Preparations for the great annual festival

Date: Saturday 17th December 2005

PENRITH Methodist Women’s Fellowship meeting was led by Mrs. Muriel Askew, who conducted the opening devotions and introduced speaker the Rev. Alan Gawthrop.

He remarked that, since his retirement from full-time ministry, he missed visiting schools at Christmas and taking part in their Nativity events.

He talked about all the preparations people make for Christmas and the presents they buy for family and friends. He described Christmas as the children’s time for presents and the older folks’ for peace and hope.

The world expected a king but instead a child was born sometimes we receive unexpected visits and surprises.

Our shops are well prepared, he said, but God’s preparations has been going on for a long time. The Bible story about the 10 virgins showed that five were not prepared and their lamps ran out of oil.

We must prepare for the festival and prepare spiritually to receive God’s son. There is awesome wonder and joy in getting ready and great joy in receiving, he said. God always fulfils his promises and Jesus will come again. The meeting ended with tea.

The next meeting was led by Mrs. Margaret Pattinson and the speaker was Mrs. Dorothy Thwaytes, who is one of the Fellowship members. Mrs. Thwaytes has a great interest in poetry and members were treated to 13 poems, most of them relating to Christmas.

The selection included some short and humorous poems. They included The Joy of Giving and Somebody’s Birthday, and then members thought about babies, with The New Arrival and Waiting for Baby.

The second to last poem had been written by Mrs. Thwaytes herself. It concerned the centenary of Espland Methodist Chapel, which was built in 1866 and, sadly, closed in 1996. Members heard about the chapel’s original grand opening, recorded in the pages of the Herald , with two speakers and tea served. They then heard about the centenary celebrations and the last 30 years. The chapel is now a private home and garden.

The last poem, The Shepherd, was Dorothy’s favourite. Members all thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Mrs. Kathleen Heslop was the pianist and Mrs. Joyce Carr and Mrs. Eileen Thwaites served tea.