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.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Excerpts from Becky Lovatt’s Book, “Beyond the Chocolate Window”


The Voice of Ruth

Read Ruth 1:16-18


It began in tragedy, with wailing and the gnashing of teeth, but it did not end there, as God brought forth joy from sorrow, hope from despair. However, the God of Israel blessed me, and a descendent of the child from my womb would fulfil his promise.


My name is Ruth and I greet you from the city of Moab.


I was young when I met my first husband. He was handsome and kind, and it was not long before I fell head over heels in love with him. He had come with his brother and his parents to build a new life in our city. They did this, and we were happy.


It didn’t stay that way though. Disease came to our land and gripped it, squeezing the very lifeblood from it, killing many. My husband, his brother and father all died, leaving my mother-in-law Naomi with nothing, barely surviving in a land that wasn’t hers.


In desperation she decided to return home, to go back to Bethlehem, and my sister-in-law and I chose to go with her. What would that mean?


The answer was clear; we would have to leave all we had ever known for the unknown; trading all we had ever believed for a new belief and a’ new God.


A little way into our journey, Naomi urged us to go back to. our families; to start again, to move on, to weigh up what we were really leaving behind. .


My sister-in-law turned back, but I could not.


“Let me come with you,” I insisted. “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.”


We travelled back to Judea, but when we arrived we had nothing. People huddled together in groups, pointing at us and making cutting remarks. No one helped. No one offered the hand of friendship. They didn’t even give us some food.


Naomi had a distant relative named Boaz though. He was kind and let me gather corn from the sides of his field that the workers had left behind. One day I caught his eye. He smiled at me and we talked. As the days and the weeks wore on, we grew closer. I was encouraged to flirt and... next thing I knew, we were married!


Now I had a new husband, and my new God blessed our union with a son. When he had grown, he become the father of Jesse, who become the father of King David, who founded the family into which the Messiah would be born...


Prayer


God of Naomi and Ruth, help me to reach out to those around me who have found themselves in difficult places. Help me to walk alongside the lonely, to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless and to love the unloved. Show me how we might bring hope and love to others this Christmas.


Show me how I can forge hope from sorrow in people’s lives


Amen.


Thursday, 2 December 2021

Excerpts from Becky Lovatt’s Book, “Beyond the Chocolate Window”


The Voice of Moses

As a child I was rescued from death. My mother hid me in a basket, then placed me in the bulrushes growing on the banks of the river.


I was brought up in a royal household, raised as an Egyptian prince, yet Hebrew blood ran through my veins. So, when I saw the way my brothers were being treated, I hit out and committed murder. As a fugitive, I fled the scene — in my mind never to return; but God had other ideas.


I took a job minding the sheep in my father-in-law’s field. Then something amazing happened. I saw a bush ablaze with flames — but it was not burning. Then from inside it came a voice. “Take off your shoes, Moses, you are standing on holy ground. I have heard my people crying in pain. as they struggle under the oppressor s whip. Go to the king and tell him to let my people go.“


I wasn‘t keen: I came up with every excuse I could. But every time I built a wall, God dismantled it, brick by brick.


Before long, I found myself a reluctant messenger of God. My brother Aaron and l were soon in the presence of the king of Egypt. We conveyed God‘s decree: that slaves would be freed and his people would know deliverance.


Nevertheless, the king’s heart was as hard as stone, his mind made up. He was unwavering; he was not willing to let God’s people go.


God showed his power by sending plagues upon Pharaoh and his people — ten in all, from rivers of blood to frogs and boils. Then came the final one: the deaths of the firstborn sons. Still, he would not yield and would not let God’s people go.


God instructed us to get the people ready. He showed them his plan to cut the chains of bondage and set them free. They had to take a male lamb — one without mark or blemish — and sacrifice it at twilight. Next, they were to paint their doorframes with the blood, so that the angel of death that was to come would pass over their homes.


It happened just as God foretold it. The firstborn son of every family in Egypt was slaughtered, including the pharaoh’s own son — and then he changed his mind.


“Go,” he said, “take the people of your God, and go!”


