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.

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

A Covenant People


….exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full,

The half full-half empty glass of water paradox has been used forever to describe polar opposite perspectives people have about situations and life in general. I think many of us have labeled ourselves as one or the other. Because I’m a realist, or some would claim that I am a pessimist, my tendency is to see myself as a “glass half empty” kind of person, whilst others are eternal optimist who view most situations as hopeful and sees the glass half full most of the time.

I’ve fought hard to defend my perspective, arguing that without realists the world would soon end in chaos with people building castles in the sky. As I was thinking about this concept recently, it occurred to me that both perspectives are essential for maintaining a biblical worldview which always includes suffering as well as redemption. Bringing them together challenges people who want to polarise positions and tout their view as superior.

Jesus didn’t seem to think that there had to be a choice between the two perspectives, but encouraged the disciples and believers to embrace both outlooks, with a foundational commitment to the fact that the half full glass will eventually, at the consummation, give way to a perpetual overflowing. He said, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Paul, in recounting his sufferings, made sure to include both the half empty and half full portion of the picture when he said, “We are pressed on every side, but we still have room to move. We are often in much trouble, but we never give up. People make it hard for us, but we are not left alone. We are knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Death is working in us because we work for the Lord, but His life is working in you” (2 Cor. 4:8-12).

Both spoke realistically of suffering and evil, but at the same time they saw resurrection hope as the antidote to discouragement or despair. It never honours God for us to deny reality that there’s a spiritual war raging. Jesus warned Peter that the enemy wanted to sift him like wheat (Lk. 22:31). He knows that each of us faces similar trials and temptations from the world, the flesh, and the devil, and he warns us in His Word that unless we face them, suit up in our spiritual armour, and pray for His sustaining power we’ll become casualties on the battle lines (Eph 6:10-18). 

Yes, in some ways it appears the glass is half full: for others …. loved ones suffer from sickness and disease, marriages sometimes end in divorce, jobs are lost, people we trust let us down. But for the Christian the story never ends on the sorrowful note. Hope remains and healing will come both in this age and in the age to come (Mk. 10:29-30). God is in the process of making all things new. And even in the middle of the worst life experiences, He’s reminding us, whispering to our hearts, that He’s with us in our pain and suffering. The sun will shine again, healing will come, and hope can never be extinguished. We are more than over-comers through Him!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).

Monday, 30 August 2021

A Covenant People

 ….let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,

Like many Methodists, I have prayed Wesley’s Covenant prayer hundreds of times, sometimes in gatherings and many times quietly on my own. The prayer always has the power to unsettle me and provoke me to deeper reflection about my own motives. Repeating the prayer strengthens me while also making me more attentive to my spiritual vulnerabilities. It restrains my propensity to use the language of God’s will to describe and defend what is merely most convenient and desirable for me. It curbs my natural tendency to justify my own views and desired outcomes and forces me to wrestle with what submission to God in Christ truly means for my ministry. Several phrases penetrate the veneers I hide behind to preserve my pride and ambition. It’s a powerful prayer, but be careful where it leads you!

The line that disturbs me the most is, “let me be employed by thee, or laid aside by thee.” This forces me to face the truth that while God works through me to achieve certain good things in the world, God also works around me to achieve many other good things. Sometimes I’m not the right person. Sometimes I don’t have the right gifts, the right strategies, the right voice, or the right ideas for this particular moment and context of ministry. My ways, my experiences, my passions, my certitudes and biases and approaches may not be the ones for this particular time and for a particular work God needs accomplished.

Sometimes my conference, my colleagues, my congregation, my friends, are the ones ripe and ready for the task, and other times mine is the one that must be set aside so that God’s good purpose can be fulfilled in another way by someone else. There are challenges that are not mine to resolve and strategies that are not mine to develop. The institutions where I have found my place and the methods I have developed are sometimes those that need to be set aside because the season for which they served is past or because another voice and another approach are needed to reach a generation I cannot.

