Circuit Quarterly News
Excerpt from ISSUE 40: Jun - Aug 2023
MESSAGE FROM OUR SUPERINTENDENT MINISTER
Due to unforeseen health issues our Superintendent is not expected to send his article in this issue. As you were all informed he was taken to St. George’s A & E on Tuesday (09 May) due to breathing difficulty. His condition is improving slowly and he said the staff in the hospital are looking after him well. We continue to pray for Rev. Andy. Elizabeth is allowed to visit him in the role of hospital chaplain.
Many thanks for the outpouring support, prayers and wishes of speedy and full recovery. Here’s Rev. Andy’s message to all the Circuit members “…bless everyone. Thanks for the prayers and good wishes”.
In Rev. Andy’s absence, we have…
Rev. Lena (020 8889 5691)
Rev. Rita (020 7998 8229) and
Rv. Kristin (020 7274 1972)
for the Circuit Member’s Pastoral care needs.
Rev. Dr. Andy Lyons (020 7735 5814)
will be back in July so please don’t hesitate to contact any of them for Pastoral care/issues. If there are any meetings booked for Rev. Andy to chair let us know and send info to the circuit office so we can pass them on to the Ministers-Staff team. Rev. Nigel is also there for the Circuit’s need to support Our Ministers-Staff team and the Circuit Senior Steward.
Prayer for Rev. Andrew Dart and Family
James 5:14-15 says, “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him."
Heavenly Father, thank you because you are the God who heals the sick. We thank you because even today, you are still healing the sick. You have provided for our healing through the death of Jesus Christ, for your word said, “by his stripes, we were healed.” So, we pray for our Superintendent Rev. Andrew Dart; that you would lay your healing hands upon him and grant him healing and wholeness.
Loving God, as we lift Rev. Andy to you in prayer, asking for your healing touch to come upon his body, mind and spirit. Bless him with emotional strength during this difficult time. We know that illness can bring fear, anxiety, and helplessness but we trust that You are the ultimate healer who can restore health and wholeness to any sickness or disease. We humbly ask that you guide the hands of the doctors and nurses who are treating him and that you would provide them wisdom as they make decisions about him care. Please comfort and strengthen Rev. Andy during this time and fill him with peace that surpasses all understanding. We pray that he would feel your presence with him every moment because we know that he trusts in your healing power.
Almighty and most merciful God, we know that Rev. Andy's unexpected illness will seriously affect his wife, two daughters, his Mum and all his relatives. We pray for his wife Barbara, his daughters Cara and Mari, his Mum and all his relatives. We know that they are worried and may be feeling overwhelmed. We ask that you comfort them with your presence and give them the strength to be a source of hope and encouragement for Rev. Andy. Lord, we believe that you are the source of all comfort and strength, and we ask that you pour out your love upon them. We ask that you grant our prayers for our loved ones according to your will. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
MESSAGE from REV. LENA ALI
What a Wonderful World
The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces, of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands, Saying, 'How do you do?'
They're really saying, 'I love you'.
Yes, I think to myself, "What a wonderful world."
As we arrived at our destination, we were greeted by family and friends with hugs and kisses and shaking of hands. Words were not necessary but the message was: We love you and we are here to support you and despite your grief, this is still a wonderful world.
On our way back, we listened as the news reporter listed several countries including Israel and Palestine, Russia and Ukraine, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria all currently experiencing civil and national wars, resulting in significant casualties and displacement. I came to the conclusion that instead of shaking hands and saying: "I love you!" they are actually saying, "I hate you!" Hands were being used to take up weapons and ammunition to destroy the lives of innocent men, women and children. What a contrast to the hymn we sing: Jesus hands were kind hands, doing good to all.
Some years ago, I was chatting to some children from Junior Church, and I asked them, "What do you use your hands for?" One little girl replied, "For slapping people!" Everyone laughed because she was innocent, and it was so spontaneous and amusing. She is an adult now and I wonder what she is doing with her hands.
A Roman Catholic friend of mine says that the difference between a Roman Catholic and a Methodist is: If a RC asks you, "How are you?" You reply, "I am ill, or I have lost my job, or I am worried." The RC will say, "I will pray for you but the Methodist will say, "What can I do for you?"
