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.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Thin Places

Have you ever come across the term Thin Places? These have been defined as a place where the veil between this world and the eternal world is thin. A thin place is where one can walk in two worlds – the worlds are fused together, knitted loosely where the differences can be discerned or tightly where the two worlds become one. Thin places aren’t perceived with the five senses. Experiencing them goes beyond those limits.

Simply put, a thin place was and is just that, a physical location where the separation between the divine and the earth is considered to be thin. I believe we can expand that beyond the borders of Ireland and Scotland and say that we have all experienced thin places in our lives – those mystical, unexplainable touches with the divine that both test and strengthen our faith.

In reality, Thin Places are not solely reserved for rugged, isolated places, but can be a place of peace and tranquility that we visit to help us re-connect. When we return to normality, it helps us draw a sense of that place into our reality.

I believe that it is important for us to have thin places, both spatially and temporally, for us to reconnect. Some thin places have been well-known to seekers for centuries and have become popular places of pilgrimage, such as the isle of Iona in Scotland or Lourdes in France. Other thin places are particular to our own experience of God and serve as touchstones as we seek to encounter the Divine. For pilgrims in search of Sacred Encounter, thin places serve as direct portals to the Divine, offering particular moments and locations in which we can more readily dwell in the presence of God and cultivate the transformation we desire.

You may also experience such a thin place be it in wading beside the ocean’s surf or standing high on a mountain top. You may well have childhood memories of a time and place when you felt especially close to a greater world. Your thin place might be entailed in a particular piece of music, poetry or in the impact of a life-altering event. Many people have moments in their lives when they experience the feeling that there is more to life than what we generally experience.

Read about the incident of Moses and the burning bush, Exodus 3:1-5. Do we recognise that we can stand on holy ground.

Lord, we long to see you move into the neighbourhood. We want to feel heaven on earth in a thin place. Please remind us of your presence and hold us close to you. Encourage anyone who is tired. Surround anyone who is lonely. Support anyone who is hurting. And remind us who you have made us to be—your hands and your feet in our neighbourhoods. May we meet you in a thin place as we also become a thin place for others. Amen.

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Celtic Blessing

There seems to have been a reemergence of many of the ancient Celtic blessings particularly from Ireland, Cornwall and Scotland.

Most of us have heard of the Irish blessing that begins “May the road rise up to meet you”, whether you’ve heard it from a relative, seen it written on an Irish gift, or read it on a plaque hanging in an Irish household.

It’s something we have always been surrounded by, but have probably never looked into before. So, what exactly does it mean by the road rising up? What road are they talking about? Where will it meet us?

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

The rain fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand”

In this Celtic prayer, the wind, the sun, and the rain are mentioned, all giving a special symbolism. The Celts quite commonly used nature to show how God connected with his people. No doubt they had in mind verse 8 of Psalm 121 “The LORD will protect you on your journeys— whether going or coming— from now until forever from now.”

This prayer has a symbolic meaning. For instance, the wind is said to represent the spirit of God, the sun representing the mercy of God, and the rain representing God’s sustenance, that he provides to us. The three aspects of nature together, paint a picture of God taking us in the palm of his hand and guiding us on our journey through life.

Why not think of someone today and pray the blessing upon them.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Unpacking Celtic Prayer

In many senses, Celtic Spiritually, is an active contemplative means of grace where Spoken prayers, Silence, Scripture and Spiritual writings are woven into a cycle of prayer. Usually the time of prayer is commenced and ended with the words, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”

Many of the prayers are in the form of Invocation and consecration. An invocation prayer is a way to give greetings to God. Typically, it invites and welcomes God's presence. The prayer may also ask God for help; for example, that the decisions we are about to make be good ones.

Such a prayer of invocation could be:-

Lord, be with us this day, 

Within us to purify us; 

Above us to draw us up; 

Beneath us to sustain us; 

Before us to lead us; 

Behind us to restrain us; 

Around us to protect us.

As we approach a moment of Silence we need to consider it’s benefits and may well pray….

"I weave a silence on to my lips

I weave a silence into my mind

I weave a silence within my heart

I close my eyes to distractions

I close my eyes to attractions

I close my heart to temptations.

Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm

Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm

Let all the tumult within me cease

Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace."

(by Revd David Adam)

This is followed by Scripture that may be as simple as just one phrase rather than a long passage and may well be repeated through the four times of the day.  For example, 1 Samuel 3:3-4 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”

Often this can be followed by a spiritual writing such as 

I find Thee enthroned in my heart, 

my Lord Jesus.

It us enough

I know that thou art throned in heaven.

