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.

Friday, 31 March 2023

Journey through Lent

The second lesson is that spirituality is supposed to be social. Many assume that spirituality is purely vertical, that it’s strictly between the believer and God. But spirituality is also horizontal; it’s between the believer and other people. Part of the problem in Isaiah 58 was that the people coupled their fasting with the oppression of others. Any spirituality that functions to oppress people is out of bounds. 

The ancient preacher John Chrysostom said they were abstaining from food but not from harming others. The fast God desires is for us to abstain from oppressing people. Isaiah 58:6-7 says, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?” Self-denial for the sake of impressing God is out. 

Self-denial for the sake of helping others is in. In other words, self-denial is not undertaken for asceticism but for altruism. It does not please God when we go without so that God might do us a favour. It pleases God when we go without so that we can furnish something for others. One appropriate undertaking for Lent is to fast from certain things in order to furnish resources that others need. For example, we might skip lunch in order to provide lunch for someone who otherwise would not have a meal.

Lord, let me live from day to day

In such a self-forgetful way

That even when I kneel to pray,

My prayer shall be for others.

Others, Lord, yes, others;

Let this my motto be.

Help me to live for others

That I may live like You. Amen

Thursday, 30 March 2023

Journey through Lent

So just 3 days of Lent Journey remain. In any good learning situation it is always important to review, revise and renew what we have learned.

The first lesson is that spirituality can become selfish. Isaiah 58:3 says, “Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.” It’s a problem, says the prophet, when believers reduce spirituality to a mere tool for our own benefit. In this particular case, the spiritual practice of fasting had become a masquerade for self-service. 

The reason people were fasting, it appears, was so God would do what they wanted. Some folks kneel to pray only because God might come around to giving them what they want. Some folks attend worship as an attempt to get God on their side. Bible scholar Alex Motyer points out that this is more of a Canaanite mentality than an Israelite mentality. The Canaanites were the ones who tried to do things for the gods so they could get a reward. The Israelites, on the other hand, undertook spiritual acts in gratitude to the God who had saved them. Their piety was a response to God’s grace. One sin we might repent of during Lent is the sin of self-serving spirituality.

It is reported that St. Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia, one winters night, going to his devotions in the snow barefooted, his servant, who endeavoured to imitate his master’s piety, began to faint, through the inclemency of the weather, till the king commanded him to follow him, and to set his feet in the same footsteps which his feet should mark for him. So does Jesus command us to mark His footsteps; for He has trodden down difficulties, and made the way easier and fit for our feet by the argument of His own example.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

I put my trust in you,O God,

do not let me be put to shame; 

do not let my enemies exult over me.

Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; 

let those be ashamed who neglect your faithfulness,

and who act with evil intent. 

Teach me your ways, O God. Amen

Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Journey through Lent

The 3rd positive thought is that Lent is a commitment to yield the authority of my life to Jesus. I know that may not sound very positive but bear with me.

In Lent, we no longer pretend. We stand and confess that we are broken sinners in desperate need of help from God. The church comes alongside and says, “We’re all in this together.” Is it easy? Of course not.

Our world is full of hurt and desperation. Not only do we deal with issues of human sin, but we also live with real evil in our lives. Genuine demonic power exists, and we need all the help we can get, help that can come only from God.

It is deeply counter-cultural to make a commitment to Christ. It is hard to yield to him and say yes to allowing him to use you as he sees fit. But the great love he has shown us draws us closer to him and allows him to use us to make a difference in the lives of others who need gentleness, care, and compassion.

To confess “Jesus is Lord” means we are subservient to him, we come under his authority, we are not in charge of our lives anymore, and we ask him to call the shots. We rely on what God did in Jesus to bring us the very things we need: mercy, forgiveness, his companionship, and the promise of eternal life.

This is the third lesson of Lent: to commit our lives to Christ and come closer to Him.

1 Take my life and let it be

consecrated, Lord, to thee.

Take my moments and my days;

let them flow in endless praise,

let them flow in endless praise.

2 Take my hands and let them move

at the impulse of thy love.

Take my feet and let them be

swift and beautiful for thee,

swift and beautiful for thee.

3 Take my voice and let me sing

always, only, for my King.

Take my lips and let them be

filled with messages from thee,

filled with messages from thee.

4 Take my silver and my gold;

not a mite would I withhold.

Take my intellect and use

every power as thou shalt choose,

every power as thou shalt choose.

