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John B Gosling
Revd Dr Roger Walton, the new President of the Methodist Conference, reminded the Church of its calling to spread holiness.
"In a world where a multitude of truths and an infinite choice of lifestyles seem possible, Christians need to shape their lives by the pattern of Jesus. We have to be Jesus-shaped” said Roger.
I want to talk with you on the subject of Holiness. Now I recognise that this might not be an immediate ‘turn on’. But on my heart is the need to re-discover the centrality of holiness in our life as a church and the need to spread the notion of holiness for others to consider and embrace. If you don’t sit easy with the word holiness, let me offer some other words for holiness
Spiritual Fitness. Graham Tomlin suggests that what the church has to offer is spiritual health and fitness. ‘If churches became known as places where you could learn how to love, to trust, to hope, to forgive, to gain wisdom for life, then they might be attractive, perhaps even necessary places to belong to.’
Another way to speak of holiness is as Wholeness; ‘being the best person that you can be, being free of all that inhibits your growth as a human being, being healed and complete not in the sense of never facing suffering or loss or disability but fully human, fully alive, fully open to God and the world’.
Another word might be Resilience; the power to bounce back when knocked by failure, illness, disappointment, tragedy and suffering.
What is holiness and how can we speak about it in the twenty-first century? Holiness is not blind zeal. Holiness is not moral superiority. Holiness is not isolated existence away from the tarnishing of the world. It is a social holiness that grows in contact, conversation and commitment to others.
'The call to holiness is the echo of God's longing for each of us.' If Holiness begins in encounter with God how is it nurtured in us? How are we to continue to grow into a holy people?
1. Holiness is nurtured by living in the story of God
2. Holiness is nurtured by visiting holy spaces
3. Holiness is nurtured by intentional and ethical living
Methodism was called to spread scriptural holiness. Those early Methodists did that, not simply by telling, but by living inside the biblical story; by journeying regularly to holy places; and by living intentional and ethical lives. I believe that is still our calling.
You can read his address here and access audio and video versions through the same link.
The new Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Rachel Lampard MBE, has called for the Church to stop ‘problematising’ and trying to ‘fix’ the poor, but “address the problems and pain that not having enough money brings.” And we live in a world where we need “oceans of justice”.
So what should we be doing about the injustices in our world? And why is it important to hold together holiness and justice. When we look at the poor and those in need of justice, do we see a problem – or do we recognise the face of Jesus Christ?
Our society, government and media have problematised people living in poverty. Listen to someone describe what poverty means to them: “Poverty is not being able to do the things that are necessities. Things like gas and electric, showers, bus fares, and that your daughter has a hole in her shoe. She needs new shoes and I don’t have the money. What do I do? Do I get the gas or do I get shoes?” John Wesley said that “one great reason why the rich have so little sympathy for the poor, is, because they seldom visit them.” A person was 'rich' to Wesley if they had “food and raiment sufficient for self and family, and something over”. God’s love was for everyone, and early Methodism appealed to those who were poorer.
We must move past the “what fault can I fix in you” question to the deeper “why” questions: Why are people sleeping on our church steps at night? Why are people attending our lunch club so deeply in debt? Why can’t mums afford to school uniforms, even when they are working? Why are so many people lonely? Why don’t young people have anywhere to go in an evening? And why do some people feel they have no stake in the economy or political system? These are just questions prompted in this country.
Then like the mustard seed, someone in the congregation asks that why question about someone they meet – 'why are they hungry'? etc – and it becomes something that can’t be ignored, and which can be transformative. In worship we meet a God whose nature is just; in our scripture and discipleship we encounter God’s anger at injustice and the response God requires; through our hospitality we build deeper relationships and in our pastoral care we sit alongside those who have been wounded by life, and start to ask why; in our acts of compassion we reflect on the needs we see around us and the injustices that underlie those needs; and through our life as God’s people we testify that grace and hope fly in the face of the anger, denial and despair that injustice can bring.
And if we are a Church where justice flows, then we will be a place where more people will want to be, where more people will be able to respond to God’s call in their lives. As we seek to draw nearer to God, to see God in the faces of those around us, and particularly in the faces of those who are the poorest and most in need of justice, then our longings for holiness and justice will go hand in hand. A commitment to justice and holiness will change us and will change the Church, if we have the courage. And we do it all in the knowledge that, by God’s grace, anything is possible.
Read her address here, and access audio and video versions through the same link.
