About mike redshaw

Methodist Minister

Churchianity or Christianity

Here are two photos of Churches I’ve attended today, whilst on holiday in Cornwall. I put each photo on my Facebook page and its interesting to see what replies I got. In many ways its unfair as one was absolutely packed out for worship and the other was open especially for a Cornish cream tea with quite a few visitors and so the photos taken out of context don’t show the full picture and story (& I probably don’t know it anyway)

The first is of St Petroc Parish Church in Bodmin and the second is the Tubestation surfers Church in Polzeath.

What it has raised in my mind is the question, which is the ‘real’ Church?

No doubt to some the answer would be the first picture and that would be largely based on the beauty of the building, and it really was glorious, the pews, the wall decorations and I have no doubt the glory of the liturgy.

The Church in the second picture contained none of the above. The chairs were haphazardly arranged, there were settees at the front, with a skateboard park serving as the sanctuary area. There was no traditional liturgy, even for the Holy Communion and because of the sheer numbers who had to stand it felt gloriously chaotic !

My issue is, and it constantly comes back to me, is what constitutes a Church ? Now this is where I run the risk of being judgemental and I don’t want to so please don’t take this as putting one Church over the other. I can’t be accurate about it as St Petroc wasn’t during worship and we were very warmly welcomed, including our granddaughter Piper. However to many a Church consists of the furnishings, the style of the buildings and so on, whereas there was nothing attractive about the Tubestation. It even had its walls and ceiling decorated with surfboards ! The only outwardly attractive thing about the building was being able to smell the coffee and see the sea through the windows. Again an unfair comment, as I couldn’t see much else for the sheer number of

people in attendance. What is the difference between the Tubestation and any other building which calls itself a Church ? For me it’s simply the people. At St Petroc we were warmly welcomed, invited to take a table and when Piper wanted to play with the toys on offer there was no fuss and simply a generous hospitality shown towards Alison who sat amongst the toys. In fact the lady on duty took Alisons cream tea and two cups of tea to her ! If the rest of the Church is as gracious and hospitable as that lady was to us then it’s a good Church to me. At the Tubestation we were greeted by a lady who asked if we needed seats to sit on or could we stand: she had reserved four seats for those who would be unable to last the entire service standing. Again hospitality and welcome.

I’ve been in Churches where even as the preacher I haven’t felt welcome including one where the steward said at 5.55 p.m. (for a 6.00 p.m.) service, “Well. lets get on with it lad: sooner we start the sooner we can get it over with !” Didn’t make me feel welcome.

I’ve been in Churches where I was told not to encourage the children who like to dance, or Churches where I’ve heard loud tut-tuts at the slightest thing out of the regular order.

I’ve been in Churches where the offering method was changed at baptisms to increase income from the increased number of visitors, suggesting the finance was more important than the welcome.

Now both these Churches today will have their faults and having visited each only once it’s not for me to say how they function, and of course all places of worship have faults and failings, pro’s and con’s, good and bad. But I keep coming back to the words of Jesus who gathered his disciples and especially Peter together and said to them “Upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18). Now some translators especially point out that Peter means rock and I have heard it argued that it also means ‘little pebble’ although I’m doubtful about that translation and can’t even remember where I heard it. When Jesus declared that ‘I will build my Church” I don’t think he meant a physical building nor a religious denomination but a community of believers who would study his teaching, learn about him and emulate his lifestyle of love and forgiveness. He centres this statement upon Peter who has come to the conclusion that Jesus is the way forward, but it’s surely a comment also on all of humankind who choose to live the Christian lifestyle following the model teacher. Alternatively it could also be a declaration that followers need to be strong like rocks and that Jesus is building his Church on himself: followers therefore need to be strong in their faith in Jesus and in their belief that he is Lord and Saviour.