How do I pray for the fulfilment of God’s purposes when sometimes fulfilling them leaves me on the sidelines or redirects my path from what I had expected? How do I develop the humility to be laid aside graciously, and even joyfully? God has work for me to do as long as I have breath, but sometimes it is not the work I expected. Praying deeply the Covenant Prayer requires discernment, a countercultural spirituality and a counterintuitive openness to God. It requires saying with Jesus that we have come “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45 NRSV). It requires accepting the emotional impact of truly believing that “those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 NRSV). It prompts us to think about what it means to no longer be our own, but God’s, and causes us to meditate on what it means to yield and step aside with humility. 

When was a time you experienced God working around you rather than through you? How did it feel? How did you handle any negative feelings of uselessness or abandonment, and how did you come to find a renewed sense of purpose in serving in other ways?

Have you ever voluntarily stepped down or stepped back or stepped aside so that a ministry could move in new directions? Where did the spiritual discernment come from to help you do this?

Heavenly Lord, may the words of your gospel be always in our hearts. As I work, help me work with all of my might, but also help me know when I have to step aside, in order for you to step in and work in a mighty way. Help me have wisdom to know how to abide in you. Help me avoid burnout by letting you be you. Thank you so much for the work you’ve given me, may it bear much fruit for your Kingdom. Amen.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

A Covenant People

 …. Rank me with who you will

Now here is a real test of our commitment. I mean following Jesus is tough enough … but now we have to follow Him alongside others. And sometimes He sets us a task to do with someone else and we have to learn to work together. Ouch!

I don’t know about you but so often it is easier just to do things ourselves. When we have to cooperate with others it can be an intensely humbling experience. We discover all sorts of character flaws in ourselves when the pressure is on .. and we discover that actually others can do some things better than we can. When you only ever have to compare yourself to yourself you score pretty high.

God has designed human beings as social creatures. He has designed us in such a way as to be unique and magnificent in our own right … but also to need others in order to truly BE. As the Ubuntu saying goes: A person is a person because of other people. We discover ourselves through relationships with other people … and we express ourselves through relationships with other people.

The wise saying in Ecclesiastes 4:12 is that “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” There is great strength in human cooperation!

Yet, on the other hand, there is that Biblical proverb (27:17) that highlights the difficulty of working together with others: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Sometimes when we work together, sparks fly.

Some people we love working with … and others seem to drain us.

So this part of our Covenant prayer is essentially saying to the Lord: Whomever you decide I need to work with in order to accomplish your purposes … I will trust Your wisdom and work with them to the best of my ability!

Father, I have to thank You for looking beyond my faults and for loving me unconditionally. Forgive me when I fail to love others in the same way. Give me eyes to see the needs of the difficult people in my life, and show me how to meet those needs in a way that pleases You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, 27 August 2021

A Covenant People

put me to suffering;

To understand the other side of this coin we have to remember that the word “suffer” has a different meaning in older English. Remember in the KJV, Jesus words to the disciples who are trying to keep the children away are: “Suffer the little children to come unto Me.”

What did He mean? He meant allow them to come.

So when we say “put me to suffering” that does not mean we are actively inviting suffering … but rather it means that we are actively inviting God to ALLOW ANY consequences of our discipleship.

We are saying to Jesus … if my following You and Your purpose for my life should lead to joyful consequences and victories to me, I will gladly accept that … please ALLOW it … but if following You and Your purpose for my life should bring painful consequences and seeming defeats … I will bravely accept that too … please ALLOW it.

Now, you can’t be a disciple of Jesus and not realise that the Jesus we are following ended life on a Cross. His way of life was so radically different to the world that the world put Him to death. His grace offended their religion. His truth offended their manipulation and deceitfulness. His humility offended their pride. His submission to God’s control offended their desire to control Him. So if we are following Jesus, He Himself said we need to do so with a willingness to follow Him … even if it means following all the way onto the Cross. (Luke 9:23)

A prayer that said, “Jesus I will follow You wherever you go” would be meaningless if it did not include a willingness to follow Him into painful consequences of obedience.

