Fore Street Topsham, Exeter

Minister : Reverend Paul Collings BTh (Hons) : email : : 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.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Hebrew Names for God

The Ancient of Days - עַתִּ֥יק יוֹמִ֖ין

Before we look at today’s word, Graham Belford, one of our Daily Devotional Fellowship emailed me concerning yesterday’s word; “Out of interest my computer dictionary gives one of the meanings of Shalom as, ‘I’ll be waiting for your call’. Another new insight?” Thank you Graham.

So on today’s title “Ancient of Days -"I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened.” (Daniel 7:9-10)

Such apocalyptic writing seems strange to our modern ears, but within it’s text we have yet another name the Old Testament ascribes to God; The Ancient of Days. Essentially, the book of Daniel is an account of the activities and visions of Daniel, a noble Jew exiled at Babylon, it combines a prophecy of history with an a portrayal of end times, what theologians call eschatology,  both cosmic in scope and political in focus, and its message is that just as the God of Israel saves Daniel from his enemies, so he would save all Israel in their present oppression.

You will have probably come across this title almost without realising it in the hymn "Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise", as the last two lines of the first verse read: “Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.”

The title, “Ancient of Days,” reminds us that God is beyond time. One who is the Perfect Judge, always pure and holy, always objective. And and always brings an eternal perspective to everything He does.

When we consider the Holy Ancient of Days, we can become awe struck at our seeming insignificance. Then I read Psalm 8, “Why do you care about us humans? Why are you concerned for us weaklings?” You made us a little lower than you yourself, and you have crowned us with glory and honour. You let us rule everything your hands have made. And you put all of it under our power— the sheep and the cattle, and every wild animal, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and all ocean creatures. Our Lord and Ruler, your name is wonderful everywhere on earth!”

For our prayer today, I use the words of a hymn by Gary Sadler & Jamie Harvill © Copyright 1992 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (CCLI 814800) that says;-

Blessing and honour, glory and power be unto the Ancient of Days. From every nation, all of creation bow before the Ancient of Days. Every tongue in Heaven and Earth shall declare your glory, every knee shall bow at your throne in worship. You will be exalted, O God, and your kingdom shall not pass away, O Ancient of Days.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Hebrew Names for God

The LORD Is Peace (Shalom) - יְהוָ֖ה שָׁל֑וֹם

When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD, he said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face." The LORD said to him, "Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die." Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. (Judges 6:22-24)

So often through Scripture, we find passages that ascribe attributes to God and this is indeed continued with Jesus during his earthly ministry in the I AM statements found in the Gospels. The Lord is Shalom is one such instance. 

Often the word peace is used  to represent the absence of war or conflict. For example, when warring countries sign a treaty and are at peace, or when quarrelling friends makeup and are at peace with each other.

Peace also refers to rest. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines peace as “a state of tranquility or quiet,” while the Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the state of being calm or quiet.”  Such as when describing a place as peaceful or saying your mind is at peace.

However, Biblical peace is more than just the absence of conflict or state of rest. It means completeness or wholeness, and it points to the presence of something or indeed someone else.

The word peace appears 237 times in the Old Testament with its first appearance in Genesis 15:15 “as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.”

The Hebrew word translated as peace is shalom means completeness, soundness, and welfare. It comes from the root word shalam (shaw-lame’) which means to make amends or to make whole or complete.

Shalam is often used in terms of making restitution. Take Exodus 22:4, for example; if a someone stole an ox or a sheep from his neighbour, under the law, he was to restore or shalam what he had taken.

Therefore, to have shalom means to be in a state of wholeness or completeness, without any deficiency or lack. In Jewish culture, people use shalom in greeting, such as shalom Aleichem which means “well-being be upon you,” or “may you be well.” Jesus and New Testament writers often greeted one another and said farewell with peace (John 20:19).

