Mike`s Blog

The musings of a Methodist Minister

Rotary:making a Difference

Posted by mike redshaw on September 30, 2017

I'm currently in Llandudno at my annual Rotary District Conference and it's always a good weekend with friends from Burton Rotary Club and other friends from West Ashfield Rotary Club, as well as folk from a variety of clubs. Catching up with how we all are you become aware of the sense of family that holds Rotary together.

 

The theme for this Rotary year is “Making a Difference” but the Rotary motto is “Service above Self”. Founded on 23rd February 1905 Rotary has in many ways tried to change people's lives for the better, by men and women giving of their time, energy and resources in a variety of ways. It's a mixture of fun, graft and fellowship but at the end of the day it's about Rotarians wanting to make a difference.

 

And that difference is seen in my own club through its fundraising, charitable giving, support of individuals and groups who are striving to do incredible things in their own lives. We have planted crocus bulbs in local schools and Burton hospital as part of the Eradicate Polio Now campaign, by bringing awareness of the dreadful illness and to highlight how close it is to creating a completely clear of polio world.

 

We support young people in our young chef award, young photographers and young footballers. In a few weeks time three of us will sleep out for the local YMCA.

 

And through all of this and much more we have fun, fun, fun !

This weekend we have danced, laughed but learnt also of what Rotary is achieving in local communities and internationally.

Particularly good has been Andy Cope under the heading “The art of Brilliance” explaining about the mindset to be happy and positive; look him up on YouTube.

Another good speaker was Malcolm Wells about Canine Partners (assistance dogs) and we found ourselves caught up in his enthusiasm.

 

Tomorrow, we have more including Children's Air Ambulance and a keynote speech from Geoff Miller, OBE, a former England international cricketer.

So, to anyone who thinks Rotary is just a bunch of old men and women sitting around being grumpy, WE'RE NOT. We are trying to make a difference.

Why not consider asking your local Rotary Club if you too can make a difference ?


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Climbing the wall

Posted by mike redshaw on September 21, 2017

I don’t know how many of you will remember this balloon, but it was given to me in 2015 when I had my first Acute Pancreatitis attack and I was off work for a couple of weeks. I still have it and Piper loves playing with it when she visits.

Today I hit what I call ‘the Wall’ when tiredness comes on suddenly. As I look back its the cumulative effect of holding down Circuit Superintendency at a time when the Circuit was three Presbyters down, throughout the summer and at the same time a sharp increase in my role as co-deputy chair of District. The former involved more circuit work, in terms of covering services, ladies meetings, church councils, Local Preachers meetings etc as well as pastoral visiting and admin tasks. The latter involved visiting new Presbyters and Deacons to the District and then being a part of their welcome services, District coffee morning and an induction day for folk new to the District. Its involved a round of circuit meetings, District conversations, a trip to London on District business, and so much more.

Throughout the Summer, which is normally battery re-charge time, we’ve also been arranging to move Manses to the other side of Burton and that brings its own stresses in itself. Hopefully, next week !!!!

To top it all yesterday involved an 8 hour trip to Penrith in Cumbria for a meeting. Thankfully I wasn’t driving, but a good colleague, Andy, did all the driving.

 

And then today tiredness hit; I even found myself having to park the car in services on the A50 and having a 10 minute nap and then a further sleep when I got home.

 

How do I cope with these moments which, thankfully, are few and far between ?

Firstly, its a matter of sleeping which I’m lucky that Ive never had trouble with. A kip here and there usually keeps it at bay but on a day like this its about a longer sleep. Already Im feeling much more like my old self.

Secondly, its about remembering why Im doing it; I came into Ministry not out of a desire to build the Methodist Church but as a genuine response to a calling from God who wants to use me, warts and all, to further His

Kingdom; a Kingdom of love, acceptance, tolerance and the teachings of Jesus Christ my Lord. A Kingdom, not separate from the world but within the world with all its garbage, shame and delight. A Kingdom of God reconciled with the world He created.