My heart and heaven are one.

Alistair Macclean

Time can be spent  praying for others

And finally a blessing


Let nothing disturb thee,

nothing affright thee;

all things are passing,

God never changeth!

Patient endurance attaineth to all things;

who God possesseth

in nothing is wanting;

alone God sufficeth.

Why not try using this form today.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

The Celtic Rhythm of Prayer

In a similar way to the monastic tradition,  Celtic spirituality has a rhythm of prayer.  In fact, historically speaking, the Celtic rhythm of prayer probably morphed into the monastic tradition.

The modern Celtic cycle usually takes the form of Morning, Mid-day, Evening and Night or Complain Prayer.

David Adams further expands this rhythm where by each day of the week resounds with a specific theme. Sunday is resurrection; Monday reflects on creation; Tuesday is shaped by incarnation; Wednesday is filled with the Holy Spirit; Thursday thinks about community; Friday gazes at the cross; and Saturday recalls the fellowship of the Saints. Life has its rhythms - ebb and flow, darkness and light, dry times and times of richness. To survive this intricate pattern, we need to have an overriding rhythm of prayer. We need to know that whatever is happening, we are loved by God and in Him we live and move and have our being.

We will explore these themes later in out series.

To start with why not try a simple exercise of holding, if only briefly, a moment of prayer, morning, midday, evening and night time.

Here is a sample of this Celtic daily rhythm of prayer.

(Morning) I arise today….

(Midday) I live today….

(Evening) I give thanks….

(Night) I rest this night….

Through a mighty strength:
God's power to guide me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's eyes to watch over me;
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to give me speech,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to shelter me,
God's host to secure me. Amen

(first millenium - bridgid of gael)

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Celtic Spirituality

We now start on a series of Exploring Celtic Spirituality: What Is Celtic Spirituality? It’s a spiritual life that looks at the ‘there and then’ through the lens of the ‘here and now.’ In many senses, Celtic Spirituality is discovering through prayer the power lines that connects between these to realms; the ‘there and then’ and the ‘here and now’. David Adams, one time vicar of Holy Island, Lindisfarne is perhaps the best known exponent of bringing the Celtic tradition of prayer into the present day.

In many ways, through his writings, David brings a sense of the eternal, the holy and the mystery of faith into the ordinary, everyday and present moment that makes each moment of a significant spiritual dimension. Another leading proponent of Celtic Spirituality, Ray Simpson also of Holy Island, who helps us glimpse a spirituality that weaves together all the strands of quest for renewal,  relevance and our roots. He writes, “Contemplative prayer is natural, unprogrammed; it is perpetual openness to God, so that in the openness his concerns can flow in and out of our minds as he wills.” 

Such Spirituality has much to do with  how we live, what we think, what we say, what we do, how we pray in embracing and expressing the gospel in our everyday roles, responsibilities and relationships. This  can mean embracing and expressing the gospel through the lenses of following a Rule of life, as seen in our Availability and our Vulnerability.

One of the great discoveries found within Celtic Spirituality is that we do not ever journey on our own. Not only do we have many travelling companions today, we are also aware that many have trodden these paths before us, and that we are ‘treading where the saints have trod’, connected by faith to ‘the great cloud of witnesses’ who urge us to go farther on and further in. Hebrews 12:1-3.

Over the next weeks we will explore more of what Celtic Spirituality can mean for us today.

Lord, you are in this place, 

Fill us with your power,

Cover us with your peace. 

Show us your presence.

Lord, help us to know,

We are in your hands,

We are under your protection, 

We are covered by your love.

Lord, we ask you today

To deliver us from evil,

To guide us in our travels, 

To defend us from all harm.

Lord, give us now

Eyes to see the invisible,

Ears to hear your call,

Hands to do your work,

And hearts to respond to your love.

David Adam ‘ Times and Seasons: modern prayers in the Celtic tradition. SPCK.1989

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Prayers for Christian Unity Day 8

“They left for their own country by another road”

(Mt 2:12)

Beyond the familiar routes of separation to God’s new paths


  • Psalm 16 - You show me the path of life.
  • Matthew 11:25-30 - Because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent, and have revealed them to infants.


We do not know what the wise men thought – they who were experts in astronomy and navigation – when they were warned to return by another road. They may well have been very confused, but the same light that illumined their journey showed them that there was another road, another possibility. They were called to change direction.

We often find ourselves bound by our familiar ways of doing things and of seeing the world. When these ways or ‘roads’ are closed, we wonder how to proceed and continue the journey. We have to trust that the everlasting One who gave us the light, can always find a way forward when our ways and paths are blocked. A fresh start is always possible when we are willing and open to the work of the Spirit.