Maybe we should take to heart the words of Jesus when he said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Prayer Spirit of Shalom

Ignite us with the fire of your love. Enflame our hearts with courage to embrace dialogue that transforms and truth that frees. Kindle our love with kindness to heal divisions and reconcile relationships. Light our imaginations with insight to envision and create a world where all are one. Stir our actions with justice and peace to engage critical concerns and cherish all of life. Fire our lives with audacity and hope to risk all for God’s mission, for love cannot wait. Amen 

Hebrew Names for God

The LORD Is My Banner (Nissi) - יְהוָ֥ה׀ נִסִּֽי

So Joshua destroyed Amalek and his army with the sword. The LORD said to Moses, "Write this as a memorial in the book, and rehearse it in Joshua's hearing; for I will surely wipe out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. Moses built an altar, and he called it "The LORD is my Banner," for he said, "For a hand was lifted up to the throne of the LORD– that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.“ Exodus 17:13-15

Today we have a plethora of logos and strap lines that describe or signify the origin or nature of an object, organisation or movement. Something that in a simple way demonstrates it’s inherent qualities.  In times past, a banner or a standard became the rallying point of an army and through this season of football’s Euros and the coming belated Olympics, a nations colours hoisted high encapsulated the pride of a nation.

When Moses built the altar and called it, “The LORD is my banner,” he was creating a place of remembrance, a celebration of victory, an expression of thanks. He was making a declaration, one that any follower of Jesus can share in today: The LORD is my banner and we are the LORD’s. It was a declaration not just of who God is and what He has done, but of who were as His people.

A Prayer to Jehovah Nissi

Lord, help me to recognise the spiritual warfare around me and to be aware of the enemies battle tactics. Give me the strength to fight while flying your banner over it all to claim victory. You are my Jehovah Nissi and I thank you for the brothers and sisters in Christ who will raise your banner with me. This victory belongs to you and we lift your name high in the face of both physical and spiritual attacks from satan. You have sovereign authority in all. Thank you that we can follow you with full assurance. Amen. 

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Online Worship 27th June

Here is the Link to this week’s Online worship for those unable to share in the face to face worship; this week led by Sarah Hopkins

St Nicholas Methodist Church, Topsham 270621

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Hebrew Names for God

El Shaddai tells us our God is all-sufficient.

Abram, a childless old man, was ninety-nine when God appeared to him and made a staggering promise. This God Almighty, El Shaddai, would make a covenant of multiplication between him as Abram walked before Him. The grief of barrenness had long been part of Abram’s story; Sarai’s arms and womb void of children.

And yet this El Shaddai moved near. The “All-Sufficient One, The Lord God Almighty,” was named El Shaddai seven times in Scripture, exclusively in the Old Testament. And while El points us to God, Shaddai is thought by many to have derived from the Hebrew word shad meaning “breast.” God calls Himself El Shaddai because He Himself is able to meet our needs completely, satisfying us uniquely as a nursing mother does her child—a God who freely gives, a God who freely sustains, a God who freely blesses. Enough love and grace and nearness for a broken world.

El Shaddai was spoken for the first time to Abram, a man who no doubt had dreams for his family that did not match its reality. In God’s kindness He essentially proclaims to him, “I know what you truly long for, and I’m here to satisfy you beyond every dream of what you think that will look like.” God, the better fulfilment, the only All-Sufficient One—this God, our God, satisfies. In the depths of our aches and our pains, He can meet our needs. Abundantly. Yes, the needs of weakness and insufficiency in our grief.  Yes, the loneliness and emptiness—the voids and the doubts.  Yes, the anxiety, the fears, the longing for something not yet. God meets us here in all of this. Today. “His grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Prayer (song by Amy Grants)

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai [means "God Almighty, God Almighty"]

El-Elyon na Adonai [means "God in the highest, Oh, Lord"]

Age to age, You're still the same

By the power of the name

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai

Erkamka na Adonai [means "We will love You, Oh, Lord"]