Both responses are essential in helping others in distress. We raise our hands to God in prayer and we know that God never leaves us or forsakes us but even people with a deep faith, question where God is in all this suffering and injustice. We use our hands to offer practical help to our brothers and sisters and young people in time of need. What help can we offer and how? It is impossible to reach out to everyone who is a victim of war but we can make a greater effort to offer assistance to say that; "I love you" and say to each other: "What a wonderful world!" One man, Jesus died to save the world, each one of us can make a concerted effort to make this world a better place.
Let us pray that God will create a pool of heavenly peace in the hearts of those who are creating havoc in the lives of innocent victims.
Let us also continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in our Circuit who are housebound, suffering bereavement and various illnesses, some life changing and also give thanks to God for our blessings both great and small.
Wishing you all God's richest blessings, an enjoyable summer and travelling mercies for those who are going abroad on vacation.
MESSAGE from REV. KRISTIN MARKAY
Last July, people who live on Elm Park, the street on which the Brixton Hill Methodist church is located, were planning a Street Party. We got to know them when they came by the church asking if the street could borrow tables, chairs and games from the nursery for this Sunday event. On the day of the Party, members from the church stayed after worship to take part in the festivities. We got to know some of our neighbours through this exchange of ideas and tables. As a result of this, when people on the street began to be concerned about the rising cost of living, the cost of energy in particular, they asked if they could meet with members of the church to discuss what we might be able to do together to help, in whatever small way we could, to alleviate some of the strains of the coming winter. We then had a meeting with the manager of the Brixton/Norwood Foodbank to see what she might suggest. The idea of a
Warm Hub came about, and so starting in November, every Thursday from 12:00-2:00, we offered a warm space for people to come for a cup of tea, a bit of cake, and chats. The Foodbank provided an advice worker who helped signpost people to where they could receive tangible assistance. This often took the form of helping people fill out on-line forms. (This can be daunting- even on good days!) Over these Thursdays, we saw how grateful people were to receive a warm welcome, or a bag of groceries, data for their phones, or even a bicycle! Now that the Warm Hub has finished, Brixton Hill Methodist has become an official Hub for the Brixton/Norwood Trussell Trust Foodbank. Every Wednesday from 11:00-13:00, our doors are open for people needing to pick up a food parcel, people desiring to speak with an advice worker, or simply people wanting a bit of company. Volunteers from both the church and the neighbourhood are giving of their time to be present on these days. We pray that God will use our church to be not only a warm space, but a space of hospitality, community and hope.
If anyone would like to volunteer on the Foodbank Wednesdays, please let me know. There is a space for you.
Excerpt from ISSUE 39: Mar - May 2023
MESSAGE FROM OUR SUPERINTENDENT MINISTER
In November we welcomed a new member to our family – an 18th month old Cockapoo called Teddy. It has been an exciting but also a challenging few months, as having a dog in the house brings many changes to my routine. Teddy and I have also had to spend time and energy building our relationship with one another and it has been rewarding to see how much our bond has grown in such a short time. It is wonderful to come home to a warm welcome, a very waggy tail and a furry friend who is always so pleased to see me!
Teddy has come, though, with a number of behavioural issues. He is very affectionate and no trouble around the house but he barks and lunges at other dogs, he can’t walk on a lead properly, and when outside he reacts to everything around him. At the heart of this difficult behaviour is his fear and anxiety. With the help of an online course and the reassurance of experts I have gradually started to understand him and what makes him tick and through games we have started to try and address his underlying issues. I have already noticed positive changes and I look forward to the day when I have a more relaxed and much happier dog.
We are, in our Christian journey, just starting to travel through Lent and towards the great and life transforming events of Easter. Lent is a time when we are invited to examine ourselves and our behaviour with the aim of understanding ourselves better. I wonder what our underlying issues are and what might have led to them? What, in our Christian lives, can we do well or, in the words of the Covenant Prayer, accord with our own natural inclinations; and what, I wonder do we find difficult and challenging? What do we just get plain wrong?