We led the people and the livestock out of slavery. For years We wandered in the desert — every year retelling the story, as instructed. We ate bitter herbs and bread without yeast, and we sacrificed our Passover lambs. Then eventually we reached the promised land.


Pause for thought - God heard his people cry to him in their oppression. How might you, together God, hear those who are oppressed today?


Prayer


God of the Passover,

free me from anything that still binds me,

from anything that still leads me into sin.


Help me recognise that Jesus’ death on the cross

paid the price of my sin so that I do not have to


Help me to bring the message of hope to all those

who have not yet heard it.

Amen.


Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Excerpts from Becky Lovatt’s Book “Beyond the Chocolate Window”


The Voice of Sarah

Waiting?


I'll tell you all about waiting! I waited for years; waited for my husband Abraham to share his life with me; waited for God to fulfil his promise; and now, after all this waiting, this happens.


I followed my husband, who followed his God. I left my home, my family and the people I loved. I followed because I believed that I would share in the promise. Eventually, after years of waiting... it was mine.


As Abraham‘s wife, I had been unable to fulfil what it means to be a woman in my culture and time — to bear a child. Yes, I was barren and broken emotionally, physically and spiritually, seemingly abandoned by all I had come to trust in. But then the waiting ended.


God came up trumps. Our son, Isaac, was born and he was everything. He was my whole world. He was the realisation of all that had been, all that was, and all that is still to come. This part of God’s promise to my husband had been completed and fulfilled.


So, you can imagine the sheer fear in my heart when I woke one morning to find my bed and Isaac's bed empty. I waited for the two of them to return — the father and the son — to embrace them, to still my racing mind and quell my increasing sense of dread.


Eventually, days later, they did arrive. As Abraham told me his tale, my fear turned to rage. God had been Calling again — not to move or change this time, but to kill; to kill the promise, to kill the one thing we had waited so long for, to sacrifice our only son.


How dare he, this God of grace and mercy who had given us so much? How dare he take it away now? Was this a way to punish me for laughing, for doubting his ability to give us a child in the first place? If it was, then he was a cruel and uncaring God and I wanted to walk away immediately.


Then there was my husband, blindly following the leading of a God he couldn't see. I know he had done it before, but this was different. This was our son. Didn‘t he think to question? Or at least to discuss it with me? No — God came first, as usual.


My anger was abated as I heard my child‘s cry. He was still breathing, still needing me. Moreover, his heart was still pumping blood around his body. 


God had provided a new sacrifice — not my son, but a ram conveniently caught in a bush, a replacement offering — but what did It all mean?


Prayer


God of all things, of waiting, of promise, of anger and of release,

come close to me now and hold me,

here in the situation of life I find myself.


I pray for all those I know who have lost children:

come alongside them and hold them as they journey on.


I bring before you those I know who feel anger

about what they are experiencing or have experienced;

bring release and hope in their lives.


Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Excerpts from Becky Lovatt’s Book “Beyond the Chocolate Window”


The Voice of Abraham

What a life I have led! A life of waiting — waiting on God, the author and protector of my life and of my faith. I am old, and I have waited all my days. I am still waiting.


I remember the beginning as if it were yesterday. I wasn’t young then. Some might even say I was ‘over the hill’ to start with. However, God plucked me out of my security and set me on a journey of discovery and hope.


I was spoken to by the God of my youth. “Leave everything,” he said, “your country, your extended family and your father’s home. Leave everything! I will show you a new land. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you and all those you know. Leave everything!”


So, I left. Well, that’s not exactly true. I mumbled and I grumbled, and I tried to do everything in my power to walk away. However, God did not stop. He kept on calling , and I kept on waiting for it all to pass, but it didn’t.


We argued — God and I - but he is God, and there was only ever going to be one winner. So, eventually I left, leaving everything had been instructed to do.


Sarah, my wife, came with me, and my nephew, Lot. We travelled together, waiting every moment on God’s provision. Lot and I began argue. He wanted one thing and I wanted what God wanted. More waiting... for Lot to leave and for my next instruction. 


It came in the form of a promise. God told me not to be afraid; that he would be my shield and my great reward. I was terrified, and every day of waiting played tricks on my mind. He promised I would be the father of a great nation and that my descendants would populate the earth. Yet, how could this be? Sarah couldn’t have children, and with every day that passed, I was getting older.


