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.

Saturday, 30 September 2023

Sitting in God’s presence


Revelation 3:21 “to the one who overcomes I will grant the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I myself overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

Jesus continues His promise to whoever responds to His call for a cordial welcome, thereby overcoming lukewarm faith. He promises to give that repentant overcomer the honour of sitting with Him on His throne. Jesus mentions that He sat down with His Father on His throne. 


A Michigan factory worker, earning less than ten thousand dollars a year, was an unknowing heir to a half-million dollars. When located by an investigator some years after his benefactor’s death, the worker explained that he had neither returned home nor kept in touch with his family for 24 years. The investigator who located him estimates there is about 40 billion dollars in inheritances lying unclaimed in this country alone.


Fanny Crosby famously wrote, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.” With the refrain, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my saviour, all the days long.”


I wonder, are we as a Christian aware of our status as "an heir of God through Christ"? Do we fail to receive the gifts our Father offers. 


It would be good for us to  allow ourself to take some moments in the presence of God who is so much greater than our imagining or comprehension. Believing that God can accomplish more than we can ask or imagine, we take care not to let God’s work be limited by any narrow boundaries that we set.


I conclude this months devotions of Walking, Running, Standing and Sitting with words of a favourite hymn writer of mine, Albert Orsborn published 100 years ago.


In the secret of Your presence,
Where the pure in heart may dwell,
Are the springs of sacred service
And a power that none can tell.
There my love must bring its offering,
There my heart must yield its praise,
And the Lord will come, revealing
All the secrets of His ways.


More than all my lips may utter,
More than all I do or bring,
Is the depth of my devotion
To my Saviour, Lord and King.
Nothing less will keep me tender;
Nothing less will keep me true;
Nothing less will keep the fragrance
And the bloom on all I do!


Bless├Ęd Lord, to see You truly,
Then to tell as I have seen –
This shall rule my life supremely;
This shall be the sacred gleam.
Sealed again is all the sealing,
Pledged again my willing heart,
First to know You, then to serve You,
Then to see You as You art.


In the secret of Your presence,
In the hiding of Your power,
Let me love You, let me serve You,
Every consecrated hour. Amen


Friday, 29 September 2023

Sitting in God’s presence


Matthew 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

I heard the story of Larry Walters, a 33-year-old man who decided he wanted to see his neighbourhood from a new perspective. He went down to the local army surplus store one morning and bought forty-five used weather balloons. That afternoon he strapped himself into a lawn chair, to which several of his friends tied the now helium-filled balloons. He took along a six-pack of beer, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and a BB gun, figuring he could shoot the balloons one at a time when he was ready to land.


Walters, who assumed the balloons would lift him about 100 feet in the air, was caught off guard when the chair soared more than 11,000 feet into the sky -- smack into the middle of the air traffic pattern at the International Airport. Too frightened to shoot any of the balloons, he stayed airborne for more than two hours, forcing the airport to shut down its runways for much of the afternoon, causing long delays in flights from across the country.


Soon after he was safely grounded and cited by the police, reporters asked him three questions:
"Where you scared?"
"Yes."
"Would you do it again?"
"No."
"Why did you do it?"
"Because," he said, "you can't just sit there."


But here in our reading, Jesus Instruction, to the disciple is simply, “Sit down here while I go over there and while I pray.” Maybe there is a lesson about prayer here, that we are to sit in the  presence of Jesus who intercedes on our behalf.


What was it James Montgomery  wrote?


Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,

uttered or unexpressed;

the motion of a hidden fire

that trembles in the breast.


Nor prayer is made on earth alone:

the Holy Spirit pleads,

and Jesus on the eternal throne

for sinners intercedes.


Maybe just to sit and pray the words of a good place to start.


Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

forgive our foolish ways;

reclothe us in our rightful mind,

in purer lives thy service find,

in deeper reverence, praise.


In simple trust like theirs who heard

beside the Syrian sea

the gracious calling of the Lord,

let us, like them, without a word

rise up and follow thee.


O Sabbath rest by Galilee,

O calm of hills above,

where Jesus knelt to share with thee

the silence of eternity,

interpreted by love!


Drop thy still dews of quietness,

till all our strivings cease;

take from our souls the strain and stress,

and let our ordered lives confess

the beauty of thy peace.


Breathe through the heats of our desire

thy coolness and thy balm;

let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

speak through the earthquake, wind and fire

O still small voice of calm


Thursday, 28 September 2023

Sitting in God’s presence


So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. 