Sometimes we have been tempted and even encouraged, to view God as someone who will judge us harshly and punish us severely for the things we get wrong or find hard, or mess
up. There are those in the dog training world who think that this is the way you should treat our four-legged friends if you want them to change their behaviour. But whether we are a dog or a human, just being punished never leads to real, deep down transformation. At best it makes us submissive and destroys our self-expression, at worst it can destroy our self-confidence and make our behaviour worse. Fortunately, we have a God who constantly tells us of his love for us. We have a God who can always see the best in us. We have a God who knows what we are really capable of and who will patiently guide us and love us and helps us to change. Did not God give his own son in order to find us and save us from ourselves?
But the first step is to examine ourselves in the light of that divine love. The first step is to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves, honestly, what do we see? In what ways do we want to improve ourselves? How do we want to grow? What barriers are there between us and God? This is the challenge of Lent, and I urge you to take some extra time over the coming weeks to examine yourself, knowing that as you do so you are held in the most amazing, patient, understanding and forgiving love of God.
Elsewhere in this newsletter you will also read about our circuit Lent Course which will be running on Wednesday evenings. I do hope you can join us.
With love and peace
MESSAGE from REV. LENA ALI
THE PLIGHT OF THE HOMELESS
Many of us started the New Year hoping that it would be better than the past three years when we struggled to keep safe from the devastating effects of Covid. Now, we are experiencing greater hardships with the rising costs of food, heating bills and the disruption caused by the numerous strikes.
For me, the New Year has started with a deeper awareness of the plight of the homeless. Service at Tulse Hill start at 10.30 a.m. so I arrive in Brixton earlier and I am really shocked to see the amount of homeless people sleeping in doorways of supermarkets, banks or just on the pavement. One person in particular touched me in a most profound way. It was a bitter cold morning and he was lying on the pavement with just a small blanket wrapped around him, his feet were exposed and he did not have any belongings with him. It reminded me of the story of the demoniac which is found in the Synoptic Gospels: “For a Long Time, He Had Not Worn Any Clothes (Luke 8:27)”.
Most of us are richly blessed with the necessities like food and clothing but we know that one in ten households experience food scarcity, inadequate clothing and they cannot afford the heating bills.
We have heard that people experiencing homelessness battle demons such as addiction, mental illness, and poverty. Some have experienced trauma, domestic violence and injustice. Some homeless people have lost limbs due to frostbite, and some have frozen to death.
Jesus asked the man one queston: "What is your name?" Jesus didn’t say: “Go somewhere else for help.” “Get a job.” “Please don’t spend it on booze or drugs.”
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday 22nd February and we will be observing the three pillars or discipline of Lent: Fasting, Praying and Almsgiving. Instead of giving things up for Lent, do more for Christ by being more charitable to those less fortunate than ourselves.
Let us help the homeless to know and feel God's love, mercy and compassion through our love and generosity.
May I also wish you all a Happy and Joyful Easter.
Rev. Lena Ali
MESSAGE from REV. KRISTIN MARKAY
BRING & SHARE LUNCH AND DISCUSSION
with Rev. Dr. Claire Potter
Ministerial Co-ordinator for Oversight of
Ordained Ministries in the British Methodist Church
Sun – 02 Apr 1:00 p.m. @ Railton Road
“As Methodists, How, has our Welcome Been?”
Why @ Railton Road? In 1999, Rev. Dr. Claire Potter was invited to preach at the Harvest Service at Railton Road where she asked the congregation if they would allow her to interview any of them. Many took her up on this and shared their stories about their experiences of welcome from the Methodist Church.
As Methodists living in Lambeth, we are all invited to come to Railton Road for an opportunity to learn more about Rev. Dr. Claire Potter’s research that she carried out between 1998 and 2002 on the theme of the Methodist Church’s experience of welcoming people from Jamaica from the time of the Windrush generation until today.
Rev. Claire was motivated to do these interviews because she had recently been a community worker in a small Methodist church in Smethwick where the majority of the congregation were Jamaican people who had arrived in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. Their hospitality, openness, resilience, and willingness to share their stories was a life changing experience for her. She wanted to tell those stories accurately in order to be fair to them and to benefit the whole church. She later wrote her thesis on: ‘British Churches and Jamaican Migration - a study of religion and identities1948 to 1965’.