As churches we look to the past and find illumination, and we look to the future in search of new ways so that we can continue to shine the light of the Gospel as we journey by another way, together.


Gracious God,

when we only know one way

and we think we must return to it,

when we think that all roads are blocked,

and we fall into despair,

we always find you there,

creating a new unexpected path before us.

If we search our maps and find no route,

nonetheless we always find you,

who lead us by a yet more excellent way,

trusting that you will always lead us back to you

and forward in unity together. Amen.

Meditative Response

Journeying on parallel paths

or often in opposite directions

We are called by ‘another way’

to become pilgrim companions

the people of The Way

Compasses and maps orientated

route finding and navigating together

our backpacks not burdensome

our boots crunching on,

rediscovering ancient paths,

walking humbly together with our God.


  • Global: What other ways of journeying together could we explore that would lead us into a better future?
  • Local: What do we take for granted about our daily rhythms? What blessing might someone of another tradition receive from the worship in your church? How might the worship of your church be perceived by someone of another tradition?
  • Personal: How does it feel when your familiar ways or traditions are challenged?

Go and Do


Global: Find out how communities from all over the world joined in pilgrimage for climate justice in 2021. Plan as churches together to continue the journey to a better future for the planet and for us all. Find out more at

Local: Organise a local pilgrimage between the churches in your area, for example, you could walk to each of the church buildings or find your nearest pilgrim route.

Personal: Journey familiar routes by another way, for example walk 50% more slowly on your errands today, what do you notice? How do you see things differently?

Monday, 24 January 2022

Prayers for Christian Unity Day 7

 “Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”

(Mt 2:11)

The search for unity


  • Hosea 6:1-6 - (v6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice)
  • Matthew 6:19-21 - (v21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also)


The prophet Hosea is known for his cry for justice and love to override religious ritual and regulations. We are called to make a treasure of our expression of love and our work for justice and to let that be the offering that we place before the manger. We know that God does not want our riches or burnt offerings, but rather that God’s power works through our poverty: “I have no silver or gold”. The Lord desires our loving hearts, filled with mercy, truly penitent and desiring change.

Let us then prepare the gift of a heart full of love. Kneeling in worship requires hearts that are contrite for the sin that divides us and obedient to the One we serve. This obedience revives, heals and reconciles everything that is broken or wounded in us, around us, and among us as Christians.

Unity is the gift offered to us by Christ. We grow in communion as we share the graces our different traditions have received, acknowledging that the source of all our gifts is the Lord.



through your prophets

you have called us to do justice,

to love mercy,

and to walk humbly with you.

In Christ,

you have shown us what that looks like.

Through your Holy Spirit

you continually enable us

to hear your words,

to follow Christ’s example,

and to live as his disciples.

So, as we gather at the manger,

heal our wounds,

reconcile our divisions

and hold us together in your love.


Hymn Verse

Vainly we offer each ample oblation;

vainly with gifts would his favour secure;

richer by far is the heart's adoration;

dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,

dawn on our darkness, and lend us your aid;

star of the east, the horizon adorning,

guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Reginald Heber (1783-1826)


  • Global: Climate justice is being recognised as an expression of social justice with which churches can act together on a global scale. Why is this the case?
  • Local: Sometimes we talk of Christian Unity being advanced more easily when local churches work together on a specific project, often one involving an expression of social justice. How have you experienced this in your local area?
  • Personal: How do you consider the importance of church as a place for offering worship and as a place from which to call for social justice?

Go and Do


  • Global: Take time today to campaign for global justice. Visit the websites of CTBI agency partners (see to take part in their current campaign actions for social justice.
  • Local: Identify projects in your local area that need more support, and work together as churches to assist them.
  • Personal: Consider an issue of social justice that you’ve not been involved with previously and take time to find out more and take action.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Prayers for Christian Unity Day 6

“They saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage”

(Mt 2:11)

Gathered in worship around the One Lord


  • Psalm 84 - How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
  • Mt 28:16-20 - When they saw him, they worshipped him.


When the Magi from their far-away countries arrived at Bethlehem and saw the child with his mother, they worshipped him. In the presence of this revelation of God among us, eyes were cast down and knees bent. Similarly, when the disciples saw the risen Christ on the mountain in Galilee, they were amazed and troubled. Yet they worshipped him.