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:5-10

As part of the work of the City Centre Chaplaincy we have more recently taken to Prayer walking and prayer sitting. Such a ministry has surprising results where opportunities arise for conversation. This is what Jesus did as he sat at Jacob’s well. Several times, the Samaritan woman seems to resist; perhaps she has developed a defensive self-protecting habit. I ask God to help me to be open to receive good news from any source through which God may send it to me.

For me, the thought of Jesus sitting alone by the well is an invitation to be with him. As he looked at the woman, he looks at me: he longs to offer me life; he invites me to see the deeper meaning in what I do; he respects my dignity, asking me to do what I can for him.

When Jesus says, “If you knew…”, he reveals his desire to draw us into knowing God as he does. His open and generous heart is the heart of God, inviting us all to rest where we are known and loved, to find enduring life and lasting refreshment.

O God, we gather at your waters,

as a hot and bothered crowd gathers on the beach

on a sweltering, summer day.

O God, we drink at your fountain, 

as a parched dog laps at the fresh,

running water of a bush creek.

O God, we await your refreshment, 

as a tired worker watches for the change of shift.

Quench our thirst, satisfy our longings. 

May we be refreshed and restored in you;

and teach us where to find the bucket and how to carry it

so that we might draw that water for those who most need it. Amen


Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Sitting in God’s presence


Matthew 24:3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Do you like me get annoyed with the shop signs that say, “back in 30 minutes”, but you have no idea at what time the 30 minutes started. I. The city of York, evidently, such shop signs have additional information. “Time started at…..” 

On other occasions there are people who are good at reading the signs. I recall visit the Lizard in Cornwall and walking down the costal party to the headland and passing a local gentleman, who said, “rain in twenty minutes!” Oh how I wish I taken notice of his warning.  Although the sky above gave no indication of rain clouds, sure enough in 10 minutes the heavens opened and I got drenched.

However, what I take from the gospel is not so much about trying to anticipate the signs and the times but that Jesus wants us to stay alert to his leading. Is it about being in the moment. You see sitting with Jesus clarifies our thinking and emboldens our faith. It may be a brief moment, preceded by heart preparation in the Scripture or it may be an extended time of a loving, intimate encounter.

During the late-Medieval period, London had a strange law on the books—each entry gate into the city had to keep a musician on duty. This could be a dangerous job—city gates were where attackers and other threatening outsiders first appeared. It’s like border patrol nowadays, but they gave the job to musicians.

As strange as it sounds, musicians took charge of many essential services back then. Why musicians? The most obvious answer is that musicians were ideal first responders because they could sound the alarm in case of a major disturbance. Certainly, a loud horn or drum helps in that regard. This signalling capacity of musical instruments also explains their longstanding use in military operations.


In the same way, every follower of Jesus is called to stay awake, to stay at our post, to guard and protect, and pray for the “city gate” where the Lord has posted us.


Living God, keep us awake in faith, 

faith that acts; 

when our faith grows weary, strengthen us 

when our faith grows fearful, give us courage 

when our faith grows despairing, give us witnesses 

and when the faith of others falters, 

may we be a light in their darkness. Amen


Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Sitting in God’s presence


Here are  further gospel incidents where we find two very different people sitting at the feet of Jesus. The first in the house of Mary and Martha  with Martha busy dealing with all the domestic necessities required when entertaining a guest where we read, “She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His every word.” Luke 10:39 

The second comes at the end of the narrative following the healing by Jesus of the man nicknamed Legion who was possess by so many devils that his maniac behaviour had caused him to bound and banned as many saw him as so dangerous. But the we read “The crowds came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man sitting there, clothed and in his right mind” Mark 5:15

When I read such beautiful intimate word pictures my mind goes to hymn sung long ago,

I think when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men,
How he called little children like lambs to his fold;
I should like to have been with him then.

I wish that his hands had been placed on my head,
That his arms had been thrown around me,
That I might have seen his kind look when he said,
“Let the little ones come unto me.”

The idea of sitting at the feet of Jesus enthralled by his words  warms my heart.

In the case of the Bethany incident, on seeing Martha become critical of Jesus and Mary. I ask for the ability to be present to how God is present in me and in others. Even if there is much to be done right now, I hear the invitation to sit at Jesus' feet and to listen to his teaching.

