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.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

The popular Graham Kendrick Hymn, the Servant King, has the phrase that links learning and service with the words, “Then let us learn how to serve.”  If we link this with Wesley’s hymn - “To serve the present age, my calling to fulfil, O may it all my powers engage to do my Masters will” - we have in a nutshell the essence of our Calling as disciples.

A Merthodist Way of Life suggest that this should be firstly serve within the context of our immediate communities but also have a wider dimension in the world beyond.

One retired minister would often say to his younger serving colleague, “Well now, I’m still trying to figure out how to serve this present age.” Overtime I have increasingly become aware of the significance found in  the introduction to the Methodist Covenant Prayer which includes the words, “Christ has many services to be done: some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honour, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both; in some we may please Christ and please ourselves; in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.”

Yet Fred Buechner also suggest that, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Christian service is obviously the service of a Christian, and if words have any meaning, it is that the work does or the duty a disciple discharges to another in the character of a servant. That raises four questions:

What is a "servant"?

What are the distinctive marks of a servant?

Whose servant are we, or who is our  master? —

What is the nature of the "service" to which Christians, all Christians, are called by God?

We will try to answer these over the next four days

Francis of Assisi points out that, “Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily.”

Here is a verse form John 12:26 and a hymn to ponder and reflect today.

“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.”


How can I better serve thee, Lord,

Thou who hast done so much for me?

Faltering and weak my labour has been;

O that my life may tell for thee!


Here at the cross in this sacred hour,

Here at the source of reviving power,

Helpless indeed, I come with my need;

Lord, for thy service, fit me I plead.

Dull are my ears to hear thy voice,

Slow are my hands to work for thee,

Loath are my feet to conquer the steeps

That lead me to my Calvary.

Strength for my weakness, Lord, impart;

Sight for my blindness give to me;

Faith for my doubtings, Lord, I would crave,

That I may serve thee worthily. Bv

Bramwell Coles (1887-1960)

Friday, 30 July 2021

A Merthodist Way of Life

We continue exploring our learning journey as disciples of Christ. I give thanks to God for the grounding my faith had as a result of going to Sunday School. Particularly I give thanks that in my journey with God, learning about faith didn't stop with Sunday School; rather it gave me the basic tools with which to continue learning about God.

For many people the primary time they hear the Bible or receive any teaching on it is during worship. This is a great sadness, because learning about our faith comes so much more alive when we can interact with the scriptures and tease out together what it means for our daily living. Being part of small groups where this is possible opens up a whole realm of pastoral and prayerful support for each other. This is why the Wesleys placed small groups at the centre of their strategy for nurturing and growing disciples of Jesus. Indeed, it is a model that many churches of all traditions employ, to help each other grow in faith and in noticing God in the world around them. Groups also become safe places for us to practice talking about and sharing our faith.

There is no doubt that learning about our faith is a life-long pursuit. Our needs will change over time, and different priorities will come to the fore. The joy of being part of a church is that we can share in these things and support each other on the journey. At its best, learning together stops our faith and belief and delight in God from becoming dry and stale.

The wonderful thing is that there are so many resources published for all ages, whether specifically Bible-based, or theme-based, as daily devotions or for group use. Of course, some of our learning is not formal, but informal. We pick things up from other people in the church and the wider Christian community. We learn from the way we see others live and behave towards each other. As it is often said, we can learn and study the Bible all we like, but unless we see it reflected in our daily living, then we have learnt nothing at all.

Learning about our faith is an exciting journey, because it draws us closer and close into the heart of God and transforms our lives – which sometimes means we are challenged to the core of our being about the choices we make.

A learning church is also a church that is geared up to nurture new Christians of any age, something that is increasingly important now that the Christian stories are not as commonly known as they once were.

Let us learn more about the God we worship, let us draw closer to God and become all that he intends us to be.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

We now turn  to the learning aspect of ‘A Methodist Way of Life’ and ask the question, “How and what are we learning now?”

As an advocate of Lifelong Learning in the realm of education I put great store in those who share such a vision. For example, many of the great minds over the years have put such an adventure with words like;

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.” ― Samuel Johnson, The Rambler

There are few things more pathetic than those who have lost their curiosity and sense of adventure, and who no longer care to learn.” ― Gordon B. Hinckley, Way to Be!: 9 Ways To Be Happy And Make Something Of Your Life

I particularly like Eleanor Brownn’s observation, “The amazing thing about a long journey is that you can miss exits, run Stop signs, head the wrong way down a one-way street, get lost, misplace your keys, find them, make a U-turn, and still, somehow, miraculously reach your proper destination.” 