The President and Vice-President Designates
The Conference elected the Revd Loraine N Mellor to be President and Jill Baker to be Vice-President of the Conference. Loraine has been a presbyter since 1995 and is Chair of the Nottingham and Derby District. Jill is a local preacher in the Scotland District, exploring and leading pilgrimages. She spent eight years as a mission partner in the South Caribbean, and was President of Methodist Women in Britain between 2011 and 2013.
I know I’m somebody ‘cos God don’t make no junk. Anon
Our life is God’s gift to us. How we live it is our gift to God. Warminster United Church, Easter 1992
From All We Can (Methodist Relief and Development Fund) August 2016.
The long road to recovery begins in Ecuador.
On Sunday 17 April, the most powerful earthquake to hit Ecuador in 36 years left in its wake enormous loss of life, thousands with injuries, and complete devastation to both homes and livelihoods.
All We Can’s humanitarian aid partners in Ecuador have been working to identify the most vulnerable families in two of the worst affected provinces in the country.
As a result of the earthquake more than 600 people lost their lives and over 70,000 people were left without housing.
All We Can responds in times of crisis, to humanitarian emergencies caused by natural disasters, conflict and political instability all over the world. While some emergencies quickly fall into the public consciousness because they receive lots of media coverage others fail to capture the public’s eye despite the serious circumstances that emerge. All We Can focuses particularly on these ‘forgotten emergencies’, neglected humanitarian disasters that need urgent support.
learn more here
From World Church News Aug/Sept 2016
A message from Bishop Silvio Cevallos, leader of the Methodist Church in Ecuador.
Many thanks for your timely help. The truth is that we were greatly saddened and pained by the lives lost and by the suffering – especially that experienced by those with special needs.
We are thankful for the generous hearts of our brothers and sisters from Great Britain. Your financial solidarity was the first to arrive, allowing us to help in two stages. Firstly, we delivered food to the cities. We then identified and went into the areas where the government wasn’t delivering aid. Up until now, nothing has been delivered to these places.
We have been able to help more than 400 families, providing them with non-perishable and essential foodstuffs which can feed a family for 15 days. We have also delivered toothpaste, personal hygiene kits and nappies.
Your help has been a great expression of social holiness, distinguishing the Methodist Church from other churches. At the beginning everyone offered help, but now that we are most in need they have all gone. In the last few weeks there have been strong tremors; please pray with us that all remains calm.
From Methodist E-News July 2016
What is marriage?
What is marriage?
After discussions with thousands of people across the Connexion on marriage and relationships, led by a group established by the Conference a resolution was passed to reconsider the church’s definition of marriage. This does not necessarily mean that the definition will change, but that the Church wishes to re-examine it through a period of theological and scriptural reflection.
The statement on A Christian Understanding of Family Life, the Single Person and Marriage from 1992 may also be updated as part of that work, and be led by a new working party.
The Revd Graham Carter, Chair of the Marriage and Relationships Task Group commented, "It is essential to take time over this issue because the process of finding a way forward is as important as reaching a decision. Enabling people in the church to talk openly about their differing convictions and value their common commitment to Jesus Christ is key to what it means to be a Christian community.
"The decision of the Conference to establish a working party on the matters of marriage and relationships is an important step which comes from a widespread conversation in which people have listened, respected each other's position and engaged in deep reflection together. The conversations will continue and we will go on responding to the challenges of interpreting God's love for today's society."
read more here
There seems to be a shortage of good material (in my opinion) this quarter. So I’m adding some bits from a stock of things collected over 50+ years. Hope it is useful.
The art of conversation is to know when not to speak. Nicholas Pinnock (actor,) The Times Magazine recently.
Funny isn’t it…
How a £10 note looks so big when you take it to Church, but so small when you take it to the shop.
How thrilled we are when a football match goes to extra time, but we complain when a sermon is longer than regular time.
Prayers in the donkey cart.
“All the people were praying in the Church. It was a special meeting. Mr Dookie, a member, was very sick in bed. His wife and six children were in difficulty, because that year the floods had destroyed most of the rice, bodi, and tomatoes in their garden. The lagoons were not producing much food. The other people were also hard hit but at least they could still work. Mr Dookie had lost a leg and could not walk.
Suddenly the church door opened and the minister saw a little boy peeping through the crack. So, while someone was praying for Mr Dookie, he went to the boy whom he recognised as Peter, Mr Jimmy’s son. ‘What’s wrong, Peter?’ he asked. Peter replied: ‘Reverend, Pa couldn’t come to the Prayer Meeting for Mr Dookie, but sent his prayers in the donkey cart.’ Then the minister looked outside and on the cart he could see a large bunch of figs, some dasheen and melongene and a few oranges.
Mr Jimmy had sent his prayers in the donkey cart."
From a JMA magazine at least 30 years ago
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