She has written:
“Much has been written about migration from the Caribbean to Britain in the decades following the Second World War, however, little has been studied concerning the church history of this migration. In addition, much research has considered Black Theology and Black Church history in Britain. However, rarely has Black Church history been regarded as a part of British Church history.
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ISSUE 38: Dec 2022 - Feb 2023
MESSAGE FROM OUR SUPERINTENDENT MINISTER
There is an initiative run by the Methodist Church in Birmingham called Feast. Every month a small team organize a free meal for those who are homeless and living on the streets. The meal takes place on the street and the guests receive their own invitation and are then served by volunteers. During the meal there is a simple act of worship and an opportunity to reflect on something of spiritual value. The project has grown so much that one of the ministers has now been released to run the initiative full time.
Very often our idea of church is to perpetuate what we know and so we invite people to come along and join us on a Sunday in our own church. Sometimes this works and we have all heard stories about folk who have come into church for the first time and have been transformed. Yet often this does not work because we do not invite people in the right way, or we don’t really invite them at all. The fact that many of our churches have less people attending on a Sunday is testament to that.
Perhaps we get it wrong because we forget that God does not need a church in order to speak to people. God doesn’t need us in order to transform his world. God would like us to work with Him but will get on without us when we try and insist that God does it our way.
We will soon be thinking about Christmas and the story of the nativity is a reminder to us that God will always find a way to make his presence known in our troubled world. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there were no priests, ministers or church members to welcome him as the equivalent of those people were looking for him in the wrong places. They thought the Messiah would come to the important and powerful people in their world, they thought the Messiah would first appear in the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. They thought God would first come to them.
But God came to Bethlehem – a nowhere out of the way place, and God came to a frightened young mother and her bewildered new husband. God came to some poor and illiterate peasants minding other people’s sheep and to some strange foreigners from another world.
So where is God today? That is the question. We pray that God is still with us in church but if we think that is the only place, we will encounter Him then we will be very disappointed. For God is already out there working in the world - amongst street people in Birmingham; in the Night Hub in Clapham every Friday and Saturday night where people, overcome by alcohol or drugs need sanctuary and care; on the floor in church halls and community centres as folk without anywhere to sleep find a welcome through Robes. And in so many places – where refugees are welcomed, where people with deep questions start to find answers, where the hungry are fed and the bewildered accepted without judgement.
So may I wish you all a peaceful and happy Advent and Christmas, but may you also find God in new places and discover Jesus where you least expected him. I leave you with an extract from a poem called Indifference by Geoffrey Anketell Studdert-Kennedy:
When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by,
They never hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street and left Him in the rain.
Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,”
And still it rained the wintry rain that drenched Him through and through.
With love and peace,
MESSAGE from REV. LENA ALI
As I sit writing this article, the rain is pelting down, the thunder is rolling and there are flashes of lighting. At the crossroads outside our home, the leaves have blocked the manholes and there is a "little lake" outside. This reminds me of the plight and displacement of people, the loss of their loved ones, homes and livelihood in Pakistan and the USA and other places that have been affected by severe flooding and natural disasters. Despite the adverse weather conditions, I am blessed. It is warm and cosy indoors. With the national news now focussed on the political upheaval in this country, there is very little update on the adverse effects in the lives of those who are suffering homelessness, hunger, ill health and a bleak and uncertain future. Let us spare a thought for our forgotten sisters, brothers and children and think of ways in which we could share our blessings with them and make their lives more worthwhile, especially as we are preparing to celebrate Christmas and the season of goodwill.
Our hearts rejoice as we read the Scriptures which describe the Birth of Jesus in the stable out in the open
country, the darkness of the night and probably the gleam of a small lantern. The history of twenty centuries began at this stable where the Baby Jesus was born and wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the arms of his mother, Mary who is described as radiant with joy at this miracle. The long-awaited Messiah has arrived, and the shepherds nearby draw near to see and experience the sheer joy, peace and love radiating from this tiny child. Around the cradle of Jesus, the angels sang of peace and Jesus came to bring peace which for many today is a distant dream. The story of Jesus has no end, and we need to rejoice as we celebrate and share the Christmas story.