Of course we all remember the advice from another era that suggested that we should “Read, Learn and Inwardly Digest.”

But what about learning in a faith context? Is one way of thinking about this to consider such leaning as ‘Christian education’ the processes whereby people learn to be a disciple of Jesus.

The word discipleship never occurs in the Bible. The term is ambiguous in English. It can mean my discipleship, in the sense of my own pattern of following Jesus and trusting him and learning from him. That is my discipleship. It could mean that. Or it can mean my activity of helping others be disciples in that sense of learning from him, growing in him.

I think that it is helpful to think of our discipleship in much of the same way in which the early Church was was viewed as people of the “the Way”

The way was based on Jesus’s teaching recorded in Mark 12:28-34. An unnamed questioner asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?” and Jesus responded with what is now called the Great Command: “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Loving God and neighbour was, according to Jesus, the way of the Kingdom of God and the path of salvation. In the account of this teaching in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus adds, “do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:28). . . .

Jesus’s followers took these words seriously. In many cases, and unlike contemporary practice, the process of becoming a Christian took several years, an extended time of teaching spiritual inquirers the way on which they were embarking. Christianity was considered a deliberate choice with serious consequences, a process of spiritual formation and discipline that took time, a way of life that had to be learned in community. . . .

In many quarters Christian communities are once again embracing the ancient insight that the faith is a spiritual pathway, a life built on transformative practices of love rather than doctrinal belief.

Teach me, my God and King,

in all things Thee to see,

and what I do in anything,

to do it as for Thee.

To scorn the senses’ sway,

while still to Thee I tend;

in all I do be Thou the Way,

in all be Thou the End.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life 7

Part of ‘A Methodist Way of Life’ is to consider ‘How are we caring for ourselves?’

Self-care is a trendy topic, especially in our society driven by accomplishment and busy-ness.  How do we slow down and make sure that we don't burn out from all the doing?  How do we make sure that we take some time to recharge without feeling guilty that we're not accomplishing?  Without feeling that we're wasting our time being lazy or self-indulgent? These self-care tips are meant to help you not only slow down and recharge, but also to help you reconnect with God in every season of your life, especially those that seem arid or overwhelming.

Should Christians Practice Self-Care?

At first glance, the practice of self-care might seem rather...well, selfish, self-centred. We're told that "you need to take care of you", and that "you can't fill from an empty cup".  (That second one is 100% true.) The Bible says to “love your neighbour as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31 NIV). It commands husbands to “love their wives as their own bodies…after all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29 NIV). 

It’s not a commandment. But it is a given that we will take care of ourselves, that we do treat ourselves with love and consideration. 

The practice of self-care might also call to mind slogans like "you deserve this", "give yourself a treat".

All this focus on the self.  Is that really Christian?

Well, as it turns out, there is a really good Biblical basis for practicing self-care.  But Christian self-care isn't the same as you find in the rest of the world: manicures and spa days and expensive jewellery and fancy chocolate.  It's more like soul-care than like buy-fancy-stuff-and-leave-me-alone-care.

Jesus absolutely came to take care of spiritual needs and “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). But you’ll find that he also had compassion for and healed the sick (Matthew 14:14), fed the hungry (Matthew 15:32), and drove out demons (Mark 1:34). He also found worth and value in the souls of people who didn’t feel valued in society – the Samaritan woman (John 4), the bleeding woman (Mark 5), and the paralysed man (Mark 2), for example.

God’s compassion  for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs extends to you and me too, friends. It’s not for everyone except you.

Lord, lift me up for Your blessings today. I pray that you will anoint me with strength and self care today, tomorrow and always. I pray that you will grace me with patience and wisdom. I pray that You will encourage me throughout the day to take the correct steps to walk proudly, and behave well. I pray all of these things in Your name! Amen.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

We continue with the theme of Caring found within ‘A Methodist Way of Life’ by asking. “How have you shown hospitality to others recently?” One method of doing this is to Practice 'radical hospitality' as a congregation.

‘Congregations that practice 'Radical Hospitality' demonstrate an active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ. Radical describes that which is drastically different from ordinary practices, outside the normal, that which exceeds expectations and goes the second mile.’

I suppose the simplest explanation is offered in the phrase itself: radical hospitality is offering hospitality in a radical way. As an adjective, “radical” means “to affect the fundamental nature of something.” So offering hospitality in a radical way means offering hospitality in a fundamentally different way.

