Fore Street Topsham, Exeter

Minister : Reverend Paul Collings BTh (Hons) : email : paul.collings@methodist.org.uk : Telephone : 01392 206229 : Mobile : 07941 880768

About Us

St Nicholas Methodist Church has existed on the present site for over 150 years since it opened in 1867.

We are a friendly community of believers where all are welcomed. We help each other to worship God, and strive to live more like Christ in service beyond the walls of our church building.

Part of the
Exeter Coast and Country Circuit of the Methodist Church.

Corona Virus means that whilst we are unable to meet we are never-the-less united in prayer and pastoral care for each other.

Friday, 4 December 2020

Advent Journey


Advent - Living the Moment


I recall a staff member at the College I attended in the early 1970s, often used her pet saying; “redeeming the time.” This phrase originates from the King James Version of  Ephesians 5:15-16 that says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The phrase  is also found in Colossians 4:5 “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time”. In both passages, redeeming the time is related to wisdom in how we “walk,” that is, in how we live.


The issue with Advent journeying is that we are so intent upon arriving at our destination that are not entirely present in the present and therefore overlook the joy of each unfolding moment. The NIV’s translation of Ephesians 5:16 uses the phrase “making the most of every opportunity” instead of redeeming the time. Rather than waste our days on frivolous pursuits that leave no lasting imprint, Scripture instructs us to be diligent about doing good.


Being in the present moment, or the “here and now,” means that we are aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by constantly cogitating on the past or worries about the future, but centred in the here and now.


One of the features of Advent is considering the coming Kingdom of God, and raises such questions as “is there an afterlife?” or “what will the new heavens and the new earth look like?” Although such questions are important, solely focusing on these questions may draw our attention away from a crucial reality: The kingdom of God is among us, right here and right now. It exists and is experienced within the body of Christ, giving us a foretaste of heaven. This is the joy of dwelling in the immediate presence of God right now.


Good and gracious God, Sometimes we get so caught up in planning the future and remembering the past that we miss opportunities in the here and now. Rather than focusing on the realities of now, we concentrate on skewed memories of what was or hopeful projections of what could be. 


Call us to each moment. Keep us aware of how the past informs them and remind us of how, when stitched together in just the right way, they can create a better future. With your encouragement, never let us gaze on the past or the future so steadily that we lose the opportunity of following you in each moment. Instead, inspire us to honour our past by carving out new and creative futures through the choices we make each day.


Call us to each moment. Encourage, embolden and empower us to have the perseverance

to follow you even if following sometimes makes us feel uncomfortable, unsure, or unstable

simply because we are uncertain of where you are leading us.


Teach us to prize the journey and the time spent with you, trusting you as we more fully embrace

each moment and follow. Amen


Advent Adventure


Advent Journey - Keep Awake


“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Read Matthew 25:1-13


Readiness, being alert, a sense of expectancy and hope, these are all things that Jesus tries to communicate through some of his parables. The foolishness of the five foolish virgins was not only that they forgot to bring extra oil, but because they assumed the exact time that the groom was going to come.


This raises the question: Who am I in the parable? Am I willing to wait on God even when I don’t know how long it will take? Can I faithfully entrust myself to the unknown with the certainty of God’s goodness? Talk to Jesus about these things.


This gospel helps us to focus on the here and now. It helps us to learn to live totally in the present, to seek and find God there. If we can do that, then all the rest will take care of itself. Let us try to renew our commitment to God and to building and growing our relationship with God through       regular prayer and reflection to awaken within us the will of God in out lives. In that presence we can ask God's help that we may realise what it is we might do now, how we might recognise the coming Christ and welcome him.


Even the disciples found keeping awake and praying difficult. Matthew 26:40-41 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."


Thomas Merton writes: ‘Every moment and every event in every person’s life plants something in their soul.’ Perhaps we should pray, Lord, You are busily at work in our lives, so help us catch on and respond so we give ourselves to You to be the praying ones. Make us those who watch and pray, those who watch unto prayer. Lord, wake us up from any stupor and from any sleep! We want to have an enriched prayer life and have all kinds of prayer. Lord, we petition You concerning our prayer life. May we be fully awake in our spirit, soul, and body, and watch unto prayer every day! Lord, strengthen us to watch and pray that we may not enter into temptation! Amen


Thursday, 3 December 2020

Faith in Times of Crisis


Psalm 96:1-3, 10-13. New International Version (NIV)

Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvellous deeds among all peoples.