We will praise and lift You high


Through Your love, And through the ram

You saved the son, Of Abraham

Through the power, Of Your hand

Turned the sea, Into dry land

To the outcast, On her knees

You were the God, Who really sees

And by Your might, You set Your children free

Through the years, You made it clear

That the time of Christ, Was near

Though the people, Couldn't see

What Messiah ought to be, Though Your Word

Contained the plan, They just could not understand

Your most awesome work was done, Through the frailty of Your son

CCLI 814800

Friday, 25 June 2021

Hebrew Names for God

Lord (Adonai) - אָדוֹן, ὁ κύριoς

And he said, "If now I have found favour in your sight, O Lord, let my Lord go among us, for we are a stiff-necked people; pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance (Exodus 34:9)

"O, Lord GOD, you have begun to show me your greatness and strength. (What god in heaven or earth can rival your works and mighty deeds?)” (Deuteronomy 3:24)

Adonai tells us that our God is Lord and Master, and he is worthy to be served.

God had delivered His people from Egypt through His servant Moses. The Pharaoh, a stubborn man if there ever was one, has finally relented after ten plagues struck his people, culminating in the death of his son. But his heart never really softened, and now he repents of his decision. He leads his army to bring the slaves back. The Hebrew children cry out in terror. They complain to Moses that he has brought them into the desert to die. Slavery is better than death.

When Moses answers them to say God will fight for them, he doesn’t use a word for God that emphasises His might and strength. He tells them their Master God will fight their fight. Why would Moses have chosen that word for God?

I believe he is telling this fearful and grumbling mob that it is time to be quiet and obedient to their Master. God is their Deliverer, but He is their Lord. Hush. God has freed you from an evil master, so now is the time to serve a kind, gracious, loving Master God with obedience.

It is wonderful to be reassured with God’s might and power, but sometimes it is good to simply trust our Lord. El Shaddai tells us our God is all-sufficient. Adonai tells us He is our Lord and to be can be trusted.

A Jewish Morning Prayer

I thank You, Adonai, for the rest You have given me through the night and for the breath that renews my body and spirit. May I renew my soul with faith in You, Source of all Healing. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who renews daily the work of creation. Amen

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Hebrew names for God

The LORD Will Provide (Jireh) -

We come across the name Jireh - The Lord will provide in Genesis 22:14 “And Abraham called the name of that place "The LORD provides." It is said to this day, "In the mountain of the LORD provision will be made.“ (Genesis 22:14)

Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar as a burnt sacrifice.  We have the benefit of the written Word where we know the ending of the story, and we are told from the beginning that God was testing Abraham.  Abraham, however, did not know these things.  He only had the promise that God made to him that “through Isaac shall your offspring be named”. (Genesis 21:12).  

I can only begin to imagine his thoughts as he rose the very next morning to obey God, taking his young son up the hill without a lamb to offer, in preparation for his sacrifice. Abraham trusted God to provide, even before He did.  He didn't know how or when the provision would come, but he knew it would come.  He understood that true worship of a mighty God required that he come with total, unconditional surrender.  He was given a promise, but even so, was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience.

It is also interesting that this incident takes place on Mount Moriah (Place of Teaching); what a lesson for Abraham.

Jesus takes this notion of our God who provides in his well known statement, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them……If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith?”

Many people will spend today planning advertising campaigns, selling clothes, promoting brands. Jesus does not question what is necessary for life but shows us how we can become preoccupied and distracted. Jesus sees that people easily become insecure, doubtful and disappointed and invites us to consider what is of real and lasting importance.

PRAYER: Jehovah Jireh, thank You for supplying all of my need according to Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus. You are my provision. You have freed me from poverty. Because of You, there is nothing missing, nothing lacking and nothing broken in my life. You always fill every empty place by Your miraculous grace. I trust You and I thank You. Amen

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Hebrew Names for God

Sabaoth -The LORD of Hosts (Sabaoth) 

We find this descriptive name for God - Sabaoth on the lips of young David when facing the Philistine enemies, "You are coming against me with sword and spear and javelin. But I am coming against you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel's armies, whom you have defied!” (1 Samuel 17:45)

Later we find the grown David and all the men who were with him, traveled to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts, who sits enthroned between the cherubim that are on it. (2 Samuel 6:2)

This name also finds its way into the New Testament  when James writes, “Look, the pay you have held back from the workers who mowed your fields cries out against you, and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” 

Perhaps the Old Testament verse most quoted in worship is “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” - Psalm 46:7

As Christians, most of us likely know and understand that God is always with us. It is even possible that for many this truth has become so familiar that we have lost the awe and wonder it deserves. In Psalm 46:7 the psalmist describes the God that is always with him as, “The LORD of hosts.” By referring to God by this name, Jehovah Sabaoth (LORD of hosts in Hebrew), the psalmist is ascribing glory, power and majesty to God. 