As a disruption to cycles of brokenness, radical hospitality requires a fundamental shift from a simple practice of offering welcome to an outward movement to stand with others--particularly those who are at society’s margins.

It is arguable that Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of radical hospitality. Christians believe that God created our universe and that the same God who created the universe showed up in human history in the form of Jesus Christ--forsaking the God experience to have a human experience. God entered our story instead of simply demanding that we enter God’s story. Perhaps that is what best defines radical hospitality: when we practice it we say “I want to become a part of your story more than I hope you will become a part of mine.”

Remind us often, Lord, of your words, when some would tell us otherwise, that we have neighbours in this world of ours who are your children, living in makeshift tents, refugee camps, prisons, subways, shop doorways - neighbours who are hungry,  desperate, ignored, in need of the very basics of life, a new beginning, a chance of calling somewhere home. Amen

Monday, 26 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

A Methodist Way of Life asks the questions ‘How have you practised generosity since we last met?’ 

John Wesley’s life provides many illustrations of a Christian Way of Life which is worked out in practice in a spirit of generosity. It is important to add, though, that Methodism began but did not end with Wesley. 

There are many stories from the subsequent history of Methodism to be told. A century after the Wesleyan Revival, Hugh Price Hughes challenged a movement which he saw was in danger of growing cold in its love for God and the world. In addressing Methodists of his time Hughes looked to the example of Jesus who sat the crowds down and gave them food to eat: “It will be impossible for us to evangelise the starving poor so long as they continue in a starving condition.” Hughes saw such work as an integral part of his mission with a full commitment to the implementation of what he called ‘Social Christianity’.

The concern with social justice expresses a vital part element xof Wesleyan theology and spirituality: God’s grace not only saves from sin; it also sanctifies and equips Christians for service. 

Holiness in the Wesleyan tradition is manifest in active engagement with the world in mission which seeks to make known the generous love of God in words and in action. The Church is called to be a community bound together in the love which comes from the sanctifying grace of God worked out in the personal and communal lives of God’s people. This is not a description of the Church as it always is, but of the Church as it is called to be: a community not of the self-satisfied saved but of people open to the working of the generous grace of God, and expressing it in a way that transforms the society of which they are part through the work of the generous Spirit of God within, amongst and through them. 

In simple terms it can be found in answering the gospel question who is my neighbour?

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second (Commandment) is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30,31)

Lord, you have said that to truly love you then I must also love my neighbour, which can be difficult when we disagree or lifestyles clash. Yet in overcoming those difficulties it is possible to see the miracle that you love someone like me. Teach us to love, Lord, as you have loved us that this world might be a better neighbourhood in which to live and share. Amen

Saturday, 24 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

Learning and Caring

As we engage with the challenges of being the Church in the contemporary world we draw inspiration from our Methodist tradition, going back to our roots found in the faith and practice of John Wesley. Running through all that Wesley said and did there is a strong and pervasive spirit of generosity.

The generous spirit to which we must remain true if we are to be worthy of the name of Methodist is firmly based in Wesley’s theology. The ‘Arminian’ emphasis in Wesleyan theology takes its name from the teaching of Jacob Arminius who insisted that God has given human beings free will and that Jesus died so that anyone who chose to respond with faith could have salvation. This theological principle was expressed in Wesley’s joyous insistence that all can be saved.

The generous love of God was celebrated also in the hymns of Charles Wesley which provided such an important part of the foundations of Methodism through verses such as;

Your sovereign grace to all extends, 

immense and unconfined;

from age to age it never ends; 

enfolds all humankind. (StF 436)

The giving of ourselves in response to this gracious giving of our generous God – reflected in the Covenant Service – is at the heart of Methodist spirituality, which for both John and Charles Wesley was founded firmly on scripture.

For example, Paul writes in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” This is notable for what comes before it and for what it leads on to. Paul’s ‘therefore’ follows from his outburst of praise at the

We can also see the basis of generosity in Romans 11 where Paul asks, “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” And the ends verse 1 of Romans 12 by telling us that giving ourselves is, as the NIV translation puts it, “your true and proper worship”.

Fred Kann captures the link between worship and service in his communion hymn

Let us talents and tongues employ,

reaching out with a shout of joy:

bread is broken, the wine is poured,

Christ is spoken and seen and heard.

Jesus lives again; earth can breathe again.

Pass the Word around: loaves abound!