Whichever it is, or both, then its about people NOT about buildings or traditions. It’s not about religious dress, or style; it’s not about words but it is about people living out the words of Jesus in their lives, loving, caring, accepting, non-judging, forgiving, lifting up and encouraging others, see the potential in others and so , so , so much more.

It’s about being the people who see others through the eyes of Jesus, the giver of life; life in all its fullness.

The well dressed Minister !

 

 

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Friendship connections

Just thinking about some good friends this evening.

Context…………..

Alison and I are currently on holiday but before we set off we heard of a good friend Christine, who had passed away. As we couldn’t be at her funeral we went at the same time to Truro Cathedral, lit a candle and spent time in prayer for her, her husband Colin and all their family.

As we entered the Cathedral we got a phone call saying that another good friend had passed away this morning. We first met Denise at Maple Leaf House when her husband Laurie had dementia. We’ve kept in touch ever since.

This evening we’re both remembering an Inner Wheel friend, Wendy, who passed away last year as this would’ve been her birthday today. Remembering her husband John.

Christine was originally a Sunday-school teacher of mine, although not many years older. She met and married Colin who was to become my best man at my wedding. All in all I’ve known her for over 40 years, and her kindness, generosity and her cheerfulness have been much to admire. Constantly concerned about how other people are, before herself.

Denise bore Laurie’s illness and eventually her own cancer with great fortitude and determination, she made the most of her life with cruises and holidays.

Wendy was the sort of person whose smile and laughter was infectious. Constantly laughing she too bore her cancer bravely and on my last visit to her was simply wanting to know how I was feeling.

(As we lit candles we also lit one in memory of Alison’s Dad, Les, who died in 2007.)

 

Whats the connections between these three folk who never knew each other ?

Firstly they all bore the hideous and awful illness we call cancer with bravery and remarkable fortitude; Secondly they all showed concern for other people regardless of how much pain they must have been in. Thirdly, they remained for me outwardly cheerful to the end, although I don’t doubt that in private it must have been so hard for them.

Fourthly, and most importantly, they were people of faith. Christine was the only one who went to Church, Denise and Wendy didn’t but they did receive Communion from Alison at home. In so many ways their faith shone out of them, churchgoers or not, and I think that it was their faith that enabled them to pass with dignity, peacefully, and inspirationally.

I will miss them all in different ways, but also remember them with love, affection and for their faith.

My prayers are with each of their families and friends

In remembrance of loved ones

Candles lit at Truro Cathedral today, including ours.

Conflict

Just a moment to vent some frustration in my life at the moment. I try to live my life to help others, to build them up, encourage and support for that is what I feel I’m called to do as a Christian and hopefully a decent human being. I belong not only to the Church (Circuit and District) but also I’m currently the President of the Rotary Club of Burton, a member of the Trustees of Burton Addiction Centre, a Trustee of the Transformation Trust as well as meeting people in my capacity of a Burton Albion supporter, a resident of Burton and so much more.

Why is it that there are times when I feel that others treat people with disregard, with contempt, overriding any thoughts about encouragement but only harbouring condemnation with their words and actions ?

Maybe I’m naive but I want to see the best in other people; however I feel that there is a mentality abroad that only looks for the mistakes in others. Those who look for the speck in the eyes of others and avoid the log in their own eyes (Matthew 7:5)

Reflections

How do we live amongst those who seek only their own aims and in so doing often put others down ?

I’m not sure I know the answer but what I do know is that Christ has called me to love others, in ALL, areas of my life and in order to do so it hurts, and I must be prepared to take that hurt. At those times when I’m tempted to tell others what I really think of them and when I’m tempted to tell them what they can go and do I have to hold myself back as it’s not what Jesus asks of me. Yes there is a place for righteous indignation and anger, when others are hurt and oppressed, but there is a place for love and forgiveness also. Others first, self last is I believe the God given model

I believe that the world would be a far better place if the ordinary man and woman in the street (that’s me) could learn such forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance. The picture below shows the words that are on our living room wall.