5 Take my will and make it thine;

it shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart it is thine own;

it shall be thy royal throne,

it shall be thy royal throne.

6 Take my love; my Lord, I pour

at thy feet its treasure store.

Take myself, and I will be

ever, only, all for thee,

ever, only, all for thee.  Amen

Frances R. Havergal (1874)

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Journey through Lent

The second positive thought regarding Lent is that it is a time to realise we cannot gain God’s favour by doing good things but that there is an entryway to inheriting all that God has given us?

Paul tells us, “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). It sounds simple. So simple even a child could do it. But here’s the dilemma: If we think we need to be good in order to receive God’s promises, we can never measure up.

The entryway into relationship with God can never be based on me qualifying myself because I’m a good person. Yes, I may do good things, but there’s also a lot of sin and brokenness in my life. 

From scripture, we know that each of us is a mixture of good and evil, sin and righteousness, cruelty and blessing. If we doubt any of this, we need only to look at the thoughts of our hearts, those things we never tell anyone. We find sin and brokenness not only out in the world but deep inside ourselves.

If we try to gain God’s favour by doing good actions, we move backward. During Lent, if we try to give up something and think we can earn something from God in return, we are, in effect, trying to earn some sort of divine merit badge.

The bottom line is that we need God to take the initiative and bring us what we don’t deserve. God is not interested in you giving up something this Lent to earn more points with him. What matters to him is the fact that he loves you, cares for you deeply, and wants to bring you into his presence.

This is the second lesson of Lent: to understand that we can never earn our inheritance based on our goodness it is a gift of grace.

May Your grace abound in my life’s , in my home and even in my heart. I ask for Your grace so that I will live a life that is worth looking at a godly life that is preaching and bringing glory to Your Name. I know that in my weakness through Your grace Your strength is shown. I ask this in the Name of Jesus. Amen

Monday, 27 March 2023

Journey through Lent

Three Lenten positive thoughts as we enter the last week of Lent. The first is Lent is an expression of gratitude.

The Book of Deuteronomy is one of the books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible. It contains God’s instruction to the people of Israel. We read Deuteronomy 26 about Moses telling the people to remember the good things God has done for them. As an act of thanksgiving, Moses encourages them to gather up the bounty of their lives to present before the priest.

The remembrance of God’s blessings involves the recitation of their story. God took Abraham out of a particular district, moved him, and eventually settled him in the land of Egypt. From there, he and his progeny became a huge nation and a threat to the Egyptians. The nation fell under the thumb of the Egyptians in slavery. But eventually, God, with a “mighty hand and an outstretched arm” performed real miracles to set the people of Israel free and bring them into the Promised Land (Deut. 26:8).

This carries over to what Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans. What has God done? Paul tells us that the Lord is generous because he gives freely (Rom. 10:12). He created the world and filled it with beauty; he has raised us up and made us in his own image. God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to bring forgiveness and mercy to the brokenness of our lives. In Christ’s death and resurrection, he opens up the way to eternal life. All these actions happen because God loves us. Out of his love, he promises us the companionship of his presence.

As we experience the last days of this Lent, let’s first remember with gratitude what God has done.

Giver of all good things, we thank you:

for health and vigour,

for the air that gives the breath of life,

the sun that warms us,

and the good food that makes us strong;

for happy homes and for the friends we love,

for all that makes it good to live.

Make us thankful and eager to repay,

by cheerfulness and kindliness,

and by a readiness to help others.

Freely we have received; let us freely give,

in the name of him who gave his life for us,

Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Saturday, 25 March 2023

Journey through Lent

Yesterday we considered how we turn our negative thoughts into positive ones. For today our quote comes directly from the Old Testament, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5

A television documentary preceding the 1988 Winter Olympics featured blind skiers being trained for slalom skiing, impossible as that sounds. Paired with sighted skiers, the blind skiers were taught on the flats how to make right and left turns. When that was mastered, they were taken to the slalom slope, where their sighted partners skied beside them shouting, "Left!" and "Right!" As they obeyed the commands, they were able to negotiate the course and cross the finish line, depending solely on the sighted skiers' word. It was either complete trust or catastrophe.

What a vivid picture of the Christian life! In this world, we are in reality blind about what course to take. We must rely solely on the Word of the only One who is truly sighted--God Himself. His Word gives us the direction we need to finish the course.

What thoughts occupy your mind in your day to day living?