And let it be known that anyone who teaches that Jesus wants all His followers to be healthy, wealthy and powerful at all times has fallen into the same trap as Peter, who rebuked Jesus for suggesting that His obedience to God would mean a Cross. Jesus was fairly plain in His response: “Get behind me Satan. You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men” (Mark 8:33)

Put me to doing, Lord … and put me to whatever consequences may come from that following … put me to suffering.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

A Covenant People

 ….. put me to doing, 

Again we need to be reminded of Jesus’ statement in John 5 that He does whatever he sees the Father doing. But we must also be reminded of yesterday’s daily reading from Luke 9: “If anyone wants to be My disciple, He must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (v.23)

This is the heart of Christian Discipleship … to follow in the footsteps of Jesus … to DO what we sense Jesus is wanting to DO through us! It is not just asking that classic question: “What would Jesus do?” but actually going deeper and asking, “What does Jesus want to do through me right here and right now?”

Remember Christ lives in His disciples by His Spirit … and if Jesus is going to be active in today’s world it will primarily be through us, His disciples.

Have you ever thought that perhaps this is what Jesus was on about when He said in John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works.”

Our Covenant commitment to Jesus is that we will keep our eyes and ears open to sense what He is wanting to do in the world around us … to sense how He wants to accomplish that through us … and then to actively DO what we know He is calling us to do.

Christianity is a profoundly ACTIVE faith … a faith in which we LIVE out the presence of the Spirit of Christ who is in us. We make HIM MANIFEST to the world around us through our daily lives and interactions with others.

Heavenly Father,

I present my life to You today as a living sacrifice.

Because You gave Your Son for me, I give myself fully to You.

This is my reasonable service.

I lay my dreams and desires at Your feet

and ask that Your will be done in my life.

Use my mortal hands to build Your eternal kingdom.

Use my life to propel Your purposes forward.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

A Covenant People

Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;

When we consider the will of God one writer suggests that we should “Stop thinking of God’s will for our lives as a separate plan from his will for his kingdom. They are the same.” In doing so we are pointed to Paul’s letter to the Romans 12:1-2

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 

It more specifically expresses the extent to which we are submitting ourselves to Christ and His Lordship.

If we are surrendered to Christ then we have given Him carte blanche to instruct us as to how to spend our lives. And that is what we mean when we say: “Put me to what You will”.

In Christ our lives no longer belong to us … they have been given to Christ.

That is, after all, one of the most classic evangelical statements of what it means to be a Christian: “I have given my life to Christ.” This is not some sort of magical transaction. It is exactly what it says.

Being a Christian is giving our every breath … every moment … every heartbeat … every calorie … every talent and ability … every thought … every action … every rand or bitcoin … to Jesus to use according to His pleasure.

In this phrase of our covenant prayer we reiterate our commitment to obey whatever Jesus may instruct us to do.

This invitation to Jesus then divides into two possibilities: Put me to doing or put me to suffering. What they are intended to be in the language of 1755 are essentially the two sides of one coin. The coin is “Put me to what you will”. On one side of that coin is the invitation to assign action: we will consider each of these in turn ; put me to doing; and on the other is the invitation to assign consequences: put me to suffering. Let’s take them one at a time.


LORD God, Father, help us by the Holy Spirit to walk victoriously each day as we lay our lives down for Jesus’ sake.  Help us to walk worthy of our calling, to be bold witnesses for You.  Help us to be transformed by the power of Your Word and not be moulded to the ways of the world.  We ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

A Covenant People

I am no longer my own but yours.

There is a saying the “Possession is nine-tenths of the law” meaning that ownership is easier to maintain if one has possession of something, or difficult to enforce if one does not. However, in covenantal terms, Biblical Ownership has much more to do with the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who came to fulfil the law.

There is a wonderful statement of Covenantal  Ownership in the Old Testament where we find theses words, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Bishop N T Wright can help us in our understanding of this Covenantal relationship when he writes, “What the Bible offers is not a “works contract,” but a covenant of vocation. The vocation in question is that of being a genuine human being, with genuinely human tasks to perform as part of the Creator's purpose for his world.” Fred Beuchner  also helps us understand that the Covenant of the Old Testament is fulfilled in what has become known as the New 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 he is actually putting his money where his mouth is. Like a father saying about his 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 where God did it is the central symbol of New Covenant faith.”

If this is God means by Covenant, our assent in the words, “I am no longer my own but yours!” Is a way of saying - “Count me in!”