In his hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” Martin Luther uses the Greek word for “the Lord of hosts” when he writes, “Christ Jesus, it is He; Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle.” Lord Sabaoth is the Lord of hosts, the commander of angel armies.

The Lord of Hosts is a title that emphasises God's rule over every other power in the material and spiritual universe. When Scripture speaks of "the host of heaven," it is usually speaking of celestial bodies, though the phrase can also refer to angelic beings. The word "host" can also refer to human beings and to nature itself. When we pray to Yahweh Sabaoth, we are praying to a God so magnificent that all creation serves his purposes.


Jehovah Sabaoth, thank You that the battle is Yours. Let conflicts fold in your mighty presence. Make troubles melt in Your glory. Cause giants to fall at the power of Your name. Be magnified and show Your strength on our behalf! Grant me strategic wisdom to know how to position myself as You manifest the victory. Amen

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Hebrew Names for God

Moses’ encounter at the burning bush is a pivotal moment in the Bible. Standing on holy ground in the presence of God, Moses hears God’s deep concern about the suffering of his people in Egypt. The moment also marks the beginning of Moses’ call to lead the people of Israel. Most important, Moses learns the name by which God wants to be known and worshiped by his people—YHWH (Yahweh): “I AM WHO I AM.”

Written with only the consonants, this name YHWH was the most sacred name of God to the Israelites. Because they avoided saying this holy name, its exact pronunciation has been lost. Eventually the word for “Lord” was always spoken instead of the proper name, so wherever YHWH occurs, our English Bibles today use the word “LORD” (printed with small capital letters).

God tells Moses to tell the Israelites in Egypt that Yahweh, “I AM,” has sent him. What does this name mean? Some point to God’s self-existence, not being dependent on anything else. Others highlight God’s immutability, that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

While these qualities reveal something about the name “I AM,” they overlook the context of the story. At the burning bush, Yahweh reveals his name “I AM” as a declaration: “I will be with you.” Yahweh, the covenant God, keeps his promise to never leave or forsake us.


We worship You as the eternal I AM. In a world that is always changing and undulating like the waves of a stormy sea, You never change. You are ever-present and always relevant because You are always current. You are never the I Was or the I Will Be. We are confident that Your greatness and power are the same yesterday in Creation, in the Exodus, in the Cross, in the Resurrection and in the Ascension of Jesus, on the Day of Pentecost, as they are in our day, as they will be at The End of time. Your greatness and power have not been diluted or depleted over the ages. You are our Anchor in the midst of the disasters rocking this planet and this nation. You are I AM. Yahweh, we praise you for your faithfulness to all your people, including us. Help us to live faithfully for you. In Jesus, Amen.

Monday, 21 June 2021

Hebrew Names for God

Today we start on an exploration of the names the bible uses for God. 

So often, our English translation, by using the solitary word God, fails to capture the descriptive richness of the Hebrew Language.  The first Hebrew rendition we explore is Elohim used more than 2000 times in Hebrew Bible for God. Elohim comes from the abbreviated name, El, which seems to have a root meaning “to be strong” or “preeminent.” This word is related to similar words for deity found throughout almost all Semitic languages.

The basic meaning is probably “Mighty” or “Almighty.” Some understand the relationship between El and Elohim to be that Elohim is the plural form of El. 

So, Elohim is the Hebrew word for God that appears in the very first sentence of the Bible. We remember that he is the one who began it all. This ancient name for God contains the idea of God's creative power as well as his authority and sovereignty.