10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
    The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
    he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.


Meditation by Dr J P Hunter


The season of Advent is the season of awaiting His coming.


This Psalm speaks with certainty of such coming: for he comes, he comes 96:13 

First, at Christmas time, God out of love for His world, sends his Son into the world so that all those who believe in Him may have eternal life. Then, at the end of time, at his second coming, Jesus will return to the nations with his angels and a loud trumpet call to judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness 96:13. So there is awaiting of coming twice. 


Living in times of trial during Advent, when you and I might feel weak or limited, not feeling like praising, remember that God can give you strength for this day and this week. The power that controls creation, healed the sick, raised the dead is available to you and me. Realising that, praying for it, receiving that strength to carry on, may lead us to sing praises in our heart too.


Prayer

Heavenly Father, in times of trial when I feel weak or limited, I thank you that I can read your Word and speak to you in prayer and know that you will listen. You are my Father and I am your child. I am seeking your presence and I am seeking strength to carry on. I thank you that you are always near me, I thank you for your light in my world. I thank you for Advent and Christmas to come. Will you come in my heart too? 

Amen.


Hymn 185 Singing the Faith, verse 1, refrain.

1 Sing we the King who is coming to reign;

   Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain!

   Life and salvation his empire shall bring,

   Joy to the nations when Jesus is King.

 

   Come let us sing: praise to our King,

   Jesus our King, Jesus our King:

   This is our song, who to Jesus belong:

   Glory to Jesus, to Jesus our King.

             Charles Silvester Horne (1865-1914)


Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Advent Journey - Expectation


Advent Journey - Expectation 

Isaiah 43:16-21 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old, I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?


A Christian writer considering the expectation of Advent writes, “Whenever I went on a train journey as a child, I always insisted on having a forward-facing seat.’Otherwise,’l explained,'l will be ill.’ But now I wonder whether my travel sickness was just an excuse.l suspect the real point was that I wanted to see where l was going. I still do. I have never been able to understand why some people choose the other seat. Why travel into the future looking only at where you have come from?


Recently it has been pointed out to me that the safest place for rail passengers is in the backward—facing seats. Personally, however, if we are going to have an accident I would rather see_it coming!” (Advent Readings from Iona by Brian Woodcock and Jan Sutrch Pichard ©️2000 Wild Goose Publications)


This begs the question; which way am I looking as I travel? Janus was the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology, and presided over passages, doors, gates and endings, as well as in transitional periods such as from war to peace. He was usually depicted as having two faces looking at opposite ways, one towards the past and the other towards the future. 


As a god of beginnings and transitions both in literal and abstract ways, he was also responsible for motion, changes, and time. He was present in the beginning of the world, guarding the gates of Heaven, and he also presided over the creation of religion, life, and even the gods. He was probably considered the most important Roman god, and his name was the first to be mentioned in prayers, regardless of which god the worshipper wanted to pray to.


There is a startling difference for us, as we are encouraged to look forward. Why? Because the past is in the hands of the one who comes as redeemer. It was Oswald Chambers who said, “Leave the broken, irreversible past in God's hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”


Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unfailing promises. I come before You with the past I can’t change. I look to the future in anticipation of the new thing You desire to do in me, for me and through me, as I walk in obedience to You. Please do a new thing in me and change me to be increasingly like Jesus. I ask it for His glory. Amen.


Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Advent Adventure


Advent Adventure - Anticipation

Psalm 98 Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.


There are different emotional experience depending on what we are anticipating ranging from anguish to elation. Sometimes the dread we feel is not as dire as we anticipated and the expectation becomes a muted event after all. Is it because sometimes our lack of response to the greatness of the coming God among us fails to sing out from our heart unlike where the Psalmist has the rivers clapping their hands, and the mountains singing. 


