fullness of time we could say to him “I know you…..” and rejoice in his retort “well, I knew you first and I've come to tell you I love you”.

This world would be a better place if we'd spend more time building relationships with each other and with God.