Thirdly, its about holding onto the joys of the moment; the privilege of greeting and preaching at the welcome services; the sense of fellowship with other colleagues, lay and ordained; the opportunity (as I had today) of holding a family through bereavement, and last Sunday (& next) holding a baby for baptism. Its about seeing the beauty around us, both in and in other people. Yesterday before setting off for Penrith a simple meal with Rebecca and Michelle to celebrate Michelles birthday (what a great girl she is). Its about having the love of Alison, even when I’m being grumpy. I couldn’t be half the person I am without her.

These are all the things that hold me, inspire me, comfort and excite me. I am so privileged to live the life I do, and I am grateful beyond measure, to a God who called me in the first place.

So my feeble personae keeps on; wobbling but never falling down. LOL

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4 weddings and a lot of great memories

Posted by mike redshaw on August 15, 2017

As I've started as co-deputy Chair of District and Paul and I have begun fully covering for Revd Loraine as she experiences her Presidential year, I was completely aware of how busy I would be. However August has turned out to be much busier than anticipated.

Amongst the round of Chair duties, such as welcoming new Ministers to the District, saying goodbye to the leaving Ministers and so on, I have had four weddings over the last three weeks.

 

The first was to take part in the wedding of Andrew Chalmers and Elena, in Romania. Having known Andrew for the last 10 years this was a very special privilege, flying out on the Friday and returning on the Monday with the actual wedding blessing on the Sat. (by Romanian law they had already held a civil ceremony). An outdoor setting in the grounds of the church and family home the sun was glorious and the party till late at night. It also gave me the chance to meet again Alistair Chalmers and his wife Sabina. What a delight that was.

As most of you know the Chalmers family mean a lot to Alison and I so this was a special honour.
The second wedding was very different; in my smallest Chapel, it seemed like amiable chaos ! The groom was still selecting music on his phone for the service, 15 minutes prior to the start of the service. There were 10 bridesmaids ranging upwards from 2 years to early twenties. On top of this there was a best man and two small page boys nervously looking after the rings. There were so many in the bridal party I could hardly move at the front of my church. Despite the chaotic feel there was a sense of joy in the air, but my nerves were shattered.The fourth wedding was a unique affair Iain Barnett was one of my young boys from a previous circuit. Iain and Kayleigh were married in the heart of Sherwood Forest at the visitor centre with photos at the Major Oak. They asked if I would give them a blessing. Fully expecting it to be a public blessing they took me to one side and under a tree I gave them my blessing. A wonderfully intimate moment between the three of us. The bizarre thing was that because of the muddy conditions, the bride had bright custard yellow Wellington boots under her gorgeous white wedding dress !
The fourth and final wedding was the most personal as my youngest daughter, Vikki married Mark. What greater honour can there be than to walk your daughter down the aisle and entrust her to another man.
I felt proud, honoured, nervous, excited and a whole host of other emotions. We had a great day seeing family and friends and making new ones. Marks best man, Julian, was in Marks words a 'legend' and I'm inclined to agree. He and Mark did so well
And of course it was this wedding when Vikki and Marks daughter Piper acted as flower girl alongside Caitlyn. They were both delightful, as were the older bridesmaids “crazy aunts” Rebecca and Michelle and Matron of Honour, Julia.
So I close the month, not only with a new waistcoat, but with a whole host of memories, far too many to list, but above all else I thank God for the opportunity to preach at an overseas wedding, meet and guide a local couple as they set out. I thank God for that intimate blessing under the tree in Sherwood and the fact that having left his church 4 years ago Iain still wanted me to be at his highest moment in life.
Finally, I give thanks to God for the gift of family and that privilege of bringing them up and acting them flying the nest to begin their own lives.
God at the centre of all four, albeit in different ways, but he was present nevertheless, and when we let him he'll lead us on the journey we call life.
 

 

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……….. and so life goes on

Posted by mike redshaw on June 27, 2017

I was in London last week and after my meeting I strolled down to Hyde Park and relaxed in the hot sunshine.

As I lay on the grass, half sleepily, I reflected on all that has happened of late: the Manchester bombing, the Westminster attack, the Finsbury Park mosque attack and of course the dreadful tower block fire not too far from Hyde Park itself. I prayed for peace and love to dominate our world, knowing that because human beings are involved it's unlikely in my lifetime, and yet believing that for God ALL things are possible.