Paul writing to the Galations says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

Come, let us use the grace divine,

and all, with one accord,

in a perpetual cov‘nant join

ourselves to Christ the Lord:

Monday, 23 August 2021

A Covenant People

Living as a Covenant Community calls our attention to two Hebrew words with covenant meanings: berîth and hesed. Maharat Neiss points out, “The Hebrew word berîth traditionally referred to covenant that signified an agreement between two parties. But the word hesed, which is used less frequently, gives us the deeper meaning of covenant as the kindness or graciousness of God toward humanity in establishing a relationship.” 

Berîth is the word that we often use when we are talking about covenants. In the Torah, we talk about Abraham, we talk about berîth—the covenant between parties. Hesed we really understand meaning kindness . . . (covenant). Yes, this is a kindness of God. This is God’s hesed, God’s loving kindness.

The Hebrew word for mercies is “Hesed” and it denotes the limitless nature of divine mercies.” There is a piece of wall that reads, “Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. Mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve.” Even though Ruth did not deserve to be married to Boaz so that she could carry on the family name of her previous husband, Boaz chose to give hesed.

In a covenant, two parties include one that is more powerful known as the suzerain, and one less powerful that is being protected in this covenant known as the vassal. God demonstrates this covenant faithfulness and loving-kindness in so many ways to His people as the more powerful one. He always keeps his Word to them, seeks after their welfare, and loves them like a groom loves his bride. One writer suggests “God’s covenant relationship with His people results in His loyal love and faithfulness [hesed], even when His people are unfaithful to Him. 

Always at the heart of hesed lies God’s generous sense of compassion, grace, and mercy.” I think of Hosea when Gomer the prostitute he was called to marry continued to abandon him, yet his love extended beyond her failures and rejections. Or even as simple as Adam and Eve hiding in the garden and God the Father walking and gently calling for them. The Lord pursues us. He always has been, and He will pursue us every day of our lives.

Almighty God,
You have loved us first
with an everlasting love,
showing us what love truly is.
You have shown us great mercy,
preeminently in the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lived among us, died on the Cross, rose again,
and now eternally intercedes on our behalf at Your right hand.
You have invited us into loving relationship with You,
both in our daily lives now
and unto eternity as Your bride.
Because of Your hesed –
Your steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness –
make us people of hesed,
living in love and loving others,
receiving Your mercy and showing mercy,
held in Your faithfulness and living faithfully,
until the day we see You face to face.

All this we pray, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord
to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit
be honor and glory, now and forever.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

A Covenant People

The origin to the Methodist Covenant church 

Regrettably, due to the lockdown at the commencement of the New Year, we were unable to conduct our annual Covenant Service on the first Sunday in January. So, I felt it appropriate that we should hold our delayed Covenant Service on the first Sunday of the Methodist Year, (5th September). In that the period immediately prior to our usual Covenant Service is caught up with our Christmas Season, holding the service in September affords us the opportunity consider in depth its significance.

First, a little history behind the Wesleyan Covenant Service.

The Covenant Renewal Service, or simply called the Covenant Service, was adapted by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, for the purpose of the renewal of the Christian believer's covenant with God.

In his short history of the people called Methodists, Wesley describes the first covenant service; a similar account is to be found in his Journal of the time. Wesley says that the first service was held on Monday 11 August 1755, at the French church at Spitalfields in London, with 1800 people present.

The covenant prayer and service are recognised as one of the most distinctive contributions of Methodism to the liturgy of Protestantism in general, and they are also used from time to time by other Christian denominations. An example of this is that the Northumbria Community who use the covenant prayer as part of their Celtic Daily Prayer on the sixth of each month.

This is what Wesley wrote in his journal about the event:

"I mentioned to the congregation another means of increasing serious religion which had been frequently practiced by our forefathers, namely, the joining in a covenant to serve God with all our heart and with all our soul. I explained this for several mornings, and on Friday, many of us kept a fast to the Lord, beseeching him to give us wisdom and strength, to make a promise unto the Lord our God and keep it.

"On Monday...I explained once more the nature of such an engagement and the manner of doing it acceptably to God.

