Call to Prayer Sunday 12th July 2020

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Our human experience is shaped, in part, by our past and by our present situation. Our identity is shaped, in part, by all that we have inherited and by how we affirm and are affirmed in our present situation.

Over time, our experience and our identity are shaped by a multiplicity of influences. As the people of God, our experience and our identity are shaped by the community created by Jesus Christ and sustained and renewed by the Holy Spirit.

Within that community, where the Spirit of God dwells, we find that our experience and our identity are shaped, not only by past and present, but, by the future.

As we face the future, we hear the words of Scripture within the community of the people of God: ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 8: 1 (NRSV).

Whatever the past has been and whatever the challenges of the present are, we are liberated to face the future with the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

We pray:

Living God, you are our Creator and our Maker.
You have made us in your image
And sustained us in past days.
Guard us and keep us as we remember those days.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, you are our Redeemer and our Deliverer.
You reconcile all things through Christ Jesus,
The image of the invisible God.
Hold our lives in your safe keeping at this present time.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, you are the giver of the gift of the Spirit.
You breathe into us the very breath of life
And renew us by your Holy Spirit.
Lead us into the future, through Christ and by your Spirit.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, as you have been with us in past days,
Be with us today and in all the days to come.
Grant that we may face the future
Assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer. Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed, Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

Musings from the Manse with Rev Nik Wooller

The gospel passage that I am reflecting on this week is Mark Ch 4 vs 35 -41. I am sure that it is a passage that is familiar to you.

In many ways, it seems to me that this passage is very apt for our times. We are in the middle of a stormy passage of life. Storms tend to come upon you out of nowhere; they come whether you like it not. This Covid 19 pandemic certainly falls into that category!

Storms can terrify us, they leave us very uncertain – how long will it last, will we survive intact? I think that is probably how the disciples felt in that boat. Even though some were fishermen and accustomed to the unpredictable ways of the Sea of Galilee, there was panic in the boat. And Jesus? He was taking the opportunity to catch up on his sleep!

The disciples were probably very confused. Why wasn’t he awake? Did he not care what happened to them? I wonder if the words of Psalm 44 vs 23, 24 came to their minds “Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?”

Perhaps that is how many people have felt, or are feeling, through this time.  In their fear, are they begging God to sort it all out? Are they worried that he has indeed forgotten his people? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case and, in some ways, I would be pleased about that because it, at least, shows a belief in the existence of God!

In the Gospel story we read that Jesus did wake up and he took control of the situation. He commanded the wind and waves to be still. He doesn’t just leave it there however. He has a question for his disciples; “why are you so afraid. Do you still have no faith?”

Perhaps he wants to ask that question of us too. Do we not trust that he has power over the storms of life, that he experiences them alongside us, that he loves us and that, crucially, he wants us to trust him more?

Look at the lesson from the boat. Storms (of any kind) don’t worry Jesus. He is perfectly calm about them. We need to learn to trust. He is in the middle of the storm beside us. There was never a promise that storms wouldn’t come into our lives. I suspect that you, like me, often feel like we go from one kind of storm to another. Also, we do tend to go through times of fear and panic when we are being storm-tossed! All of that is quite natural and part of being human.

What we have to learn is that Jesus is there with us in the storm. It may not be immediately evident but he is. He is not afraid, he is ultimately in control and we are safe with him. He just asks us to have more faith in him!

 

“Oh where’s your faith?
Even your little faith?
In the storm, in the darkness,
I am with you.
Let the waves roar
But don’t be distressed.
Otherwise, you might never hear me saying
‘Peace! Be Still’