 

I looked around me and I saw a group of young people in shorts and bikinis laughing and dancing, I saw groups of people dabbling their feet in the nearby fountain, I saw a young mother and her baby just enjoying time together. Later I walked down through the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street passing through the hordes of shoppers and business folk with little or no time to stop and pause.

 

In short 'life goes on'. Throughout the terrorist atrocities the constant cry has been “they won't stop us being or our way of life; we carry on” and here I was witnessing precisely that.

 

I'm now on holiday, still enjoying the sunshine, and getting on with life for that's all we can do; live each moment as God intended us to, not worry about that over which we have no direct control, seek in our own lives to pursue holiness, seek justice for all and, certainly for me, look at the life of Jesus and model my own life on his

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London

Posted by mike redshaw on June 4, 2017

Never thought I'd be following up my last post on Manchester with a new one responding to the London attacks of last night.

 

Today is Pentecost; the day the Church marks the coming of the Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus, the birthday of the Church.

 

In the light of last night I've just rattled off some notes to replace the sermon I was going to preach this afternoon at our Circuit service. These are incomplete and will change as I preach but below is the gist of what I'll be saying in an hour and a half stars time. No great theological discourse but a simple message of love. I have no doubt others, more academic than me, will be able to pick fault or say it's too simplistic, but I feel that God has called me to leave the traditional Pentecost theme of bursting out if the room etc. for a simple message of love, community, relations etc.

 

Here it is………….

1). Vs 22. Be doers of the Word, not just hearers.

Many hear scripture read but not many go out and 'do' it.

In summary, many have heard the Word of God, pondered the Word of God, and discussed the Word of God. However, the Word was not primarily given to us for philosophical meditation, but for action. “Do what it says!”

Someone once said (poss C.S.Lewis) “and the word became flesh and theologians turned it back into the word”

2. What are we to do ? “This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome” (I John 5:3). The emphasis of NT is that of love “For God so loved the world that he sent his only son…………..not to condemn the world but to save the world” John 3:16-17

3. We are called to follow the command of Jesus “Love your neighbour” “Love one another” “Love the Lord your God” and so on.

4. How do we do this ? I struggle to love everyone. There are people I find difficult. I need Gods help in this.

5. That's why we need the Holy Spirit more than ever; to teach this world how to love; a world that needs love between religion, creed, colour, sex, politics. When Jesus spoke about “building his church” I believe it wasn't about denominational structures but about communities and relationships, and yes I know that sounds as though I'm selling out my evangelical roots and becoming a wooly liberal, but I'm not. I believe passionately that Jesus died for the restoration of Humanity, for each one of us, but we need to accept Him and seek to follow Him. You and I are called to proclaim the love that restores relationships, the love that builds communities and for that we need the Holy Spirit to work in us.

6. Be honest, we live in a broken world, but if we truly believe that Jesus is Lord then you and I are called to put what we hear into action, follow Jesus, be Christlike in our thinking and actions and through the power of the Holy Spirit within us SHOW, not just talk, LIVE, not just pay lip service and BE the love of Christ in the world.

7. Do you want that ? Pray that the Holy Spirit will transform our hearts not tomorrow but today.

8. in a few moments I'm going to play number 1044, an old Vineyard hymn “Sweet Wind”. Follow the words, and join in if you wish. At the same time, as an act of commitment if you wish, come forward and light a candle for all victims and as a prayer for yourself to respond in love to all whom you meet.

 

 

 

 

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Manchester

Posted by mike redshaw on May 27, 2017

It’s been a week where we have seen the best and worst of people, and I’m sitting here in the Circuit office reflecting on it all.

It’s taken me almost a week to get to this point, so please forgive these ramblings……….

Last Monday, the terrible news of the Manchester bombing. As a person who has previously worked in the Manchester area and who retains a great love for the City and especially Oldham it has caused great upset and anger within me. However, I too concur with those who speak of the Mancunian spirit, having been there when the shopping centre experienced the IRA bombing on 15 June 1996. Thankfully no one was killed but over 200 were injured.

As a City they will rise up again and the generous, good-hearted people with a strong sense of community will prevail I’m sure.

 

For the rest of the week it’s hung heavy in the air and affected the mood of the nation. I personally have found it hard to lift myself above an all-encompassing black cloud; yes, I’ve laughed and joked and supported people for that is what I think I’m called to do, but throughout it all there has been a great heaviness in my heart.