"At six in the evening we met for that purpose. After I had recited the tenor of the covenant proposed, all those who desired to give testimony of their entrance into this covenant stood up, to the number of about 1,800 persons. Such a night I scarce ever saw before. Surely the fruit of it shall remain forever."

We will meditate on the covenant prayer each day between now and the 5th September.

'I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing,

put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you,

or laid aside for you,

exalted for you,

or brought low for you;

let me be full,

let me be empty,

let me have all things,

let me have nothing:

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours’

So be it

And the Covenant now made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven Amen’.

Friday, 20 August 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

How can we support each other in our Way of Life commitments?

What a journey since we embarked on our exploration of A Methodist Way of Life.

We have ventured into familiar as well as unfamiliar waters exploring our Calling. But what is certain is that we need to carry on this journey with the support of others. I remember a young lad attending a Church Uniformed organisation who came how very excited that the next week he was going to be ‘envolved’; of course he meant enrolled, but was there a greater significance in his misuse of words. 

The kingdom news of Jesus is all about involvement and belonging, isn’t it. In Romans 1:6, Paul greets the church in Rome by saying, “including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” All of Scripture shouts to the world that we belong to God. In the beginning, humanity was created to be in perfect union with God and belong to Him, for we are His creation (Genesis 1:26). There is an intimacy that was always part of His original design for our relationship with Him. We are His masterpiece and reflect the image of God in this world (Ephesians 2:10). Christ’s motivation to bring us back to Himself is the very premise of the incarnation. God came down and entered into the muck and mire of this world. Why? Because we belong to Him.

Belong, is a mid fourteen century word that means, “to go along with”, “to relate to”.

Why note use the skills we spoke of earlier in July to reflect upon Ephesians 2:13-15

“But now you belong to Christ Jesus. At one time you were far away from God. Now you have been brought close to Him. Christ did this for you when He gave His blood on the cross.  We have peace because of Christ. He has made the Jews and those who are not Jews one people. He broke down the wall that divided them. He stopped the fighting between them by His death on the cross. He put an end to the Law. Then He made of the two people one new kind of people like Himself. In this way, He made peace.”

Loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for the words you have given us today. We know that your words are words of life and salvation. Open our hearts Father, touch our souls, forgive us our sins, our lack of faith, help us to respond to your word. Help us to know that you are our Shepherd who leads us to green pastures, and may we experience in our hearts how we are loved and saved by you. Amen. 

Thursday, 19 August 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

We will live in a way that draws others to Jesus.

There is a popular statement attributed to St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” 

The story goes something like this: St. Francis once said to a novice, “Brother, let us go into Assisi and preach.” Together they went up into the city and quietly walked through the streets. But Francis never said a word to any of the bystanders on the streets, even though many looked on curiously at the strangely clad men. After they exited through the city gate and headed back down to the friary of St. Mary of the Angels, the novice was confused. “And what about preaching, brother Francis?” he asked. “It is done,” replied the Saint “when we witness to others the joy and beauty of our evangelical life in our simplicity, in addition to the care and concern we have shown for one another. Thus, our example is often the most eloquent kind of preaching. Remember this young friar: Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

In Matthew’s Gospel we find Jesus encouraging his followers to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

This verse comes within the passage where Jesus is encouraging his disciples to be the salt and light in the world. In the Scriptures, just as light symbolises goodness, darkness symbolises evil. Jesus described himself as the “Light of the world”. Surprisingly, he then went further and said to his followers, “You are the light of the world”. He is confident that we will contribute to the enlightenment of those around us to the extent that we are united to Him.

“Letting your light shine before others” is not putting on an act or drawing attention to your good qualities. It is simply acting as best you can according to the lights that you have been given.

This is what we are all called to do. To do this effectively, we should recall the sobering reminder from Jesus:, “Without me you can do nothing”. So ask him to help you lighten up any darkness that surrounds you.

God our Father, on a hillside in Galilee, your Son Jesus called us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Give us the strength and wisdom to become the people of the Beatitudes in our day, so that our words may season the world with the flavour of the Gospel and our lives be shining examples of Jesus who is the true Light of the world. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

A Merthodist Way of Life

What opportunities to share your faith have there been since we last met?