Several times through scripture we find references to how, if we fail to acknowledge the coming Immanuel, then creation will voice its praise. In Luke 19 we readSome of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” And later speaking of this anticipation Paul writing to the Romans writes, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”


The significance of this groaning is that it leads to birth and later in v23 we find Paul indicating we have the first-fruits of the Spirit, meaning that the indwelling Spirit is but the first-fruits of the gifts of the Spirit we will receive when Jesus the one who came, the one who comes and the one who is to comes brings the fulfilment of his coming Kingdom.


O Wisdom, O holy word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care: Come and show your people the way to salvation.


O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.


O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; rulers stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.


O Key of David, O royal power of Israel, controlling at your will the gate of heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and lead your captive people into freedom.


O Radiant Dawn, splendour of eternal light, sun of justice: Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.


O Ruler of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart, O keystone of the mighty arch of humankind: Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

O Emmanuel, ruler and lawgiver, desire of the nations, saviour of all people: Come and set us free, Lord our God. Amen ~from “Advent in Church and Cultural Tradition” by Bobby Gross



Monday, 30 November 2020

Advent Adventure


Advent Adventure - Preparation 

In some church pulpits there is often an bible inscription only visible to the preacher, with the word, “Sir, we wold see Jesus.” Perhaps that verse would be more appropriately sited on the preacher’s study desk. For the diligent preacher, the preparation for preaching even a 10 to 15  minute sermon can take many hours, numerous drafts and re-edits. However, it is  possible that sometimes, more time is spent on the side issues of illustrations or even whimsical words that will hold the congregation rather than the meet truth derived from the teaching of Jesus.


Mahatma Gandhi,  that great Indian or orator said, “An ounce of practice is worth more than a ton of preaching”. Two other preachers, Todd Stocker and E M Bounds say this of sermon preparation; “A speaker should approach their preparation not by what they want to say, but by what they want to learn.” and “A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon.”


We often consider Advent as a time of preparation, but we so often want to arrive at a destination before we have taken in the truth afforded by the moments of preparation. According to John Newton, the appreciation of the present moment is summed up in, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”


So how prepared are we to see Jesus in our preparation this advent season. In John 12 we read,  “Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival.  They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.”


Advent is a journey of faith whereby we get to know our Lord—learning of him in Scripture, spending time with him in prayer, and developing our relationship with him. His Spirit prepares our hearts and minds so that others may see Christ in us.


Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations this advent season. We think that we have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day, We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us yet often fail to see you with us. We too would say, “Sir we would see Jesus” and “Jesus, may your presence be seen in us. Amen


Friday, 27 November 2020

Exploring Street Theology


Pillars of Support

In this penultimate episode in our Exploring Street Theology, I bring your attention to an element of the Mosaic that could be almost overlooked. The artist calls these the Pillars of Support. From ancient times pillars could be found in the Bible, often set as a memorial to a significant moment in the life of a faithful one. In Genesis 31:13 we read of God talking to Jacob ‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’


In Exodus 24:4 we find that “Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.” We also read in that book Exodus 13:21-22. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”


According to tradition, the pillar of fire provided light so that the Israelites could travel by night during the Exodus from Egypt where the two pillars are seen as the manifestation of the divine presence.


Using Pillar in the context of a person depicts someone who is dependable; upon who one can rely. We read in Galatians 2:9 “and recognising the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles.


This raises the question, what are the pillars of our faith? The followers of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles depended upon 4 pillars. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).


Pillar 1: It was a learning Church - it could be said that it is a wasted day when we do not learn something new and when we have not penetrated more deeply into the wisdom and the grace of God.


Pillar 2: It was a Church of fellowship - Someone said that the Church is a real Church only when it is a band of sisters and brothers.


Pillar 3: It was a praying Church - these early Christians always went in to God before they went out to the world; they were able to meet the problems of life because they had first met him.


Pillar 4: It was a reverent Church - the Christian lives in reverence because he knows that the whole earth is the temple of the living God.


Loving Lord,

you spoke to your people in the pillar of cloud

as they walked together in the wilderness.


Speak to me through your Word today,

that I may hear you calling me

out of the wilderness places in my life

and into new places you have promised to show me.

In the name of Christ, I pray.  Amen.


Community Groups Regularly Usiing the Church


Regrettably, due to the current restrictions, there are no community activities at the church premises.

Watch this space for news of when activities will restart.