Christmas is a time for sharing with families and friends, so I pray that you would all enjoy the peace, love and joy of the season and at the same time spare a thought for those for whom this time of the year is sad and unpleasant.
Wishing you all a very Happy and Blessed New Year!
MESSAGE from REV. DR. ANDY LYONS
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ
As this magazine is published, I’m sure that we are all looking forward to Christmas when we celebrate the birth of our Lord. As I write this on October 17th Jeremy Hunt, installed as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the midst of a financial crisis, brought on by the incompetence and right-wing zeal of Liz Truss, is rowing back on the tax cuts given to the rich.
The bible constantly states that God is for the poor, the hungry, the widow, the orphan and the outcast. In the life of Jesus, we see his compassion for all those in need. As his mother Mary rejoices in her pregnancy in the company of Elizabeth, she proclaims the Magnificat: And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
Mary speaks the intentions of God – she knows she herself is of humble stock, and yet, God has favoured her. But more so, she recalls how God has had mercy on his people through all generations and continually called them to be a people of compassion and justice.
This winter the circuit is working again with Robes to provide night shelter for homeless people at our Mostyn
Road site. I know that many of you will be giving financial support to other charitable works or working as volunteers over the Christmas period showing Jesus’s love and compassion. As we, as people of Jesus, continue in the tradition of the Church to support the neediest in our society, let us also think and pray about how we act politically, so that God’s incarnation in Jesus, undertaken in the humility of God’s own self, is enacted in our political and economic world – where God commands the nations to act with justice and mercy and compassion to all its citizens.
Revd Dr Andy Lyons
MESSAGE from REV. KRISTIN MARKAY
On Sunday the 30th of October, Brixton Hill Methodist observed Black History month by inviting a young adult poet to read some of his work during worship. Tremont Deigh is a member of the Walworth Methodist Church, and we were blessed to have him cross circuits to bring his poems to life. Tremont has agreed to let us print in our circuit newsletter the poem he wrote for the day...
Before I wrote this piece, I started the day off by crying… Because I haven't seen my friend in so long, so I let the tears flow and continued sighing/
You ask me how I'm doing; I'd say great even though I know I'm lying/She was like my aunty, and I hardly open my heart so when she left it felt like a part of me was dying/
Sorry, I didn't mean to make this Sunday morning morbid/
But thinking about her made me wanna give roses, dandelions and orchids/
To the ones who have had someone taken from them/
Yet the thieves who don't see a problem/
We're desensitised to news, this ain't nothing new/
Philando Castile, George Floyd, Mark Duggan, Chris Kaba, slaves...just to name a few/
What does it mean to be a role model?/
I mean you do something great and people wanna see you catch lightning in a bottle/
Over and over/
Be that superhero that never loses because of your supernova/
Well guess what? The colour of my skin makes me all that and more/
You don't even have to ask me if I'm sure/
Because I got this feeling deep down in my core/
That if I keep things raw, then I will never be poor/
Not in spirit at least, because when I live out my purpose, the emotions of freedom increase/
So, whatever you do, whether it be singing, preaching, teaching, don't let that gift cease/
Because they need you, we need you, I need you/
To keep on keeping on, hold me up sisters when I'm not strong/
Whilst we're on the topic of women, I'm gonna put my secret out there/
One desire of mine is to have a dark skin queen with natural hair/
So that my future kids will appreciate their mother deeply as they share/
the melanin that initiates long stares but it's all good as long as you elevate your self love and care/
And guess what? I heard a man lived a while ago had hair like wool and skin of bronze/
But he didn't take last place when he died on that cross/
So, watch out for the cons/
Who will try everything to make you feel like
your royalty if false and wrong/
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Issue 37: September - November 2022
New Arrangements in the Circuit:
Rev. Andrew Dart will have oversight of Clapham
Rev. Lena Ali will have oversight of Railton Road & Tulse Hill
Rev. Rita King will have oversight of Springfield & Stockwell
Rev. Dr. Andy Lyons will have oversight of Lambeth Mission St Mary’s & Streatham
Rev. Kristin Markay will have oversight of Brixton Hill & Mostyn Road
MESSAGE FROM OUR SUPERINTENDENT MINISTER
As we prepare to start a new Methodist year, I hope that you all had a good summer. Many of you would have been travelling and I hope were able to visit family, have a break from work or just enjoy being in a place you have not visited before. We shall be travelling to the island of Iona for a week in August and although it is in the UK it is still a two-day journey requiring 2 trains, 2 ferries and a bus!