Christ is able to make us one,

at his table he set the tone,

teaching people to live to bless,

love in word and in deed express.

Jesus lives again; earth can breathe again.

Pass the Word around: loaves abound!

Jesus calls us in, sends us out

bearing fruit in a world of doubt,

gives us love to tell, bread to share:

God (Immanuel) everywhere!

Jesus lives again; earth can breathe again.

Pass the Word around: loaves abound!

Friday, 23 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

Finding God in the world.

Leading on from yesterday’s thought we turn our attention to finding God in the World. This has always been part of A Methodist Way of Life since John Wesley’s days, when he said “I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. This is the work which I know God has called me to; and sure I am that His blessing attends it. ”

Yes, God created this world, but sometimes we forget that he hasn’t left―that his redemptive, creative work happens still today, right here under our feet. So when we seek for God and study his truth, how much are we missing if we don’t awaken to all he has placed in the soil and sky?

Michael J Hines, a Roman Catholic theologian uses the the phrase “sacramental beholding”. In his writing he embraces a sacramental worldview, seeking for God in all things. This idea breaks down the sacred/secular distinction, allowing us to take in the world around us and use it as a vehicle for spiritual nourishment, prayer, or worship. I don’t think that we can imagine a more appropriate idea for a Christian who believes that God created the world and never left it. Sacramental beholding allows us to reach out to God right here, right now. No matter how busy or noisy our day might be, we can allow whatever surrounds us to open our eyes to God’s presence.

Psalm 19 The heavens declare the glory of God;

    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

    night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words;

    no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

    their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.’

It rises at one end of the heavens

    and makes its circuit to the other;

    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Lord, we thank you today that you are all-powerful, all-knowing and always perfectly good. Thank you for your daily mercies to us as we struggle through such challenging times. Father, we confess that we do not seek your presence in the world as we ought. We confess that we have settled for lesser things, when we know you desire us to have a personal, close relationship with you. Lord, revive our love for you. Draw close, let us know your presence in our lives. And help us to in turn share your love with our neighbours. Lord, we put our hope in your unfailing love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

One of the questions asked within ‘A Methodist Way of Life’ is “When, lately, have you felt close to God or distant from God?”

Many have heard the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson 

Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, 

and Spirit with Spirit can meet- 

Closer is He than breathing, 

and nearer than hands and feet. 

It sounds so good on paper doesn’t it. But many have a sense that they can't find God?  What can we do if God doesn't seem to be there for you? Some Christians struggle with that question. 

A high school student wrote, "What do you do when God seems far away, and you're praying to an empty chair, and you're reading the Bible for your devotions, but you do it because you know you should, and it does not mean anything to you?" 

What do you do if you feel the sane? 

One suggestion is to read and reread Psalm 139, and let it sink in. Then come near to the God who loves you and knows everything about you. That's what James says: "Come near to God and he will come near to you." Throughout the Bible God invites us to come. The Lord invites us to come and reason together (Isaiah 1:18). Jesus invites the weary to come to him and find rest (Matthew 11:28-29), and he promises that he will never drive us away (John 6:37). We have to come just as we are--empty-handed. 

A very busy young minister found himself so caught up in the work of his ministry yet had a sense of God being far away until one day the words of hymn came to mind - “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

A common mistake we make is that we look for God in places where we ourselves wish to find him, yet even in the physical reality this is a complete failure. For example, if you lost your car keys, you would not search where you want to search, you would search where you must in order to find them.” 

“At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God's hand until we learn to hear Him...Watch where God puts you into darkness, and when you are there keep your mouth shut. Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? Then remain quiet...When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.” Oswald Chambers


Lord God, give us the grace to respond to your invitation to come. Accept us as we come to you, just as we are, and assure us of your love shown for us in Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

In the final part of our look at our Divine Reading of The Word we consider how we should Contemplate - Rest on the scripture we have considered

After a final reading of the passage, it is suggested that we should spend around 10 minutes in silent contemplation. This isn’t a time of prayer or meditation — it is just sitting quietly and allow God to work. When our minds starts to wander and dart here and there, we should bring it gently back to stillness again.

It is important to remember that Lectio Divina is not an end in itself or another spiritual practice to tick off our to-do list. It helps us hear specifically and individually from God through Scripture, guided by the Holy Spirit, and deepens our relationship with Him.