The renowned advocate of Positive Thinking was the Rev’d Norman Vincent Peale who served as the pastor of Marble Collegiate Church, New York from 1932 for more than a half century until his retirement in 1984. He wrote, “A The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”

O God, my Strength, I put my trust in You. You have never forsaken those who seek You. You have never let me down. I know that You never will let me down because my life so far has been a testimony of Your greatness. Mould me into Your image, and hold me close to You. Show me how to mature as a Christian and improve on my walk of faith. Steady my trust in You so that it never wavers, no matter what battles I face on this earth. I declare that my faithfulness to You will be strong at all times. Amen.

Friday, 24 March 2023

Journey through Lent

Today we start our devotional with a longer quote from C S Lewis

“If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philosophical importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self- denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself.” (from The Weight of Glory, by C. S. Lewis)

Perhaps this is a new way of looking at Lent where through prayerful practice, change happens, where the  negative becomes a positive. Do we need to go beyond the common focus of Lent reflected in the question on everyone’s lips in the season of Lent: “What are you giving up for Lent?” Surely the practice and prayer of Lent is to become a springboard from which to establish a lasting spiritual positivity.

This is the essence of Paul’s pleading to the Christian’s of Philippi when he says, “Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don't ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)

Well might we pray, Lord, thinking of these things is not so easy. I am bombarded with pictures and stories of what is unjust, dishonourable, impure, violent, shoddy and disreputable. This is what fills the journals and screens. Good news sells no papers. But I am not being escapist when I linger on people's goodness. The fact is, most of us do our best. It is the purveyors of negative  who are escapist, depressing company. Help me to “think on these things”. Amen

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Journey through Lent

Perhaps the greatest of all Stradivarius mysteries is why no modern violinmaker has been able to replicate Stradivari’s work. The violins of Stradivari’s time were treated with a varnish made from the resinous material of any of a number of possible plants. We don’t know what method Stradivari used to cook the resin (or for how long he cooked it), but its translucent sheen lent to the violins a robust whiskey colour and may have also enhanced the wood’s ability to echo sound so clearly.

We can measure the instruments’ varying lengths, depths and widths. Even a marginally talented copyist can make a violin with the specs of a Stradivarius. Yet no one has been able to make an instrument that yields the extraordinary tonal quality of a Stradivarius.

Stephanie Chase, who has studied the essence of the Stradivarius says, "Because the perfection of a Stradivarius has never been matched by another maker past or present, it makes you think we must be missing something...I’ve begun to believe there must be a higher concept, some overriding principle that he abided by that we just have not been able to understand."

Spiritual life is instantaneous. Spiritual growth is progressive. We don’t always understand, but then God doesn’t expect us to understand everything.

Perhaps we are in a similar place to which the apostle Paul found himself when he wrote, “Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ. (Philippians  3:12-14)

Paul is explaining that the work of the Lord was not yet complete in him. He was still pursuing his goal, doing the work of the Lord, reaching upward toward the prize. To focus on moving forward, reaching upward, toward the prize of life, striving for perfection to be more like Jesus.

Prayer; Our Heavenly Father, we are in awe of your love and forgiveness. We thank you for your Son Jesus. He was an example of perfection, who died for our redemption. Teach us to rely on You, to leave the past behind, and reach upward toward the goal of becoming more like Jesus. Like the magnolia blossoms are open and reaching upward toward the sun, let us be open-hearted and reach upward toward the prize God has provided through Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Journey through Lent

For the remainder of our journey we will contemplate how folk from different context view Lent.

For example, a Catholic priest working in an inner city was walking down an alley one evening on his way home when a young man came down the alley behind him and poked a knife against his back. "Give me your money," the young man said.

The priest opened his jacket and reached into an inner pocket to remove his wallet, exposing his clerical collar. "Oh, I'm sorry, Father," said the young man, "I didn't see your collar. I don't want YOUR money."

Trembling from the scare, the priest removed a cigar from his shirt pocket and offered it to the young man. "Here," he said. "Have a cigar."

"Oh, no, I can't do that," the young man replied, "I gave them up for Lent." 

We too can face such a duality in our thinking as to how we view our passage through the Lenten season, what Jesus called serving two masters.