Journeys are integral to the life of God’s people and in the Bible, we read of many stories about how people travelled with God. Moses led the Hebrew people to freedom through the wilderness; generations later their descendants were taken into exile to a strange land; as a baby Jesus became a refugee; and the early church was built on the journeys of people like Paul and Barnabas and Timothy.
Back near the beginning of that story, Abraham, who was still known as Abram, sensed a call from God. It was a double call for he turned away from the idol worship of his culture and began to explore this strange and mysterious One God who could not be seen but who promised him more descendants than stars in the sky. But to walk with God he had to also leave behind his home and his culture and set off on a journey into the unknown. His call was to roam. To roam physically to a new land that God had promised him, but to also roam in his mind and soul as he discovered that this God who could not be seen and who had no name was everywhere.
In Hebrew the word used in Genesis for “to roam” is almost the same as the word for “fool”. This was intentional. Abram would have been regarded as an utter fool when he announced his intention to leave everything behind and go off on a quest to seek this unknown and unseen God.
The story of God’s people is a story of foolishness as responding to the call of God is indeed foolish in the world’s eyes. Paul even called the followers of Jesus “fools for Christ”. The world would think you foolish if you gave up your job to follow a call to ministry – not knowing where you might serve and what that might cost. The world would think you a fool if you freely and joyfully gave away a proportion of your income to charity and the church. The world would think you a fool if you spent hours of your time volunteering and working to make the Kingdom of God present now on earth.
We are on a journey here in Lambeth Circuit and we begin September with one less minister and with most, serving a different church. Having recovered from all the challenges of covid our churches are now trying to get back on their feet financially and to begin thinking again what our mission might look like. In the circuit we are finalising our mission plan so that we might be in a better place to serve God by understanding and agreeing our priorities and we hope that you will participate in this process
But let us not forget that alongside our journeying with God and our “roaming” we are also called to be foolish. Serving God means sometimes taking risks, setting out on a journey without knowing the destination, or simply trusting that God is with us. As he began travelling through the wilderness, Abraham was at first astonished to discover that wherever he stopped God was there too. May we find God has already arrived at the new places in which we find ourselves.
Wishing you God’s love and blessing
Message from Rev. Lena Ali
For six weeks, I was suffering from a troublesome and irritating cough which I thought was Covid related but it turned out to be Hay Fever. One night, the cough was so persistent, I started wheezing and if you have ever had problems catching your breath, you would know how frightening this can be; especially when you are alone. I was reluctant to dial 999 or 111 because I did not want to be taken to A & E. The next morning, I phoned for a GP appointment and eventually got a telephone appointment for the next day.
About five minutes after speaking to the GP who asked me to go to the Surgery for an 11:00 a.m. face to face appointment, the phone rang. When I answered, it was a lady who introduced herself as Nancy who said that she was calling to discuss a Funeral Plan with me. "Is this a coincidence?" was my first thought. She went on to say that it is a subject which people were reluctant to talk about and before she could say anything else, I said to her; "Well, I have already got a Funeral Plan." "Oh!" she said, "I don't suppose that you will consider taking out another one?" "No," I replied, "Not unless I am planning to have one practice run and then a proper funeral." She apologized and said that it was a wrong choice of words.
As I was talking to her, I heard the sound of clippety-clop! Clippety clop! And it stopped just outside our home at the crossroads. I opened the front door and there stood a white carriage with two white horses. It was laden with wreaths and a coffin. I waited until the procession moved on and as I reflected on the events of the past fifteen minutes; I thought of how blessed I was to be alive because of the numerous times when I was literally at death's door; when I realised that I had to give up the life that I had planned for myself and answer to God's call. There is sometimes very little in our lives, over which we have full control, but we can control the way we think as well as our attitudes and answer to God's call.
I read some time ago that our lives are like a river that flows wherever it finds an opening between cliffs and rocks and if things change in our lives like a new job, new home, illness, birth, marriage, separation, death, we need to accept the change and find a new direction so our lives can flow with ease.