 

I feel for the good, honest, Muslims amongst us who have been again subjected as scape-goats for those who would hijack a peaceful, loving faith for their own twisted ends. I think back to those Oldham days where I got far more respect from the Muslim community than I did from so-called Christians: I think of Mundoor with whom I played football and the only difference between us was our club allegiances.

 

I grieve at the opportunistic party politics especially from the likes of UKIP and BNP etc who this week have seized on this atrocity simply to push their agenda of hate and division.

 

I rejoice at my Muslim brothers and sisters all over the UK who have urged their leaders to teach more, teach better and teach about tolerance and love. I urge my Christian brothers and sisters the same.

 

This week I have seriously questioned the whole issue of organised religion in the face of many (including within my own family) who have added to the hurt by condemning religion. Do I want to be a part of something that is seen and often accused of causing war, division and hatred ? Do I want to be a part of an organisation which decries homosexuality, love between people outside of marriage such as Westboro Baptists in America and similar hate filled groups in our own country ?

 

Unequivocally, I say NO I don’t and I’m saddened when because of my faith I’m automatically aligned with those of hate and ultimately with those of murder.

 

I feel that those who trot out the old adage “religion causes war/death/hatred etc” lump those of us who see love, respect, tolerance in our faith together with those who we call terrorists and let me tell you that hurts me to the very core of my being.

 

I believe in a Jesus who I have met so many times over the years, in so many different ways; a Jesus who proclaimed over 2000 years ago “Love your neighbour” and still says it today. That’s who my faith is based on, someone who knows how imperfect I am but still loves me, a person who challenges me to find the best in others and love them for their potential not for their failings (for I have far too many of this do dare judge others).

 

It is my love for Jesus and the knowledge of his love for people that has brought me through this week. Yes, the dark cloud is still there but it’s beginning to lift………

 

I pray that for those families affected by that atrocity the clouds will eventually lift and the light of love will shine again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Privilege and Commitment

Posted by mike redshaw on May 3, 2017

One of the privileges to being Deputy Chair of District is to be found in the different roles it’s given me. Amongst the busyness, the hustle and bustle, there are moments of pure joy; working alongside Michelle Sims, our District Fresh Expressions Enabler, visiting and sharing in Worship at various District Churches, getting a glimpse of the wider District work, being a part of the Regional Learning and Development Forum.

Today has been one more privilege; serving on a Connexional group looking at and preparing a Good Practice Guide for Fresh Expressions and Pioneer Ministry with Revd Graham Horsley and two others Kate and Matt (both of whom know far more than me).

So often we imagine Church in decline when the reality is that Christian Faith is simply re-imagining how things are done. Faith hasn’t gone away, it’s simply that it’s re-expressing itself in more culturally relevant ways. In many ways it’s in the stories of new Church models that we find people returning to faith or finding it for the first time; we find people whose faith is reinvigorated and encouraged

And, WOW, what a joy to hear those stories.

But the challenge is to how I, as a Superintendent, both hold the traditional model of Church (which nurtured me and which still speaks to some today, alongside giving permission to others to imagine a different Church.

Worship in a coffee shop, Bible Study in a secular setting, discussion and questions in a pub, sitting in a bench in Burton talking to anyone who sits down and building relationships. These are only a few of the ways in which Church is taking its faith into new areas, and today I’ve heard of plenty more. I want to release Churches, people into dreaming big, challenging perceptions and bringing the love of Jesus to the world once again. However, I don’t want to decry all that’s gone before, nor the faithful commitment and witness of those who’ve brought us to this point and place in time.

And yes it’s time consuming, it’s painful and at times very uncomfortable, but I believe passionately that God is calling us to place our desires on the cross and allow Him to resurrect them as His own desires.

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Passionate Worship

Posted by mike redshaw on April 8, 2017

Synod today was the first in a series of five synods focussing on the five principles of the District mission statement (itself based on the Schnase book 'Five practises of fruitful congregations”)

Beginning with opening devotions (led by Dave Bilborough) he then went on to speak about authentic worship

We worship God not for what we can get out of it but simply because of who He is “
Don't let's be prescriptive on style. Why not preach first and then sing in response to the message ? Why not be more reflective or more charismatic ? As Dave pointed out we all have a tendency to cling to that which is comforting to us, rather than that which is passionate, reaching down into the depths of our soul and led by the Holy Spirit.
 