Prayer

Our confidence is in you, loving God
You are the foundation of the universe,
Mother-like you brought us to birth
Father-like you watch over us, protecting.
You are the source of life and faith alike.
If you were not, we would cease to be.
We, your children, have rested our hope on you
And sought to follow Jesus
Yet, even with such confidence, there are times
When faith bends under pressure,
bends, and almost breaks:
times when it seems that the family door has closed on us,
closed and we are orphaned;
times when our peace is disturbed,
disturbed, and we are tiny craft on a stormy ocean.
For we know pain and sadness, frustration, fear and loss,
Even when we have sought to follow Jesus.
Our pain, and the pain we feel for others, is like a heavy burden to us:
Cruelty and anger, war and attack by virus,
Bereavement and the loss of a loved one,
Can bring such moments,
Even when we are followers of Jesus.
But then we pause before the sight of a cross,
And stay our eyes on a young man’s agony in death;
Your own purpose in him seemingly thwarted.
And learn afresh that you are in our sadness as in our happiness;
In the dark shadows of life as well as the bright joy.
In our uncertainty as well as our confidence,
For you are walking with us throughout our days.
Thus, we accept afresh the risk and joy of trusting you,
Offering all that we are;
And with renewed delight
Rejoice to follow Jesus

Amen

Call to Prayer 5th July 2020

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CALL TO PRAYER: SUNDAY 5th July 2020
Prayer @ 7pm

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11: 28 (NRSV)

These are words of Jesus that we all need to hear. We need to hear these words because they speak into the depths of the experience of so many of us at this time. The words create a picture in the mind’s eye. The picture is of ourselves in the times when we are indeed weary and burdened by the particular loads that we have to bear. Alongside this, the picture is of the One who offers to us rest. The picture is of human need met by divine promise and finds its context in the affirmation that Jesus is the One who knows the Father and holds in God’s trust all that has been committed to him. He holds our lives in his keeping and offers renewal to those who seek his presence. (Matthew 11: 25-30) Wherever we are and whatever our load, the promise of Jesus is that we will find his renewing presence. We pray:

Lord, we come to you as we are
For we can come no other way.
We come acknowledging the burdens we carry
And trusting in your promise of rest.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we come to you
In the sure knowledge that we are not alone.
We come in the company
Of all who know the challenge of these days.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we come to you
Acknowledging that you have already come to us.
We journey to the place where you are to be found
And rediscover that you have always been with us.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we come to you
As the One who knows our past and sees our present.
Set us free from that which binds us to our past
And liberate us to serve you in the present.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we come to you
Through the One who is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
May he hold our lives safe
As we embrace the future and the promise of his rest.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

  • Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

 

Musings from the Manse

Musings from the Manse – 28th June 2020    Rev Nik Wooller

Matthew’s Gospel introduces us to the twelve disciples. Imagine going to a Quiz Evening; a question is asked: “Can you name the twelve Disciples of Jesus? One point for each correct name!” There are some names that readily spring to mind: Simon (or Peter as he is better known to us), Matthew the Tax Collector; Thomas of course – which Thomas has not been referred to as “Doubting Thomas” at some point? James and John and then there’s Judas Iscariot – remembered for all the wrong reasons. I have a dread then, as all eyes seem to be looking at me, of my memory failing as all in the room expect me to “rattle off” the rest of the names! I know the song we learnt to remember them is ‘52 Mab St’, but these days I don’t always remember why it is supposed to help!

Fortunately, perhaps what is more important than remembering the names of all the twelve Disciples is to have in mind the task that they were given. Jesus gives the Disciples their instructions. He tells them, “Go to the lost sheep that belong to the house of Israel.” Reading further we find that Jesus makes the point that proclaiming the message will not be easy. At times they will find themselves at serious risk of harm. He tells them, “Beware of human beings, they will hand you over to Religious Councils and flog you.” He then tells them that they will be like “sheep among wolves.”

This Gospel was written long after the death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. The story tells us what it was actually like for many who tried to be faithful followers of Jesus in the late First Century; how those who tried to shape their lives according to the teaching of Jesus were persecuted. Indeed, many sacrificed their lives because of their faithfulness to Jesus.

Matthew’s Gospel was written at a time when Roman power controlled great swathes of lands both East and West from Italy. Peace or ‘Pax Romana’ as it was called, was maintained by the power of the sword. Yet Jesus told his Disciples that as they went on their way through life, they should proclaim a different sort of peace: the Biblical peace “Shalom”, which is less about power and far more to do with justice and what we often speak of as “life in all its fullness.”