From this September, we will be facing many changes in our Circuit, and I know that some members have got serious reservations about the re-organisation of the staff team. As Ministers, we all have glimpses of our mission in life and we are all blessed with different gifts which we as a team will be willing to share with all our members, so let us embrace this opportunity to work together, to thank God for our blessings, for being a rich and a diverse community who love and care for each other as we give glory to God.
Wishing you and your loved ones God's love and richest blessings.
Message from Rev. Rita King
Times and Spiritual Seasons
“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV).
Times and seasons are God’s means of replenishing the earth and also of building our faith and trust in God. As each natural season is important and contributes to the fruitfulness of the earth and the life of its inhabitants so also are the spiritual seasons of life. It is therefore necessary to understand the times and seasons of one’s life and even that of the church and work with them. Lack of knowledge and understanding in this area can cause distress and frustration.
Conversely, understanding and working with the times and spiritual seasons of life enables spiritual growth, maturity and fruitfulness. It produces people that are sensitive to the move and work of God in their lives, the church and in the world. Here are four seasons out of many that every believer goes through at one point or the other in their faith journey.
Dry or Desert Season - It is a period when God seems silent, distant and unreachable. You no longer hear God’s voice or sense his presence as you used to. To pray is a struggle and your prayers seem to bounce back unanswered.
Times and season of Trials - Challenges are facts of life but there are those that come to test our faith in God. It could be anything: personal health issues or that of a loved one, bereavement or financial issues. One might not even understand what one is going through and why.
Waiting Season - When God says, ‘wait’, one hardly knows for how long. Like the Dry season, it could be hard and if we are not patient enough, we can come up with great ideas to help ourselves and seek help outside of God. Abraham was waiting for the promised son for what seems like forever, so Sarah came up with the idea of surrogacy and he went along with it. The rest is history.
The Busy Season - The planting and harvest seasons are usually very busy times for farmers. Similarly, there are times when there is so much to do at home, at work and in ministry there is hardly enough time to do them as well as we might want. It can also be difficult to have quality prayer time but that’s when it’s most needed and should be preserved.
Whatever God is doing in us is for a season and a purpose. Let us learn to recognise, understand and work with the seasons to achieve our goals. If you were to reflect on your life now, what season would you say you are in? Or what season would you say the church that you are part of is in?
If you are in your busy season, I celebrate you and give thanks. I also give thanks for those who might be in one of the other seasons. Be encouraged, hold on and don’t give up. Try not to compare where you are to that of others. Fix your eyes on God, wait patiently on him and God will surely see you through.
As the natural seasons change over the year so do our spiritual seasons. Your change will come.
Message from Rev.Dr. Andy Lyons
This summer the Methodist Conference met in Telford. We, each individual and each church in our circuit are governed by that Conference – it is our Archbishop! In Methodism we call ourselves a ‘connexion’ – which is defined as a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else. We are linked with every other Methodist Church in Great Britain.
There is a tree called the Aspen tree. These trees do not propagate by seed but through their root system. In other words, they are basically one tree interconnected beneath the ground by their roots – they are one living organism.
Our model of church is like that – we are all linked with each other. It is a good biblical model. In Genesis Chapter 2 when God makes Adam God declares that it is ‘not good that the human being should be alone’. We are made to be with others. Jesus calls a group of disciples together to mission. St Paul sees that all are made in the image of God and therefore there is neither Greek nor Jew, Male nor Female, Slave nor Free.
Being together means being in relationship/s. We don’t always find this comfortable or easy. We argue – we fight – we fall out. But to follow the ‘God Model’ – the ‘Jesus Way’ – we have established a model of church that works by us being in relationship – by sharing our resources – by loving and forgiving each other – by agreeing to disagree and not to fight or fall out over issues. In Christian families we should always try to
live this way. In our individual churches and in our circuit, we need to continue to share and love and work together. Every person is called upon to live for the other and not simply for self-interest.
So let us think of ourselves as Aspen trees – we all have one root – our Lord Jesus Christ – and we are all joined together through that root. Or as Jesus would say – using another metaphor – Jesus is the vine, and we are the leaves (John 15).
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