Do we see? Are we amazed? Are we truly worshipping? How many times do we remain blind to God’s presence? How can we worship in truth if we do not really see first? In our narrow vision, too often we see only our tangled disagreements, forgetting that God’s saving grace is to all, and that we share in the one Spirit who draws us into unity. Often in our pride we follow human laws and traditions, disregarding the love we are called to share as one people justified by Christ’s blood.

As communities enlivened by the Holy Spirit, we are called to walk together towards the Christ-Child, offering homage as one people. The Spirit of compassion guides us to each other and only by following this guide will we be able to “worship in spirit and truth”.


Compassionate God,

in your mercy, remove the scales from our eyes

and lead us to repent and to worship you.

In the midst of our sorrow and despite the depth of our sin,

give us the capacity to love you with all our hearts.

As we journey together with one heart and mind,

may we glorify you in the Spirit’s fellowship,

and witness to those around us.


Hymn Verse

Finish, then, Thy new creation;

Pure and spotless let us be;

Let us see Thy great salvation

Perfectly restored in Thee;

Changed from glory into glory,

Till in Heav'n we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before Thee,

Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Charles Wesley, 1747


  • Global: What are you doing as part of your own pattern of worship to pray for the worldwide church?
  • Local: Within your worship as a local Christian community what are the barriers you face to greater unity and how might they be overcome?
  • Personal: Can you remember a time when you were able to worship “in spirit and in truth”? What was it like?

Go and Do


Global: Use the ecumenical prayer cycle to pray with communities across the global Church - 

Local: Partner with churches in your area to participate in a biblical dialogue to learn with a church community across the world. Visit Just Scripture to find out more - 

Personal: Find and join an online service from a church of a different tradition. Join in this act of worship and reflect on what riches God has shown you through this different experience of worship together.

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Prayers for Christian Unity Day 5

“Ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising”

(Mt 2:9)

Guided by the one God


  • Psalm 121 - I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?
  • Matthew 2:7-10 - Ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising


Again and again, the scriptures tell us how God walks with us. The path may not always be straight: sometimes we are led to retrace our steps, sometimes to return by a different route. But in all our journeying through life, we can be confident that God, who neither “sleeps nor slumbers”, is with us when we slip or fall.

Even in the greatest darkness, God’s light is with us. Most perfectly, in the fullness of time, God sends Jesus Christ, who is the guiding light for all nations, the glory of God in the world, the source of divine light and life.

The way ahead into unity with one another, into closer union with Christ, is not always clear. In our earnest attempts to build unity ourselves it is all too easy to lose sight of this fundamental message of the scriptures: that God does not abandon his people even in their failures and divisiveness. This is God’s message of hope for the whole world. As the story of the Magi reminds us, God guides people of all kinds, by the light of the star, to where Christ, the light of the world, is to be found.


God our Guide,

you sent the star to lead the Magi to your only begotten Son.

Fill us with the confidence that you are walking with us.

Open our eyes to your Spirit, and encourage us in our faith,

so that we may confess that Jesus is Lord,

and worship him as the Magi did in Bethlehem.


Hymn Verse

Hope of my heart, strength of my soul,

Guide Thou my footsteps and keep me whole;

My grace and fortress, Thou wilt be,

Oh, let Thy mighty hand ever lead me.

Barney E Warren, 1893


  • Global: As a global community we continue to face many challenges. How do we seek God’s guidance in our response to those challenges?
  • Local: How is God guiding your Christian community at this time? Where are you being called to act?
  • Personal: Reflect on a time when you have felt or seen God’s guidance. What was that like?

Go and Do


Global: Start (or continue) a conversation around your Christian community about how you are responding to the challenges of climate justice. As churches, take part in global prayer and action for climate justice (

Local: Plan a Climate Sunday service between the churches in your locality. Visit for resources and inspiration.

Personal: Seek out a community to be part of to support you in your action responding to global challenges. For example if you like craft you could turn your skills into activism in community with the

Friday, 21 January 2022

Prayers for Christian Unity Day 4

 “And you, Bethlehem… are by no means least”

(Mt 2:6)

Though small and suffering, we lack nothing 


  • Micah 5:2-5a, 7-8 - From you shall come forth … one who is to rule in Israel
  • 1 Peter 2: 21-25 - Now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls
  • Luke 12:32-40 - Do not be afraid, little flock


Today we consider why God chooses to act in and through seemingly insignificant places and people, and what God does with them. These are not new questions – in fact they are the favourite paradoxes of preachers in the Christmas and Epiphany seasons – yet they continue to challenge us. The prophet Micah speaks directly to Bethlehem and predicts its greatness as the home of the shepherd who will defend God’s people. The First Letter of Peter tells people who have already begun to identify Jesus Christ with the Messiah that he is the shepherd who willingly suffers to save the flock. The Gospel of Luke reassures the ‘little flock’ of Christ’s followers that they need have no fear, because God has promised them the Kingdom.

