Charter

Its Sunday now but I’m still on a “high” after last nights Rotary Charter. Because Graham has stepped down as President and I’ve had to step up to the position, I was supposedly the `top dog` at last nights Charter. Within Rotary International every club has its annual birthday bash, known as a Charter. Last night we were celebrating our 24th birthday. The District Governor, Tony, the Assistant District Governor, Noel were both there and there were people from other Rotary clubs in attendance all wishing West Ashfield Rotary Club well. As the President I  had the honour and privilege of recieving and responding to the good wishes.

It was a truly memorable evening, black tie, red dickie bow, three course meal, wine, fellowship and friendship and all rounded off with entertainment by Phil Chase, a comedian/musician.

My Alison couldn’t share in it with me as she was away for the weekend at University so her stand-in was Alison Wood (with permission of Stuart !); Although Alison Wood was a good stand-in I did miss my Alison and I’m grateful she will be with me next year at Charter when the club will celebrate its Silver Anniversary. That’s nothing against Alison Wood as she is a good friend and a terrific colleague, but you know how it is ………….?  I’m an old romantic at heart.

Regular readers of this blog will know that Rotary plays a big part in my life and as President last night I spoke of how it has given me opportunities,

      1)  to help others; e.g. the Haitian earthquake and now the Chilean earthquake, but also local charities as well. I also mentioned polio eradication (see previous postings) etc.

     2)  to give hope and opportunities for others. e.g. young musician and young chef of the year; youth leadership etc .                                     

     3)  to increase friendship. I spoke here about the friends I’d made in my local club, in the wider Rotary family but especially in Graham who I thanked for his work as President.

For me it all came together in the traditional final toast,                                         “ROTARY AND PEACE THE WORLD OVER

If you want another perspective on it have a look at Alison Woods blog, http://alison-alisonwood.blogspot.com/

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Sound advice

You know I can’t be doing with those Christians who seem to deny the bad side of life, as seen in natural disasters such as the recent earthquake. in Haiti. You know what I mean……….   those well meaning folk who praise the Lord as people are dying, who express well intentioned phrases about the “Lord knows the full picture……” I sometimes think that its just me but I want to shout and rant and scream at God about the injustice of things; about how unfair it is that the poorest country in the world is hit with the tragedy of an earthquake or how innocent children are slaughtered in a Tsunami on the other side of the world.

I can’t begin to understand it. However in a Bible study tonight I came across this quote from Rev Dr Colin Morris (ex President of the Methodist Conference) who said of the hurricane that devastated New Orleans in 2004, “Asked about these dead children a pastor replied sadly, `He knows best!`”. Colin Morris goes on to say “I could not have said that then and I cannot say it now. I can’t comprehend how the ultimate purposes of a loving God are furthered by the agony of a single child. This is the raw edge of my faith, where my anger at God, or doubts about his existence break surface…………………………..” He concludes “For me faith is a constant inner struggle. All kinds of things can shake it; supremely the suffering of children. I only hold on to the Gospel by reacquiring it every time this ultimate demand is made on me. I look toward the cross and wonder.”

I would have to say the same, albeit less eloquently; Faith remains a day to day wrestle with difficult issues, with injustices, with prejudices, with hatred. Each and every day I wrestle with how a God could allow these things to happen, how he could oversee a Church at loggerheads with itself, or how he could allow Christians to act in unchristian ways so often. Every day a situation arises where it would be far easier not to be a Christian, where my doubts could surface and swallow up my faith. However, like Colin Morris I have to look at the cross and simply rely on a God who hung there, who allows me to be angry and loving, critical and full of praise; a God who somehow and in some way loves his creation.         

                                                                          070

Whoops ???

Well, it seems as though the President of the Methodist Conference, Revd. David Gamble has caused something of a furore, by his recent address to the Church of England Synod in Westminster.

For those who aren’t aware of what has happened, the media has reported our President as saying that the Methodist Church is prepared to die and be absorbed into the Anglican Church!  Upon hearing this I checked out the newspaper reports and also the Presidents blog on the Methodist Church website, http://www.methodist-presandvp.blogspot.com/ (11th February).

I’m aware that some people may have been similarly alarmed about this, and so fears need to be dispelled. I cannot see anywhere that the President was even implying this. The so called `offending` moment came when he concluded that in the spirit of unity the Methodist people would refer back to the covenant prayer that we all share in; in this prayer we declare that God’s will takes precedence over our own; “not my will but yours be done…..” “I am no longer my own…..” are the phrases we use.

I’m trying not to take sides in this debate but I believe that what David Gamble was really stating was that in the case of furthering the Kingdom of God painful decisions will have to be made. I believe that he was saying that institution and structures are not to be placed before Gods mission. Surely that is missional thinking at its best.

It is the same with the Reshaping for Mission exercise that our Methodist circuit is involved with. I hope and believe that the closing of the Ripley circuit to create two further circuits will make our localised mission work stronger. The cost is the loss of the Ripley circuit but the gain is for Christ’s Kingdom.

And as we stand at the onset of Lent, that time when we look towards Calvary and the death of our Lord Jesus, we need to be mindful that resurrection can only come after death. Scripture tells us, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22. Our Lord Jesus Christ had to go to the cross for our salvation. I don’t begin to understand it but I do give thanks for it! It was through his death and resurrection that salvation has come, the miracle of Easter.

As we go through the storm that Revd David Gamble has created, or the turbulent waters of Reshaping for Mission, or even the death of the Ripley Circuit, we may find that Gods work is resurrected yet again for a new age and for the people of today.

Hospital

Please pray for those that you know in hospital, nursing homes or who are sick in their own homes. Please also remember to pray for those who care for them, relatives, doctors, nurses, carers.

I would also ask a special prayer for Maple Leaf House here in Ripley, a Methodist Home for the Aged specialising in Dementia and Alzheimer’s care.

Sublime to the ridiculous

I often think that many people don’t realise the mental gear changes that go with the work of a Minister. Today has been a good example…………

I began the day with a Cemeteries Committee at Birchwood, nipped over to Sutton to put a cheque into the bank (and buy Alison a Valentines card), back to sermon writing and a quick nap, a special meal with Alison for Valentines day (won’t have time tomorrow), and then articles for the Circuit magazine. Somewhere in the middle of this afternoon I also answered the telephone to a request to bless a wedding ring about to be purchased to replace a lost one (after 40+ years).

On any other day I could have added into this mix a visit to the hospital, Maple Leaf House and any sort of pastoral visit.

This is what makes this calling to Ministry both frenetic and busy, alongside exciting and exhilarating. You wake up every morning with your plans made out, and no gaurantee that they`re not going to change. WONDERFUL !!