We all recall the words of Jesus when he said,”'No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matthew 6:24 In the same passage he implores his followers to ‘set your heart on his kingdom first’. It’s is perhaps asking what does this mean for me?  How do I come to a balance between the kind of trust the Gospel invites me to and the need to work and provide for myself and my family? Do I allow my values to be set by others. Perhaps I need to review my wants and desires and ask God's help to be happy with the good things that I enjoy, to resist being wistful about what I am told I lack.

Generous God, in abundance you give us things both spiritual and physical. Help us to hold lightly the fading things of this earth and grasp tightly the lasting things of your kingdom, so that what we are and do and say may be our gifts to you through Christ, who beckons all to seek the things above, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Journey through Lent

Today we reach a milestone in our daily devotional from St Nicholas Methodist Church as we reach our 1000th posting.

We continue with a Lenten quote to mark our journey so far. Here, in these stark words from one who knew the hardship of the 1940s concentration camps we find Dietrich Bonhoeffer speaking of Self-denial. He writes, “Self-denial means knowing only Christ, and no longer oneself. It means seeing only Christ, who goes ahead of us, and no longer the path that is too difficult for us[…]. Self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.”

Jesus shared such thoughts with his followers when he said, “He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?” Mark 8:34-37

To be asked to take up a cross would have been really shameful. In Jesus’ time, the cross had not yet become the sign of victory and resurrection. Going with Jesus means often going against the tides of opinion, values, behaviour or thought. The cross was a real symbol of losing life, both physical and spiritual. Prayer gives courage and strength to live like Jesus, to listen with the openness of the disciple’s ear, and to share his life in our world.

There is a cost to discipleship. Following Christ may make us feel foolish in front of others. In our following of the Lord, we need the support and solidarity of like-minded people. Our endurance and self-sacrifice will bring forth the kingdom in ways we may not expect.

Jesus, give us your wisdom to guide us in choosing the better path in our daily lives - the path that leads to life and to you. Draw our hearts to your truth which always sets us free. Amen

Monday, 20 March 2023

Journey through Lent

Today’s Lenten quote is anonymous, "While I am asking God how I should observe an upcoming Lenten season, I may remember where I spiritually was during Lent the previous year and reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same. I hear and read the familiar stories about Jesus as he approached the cross and am reminded that while my circumstances change, the truths of the gospel remain the same." 

It's 8 am and there's a knock on the door, and a man gives you £100. You ask, "Why are you giving this to me?" "I just wanted to share it," he answers. That evening you're telling everyone. Next day at 8 am, there's the same man knocking on your door and handing you £100. This happens every day for three weeks, and by then you're just waiting at the door. By the end of the seventh week, you're leaving an envelope at the door: Leave money here. 

After three months, you go out and check the envelope and there's nothing there. Same the next day. On the third day, you're waiting at the door, and you see the man walk past your place to your neighbour's. "Hey, that's the wrong house," you yell. The next day the same thing happens, "Hey, he doesn't deserve that," you shout. Eventually, you become angry and resentful that you are no longer getting something you didn't deserve in the first place. You took it all for granted. In the beginning, the sense of privilege was very high, but over time it diminished and you began to see it as your right.

Paul in writing to the church at Galatia writes, “ So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10

In the Greek Olympic games of old, a unique race was run. The winner was not the runner who finished first — it was the runner who finished with his torch still lit!

There are times in our lives when we feel like we just can’t continue in the race. These are precisely the times when the enemy loves to assault us to the point of breaking and torment us saying “You’ll never make it to the finish line, you may as well just quit now”. This is the time we need to cling on to God’s promises! The Lord will soon reward our diligence for all our toiling here in this world. Paul said, “Let us not grow weary in well-doing for in due season we shall reap if we do not faint”.

Let’s allow God’s wonderful promises to strengthen and comfort us in each circumstance so that we can run the race — not to finish first, but to run together, side by side — the flame of our torch reaching the finish line blazing brightly with fire for Him! 

In the offering of our selves,

as well as the living of our days,

may we not grow weary of doing what is right,

but commit to speaking up for the voiceless,

healing the broken,

feeding the hungry,

and all those mercies

which are such a part of your heart

and hopes for all your children.  

In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Journey through Lent

Tomorrow, half way through our Lenten Journey, we have the oasis of Mothering Sunday. I read of a seminary student who once preached from Proverbs 31 on Mother’s Day. This passage contains these verses. 

An accomplished woman who can find?
Her value is far beyond rubies.

Her husband’s heart trusts in her,
and he lacks nothing valuable.