This was the kind of questions issued at the regular class meetings in the early days of Methodism. Class meetings were small groups of 12-15 members of a Methodist society who met weekly with their class leader. The leader was a mature follower of Jesus Christ who the society leaders discerned could be trusted with the spiritual formation and care of fellow Methodists. They led the weekly class meetings and served as role models for their class, and the other society members. Class leaders were leaders in discipleship.

Maybe, this is something that needs both a revision and revival in our day and age.

The three pivotal words in the statement, “ What opportunities to share your faith have there been since we last met?” Are faith, opportunities and share.

 The first, faith needs to be focused and our focus is in God seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. So our faith has a basis and the one who forms that foundation is the God who said, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ). The strength our faith is not in the me or mine but in the one who stands foursquare with us.  The one who said, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The other two words of opportunities and share are therefore natural extensions, for we go right back to Jesus first principles of discipleship - “follow me”  

Here is a prayer that may resonate with how you feel.

Lord, you terrify me with this command, “Go and teach all nations.” You were talking to eleven men, without education, money or influence, in a despised province of the Roman Empire. But they obeyed you, because they knew you were with them. And today Christians are the largest body of believers on this planet. Today’s preaching is different. We are educated, sometimes too well. It is harder than ever to make our voice heard. Help me to see you footprints leading me  into the lives of others and finding you there as I reflect the good news of your love and glory. Amen

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

A Methodist Way of Life


When was the last time you were able to talk about God?  

Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. — Colossians 2:6-7

We talk about the weather, politics, the environment, and much of the minutiae of life, but have you noticed how rarely we talk to each other about God? Is it because we are not sure about our faith? Is it because the sharing of the good news has been professionalised over the centuries? Is it because we are scared of looking foolish, or anticipate that we will be rejected by others.

It has been suggested that our reluctance could be fourfold:

Some of us are painfully aware that we’re a little shy, reserved or introverted in character, and evangelism feels frightening. For others of us, our reluctance can be put down to learned behaviour—we’ve been raised to keep to ourselves, and evangelism seems rude. For many of us, our reluctance comes down to what we think God is like—we’re just not sure if he wants all Christians to engage in mission, especially if we lack the gifts or “calling” in evangelism that others seem to have.But for most of us, I fear that our reluctance could be desire—we have so many responsibilities and problems to face that we’re not persuaded that evangelism should really be an urgent priority for us right now.

Perhaps, one way is to start sharing our faith within the context of our church congregations and maybe would should allow more time for sharing within worship.

In John 15:16 - 16:4 we find Jesus challenging words, “Jesus said to the disciples, "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you."

The disciples were able to testify to Jesus, because they had lived and worked alongside him. In this passage, Jesus promises to send them the Holy Spirit, the “Advocate” after he has gone. The work of the Holy Spirit affirms the life and love of Jesus, giving witness to what is true.

To testify and bear witness to something, I must have personal experience, so that I can say: ‘This is true, and I know it.’ Lord, I have not been with you from the beginning. I am one of those who did not see and yet believed. Show me yourself, strengthen your spirit in me, so that my life and my words may testify to you.

Monday, 16 August 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

We will speak of the love of God. A Hymn of my childhood by Sydney Cox reads

God's love to me is wonderful, 

That he should deign to hear 

The faintest whisper of my heart, 

Wipe from mine eyes the tear; 

And though I cannot comprehend 

Such love, so great, so deep, 

In his strong hands my soul I trust, 

He will not fail to keep. 


God's love is wonderful, 

God's love is wonderful, 

Wonderful that he should give his Son to die for me; 

God's love is wonderful! 

God's love to me is wonderful! 

My very steps are planned; 

When mists of doubt encompass me, 

I hold my Father's hand. 

His love has banished every fear, 

In freedom I rejoice, 

And with my quickened ears I hear 

The music of his voice. 

God's love to me is wonderful! 

He lights the darkest way; 

I now enjoy his fellowship, 

'Twill last through endless day. 

My Father doth not ask that I 

Great gifts on him bestow, 

But only that I love him too, 

And serve him here below.