We can trace this understanding in Psalm 18:21 where David says “For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?” The names El and Elohim set the God of Israel in stark contrast with the false gods of other nations, proclaiming them counterfeit and stating that he is the one true God. El or Elohim, “the one true God,” declares that our world be-longs to him. We do well to honour him in all that we do and say. 

A modern hymn from Hillsong has the verse:

He is Almighty God


Maker of the earth

He is the Lord of hosts

Heaven’s King

God of endless worth

His kingdom stands above

Every power

Every living soul

His love is like the sun

Ever true

Shining over all


Elohim, Mighty One, you made everything out of nothing, imposed order on chaos, gave birth to beauty, and called it all good. Help me to know you as the one true God who created everything and everyone, the one who has placed me on the earth for a purpose—to magnify your name. Amen.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Online Worship for Today

St Nicholas Methodist Church Online Worship link 200621

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

Estelle Ward has chosen “Make me a channel of your peace” as her Desert Island Hymns.  She comments “This for me is always sung on sad occasions that remind me of happy times. First time I remember is my leavers service from Palace Gate my first school at 11.  That at MAYC (Methodist Association of Youth Clubs) events as well family funerals. All sad events but looking back over very happy times and find it a lovely reminder, A good hymn to live by.”

The anonymous text that is usually called the Prayer of Saint Francis (or Peace Prayer, or Simple Prayer for Peace, or Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace) is a widely known Christian prayer for peace. Often associated with the Italian Saint Francis of Assisi (c. 1182 – 1226), but entirely absent from his writings, the prayer in its present form has not been traced back further than 1912. Its first known occurrence was in French, in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell), published by a Catholic Church organisation in Paris named La Ligue de la Sainte-Messe (The League of the Holy Mass). The author's name was not given, although it may have been the founder of La Ligue, Father Esther Bouquerel. The prayer was heavily publicised during both World War I and World War II. It has been frequently set to music by notable songwriters and quoted by prominent leaders, and its broadly inclusive language has found appeal with diverse faiths encouraging service to others.

The prayer also has similarities to the writings of the prophet Isaiah in Chapter 61, where negatives become positives through a transformative work of God. Here the writer declares that the Lord is about to turn despair into praise and mourning will be turned into joy:- "to bestow on them (those in Zion) a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair". (Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV)

Make me a channel of your peace

Where there is hatred let me bring your love

Where there is injury, your pardon Lord

And where there is doubt true faith in You

Make me a channel of your peace

Where there is despair in life let me bring hope

Where there is darkness only light

And where there's sadness ever joy

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

It is in giving to all men that we receive

And in dying that we are born to eternal life

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace

Where there's despair in life let me bring hope

Where there is darkness only light

And where there's sadness ever joy

Friday, 18 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

We now turn to J P Hunter’s Desert Island Hymn coming from the pen of Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend in their hymn of affirmation, ‘In Christ Alone.”

In Christ alone was actually the first song Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend wrote together. They had been introduced by a mutual friend at a worship conference, where they had a coffee together and talked about their backgrounds, musical influences, and motivations to write. Keith promised Stuart would send him a CD with a bunch of melodies he’d been working on, and Stuart thought no more about it.

Then a few days later the CD arrived and the first melody on it really hit him – it was tuneful and memorable, and yet had gravitas and real emotion. Stuart began to feel the pressure to write lyrics that were of a comparable standard!

The only thing he could think was to base it on the eternal theme of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Stuart comments,  “The verses came in a fairly linear way, but as the third verse developed, I was getting pretty excited as I thought about the amazing implications of Christ’s finished work on the cross. I wanted to write a fourth verse that was about us – but not just as an emotional response, but as a undeniable statement of the power of Christ to sustain us in this life.”

1.In Christ alone, my hope is found,

He is my light, my strength, my song;

This Cornerstone, this solid Ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My Comforter, my All in All,

Here in the love of Christ I stand.


4.No guilt in life, no fear in death,

This is the power of Christ in me;

 From life’s first cry to final breath,

 Jesus commands my destiny.