She brings him good and not harm
all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax
and her hands work willingly.

She is like merchant ships,
bringing her sustenance from afar.

She rises while it is still night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her servant girls.

She considers a field and buys it.
From the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

She girds herself with strength
and invigorates her arms.

She discerns that her business is good.
Her lamp never goes out at night.

She extends her hands to the spindle
and her palm grasps the spinning wheel.

She spreads out her palms to the poor,
and extends her hands to the needy.

Much later in life he commented that he could only imagine the burden he must have laid on mothers that day as he described the lofty standard of the Proverbs 31 wife and mother.

This passage is not dictating how godly mothers and wives are supposed to act. Instead, this passage is describing Wisdom by means of a metaphor. This passage portrays how God’s people can practice wisdom in their everyday lives.

One of the qualities of a life of wisdom is industry. Biblical wisdom, applied in everyday life, appears as someone who buys and sells land, designs clothing, and engages in financial transactions. Through hard work and innovation, a wise person turns the raw material of creation into something that bene­fits others.

God is the original creator, investor, and designer. He is the original entrepreneur who brings raw material into a form that is usable for us.

Today God continues that work through us. He uses real estate workers who develop land into housing; bakers who use ingredients to make tasty, healthful food; educators, builders, manufacturers, programmers, and more who help make our cities and nations run efficiently. God works through us in so many ways. How are we labouring with God to cultivate his ­creation?

Creator God, help us to use the gifts and re­sources you give us to benefit ­others today. In the name of Jesus, the true wisdom of God, we pray. Amen.

Friday, 17 March 2023

Journey through Lent

By way of a change, today we have a different take on journeying through Lent by means of a story.

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you”.  The bearer asked, “Why? What are you ashamed of?”  The Pot replied, “For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts”.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”  As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat.  But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologised to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

"O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen." — Henri Nouwen

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Journey through Lent

Walter Brueggemann (born March 11, 1933) is an American Protestant Old Testament scholar and theologian who is widely considered one of the most influential Old Testament scholars of the last several decades.Walter . He expresses travelling the Lenten Journey in this way. "I imagine Lent for you and for me as a great departure from the greedy, anxious anti-neighbourliness of oureconomy, a great departure from our exclusionary politics that fears the other, a great departure from self-indulgent consumerism that devours creation. And then an arrival in a new neighbourhood, because it is a gift to be simple, it is a gift to be free; it is a gift to come down where we ought to be.” ― 

I wonder, do we perceive Lent as a difficult complicated journey, when in reality it is within the stripped down simplicity of the season that truth is found.

The psalmist puts it simply  “Be still, and know that I am God." and in Luke we read the simple yet profound parable coached in a simple narrative  "...a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” 

I suggest that the answer the Lawyer got from Jesus was not the one he was looking for. In our times, we seem to be very good at finding reasons to speak less and less of solidarity and more and more of ourselves and our needs. The parable of the good Samaritan sounds as relevant today as it was in the times of Jesus. It does not allow us to find justification in our rationalisations, but tells us, ‘Go and do the same yourself’.


We long for your simple gifts for our lives.

We long for your peace.

We long for your joy.

We long for your hope.

We long for your love.

We long for your touch.

We long for your grace.

We long for your healing.

We long for your touch.

O Lord, open a spring in our lives

that daily refreshes us with your simple gifts.


Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Journey through Lent

It could be said that Lent is a time for reflective practice. Broadly, reflective practice involves thinking about how you do things, and trying to understand why you do what you do, and what you can do better. Our Lenten quote  today comes from the pen of Scott McNight  an American New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity, theologian, and author who says,  "We live in a world of evaluations, assessments, and measurements, but Jesus turns his gaze deeper because he knows that what is measurable can be faked.” 

Over the recent past we have heard much of the phenomena of fake news that has entered our cultural consciousness. Yet all too often, we base so much of our individual motives and actions  upon a false premise that has entered our lives disguised as a truth.

The writer to the Ephesians (4:25) advises, "What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretence. Tell your neighbour the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself." 

When legendary magician Harry Houdini came into a town to do his show, he often went to the local jail, gathering a crowd of people along the way. To get buzz going about his upcoming performance, he asked the jailer to lock him in a cell. Time after time, jail after jail, town after town, Houdini escaped within minutes. But one jailer had heard that Houdini was coming, and the jailer was ready.