But what if the service here below is speaking of God’s love to others?

The mission Jesus gave to his Apostles must have sounded totally impossible, beyond their comprehension: ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole of creation.’ They, a group with so many limitations and who had drawn back at the moment of crisis, are now entrusted with the mission of Jesus himself. Perhaps even more astounding is the fact that they did carry out this mission, and we, together with so many others, are the beneficiaries of their faith and trust in Jesus. I sincerely thank God for the Apostles, and for my faith. 

The Gospel of Mark ends with this beautiful image of Jesus accompanying and confirming the Church with his power as it carries out its mission of spreading the good news. He still does so, and I pray for the Church in our days that it may be faithful and courageous as it carries the message of Jesus to the whole world.

Each of us is called into the ministry of Jesus in some way. We are called to be 'other Christs', to be people who wish to make known and spread the love of God and his care for his people in the world. We may never know how much we have done this; it is sufficient that we do what we can. God has some work to do that can be done only through each person. In a time of prayer we ask that we use our gifts and talents as best we can in God's service.


 Dear God, help us not to be so consumed by busy lives that we fail to find time to share your love with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

We now move to Evangelism as part and parcel of A Methodist Way of Life - This is perhaps the prickliest word in Church Circles that often conjures up fear in the minds of the would be disciple. But what in essence is an evangelist. 

Evangelism is not salesmanship. It is not urging people, pressing them, coercing them, overwhelming them, or subduing them. Evangelism is telling a message. Evangelism is reporting good news. However, we need to be clear that evangelism requires a key feature, the concept of being sent.

“As you sent me into the world [Father], I have sent them into the world.” — John 17:18

The Bible describes Jesus’ followers in a number of ways. We are called forgiven sinners, adopted sons and daughters, and beloved members of the body of Christ. All of these are key aspects of who we are in Christ.

But one of the most important identities we have is as “sent people.” Just as Jesus was sent into the world to show God’s love, so he now sends us to do the same.

After Jesus’ resurrection, his followers received the Holy Spirit to empower them for mission. As Jesus’ followers today, we are called to share the good news of Jesus in our words and actions, inviting people to place their faith in Jesus just as we have done.

Too often, local churches become wrapped up in their own concerns. Christians spend so much time running programs and dealing with internal conflicts that they have little energy to build relationships with people outside the church. It’s not surprising that many of our churches are shrinking and that a lot of church “growth” is just a result of Christians transferring from one congregation to another. Jesus’ teaching makes clear, however, that his followers are partners in God’s mission of saving people who are lost in sin. It’s not enough to simply talk about sharing our faith—it’s part of our identity in being the people God calls us to be.


Father, use my words and actions to help others understand the gospel and see their need for you. Amen.

Friday, 13 August 2021

A Methodist Way of Life

God’s Justice - What are you doing in response?

When it comes to Justice, Jesus doesn’t hold back. Just look at what he said to the Pharisees in Luke 11:42-44

Jesus said, "Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practised, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realising it."

What can we learn from this episode. The first thing I notice is that this is not 'Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.' He really goes to town on the issue of Justice, that is frankly quite shocking to the gospel reader. The second thing I notice is that’s  Pharisees took pride in following the law and being important and this raise a question in me, “Am I overly concerned with status and respectability?” It also moves my thinking to as a subsequent question, “How important to me are justice and the love of God?”

Jesus did not blame the Pharisees for multiplying rules about tithing mint and rue. But he denounced them for neglecting the deeper commandments, justice and the love of God. Every community, including that of the church, tends to have its in-group, those with influence, who are treated with respect. Perhaps we need to pray, “Lord, save me from that fate. Let me be content to be overlooked and forgotten.”

In this passage, Jesus encourages a consistency in life between what we say and what we do, between who we are and who we advertise ourselves to be. His strongest condemnations are for people who exploit the poverty and the weakness of others. Interior death is when we do not live as we know we should, when we follow the tides of the times, when we disobey conscience. We are then, says Jesus, like unmarked graves. Prayer can bring the dead side of ourselves to life. Jesus is the one who lives and loves life to the full.

A Prayer: 

Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world in spite of human failure. Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness. Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts. And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace. 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.