Years later, some visitors arrived. I welcomed them. Sarah cooked up a storm — and then they broke their news.


“You’re going to have a child,” they said.


You could have knocked me down with a feather - and Sarah, well, she could not contain her laughter.


After more waiting, We did have a son, just as God had said. We named him Isaac, and he grew big and strong. God wanted to test my faithfulness and asked me to sacrifice him — but that’s not my story to tell.


More years of waiting, then I lost Sarah. She was my rock and and confidence. She was called home to be with God, and I was left alone. 


Now I wait for death. My sons have grown and have sons of the own. Thus, the nation that God has promised will come into being nation from which will rise up a great king, equal to God himself, who will rule the kingdom of God as God intended.


Abraham spent his whole life waiting. Advent is about waiting too. How will your prepare to wait for the coming king this year?


Prayer


God of Abraham,


thank you that you are close to me

as I wait for you to ‘break through’ in my life.

Help me to wait on you with faith and confidence,

and to put my trust in your unfailing love.

Stand with me even as I wait on you.

In the name of Jesus, I ask.

Amen.


Monday, 29 November 2021

Excerpts from Becky Lovatt’s Book “Beyond the Chocolate Window”


The Voice of Eve by Becky Lovatt* (Used with permission)

I guess you could say that humanity’s downfall began with us — Adam and me, and that wretched snake. If it hadn’t been for the snake everything would have been fine. Well... that’s what I like to tell myself: anyway.


God created heaven and earth, and sea and sky. Then God made Adam, and from Adam he fashioned me. He set us both over and above all the other animals and plants he had formed.


“Roam in my garden,” he told us. “Make it your own; name the beasts and flowers for me. Just don’t eat from the tree in the middle.”


We had so much to choose from - the whole garden was ours — and yet I was drawn to the one tree we were told to keep clear of. I was attracted, it’s true. Somehow, it seemed to draw me to itself, almost as if it was silently calling my name. However, I am sure I could have stayed strong — if only it hadn’t been for that snake.


The creature goaded me, tempting me. It told me all kinds of untruths about how God wouldn’t know — or wouldn’t mind. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker.


It would not have been so bad if had left it there, but I didn’t. I got Adam involved as well. I became the tempter - the ‘devil on his shoulder’, the barbed wire pricking at his skin.


Before long we had both eaten from the tree whose fruit had been forbidden. Suddenly, our eyes were opened; we recognised our naked bodies. We had become like God, with the knowledge of good and evil.


We heard our creator coming, walking in the cool of the evening. We hid, but God called to us. “Come close, my children, and walk with me,” he said.


When we finally appeared, our father knew that we had betrayed him. He knew instantly that we had eaten from the tree. We had to come clean and confess to what we had done.


Adam blamed me. I blamed the snake. Yet each of us had to endure the punishment. The snake and all his kind were sentenced to crawl on their bellies and eat dust for the rest of their existence. I, and all of womankind, would experience pain in childbirth. Adam, and all

mankind, would have to work hard their whole lives in order to eat, and would ultimately die.


We were banished from the garden — left to go our own way and fend for ourselves. We had become separated from God — a wedge driven between us; a wound that could only be healed though another’s life laid down and a sacrifice made. The tempter had gained the upper hand; God, it seemed, had been defeated.


However, we were cradled in love. Even though we had been so easily lured, God did not abandon us. We had children of our own. They grew into a strong and powerful race that populated the earth. We had eaten from the tree of knowledge and opened a crack that would become a chasm, a void between God’s people and their creator. Even then, there was a plan in place — a plan for repentance, for healing and for grace.


Creator God, help me not to succumb to the temptations I face on earth and to keep my eyes fixed on the goals of heaven. - When I am tempted, keep me strong; and if I fail, remind me that I am still loved and cared for by you. Amen.


If you would like your own copy of Beck’s book @ £9.99 please contact me.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Through the Chocolate Window by Becky Lovatt


The Voice of Hope 

Read John 8:12-16


Jesus says:

“Do not be afraid. I am the light in the darkness; the voice of hope, in the midst of despair.


