Scrabble again………….

  Regular readers will know that Alison bought me a new style Scrabble game on my birthday in January, in an attempt to beat me (Scrabble Trickster), and I still won. Well, for valentine’s day, she`s found another variation on the game. This time its Scrabble with cards, and its called Scrabble Dash. Played it this evening and I couldn`t get the hang of it; We said we`d play until one person won five games.

Well, Alison won four off the trot and then I began to come back and got to four games to two when Alison decided it was time for her to go to bed !!!!!

Just as I was on my Arsenal v Newcastle moment (Newcastle came back from four down) it was robbed from me. We`re going to continue tomorrow night, so we wait to see what happens.

Isn`t life fun ?

“The Kings Speech”

George VI of the United Kingdom

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Just got back from watching the film “The Kings speech” and I have to say it is one of the finest pieces of cinematic experiences I have ever had. It was awesome.

The story of King George VI`s struggle to overcome his stammer, using an unusual mix of tricks and methods. It spoke to me of courage, determination, friendship and a sense of duty.

Right at the end of the film there were many tears shed (including me) and I think that many in the audience were genuinely moved by what they had just seen.

Colin Firth took the role of the King with powerful acting, and Helena Bonham Carter made me believe that the Queen Mother was present, as did Timothy Spall as Churchill. I don`t think there was a weak actor throughout the film.

If you get the opportunity try to see this film; it’s not often I declare something to be a `must see` but this one truly is.

Methodism: alive or dead ?

I believe that John Wesley, the Anglican Priest, out of whose convictions the Methodist Church arose once said, “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist. But I am afraid, lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.
As many of my readers are aware Methodism faces some difficult choices ion order to secure its future; choices which we face here in the Borders Mission Circuit. Many of our Chapels are small in number and comprise elderly members. Is this a consequence of years of Methodism existing as an organised religion without the power of the Holy Spirit blowing through it ? To a certain extent we would have to say, “yes it is”. In other ways it`s a consequence of living in a society which does not encourage commitment to any organisation amongst younger people, and also a consequence of a society in which there are numerous other choices facing people; choices of entertainment, of leisure, choices of work times, choices of religion or none and so the list goes on and one.
However, we must ask ourselves, “Where does this leave us, when facing the future ?” And so I return to the quote by John Wesley who seemed to recognise that it is perfectly possible to have an organised church which is very good at its structures but lacks the power of the Holy Spirit breathing life into it. Unless we can recapture the passion for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and a burning desire within us to see Him glorified over and above the Church itself, then we will continue to decline and die.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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But as I look around the Churches which I see growing are those that are vibrant with a Holy Spirit dependence, allowing God to lead and seeking to build the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. I see that these Churches are often led by God into areas of Bible Study, deep prayer (both listening and sharing), holiness, social action and so one.
In other words they are Churches not led by people, but led by the Spirit showing people what God requires of them; they are Churches not concerned with buildings per se, but concerned with buildings only in the way they can carry out Gods wishes; they are Churches in which people are valued and discipled, not judged or run down. In short they are Churches prepared to change and move forward. This is why I support so much the work of the Fresh expressions movement, because I see so many new Churches springing up all over the place as a result of renewed mission activity and a realisation that in order to meet the needs of people Church has to have a different shape to that which has brought it thus far.
I believe that Methodism DOES have a future, but sadly many Chapels will not see it because they are entrenched and refuse to seek Gods will, refuse to allow the power of the Spirit to lead them and refuse to expect great things leading to the glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Those individuals and Churches which truly seek this will see revival and many miracles, but most of all will bring honour and glory to Jesus.

Woman/Man: the weaker sex ?

Recieved the following in an e~mail, and many of you may have already seen it…………………..

An English professor wrote the words:  
“A woman without her man is nothing” on the chalkboard and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.
All of the males in the class wrote:   “A woman, without her man, is nothing.
All the females in the class wrote:    “A woman: without her, man is nothing.