Oh, I long for the day…………

 

Methodist report on Marriage and Relationships

The press release on the report from Methodist Conference. Some of us are disappointed and want to say “WHY 2020 ?” After 2 years of waiting for a decision to be told to wait another 2 years …………………….  😦

Sent: Wednesday, July 4, 2018 7:32 PM
Subject: Report on Marriage and Relationships
News release
4 July 2018 

Report on Marriage and Relationships

The Marriage and Relationships Task Group has delivered an interim report to the Methodist Conference, the governing body of the Methodist Church, which is meeting in Nottingham. The Conference agreed a change to the way in which the Task Group will complete its work.

After discussion of issues raised by the draft report in workshops and long and respectful debate on the floor of the Conference, the Task Group will now produce a further report containing a number of key theological arguments and recommendations.

This report will be delivered at the 2019 Conference and, subject to acceptance, will be referred to the District Synods of the Church for a year-long process of consideration and approval.

The 2020 Conference will then make a final decision, with any provision implemented with immediate effect. None of this prevents a longer and more detailed Conference Statement being presented at a later stage.

Local churches, circuits and individual members are being encouraged to feed in their opinions about this work through their Synods.

A video from the Methodist Conference featuring members of the Task Group with different perspectives will shortly be available to help these discussions.

The Conference was also reminded about the Model Statement for Living with Contrary Convictions from the 2016 Conference.

Chair of the Marriage and Relationships Task Group, and former President of the Conference, the Revd Kenneth G Howcroft, said: “The group’s task is great while its timetable is short. The group has worked with commitment since the 2016 Conference and has engaged in a lot of thinking, praying, research and writing.”

The report observes that: “As with all matters of policy, any recommendations should be based on prayerful discernment; careful reading, interpretation and application of the Scriptures; and rigorous thinking. We have come to see that the key aspect in all relationships is the Christ-like quality of the way in which people relate.”

Living with Contradictory Convictions

Included in the report to the 2016 Conference by the previous Marriage and Relationships Task Group.

We continue to believe that God has been revealed in Jesus Christ, accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and live in communion with God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We cherish our place within Christ’s Church recognising that it is Christ alone who chooses, calls and confirms us as members of His church, the body of Christ.

 

Whilst we may not all agree about everything, we recognise the importance of the truths which bind us together as well as the issues which currently divide us.

Therefore, we resolve:

 

  • To engage with each other openly, honestly, prayerfully and graciously
  • To treat each other with respect and dignity, recognising the sincerity of the faith of those who may see things differently
  • To seek to learn from one another as we travel together as fellow pilgrims
  • To renounce all language and behaviours that attempt to coerce others to change their views or beliefs
  • To seek, as far as conscience allows, to preserve the fellowship of Christ’s Church
  • To unite under the authority

Notes:

  1. The Conference is the body that agrees policy for the Methodist Church. It meets annually as a group of 306 representatives, along with a number of ecumenical and World Church associate members. This year’s Conference is being held at Central Hall Westminster from 30 June 7 July. For more information, visit the Methodist website.
  2. You can watch the Conference live here.
  3. Follow the Conference conversation on Twitter via the #methodistconf hastag. Please note that comments and opinions on Twitter and the blog do not necessarily represent the Methodist Church’s position.

Tomorrows celebration

Going to bed tonight with a large degree of excitement, nervousness and thankfulness as tomorrow is the day when I will celebrate 25 years since Ordination at Burton upon Trent, never knowing I’d be coming back to the town as Presbyter.

I look back and try to remember all the things that have happened over those 25 years, from my first pastoral visit in Oldham to discover the person concerned had died 6 months earlier (but not taken off the pastoral lists !) and that was only on day 1, all the way through to the funeral I’ve arranged over this past weekend.

I have the privilege of going back to Trinity Chapel,where the Ordination took place (now known as Confessions) where I’ll be hosting an open house for anyone wishing to join me.