When Houdini closed the cell door, the jailer put the key in the lock and secretly turned it in the wrong direction. He then removed the key, and everyone watched as Houdini struggled to escape—by unknowingly locking himself in repeatedly. Finally, in frustration, Houdini admitted he could not escape. The jailer then revealed his deception. Houdini had believed a lie, and the lie had held him captive. Living your life by a lie is a lot like believing the door is locked when it isn’t. On the other side is freedom. We first have to commit to some personal inner falsehood detection to experience the abundant life grace we find in Jesus. 

Transforming Lord, free us from falsehood and deception, so we may know and tell the truth.

Give to us the Spirit of turning, turning from our arrogance and ignorance, turning from our exclusiveness and parochialism, turning from our unilateralism and pre-emption.

Empower us, O God, to turn toward a genuine national humility, to turn toward a respect for other religions and cultures, to turn toward cooperation and national alliances for the common good of humanity, to turn toward the way of peace.

And in our turning may new vistas of hope appear on the horizon of this world’s terrain of terror and fear. For the sake of Christ, Instigator of just peace, we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Journey through Lent

Nana Dolce, an author  and visiting lecturer at the Women's Teaching Lab at Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington says of Lent, “What is more important than the practices we take on is the heart attitude behind them. If there’s anything we should give up this time of year, it’s our sense of superiority either to those outside the church or those inside the church who do things differently than we do. The cross levels us all. And that’s true whether or not you practice Lent.”

However, of such practice, Paul writing to the Philippians said, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7  and  “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9

As we consider this verse for ourselves, we must ask these questions. Do we see and recognise these attributes of which Paul spoke? Are we practicing them as we live? Are we near to God? Do we have the peace of God guarding us? I do not know about you, but in studying this list of attributes Christ portrayed and considering myself, I recognise I need to grow more. To do this I will have to study God’s Word, pray to Him for the power to overcome the temptation that leads me to fall short of these goals, and practice the attributes. As I do these, my relationship with God deepens and I begin to look more like Christ. I begin to emulate Him and portray His characteristics.

A minister was being shown through a large weaving mill where one of his parishioners worked. Mentioning that particular employee to the foreman, the pastor said, "I suppose that John is one of your best workers." The foreman responded, ’No, I’m sorry to say he isn’t. The trouble with John is that he stands around talking about his religion when he ought to be attending to his loom. He is a good enough fellow and has the making of a fine weaver, but he hasn’t learned yet that while he is on the job his religion ought to come out of his fingers and not out of his mouth."

God of peace,

cause us to rejoice in you always,

make us gentle to everyone,

keep us from being anxious about anything—

help us to ask you for what we need, with thanksgiving;

and let your peace

guard our hearts and minds

in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Monday, 13 March 2023

Journey through Lent

N T Wright, one time Bishop of Durham and renowned theologian advocates that “Lent is a time for discipline, for confession, for honesty, not because God is mean or fault-finding or finger-pointing but because he wants us to know the joy of being cleaned out, ready for all the good things he now has in store.” 

How do we see God, what are the chief characteristics we perceive of the Divine as we journey though Lent? 

A boy asked his father, “Dad, what is the size of God? How big is He?”

The Father looked up at the sky and saw a little plane In the far distance and asked his son, “What is the size of the plane in the sky?”

The boy replied, “It is really small. I can hardly see it in the sky."

Then, the father said, “Son, let’s go on a trip to the airport. I want to show you something.”

The boy jumped in his father’s car and off they went to the airport.

As they approached the plane, the father asked his son: “Now, Son, how big is this plane?” The boy looked at the airplane and said, “Wow, Dad, that plane is huge! It’s a lot bigger than that plane in the sky, isn’t it!”

Then the father put his arm around his son and said, “Son, God’ size is like this plane. It is the same one you saw in the sky from a distance and it looked so small. God’s size depends on how close or how far you are from him. The closer you are……the more we see of God ”

In Matthews Gospel (5:8) we read, “Jesus You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”

We have no portrait of you, Lord, but in the Beatitudes you show us your interior landscape, the source of your joy. This is not a set of regulations, but a vision of where true happiness lies. 

As I pray, your goodness is the ground of my expectation. Therefore, I confidently ask that you strengthen me to enjoy Your goodness personally and reflect your goodness publicly. May my family, friends, neighbours, peers, co-workers, acquaintances, and even enemies, experience your goodness through me today. 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.