In the second picture in spite of the phonetic madness of the rush of daily life that impacts upon our wellbeing perhaps through the healing presence of Jesus, he wills us to also sit at his feet, enveloped in his care and find our right mind is indeed the mind of Christ.


God

for everything there is a time,

and time is now our most precious commodity.

Our clocks are always running.

From birth to death:

during times of joy and sorrow:

work and play:

business and pleasure:

speech and silence:

worship and church activities:

tick, tock, tick, tock.


We are like Martha,

with our long to-do lists.


Slow us down Lord,

and for now simply remind us that

only one thing is needful,

to sit still at your feet

and know that you are God.  Amen.


Monday, 25 September 2023

Sitting in God’s presence


From walking, running, standing we now turn to sitting in the presence of God.

I love the fully inclusive word picture painted by Jesus in Matthew 8. A Roman army captain came to Jesus and pleaded  with him to come to his home and heal his servant boy who was in bed paralysed and racked with pain. And Jesus responded by saying “Yes,” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”


Then comes this wonderful pronouncement by Jesus, “And I tell you this, that many Gentiles like this Roman officer,[a] shall come from all over the world and sit down in the Kingdom of Heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”


This picture is beautifully projected into our time and space in the words of John Gowans.


They shall come from the east,
they shall come from the west,
And sit down in the Kingdom of God;
Both the rich and the poor,
the despised, the distressed,
They'll sit down in the Kingdom of God.
And none will ask what they have been
Provided that their robes are clean;
They shall come from the east,
they shall come from the west,
And sit down in the Kingdom of God.


They shall come from the east,
they shall come from the west,
And sit down in the Kingdom of God;
To be met by their Father and welcomed and blessed,
And sit down in the Kingdom of God.
The black, the white, the dark, the fair,
Your colour will not matter there;
They shall come from the east,
they shall come from the west,
And sit down in the Kingdom of God.


They shall come from the east,
they shall come from the west,
And sit down in the Kingdom of God;
Out of great tribulation to triumph and rest
They'll sit down in the Kingdom of God.
From every tribe and every race,
All men as brothers shall embrace;
They shall come from the east,
they shall come from the west.
And sit down in the Kingdom of God.


Both the pronouncement of Jesus and the poetical interpretation in these verse begs the question, “how inclusive am I in welcoming those from the East and West in my life?” It was Martin Luther King jr who said, “An individual has not started living until they can rise above the narrow confines of their individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr


Lord, give us new strength so that we can build places of belonging: To create a community for all to share their gifts, To know that each of us is loved, To help us to see the light of Christ in all that we serve. Let us remember that each of us is loved, each of us is willed and each of us is necessary.


Saturday, 23 September 2023

Standing on Grace


So use every piece of God’s armour to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up. Ephesians 6:13

This verse reminds me of the hymn by Russell Kelso Carter (1886)

Standing on the promises of Christ my King

Through eternal ages, let his praises ring

Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing

Standing on the promises of God

Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God, my Saviour

Standing, standing, I'm standing on the promises of God


The writers of Ephesians and this hymn reveal the importance of standing in the presence of God and upon the foundations of his word.

A professor tells of a time when he was being driven to the lecture at a university. As he passed a clearly brand new building. The taxi driver commented, "This is a new art building for the university. It is a fascinating building designed in the post-modernist view of reality.

The driver went on to describe the building, "The building has no pattern. Staircases go nowhere. Pillars support nothing. The architect designed the building to reflect [the post-modernist view of life. It went nowhere and was mindless and senseless.

The professor then turned to the man describing it and asked, 'Did they do the same thing with the foundation?'" The man laughed and answered: "You can't do that with a foundation."

Need we say more in relation to the sure ground upon which to build our  faith set on the foundation of God’s sure promises. So many of the material things we pursue are temporary. Their usefulness lasts only a matter of months or at most a few short years. Even our lives, and the lives of those we love, are short. But God's character, his defining quality ("Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!"), and his demands for our holiness are forever. So as we build our lives, let's build on a secure foundation — the will of God and a commitment to share in his holiness. 

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your majesty, your power, your wisdom and your holiness. I know that I cannot really understand or fathom your greatness or just how awesome you are but you have revealed enough to me that I can know you are God, creator and ruler of all the universe. Yet, I am held in awe that you can know me and love me enough to give your Son to die for my sin so I can live for you now and with you in eternity. Thank you Lord for giving me parents who loved you. Give me a loving heart today. I pray in the name of Jesus. 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.