 No power of hell, no scheme of man,

 Can ever pluck me from his hand;

 Till he returns or call me home,

 Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.          

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Desert Island Hymn

Today, marks the birthdays of two Methodist, John Wesley and….. me! Both born on the 17th June 243 years apart. However, in actual fact Wesley has 2 birthdays the 17th and the 28th June; the first marked in the Julian Calendar and the latter by the Gregorian system that came into effect in 1752 when September 2, 1752 was followed by September 14, 1752; a drop of 11 days to conform to the Gregorian calendar.

Whilst his brother Charles was a hymn writer par excellence, John was an active translator of other’s hymns into the English language. Yet there is one hymn that found its way into Hymns and Psalms authored by John; “Eternal Son, eternal love.”

It was first published in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1742), as part of a long hymn of nine 8-line verses headed ‘The Lord’s Prayer Paraphrased’. In the 1780 Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists it was divided into three hymns of three stanzas each. The first began ‘Father of all, whose powerful voice’*, and the third ‘Eternal, spotless Lamb of God’*. This second part began ‘Son of thy Sire’s eternal love’, which remained the first line until the Wesleyan Methodist Hymn Book of 1904, which changed it to ‘Eternal Son, eternal Love’

I wonder if Wesley had in mind Philippians 2:9-11 when he wrote this hymn? “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Father of everlasting love,

Take to thyself thy mighty power;

Let all earth’s sons thy mercy prove,

Let all thy saving grace adore.

The triumphs of thy love display;

In every heart reign thou alone;

Till all thy foes confess thy sway,

And glory ends what grace begun.

Spirit of grace, and health, and power,

Fountain of light and love below,

Abroad thy healing influence shower,

O’er all the nations let it flow.

Wisdom, and might, and love are thine;

Prostrate before thy face we fall,

Confess thine attributes divine,

And hail thee sovereign Lord of all.

Thee, sovereign Lord, let all confess

That moves in earth, or air or sky,

Revere thy power, thy goodness bless,

Tremble before thy piercing eye.

Blessings and honour, praise and love,

Co-equal, co-eternal Three,

In earth below, and heaven above,

By all thy works be paid to thee!

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

Continuing the family link in pursuing the choice of Desert Island Hymns, our son Reuben Collings has chosen ‘And are we yet alive!” By Charles Wesley. Since John Wesley’s time, the people called Methodists have gathered to confer, to make decisions about the life of the church and to share in worship together. The annual Methodist Conference has always begun with the singing of ‘And are we yet alive?’ – as the Methodist people reflect on the year just gone and look forward to what might happen next.

Reuben at the age of 19 was a youth representative at the Portsmouth Conference in 2010, a memory that I know he cherishes.

This could well be a hymn that as we hopefully emerge from the pandemic, may well be one that as Methodist should sing. There is in these verses a firm reliance on the power of God, to bring us together once again as well as for each of our hearts to attain full salvation, that is, to be so filled with God’s love that we love both God and neighbour as God has loved us in Jesus Christ.

The early Methodists were not strangers to conflict or fear. They faced opposition from outside and internal dissension and were no doubt anxious at times for their continued existence and that of their mission.

Here is a word of encouragement! Whatever our human limitations, whatever the challenges we face, the Lord is faithful. Just as we are assured of eternal life, so God is also our help in this life. God is with us.

And are we yet alive,

And see each other's face?

Glory and praise to Jesus give,

For His redeeming grace.

Preserved by power divine

To full salvation here,

Again in Jesus' praise we join,

And in His sight appear.

What troubles have we seen,

What conflicts have we passed,

Fightings without, and fears within,

Since we assembled last.

But out of all the Lord

Hath brought us by His love;

And still He doth His help afford,

And hides our life above.

Then let us make our boast

Of His redeeming power,

Which saves us to the uttermost,

Till we can sin no more.