25 years ago I had completed my Probationer time in the Oldham and Saddleworth Circuit where I learnt so much and made a good many friends. Many have passed on to glory now but they loved me and I loved them. I think of Mary Timms who was one of our regular babysitters, John and Hilda Longworth, Harry, Mavis, Ken, Shirley, May, Jack, Gareth, Kate and so many others. I give special thanks that was there that a great friendship was born with Judith Weston, the creator of my waistcoats.

The Methodist Conference was held in Derby that year and as is always the way all Ordinands were “Received into Full Connexion” at the representative session of Conference (in Derby itself) and then sent out all over the District to be Ordained. My college was sent to the Trinity Chapel in Burton. How special it was for me, as my Mum had died only 7 weeks earlier, that Dad was able to come down with Alison’s Mum and Dad.

How the Trinity has changed over the years as it is now a coffee lounge and a host of other small businesses including a hairdressers. Steve bought it from the Methodist Circuit and has done a marvellous job transforming it.

This was a picture taken at the re-opening night a couple of years ago; its changed again and Wowow has gone, replaced by a different hair stylist, but the whole venue is so tasteful. I’m deeply grateful to Steve and the manageress of Confessions for letting me take residence and simply be.                                                   

So where have the twenty-five years gone ? it feels as though they’ve gone in a daze, filled with memories from Oldham, Erewash Valley Circuit, Ripley Circuit, Borders Mission Circuit and currently the Trent and Dove Circuit. In that time Ive had pastoral oversight of 33 churches and been Superintendent over e Circuits; Ive worked alongside 25 different colleagues and learnt from each one.

Ive been a Probationer, Presbyter, Circuit Evangelism Enabler, Superintendent, Deputy Chair of District, school governor in 6 schools, served with Rob Frost on Share Jesus Missions, travelled with him on 3 theatre tours, continued my own love of drama in Oldham and Erewash Valley and then Ripley Circuits.

Ive taken funeral services for babies and for elderly and all ages I between; Ive laughed and cried with folk, returned to my home circuit for anniversaries, enjoyed Spring Harvest for many years, led weekend retreats on prayer and evangelism………….. and it feels as though theres so much more.

Throughout it all alongside me has been my wonderful family, Alison, Rebecca, Vikki and now their partners Michelle and Mark. Of course Piper our grandchild has become the new love of our lives and soon to be joined by her baby brother. The family have been tremendously supportive throughout and Methodism owes them a great debt (as they do all Manse families). A debt for the times when Ive sat in bed counselling someone down the phone while Alison lay asleep beside me, the times when Ive dashed away from a family meal to go urgently to the hospital, the times when meetings in the house have limited my family times and the girls went with it. The times when Rebecca and Vikki shared their Dad with other children who visited and never complained. The times when the house was invaded by visitors including one lady who stayed 7 months and bought us a dog bowl as a thank you ! Rebecca and Vikki just put up with the craziness of a manse family and I appreciate all of their support. Without them I couldn’t have achieved half of what I did achieve.

So often the Ministers family are just expected to be there but Alison, Rebecca and Vikki have been more than ‘just there’, they have been integral to my Ministry and continue to be so.

As I look back I have to acknowledge that at times it doesn’t feel the same as it used to; more paperwork, more administration, safeguarding, pastoral supervision, are just a few of the things that have changed the calling somewhat; some changes have been for the good and others I’m not sure about.

However, what I am certain about is my calling. I still feel called to ‘save souls’ and bring people to know Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour and nothing will change that.

I hope to see many there tomorrow but even if no one turns up I’ll still give thanks for a wonderful journey and look forward to that which yet lies ahead of me.