“At the beginning of time, as one — Father, Son, and Spirit — we spoke creation into being. God uttered. The Son become the Word that was spoken. And the Spirit of wisdom hovered over the waters.


“In the beginning, there was nothing; chaos ruled, and darkness covered the whole earth. Yet, item by item, day by day, millennium by millennium, life came into existence — breath from breath, bone from bone, being from being. Hope was alive.


I am the gate to the good Pastures; and I am the shepherd who will gather the scattered flock. I am the bread to feed the hungry and the living water of new life. Follow me and be guided by my voice: the voice of hope that will rally the remnants of God’s people; and build a new nation. It will be a nation not built on location or with bricks, but a movement

built on love, where justice and peace are the driving force. I am the for the hopeless, the candle in the darkened room. I offer an invitation into a personal relationship with the Almighty.


“Still, after all these years, after everything — after God became human and lived among his people; after God was hailed as king, then betrayed, rejected, denied and crucified; after he was raised to life, to sit on his rightful throne in glory — even now, the darkness lingers on. The bombs still fall. Brother still raises arms against brother and the blackness of hate still penetrates the light.


“Yet, it does not have to. Shine, light, shine! Do not let the dark claim the victory. Do not allow the hope to be squeezed out. For I am the  light — claim it for yourself and banish the darkness once and for all. 


“Come with me on a journey — a journey of hope and acceptance where you will be valued and claimed as children of God. Come and enter into my new kingdom — a kingdom where I am the king, and where all people are judged as equal, where God is friend and loving father.


“Come and let me light a candle for you. I will be your light, you; peace and your hope.”


Prayer


Light of the world, shine your light wherever there is darkness in my life; bring hope to the hopeless and joy to all hearts. Help me to be salt and light to those around me and walk in support of all people in their journey with God. Amen.


I am grateful to my Colleague, Deacon Becky Lovatt for permission to use extracts from her Advent Book, “Through the Chocolate Window” . Becky Lovatt is a Methodist deacon living and working in East Devon. She holds a master’s degree in Theology and Ministry and is passionate about reaching out to those on the margins of traditional church. If you would like to purchase your own copy of Becky’s book for £9.99, please get in touch with me


Saturday, 27 November 2021

An ABC of Faith


Joy

It almost seems counter intuitive that when Jesus is facing the relentless move towards Jerusalem and what now seems his inevitable death that he finds time to speak of joy. “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” John 17:13


I am reminded that on this day before wHe enter the season of Advent that I recall a childhood Sunday School song that could be sung to the tune of Jingle Bells that had the words, “J-O-Y, J-O-Y surely that must be, Jesus first and yourself last and other’s in between.” Although seemingly trite, there is perhaps a deeper truth within this simple rhyme.


Perhaps today, we need to hear Jesus continue to pray for his followers – for us! We need to hear him ask his Father for three gifts for us: Joy, Protection and Holiness. May we reflect on where in our lives we  might need to use each of these gifts, which are now ours, thanks to Jesus’ prayer for us. Let’s take time now to reflect on each gift, one by one, and  ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on where and how to use these gifts. 


Surely this is the essence of Joy In these final chapters of John’s Gospel, Jesus is trying to sum up what his life and mission is all about. He speaks at length of the bond between him and his Father and it is from this bond of love that he is ‘sent’.


Jesus tells us that we too are ‘sent’ to continue his mission. Friendship with Jesus is being with him, and being sent in his name. Our mission as his followers is in the midst of and in the depths of the world. He wants his love and message inserted in the centre of the world, the city, the neighbourhood. In following him in mission and love, we are ourselves sanctified. How do we experience this Joy of being sent ‘being sent’? With “Jesus first, ourselves last and others in between.”


Name above all Names, please allow our eyes to see the way You do. Keep our outlook filled with hope and positivity, remind us to be thankful for each moment, and let our trust in You carry us daily. Show us how to find our joy and give us the power to do it. By trusting in Your promises and letting joy lead us, we know our struggles will become easier. Help us to see past the problems of today and keep our visions of eternity with You foremost in our minds. In Jesus’ name, we 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.