We receive these messages of consolation, directed to particular people at a particular time, in the context of our own concerns and longing for consolation. They invite us to take part in God’s transformation of inequality, violence and injustice, not to wait passively for these things to happen. They call on us to be politically aware; to be locally ready to make our churches little Bethlehems where Christ can be born in generosity and hospitality; to recognise ourselves as a ‘little flock’, unimportant perhaps in the world’s eyes,  but with a value and a vocation in the great mystery of salvation.


Good Shepherd,

the fragmentation of your ‘little flock’ grieves the Holy Spirit.

Forgive our weak efforts and slowness in the pursuit of your will.

Give us wise shepherds after your own heart

who recognise the sin of division,

and those who will lead the churches

with righteousness and holiness, to unity in you.

We ask you, Lord, to hear our prayer. Amen.


Every Sunday night, back in the day,

in Church,

there we would be, my Dad and I, chanting:

He hath put down the mighty from their seats,

and exalted them of low degree.

He hath filled the hungry with good things

and the rich he hath sent empty away.

(Well, in William Morgan’s words, more starkly.)

And then I learned

that this wasn’t about people, and sustenance, and things, and capital, and nowt,

that they were just symbols, spiritual things, nice.

Is God that thick?


  • Global: This material was being prepared as violence once more raged in Jerusalem and  Gaza. How can the worldwide Christian community best support those Christians who share this contested place to be light in its darkness, transformers of fear, agents of peace?
  • Local: How might our local churches become “Bethlehems” – places where Christ can  be born, welcomed and honoured?
  • Personal: When have you recognised the life of God growing in people and places to which you have previously paid little attention?

Go and Do


Global: Visit Amos Trust ( to find out more about how to create peace with justice in the Middle East.

Local: Plan as churches together to pray for peace in the Middle East on the 24th of every month. You can use these resources from Christian Aid to aid your prayers - .

Personal: Bring the fears that keep you in division from other traditions before the Good Shepherd in prayer. Meditate on the words of the Good Shepherd – ‘do not be afraid, little flock.’

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Prayers for Christian Unity Day 3

“When king Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him”

(Mt 2:3)

The presence of Christ, turning the world upside down


  • Psalm 2:1-10 - Why do the nations conspire…?
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 - But the Lord is faithful, he will strengthen you


Christ’s coming disturbs the ways of the world. He comes in humility, denouncing the evil of injustice and oppression that accompanies the ambition for power, wealth and status. Jesus calls for a change of heart and a transformation of life, which will bring liberation from all that dehumanises. This creates disturbance precisely because he rocks the boat of those who seek only their own interests and neglect the common good. But for those who work for peace and unity, Christ’s coming brings the light of hope.

We are invited to commit ourselves to act constructively to make justice a reality, acknowledging where we have strayed from God’s ways of justice and peace. Then the answer to our prayer for Christian unity becomes visible as others recognise in us Christ’s presence in the world. We can bring the light of hope to those living in the darkness of political unrest, social poverty, and structural discrimination. The Good News is that God is faithful, always strengthening and protecting us, inspiring us to work for the good of others, especially the victims of oppression, hatred, violence and pain.


Lord, you led us out of darkness to hope in Jesus.

Unite us in our commitment to establish your reign of love, justice and peace,

bringing light to those living in the darkness of despair and disillusionment.

Shine your light upon us and surround us with the warmth of your love.

Lift us up to you, so that our lives may glorify you,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Verse / Poem

In the school Nativity Play

they cast the class bully as Herod.


No acting required.

Jesus, you ask

which role shall I play

in my world, your world, today.

And you will me to seek first

your holy inspiration

that I might be just



  • Global: Where have you seen the values of the Church disturbing society’s values for the common good?
  • Local: Is your church or group of churches too comfortable in a discomforting world? How could your church or group be disturbed into more meaningful action?
  • Personal: When have you been disturbed into doing what was right?

Go and Do


Global: Covid-19 turned the world upside down and provided an opportunity to reimagine how things could be. Find out more about and get involved in the campaign to crack the crises ( and ensure this opportunity for transformation is not lost.

Local: Consider as churches together what situations of injustice or exclusion exist in your locality, work with others in your community to challenge and change the systems that need turning upside-down.

Personal: Take time today to sit in stillness and discern what injustice most disturbs your conscience, spend time praying, researching and planning how you can take action about it (if you are not already involved in doing so).

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.