The best job in the world

I consider myself very fortunate in the jobs I am called to do; I love being a Presbyteral Minister and I thoroughly enjoy being in the Trent and Dove Methodist Circuit. I also enjoy the variety being Deputy Chair of District brings and the sheer range of people I have to meet. I serve on the District missions team, the District Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team and at Connexional level I am a part of the Fresh Expressions Group who are tasked with producing a Good Practise Guide for fresh expressions of Church.
Outside of all of this I am about to become the President of the Rotary Club of Burton upon Trent, a privilege I’ve had before in a former area but a privilege nonetheless.
A variety of jobs/tasks but tonight I am experiencing the greatest of them all: the job of being a Grandad to Piper (and soon to Emett, our grandson to be born in September). Piper is having a sleepover at Grandma and Grandad’s house tonight and because Grandma had to go to an activity at her Church Grandad was given the awesome responsibility of getting Piper to bed. Now its worth sharing that Piper is a boisterous, lively, fun loving two and a half-year old with boundless supplies of energy. She positively revels in the excitement of simply being alive (oh if we all had that sort of energy !).
Tonight has been special because I managed to get her into her pyjamas without fuss, wash her, give her the chance to brush her teeth, play a while and then settle her down. I simply did what I always do, lay alongside her so that she could stroke my arm (which she seems to enjoy when she’s tired) and she simply drifted off. What a privilege I’ve had and what an awesome responsibility.
Why do I share this with you ? Because as you read this we will have entered the season of Pentecost, the Church’s recognition of the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-11). The Holy Spirit remains a source of confusion to many people as its easy to imagine God as ‘being out there’ or Jesus I human form, but its hard to imagine a being with our apparent shape who is simply like our breath, integral but non visible. Consequently we often neglect the third part of the Holy Trinity, partly from lack of understanding and partly because of fear of the unknown.
John 14:26 records the words of Jesus as “but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”.
The Holy Spirit was once described by a child as “Jesus’ other self”. Whether that’s an appropriate description of not I’m not sure but it works for me, for Jesus promised that after he returned to Heaven we would not be left alone but God would send the Holy Spirit to help us, guide us, lead us, look after us, comfort us, encourage us and remind us of his love for us.
In many ways as I gently nursed Piper to sleep tonight it reminded me of how God wraps his arms around me, by the Holy Spirit, and brings reassurance, affection and love. I can rest easy in his arms because he is with me at all times.
May God bless you all

Spring Harvest 2018

Its taken a few days but I’m sitting down tonight to reflect on this years Spring Harvest experience, at Minehead last week. Under the title of “Only the Brave” we explored the book of James in morning Bible studies, morning interactive conversations and in evening celebrations. It urged us to take our discipleship more seriously; we’re not to play at Church, but to engage in lifestyle change.

Here I’ve included a few pictures of the event (the full collection will be uploaded to my Facebook pages there are too many for this page.

The picture to the right is of my reflection in the mirror one morning, as the theme challenged us to look at ourselves in the way we would look in a mirror: i.e. the Biblical warning of James 1:23-24 and the need not just to read the scriptures but to live it our. It’s not a flattering picture and there must be times when God looks at me and despairs, but I want to shine a mirror on my life in order to weed out the times I don’t obey and act in the way I should.

It was a challenging week, very tiring, but also good to be amongst others who were similarly looking to hold their lives up to scrutiny.

A mix of great preachers such as Simon Guillebaud, who feels that God sent him to Burundi, one of the most dangerous places on earth and Steve Uppal. Worship was led in one venue by Elim sound and in another by the great Geraldine Latty.

Evenings had a mixture of entertainment and as always we thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Viera, this year with his new settings for familiar hymns. We were challenged to pray for the world around us, (much-needed at the moment) and reminded that even in the most dire of situations we place our trust in God and so must lose our pride in ourselves for humility before him.

 

 

 

 

 

Theres so much more I could say, but every year I return from Spring Harvest with new challenges on my life, and a renewed desire to follow Jesus as a faithful disciple. And so in closing the last photo is of the new Hoodie I bought…………………….