Let us take up the cross,

Till we the crown obtain;

And gladly reckon all things loss,

So we may Jesus gain.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

Today’s Desert Island Hymn comes from the other-side of the fireplace and is Angela Collings’ choice of “My Jesus, My Saviour” by  Australian Darlene Zschech. Darlene is well-known as a singer, songwriter, worship leader and speaker. Over many years, she was involved in the worship and music publications of Hillsong Church, Sydney, the largest Pentecostal "mega-church" in Australia, with many branches around the world.

Out of her own life experiences (which included, as a young teenager, the divorce of her parents and struggling with bulimia), Darlene has not only found ways of expressing her faith in song but also used her position to address issues near to her heart. In 2001, for example, she and her husband Mark helped launched Mercy Ministries Australia, a branch of Mercy Ministries of America, a non-profit organisation that claims to provide free housing and hope to teen girls struggling with pregnancy, drugs, abuse, and eating disorders – though these claims have caused controversy in recent years.

In an article for Today’s Christian Woman (March 2001), Camerin Courtney quotes Darlene Zschech (pronounced “check”) as saying that “Shout to the Lord”, written in 1993, was written during a time of great discouragement.

“At the time, Darlene and her husband, Mark… had two babies, and with a struggling motorcycle-parts business, money was tight. It was during one particularly stressful day that Darlene snuck into the toy room where they kept their piano and put into song the spiritual truths to which she desperately clung: ‘Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name,’ and ‘Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.’

The song was released by Hillsong Music Australia, the praise and worship label of Hillsong Church. The church is the hub of the international Hillsong Conference, of which Darlene and Mark were associate directors. In 1996, “Shout to the Lord” became the title cut of a gold-certified worship album released in the U.S. by Hosanna! Music.

My Jesus, my Saviour,

Lord, there is none like you;

all of my days

I want to praise

the wonders of your mighty love.

My comfort, my shelter,

tower of refuge and strength,

let every breath,

all that I am,

never cease to worship you.

Shout to the Lord all the Earth, let us sing

power and majesty, praise to the King:

mountains bow down and the seas will roar

at the sound of your name.

I sing for joy at the work of your hands,

for ever I’ll love you, for ever I’ll stand;

nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

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Monday, 14 June 2021

Desert Island Hymns

You may have noticed that some versions of the hymns in our series of Desert Island Hymns are different from those that appear in our current Hymnbooks. I have attempted, where possible to quote the version nearest to that penned by the author. Many hymns have passed through a number of iterations, often to hone a more theological alignment with a particular denominations belief system.

Today’s hymn, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, is my Desert Island Hymn choice, with it’s first verse often on my lips.

It is not unique for one of our hymns to be taken from a longer poem. But the 17 verse poem that gave us this hymn by John Greenleaf Whittier a Quaker Poet, is somewhat unusual. In the 1872 April edition of the Atlantic Monthly, his poem “The Brewing of Soma” first appeared. Whittier discovered that Soma was used as a sacred ritual drink in some ancient Indian religions, and used its alleged effects as a metaphor for evoking the sensual in some expressions of Christianity. He was thinking of music, incense, vigils and trances – all very far removed from the stillness and selflessness associated with the Quakerism he himself practised. Here are just two other verses for his poem.

“Drink, mortals, what the gods have sent,

Forget you long annoy.”

So sang the priests, From tent to tent

The Soma’s sacred madness went,

A storm of drunken joy.

But then, lest his readers begin to look down their noses at such folly, Whittier makes an application to the religious extremists of his day. His words have relevance still, for those who would try to manipulate and stir up emotion in the name of worshiping God!

And yet the past comes round again,

And new doth old fulfil;

In sensual transports wild as vain

We brew in many a Christian fane

The heathen Soma still!

The poem ends with six verses that were that were adapted by Garrett Horder in his 1884 Congregational Hymns. In the United Kingdom, the hymn is usually sung to the tune "Repton" by Hubert Parry.

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!

With that deep hush subduing all

Our words and works that drown

The tender whisper of Thy call,

As noiseless let Thy blessing fall

As fell Thy manna down.

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.

I wonder whether Greenleaf had 1 John 4:1-3 in mind when writing his poem. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”

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.