The Bible says that we must be still in order to know God. Silence is a necessary art if we want to really know God. It is a gift from God. So if God is quieting down your activity or stopping you in some way, perhaps He wants you to learn this important discipline. God is wooing you to Himself. He is removing all the barriers of true communion with His spirit. This is a gift to you so embrace it with all your heart.  

St John of the Cross suggests that “What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.”

Where as St Faustina,  a Polish Roman Catholic nun and mystic suggests that “A talkative soul lacks both the essential virtues and intimacy with God. A deeper interior life, one of gentle peace and of that silence where the Lord dwells, is quite out of the question. A soul that has never tasted the sweetness of inner silence is a restless spirit which disturbs the silence of others.” 

Didn’t the Psalmist say, “Be still and know that I AM God.”?

Lord, I desire to seek You and know You.  Help me to hear You speak through the silence.  Help me to understand this deep language of love and to allow You to transform me through this form of prayer.  I love You, dear Lord, and I desire to rest in Your Heart.  Jesus, I trust in You. Amen

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

Oratio (Respond)

After a third reading, it’s time to respond. Some like to record their thoughts by journaling because they know they are prone to forgetting what they have learned, even by the next day! We can respond in prayer too, which gives us the opportunity for a conversation with God.

One such reader of the word shares their journal in this way; “When reading Jeremiah, I journaled my wonderings. If God is so powerfully committed to keeping His covenant with me, why do I sometimes lack the commitment to stay close to God? Often the events of the day crowd in, and I don’t always make time to listen to God. I prayed that God would help me to prioritise spending time with Him.”

Responding to God’s word teaches us more than just the facts, it teaches us about the presence of the Holy Spirit and brings transformation to our faith as we grow in relationship with God and other believers.

Thomas Merton an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion.  stresses that, “The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but is one who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and, when he is answered it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God.

Psalm 25:5 says “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

The prophets of old spoke of God’s justice,

even when it was unwelcome. 

Who will hear their message?

We will listen and we will hear!

Responding to God’s call, Jesus traveled,

preaching and teaching all who would listen. 

Who will hear his message?

We will listen and we will hear!

Christ sent out disciples two by two,

to spread the good news in any place

that would welcome them.

Who will hear their message?

We will listen and we will hear!

God’s prophets are among us still,

around the world and in these pews.

Who will hear their message?

We will listen and we will hear!

Monday, 19 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

Meditatio (Reflect)

Having read the passage reflectively it is suggested that we should read for the second time the same passage focusing further on the points we become aware of during the first reading. Perhaps just re-read a few verses in order to reflect carefully on where God has nudged me.

Through such reflection concentrate on what God is saying. Try not to analyse the passage. It’s easy to slip into “study mode” and think about interesting points rather than listening to what God might be saying. It helps to ask God to make His focus clear.

Thanks again to Fred Buechner again he suggests, “The problem is when not focusing on anything in particular, the mind skitters around mindlessly among whatever thoughts happen to present themselves. To think is to direct the mind in a more or less systematic way along a specific sequence of thoughts toward a specific end. To meditate is to open the mind to a single thought until it fills the mind so completely that there is no room left for anything else.”

“If you compare the mind to a balloon, meditation as a religious technique is the process of inflating it with a single thought to the point where the balloon finally bursts and there is no longer even the thinnest skin between what is inside it and what is outside it. The thinker and the thought become one in much the same way that if you concentrate long enough on watching a fire burn, after a while the distinction between you as the one that is watching and the fire as the one that is being watched disappears, and you yourself burst into flames.”

Taking yesterday’s reading from Jeremiah 31 one phrase that stands out for me is where God says “I took them by the hand”. As I read that phrase I seem to find that I too am included in the word ‘them’ to the extent the I find God saying to me “I take you by the hand and reflect all the ways that is true in my life.


Hold my hand, God, lead the way, Help me be your follower every day. Show me the your way, Keep me safe as we travels together. Help me trust in you. Lead the way, God, hold my hand. Amen

Saturday, 17 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

Let’s embark on using what we discovered yesterday as a means immersing ourselves in our daily scripture, through the first step of Lectio (to Read)

Our first reading of the Bible is an opportunity to get to know the Scripture passage and listen carefully for any words or phrases that seem to jump out. It’s important not to force things, but wait patiently for God to give gentle guidance. Why not read Jeremiah 31? As an example your mind may be drawn to the strength of God’s commitment to His covenant:

“[I will make a new covenant] not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband.” (Jeremiah 31:32 English Standard Version)

Were you struck by the image of God leading His people by the hand as an act of love – they weren’t left to begin their momentous journey alone. Yesterday I quoted Fred Buechner who also says of God’s Covenant, “What is new about the New Covenant, therefore, is not the idea that God loves the world enough to bleed for it but the claim that here God is actually putting his money where his mouth is. Like a father saying about a sick child, “I’d do anything to make you well,” God finally calls his own bluff and does it. Jesus Christ is what God does, and the cross is where he did it is the central symbol of New Covenant faith.”

