So What's the Story........

by Judy Povey  |  Posted at 11:05am on 25th February 2020

‘So What’s the Story?’ our 2019-2020 President  of the Methodist Church, Rev. Barbara Glasson, asked of Methodism when newly elected at the Conference in June last year. We can pose the same question to ourselves time and time again, and although we are moving into the second month of a new decade, it is good to reflect on The Story as it developed through Advent and has taken us to Candlemas.

Where should we start? The Journey into Light Art Exhibition is an excellent place to begin—and what an impact it made across our community. The stories behind the drawings, paintings, collages etc. were profound, telling, amazing, and thought-provoking to say the least. Everyone who visited the Exhibition came away with the same emotions and sentiments; the mid-week ecumenical service , when the chaplain of Styal Prison spoke to us in such a way, highlighting the challenges and the complications of the role, brought to us further insight into life behind the wire fencings.

What a wonderful and unexpected opportunity came to us in Alderley Edge  Methodist Church during the first week of Advent,, and the tremendous            experience was one we will not easily forget.

But that was not all the Story. Each church taking part in the Exhibition was issued with 6 paper gift bags, with a request that they were filled with the same items—a box of Maltesers, a pair of socks, a bar of soap, and a Christmas Card. The ladies of our Thursday Group undertook to fill the bags, and then it was a case of getting them to Styal to hand over to the Chaplain. That task was one I undertook, and having arranged to meet the chaplain at Reception on a particular date, I set off feeling fairly positive about the whole task. Arrival at Styal soon changed my thoughts, when I suddenly felt quite vulnerable, ignorant, unaware of how to find Reception and how to get through the tall wire fencing. Even trying to park the car was difficult, not a place to be found and no one to help—everyone seemed to have somewhere else to go, no time to talk! Parking badly, I set off with just my phone and the bag of gifts, struggling to find my way and suddenly finding myself joining families queuing up to visit. Eventually, I got to a gate where some staff were waiting to be let in and I asked if I could be allowed entry with them; that happened, but the entry officer, on asking if I had anything with me , refused to allow further access until I had taken the phone back to the

car. Oh dear. Back I went, handed the phone to David and set off again, by now wishing I hadn’t got involved—the visitors were gathering in numbers, the staff all seemed to have gone through, would they let me in? Luckily, the entry officer recognised me and allowed me to push through. ‘ID’ he asked. I haven’t any was my reply. More difficulties, until I explained that I was only meeting the chaplain I did not want access to the prison. Phew! I was allowed to perch on a chair by the office until the chaplain came. Her surprise was evident when she saw me, having expected me to be held at the gate and hand over my goods though an opening. Quite amazingly, my feelings changed—she was delighted with our 6 bags, which, adding to the total already received, meant that the chaplaincy team  had enough gift bags for each woman in Styal Prison on Christmas Day (normally they only had sufficient for each person who attended Christmas Morning Service). How wonderful was that, each woman in prison at Christmas would receive a gift and we had helped that to happen. Wow! What a Story!                                 I returned to the car feeling joyous that the Art Exhibition, the request for 6 simple gift bags, the certain anxiety of handing them over, and the knowledge of what those bags might mean to the recipient, had brought to me a fresh awareness of what we could each do in the future—in so much as ……….you have done it unto me.

And so we move on through Advent. The Story continues. After a break of 3 or 4 years, we set going with the Posada once again, travelling  day to day from house to house, Mary and Joseph visiting families, those living alone, the housebound, and others  during their 24-day trip. How moving are the stories that came from the Posada.; how much  it meant, and how special it was to retain a sheep from the flock that travelled with the figures,  a Christmas gift with a difference, One family were just returning from a Christmas Party with their 3 children, a little later than expected, only to find grandma and grandpa ringing to say they were  on their way round to hand over Posada for the family to have overnight, Golly, the baby was just in bed, but not asleep, the two older ones were ready for bed but not quite there, everything  was untidy, a bit chaotic,  and suddenly grandparents arrive plus Posada! 2 children definitely won’t go to bed now, the baby hears the voices and just has to be got out of the cot, when will we get them settled, might have been the cry. But…….the children sit entranced as they watch the opening of the Posada, the figures emerging one by one, the story unfolding, the sheep in the fields. Oh my, what  a wonderful experience for the whole family, the comment being  that did Jesus come to a place where everything was neat, tidy, and ordered, or did he come amongst the chaos, and bring a sense of peace. What a Story as we arrived at Christmas—the Art Exhibition, the visit to Styal Prison, the Posada bringing lovely moments to cherish, and the knowledge that yes, Jesus comes into the chaos around us and offers us Peace, Love, and Hope. So the Story goes on! Judy Povey, Church Secretary