I wonder what you or I might have written ? Whatever we may have written the truth remains that punctuation is powerful and can change the whole sense of a sentence. Punctuation can convey powerfully what we mean in the sense in which we wish it to be known or it can get us into all sorts of horrendous difficulties. The old saying that `the pen is mightier than the sword` is no truer than when punctuation is involved.

And yet I think that both of those statements is true in their own way, because if we can accept the truth of each we arrive at the greater truth that neither man nor woman can be truly independent of each other and both need each other.

The great metaphysical poet, John Donne, famously wrote “no man is an island” and in doing so conveyed the same truth. We are not created to live alone, cut off from each other, but in the main we are created to live within society, amongst people. However, in order to do so sacrifice is involved; we have to give in order to share the same roads, the same house, the same air as other people. `It is my belief that because I pay my road taxes I can travel as fast as I like and no one should be in my way, because its MY right`is a very dangerous way of thinking. We share the road with other users, the pavements with other walkers, and the air with other people who breath like us.

We are called to be one: one couple, one family, one set of friends etc.

When full realisation of this dawns upon us then the obvious realisation therefore is that we cannot do without each other and so we must all be equal; no one is greater than the other, neither male nor female, neither young nor old, neither Christian nor Muslim, neither black nor white. We are one family, the family of humankind.

One question remains, “what are we doing to create it ?”

The Church of the Good Shepherd

The square with the old Markt Hall of Shrewsbu...

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Spent today in Shrewsbury exploring a Fresh Expression of Church with the title “The Church of the Good Shepherd“.

Its been running for about five years now and it was set up to encourage, support, liaise with housebound people with the express intention of supplying worship and Holy Communion. Whereas other visitors may go for pastoral reasons the purpose of this is to meet the spiritual needs of the elderly and housebound.

Tricia has gone faithfully over the past few years to as many as 60 people per quarter, armed with her CD player, orders of service, Bread and Wine. In that time people have warmed to her, appreciated the connection with their previous Church or Circuit, sometimes invited neighbours to join in and delighted in the opportunity to worship again with another Christian.

This isn`t to undermine the precious work of pastoral visitors and friends, but it is designed to enhance the work.

I found it utterly fascinating and am now praying through whether this might be a way forward for the Borders Mission Circuit.

It was a heavy day, long and tiring when I could have been doing other things but it was incredibly worthwhile and the sort of thing I came into Ministry for. Thank you Lord.

Wow !!!!!

Salt and Light

Every now and then something happens that makes everything else worthwhile. Since we began the Borders Mission Circuit it has felt like hard work, to be totally honest. Trying to pull personalities into a team situation, trying to blend Churches into a single Circuit when the previous four circuits have done things differently to each other, trying to persuade people to have patience and trying to have patience myself also. I have bitten my tongue so often now it feels very tender.

And then the God of surprises comes along……………………………….

This morning I was preaching at St. John`s Church Sutton (on a morning when I shouldn`t have been preaching, but was stepping in for someone); following the theme from Matthew 5:13-20 I spoke of how we all need to be salt and light in our communities and that was the challenge for us all to go out and obey. Quite a simple message but I was taken aback by the response. One lady sat and cried during the hymn afterwards (“knowing you, Jesus”) and after the worship several people came up and spoke about how it had touched their hearts and one person even admitted its the first time he had prayed properly in several weeks as he was in a place where prayer was difficult for him.

And then to cap it all while we were having coffee three teenage lads came in and (politely) asked if they could have a look around. They said that it was part of a school project, but I suspect they were a bit bored wandering the streets so had popped in out of curiosity. The Church took them under their wing, showed them round, spoke to them and invited them to come back again. When I remarked upon how well the Church had handled them, the Church member simply said “but that’s what you`ve been talking about this morning; making a difference to the lives of others.”    SHE`D BEEN LISTENING !!!!

I don`t for one minute think that the whole of Sutton is going to be won on the strength of my sermon but if those three lads left that building with a sense of welcome and hospitality then we will have taken one small step forward.

The God of surprises has surprised me yet again. You`d think I`d be used to it by now but I continue to be amazed and astonished at the opportunities he raises up and what he can do when we let him.