The second breakout group was led by Adam Sanders on Jazz Church, quoting from John 4:23b
Spoke about improvisational worship John 3:8,
Hospitable, prepared to let folk 'have a go'
Creative. Genesis 1:1
 
An encouraging synod chaired by our soon-to-be President, Loraine Mellor involved challenges to our thinking and creative ways of 'doing'. All in all a good day
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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17:21

Posted by mike redshaw on April 8, 2017

I'm been at Minehead for our annual trip to Spring Harvest, something we've done (largely) since 1995. Opening evening celebration tonight centred on the theme of “One for All” when Malcolm Duncan opened up the idea that in John chapter 17 verse 21 Jesus prayed his disciples might be “as one”.

 

Malcolm Duncan preached that too often we let our denominations define us and as such we argue and don't get on with each other: “I am a Methodist/Baptist/Anglican/Pentecostalist etc.” we say, and often close the door to any dialogue. Instead we should let our love of Jesus define us and define our attitudes towards others. After all if God has called them into his family, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Who are we to deny them a family ?

 

I found it a powerful, yet simple, sermon and then found it moving when a banner was unfurled for people to add their thumbprints to as a sign that we stood together against division.

 

It doesn't mean we agree on everything, but that we respect and tolerate each other AND that we take the time to listen and talk.

Excellent week, enhanced by Krish Kandiah teaching in John 17, the Great High Priests Prayer: teaching on unity borne out of Gods love for us, his expectancy that we love each other and finally our love for the world around us.
 
Booked in for next year already

 

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“To hear or not to hear, that is the question !”

Posted by mike redshaw on February 9, 2017

Struggled badly tonight. For the first time in my Ministry I had to leave a Church Council part way through, as my hearing just disappeared. One minute it was fine and the next I could hear nothing. Tried everything I could but nothing is working; not sure if it's a damaged tube, moisture in the aid or a move of wax in my ear.

Ear is now swimming in oil and I'm hoping that by the morning there may be an improvement. If not I'll have to wait until Friday to see the audiologist and even though that's just marginally over 24 hours away it'll feel like a long time.

Winshill Chapel were incredibly gracious and supportive in sending me home and that is so appreciated.


However, despite the love and warmth they and countless others on Facebook have offered, I have rather wallowed in self-pity somewhat this evening. Why ? Because it raises fears about how I can help others if I can't hear. All evening I've kept thinking about “what if I'd been with a bereaved family ?” What use would I have been ? The Methodist Church have been brilliant in buying me equipment to help, but tonight it wasn't the equipment that was at fault; it was either the hearing aids or my hearing itself (wax or otherwise). Hence the worry and anxiety. It's the not knowing what tomorrow or next weeks going to bring that is most frustrating.

So where do I go from here ? That's why I've posted the top picture of a glass on top of a book. Several times this week I've shared with folk the old saying about people being like glasses, half-full or half-empty.

Which are you ?

I think that tonight I've rather drained the glass somewhat but I refuse to have a half-empty glass. Several years ago one of my daughters showed me a similar picture with the words “glass half-empty ? YAY, more room for vodka!” What a wonderful positive attitude to have.

Why is the glass on the book ? Well, if you look closely you'll see it's the daily Celtic Prayer book and it reminds me that prayer is so vital in topping up the glass of life. Assuming I'm going to move on from this and assuming I'm going to have to grasp again the God blessing of deafness and deaf Ministry then I can only do that by praying for Gods help to carry out the work of building the Kingdom of Jesus as He has called me to. I cannot do this on my own, but he has already blessed me with a magnificent family, with great friends, and many good Christian brothers and sisters in my circuit and in previous circuits over the years.

Yes, I am deaf: yes, I'm going to have to cope with deafness: yes, I am still a Minister (& I think a decent one) and yes I have far more blessings than sorrows. Forgive me for being 'down' tonight and pray for tomorrow but in all things remember God IS good

 

 

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