Did you sense that you are included in this New Covenantal God leading scenario and he takes you by the hand? Here is an inspiring hymn by Timothy Dudley-Smith

Open our eyes, O Lord, we pray,

enlighten heart and mind;

that as we read your word today

we may its treasures find.

Open our ears that, small and still,

your voice be clearly heard,

to guide our steps and cleanse our will

according to your word.

Open our lives to love's embrace,

our dear redeeming Lord:

your word of life and truth and grace

within our souls be stored.

Open our lips, O Lord, in praise

to tell what love imparts:

the work of grace about our ways,

your word within our hearts.

Words © 1997 Hope Publishing Company, 380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188 CCLI 814800

Friday, 16 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

Our Next step in “A Methodist Way of Life” says, “We will look and listen for God in Scripture, and the world.”

In Western Christianity, Lectio Divina is a traditional monastic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's word. In the view of one commentator, it does not treat scripture as texts to be studied, but as the living word.

Lectio Divina (literally divine reading) is a way of becoming immersed in the Scriptures very personally. It draws on the way Jews read the Haggadah, a text read during Passover that retells the Exodus story. Haggadah means “telling” and along with being a physical text, the word captures the practice of telling and retelling a story.

However, there can be a problem with the way we read scripture and we need to ask ourselves through which lens are we reading scripture. Fred Buechner puts it this way. “If you look at window, you see fly-specks, dust, the crack where Junior’s Frisbee hit it. If you look through a window, you see the world beyond. Something like this is the difference between those who see the Bible as a Holy Bore and those who see it as the word of God which speaks out of the depths of an almost unimaginable past into the depths of ourselves.

It is suggested that we take 30 minutes to read, reflect, and respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in Lectio Divina. To tune in, some like to light a candle, not because it’s necessary, but because the flame and fragrance serve as gentle reminders when collecting their thoughts and calming the mind. It is also important to start reading with God and pray a prayer of invitation, saying something like, “God, let me hear from you,” and spend a few moments sitting quietly so our mind is open to hearing from God.

Across the next four days we will begin to read a text by this means and discern what God is saying to us through our reading. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, For yourself, concentrate on winning God’s approval, on being a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, and who knows how to use the word of truth to the best advantage.“

“My Lord, in your presence I want to prepare my heart for this moment of prayer. Send your Holy Spirit to enlighten me and open my mind and heart to everything You want to tell me today. Thank you Lord, for nourishing me with your Word.” Amen

Thursday, 15 July 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

Just to round off yesterday’s thinking on living working and worshiping with contradictory convictions, 5 years ago the Methodist Church reconciled to:-

- We continue to believe that God has been revealed in Jesus Christ, accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and live in communion with God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

- We cherish our place within Christ's Church recognising that it is Christ alone who chooses, calls and confirms us as members of His church, the body of Christ.

Whilst we may not all agree about everything, we recognise the importance of the truths which bind us together as well as the issues which currently divide us.

Therefore, we resolve:

+ To engage with each other openly, honestly, prayerfully and graciously

+ To treat each other with respect and dignity, recognising the sincerity of the faith of those who may see things differently

+ To seek to learn from one another as we travel together as fellow pilgrims

+ To renounce all language and behaviours that attempt to coerce others to change their views or beliefs

+ To seek, as far as conscience allows, to preserve the fellowship of Christ's Church

To unite under the authority of scripture as we seek to live as authentic Christian disciples in our own generation.

The New Testament book of James has something to say to us.  ~ `’My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted? 

Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? ……. You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” (The Message)

Prayer God who delights in us, You search us and find us out.  You love us from the inside.  Every thought and feeling, uttered and held in silence is known to you and precious to you. Dwell within us. Help us discover that you mean us to grow into who we are and no other. To be real, not to pretend, and to blossom in its liberating power. Shelter us in your protective shadow from those who will not accept us, who know us only from the outside.  Give us the peace that passes all understanding, fear and rejection, knowing that you alone behold us, desire us, and declare us to be your own. 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.