Life for many people has in recent months seemed quite the opposite of “fullness”. There has been a great feeling of emptiness as ‘Lockdown’ has kept many confined to their own homes without contact with other family members or friends. There has been some relaxation in the restrictions as some shops have opened. But at the moment there can be no gathering of people together and services cannot take place in Churches. It will continue to be difficult particularly when our natural inclinations and instincts are to “gather together.” However, we cannot yet do this for, to borrow and adapt a phrase from the Gospel, we are still like sheep in the midst of the Coronavirus wolves. Difficult though this may be for us and other Churches, we must continue to play our part in trying to bring this terrible time to an end. As we journey together in the gradual exit from Lockdown, we do so in the sure knowledge that we share in the life of the Risen Christ. Until we can meet together once again; until we can worship together, may we be built up in hope and grow in love for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Call to Prayer Sunday 28th June 2020

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The experience of these last three months is one that will remain with us for the rest of our days. We will look back and reflect on the significance of it and undoubtedly we shall ask many questions. Integral to that experience for many has been the physical separation between ourselves and our family and those whom we care for. This physical distancing has been necessary in the face of the risks posed by Covid 19. As we see the easing of the restrictions on Lockdown, we begin to reconnect and rediscover what it is to welcome one another and to give and receive in a social context.

Welcoming, giving and receiving are integral to human experience and reflect something of what it is to be made in the image of God. In Matthew’s Gospel (10: 40-42), Jesus reflects upon this and points to the truth that in welcoming one another we potentially welcome the presence of God. In our welcoming of one another, let us renew the relationships that shape our social community and our communion with the living presence of God. We pray:

Living God, the God who creates,
You have made us in your image
That, in our giving and receiving,
We might better reflect your image.
For this gift we praise and thank you.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God, the God who gives,
Your gift to the world
Is revealed in your Son,
The image of the invisible God.
For the renewing presence of your Son, we praise and thank you.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God, the God who renews,
You call us to renew our relationships with one another
That, in so doing,
We might renew our relationship with you.
For the welcome you offer in renewal, we praise and thank you.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God, the God who welcomes,
You welcome us when we return to you
Weary and heavy laden.
Receive us as we are and forgive us when we stumble.
For the love we experience as we are welcomed, we praise and thank you.

Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God, the God who loves,
You offer us good gifts
And invite us to receive them.
In response, we offer our lives and all that we are.
For the sure promise of your love, we praise and thank you.

Lord, hear us,
Lord, graciously hear us.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

 

Methodist Conference 25 June to 2 July 2020

The Methodist Conference will be held online from 25th June to 2nd July 2020.

  • The presbyteral sessions will be held on Thursday and Friday, with the representative sessions from Saturday to Tuesday.
  • Conference sessions will be streamed live – see https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/the-methodist-conference/conference-2020/ – where more details are promised in due course.
  • You can also follow links from there to the conference timetable and agenda papers.
  • There is a variety of fringe events – methods of joining in/registering vary. Click on the relevant links, preferably before the start of the event!

Slavery, statues, and choices

Genesis 21:8-21; Matthew 10:24-39

Should we pull down the statue of Christ the redeemer in Rio because Jesus doesn’t condemn slavery?

There is a lot in our bible passages but the references to slavery seem to particularly stand out in light of recent events. The passages don’t make for comfortable reading. The casual way in which Hagar and her child are disposed of and the reference by Jesus in the gospel about the slave not being above the master is clearly not a refutation of slavery. Indeed, such passages have been used over the centuries to justify slavery by those claiming to be part of the Christian community. If nothing else, this reminds us of our capacity as human beings to deceive and justify ourselves.

Statues are less important than what they represent and the statue of Edward Colston, pulled down in Bristol, represented something vile, the buying and selling of people for huge profit. It should have been pulled down years ago as many people in Bristol had long campaigned for. The world changes and we adapt as we go along. At a different level the people of Glasgow learnt how to deal with pompous statues years back by simply placing a road cone on the Duke of Wellington. Was this an act of vandalism or perhaps something that has transformed the way people look at things? Such transformations are to be welcomed. And to be clear it would be foolish, an act of huge vandalism and a waste of money to pull down the statue of Christ the redeemer (even if it is questionable whether Jesus would have ever wanted such a thing).

For those with eyes to see and ears to hear it is obvious from the gospels where Jesus stood in the context of his time. He stands alongside those who are on the outside, who are judged and oppressed by those with power and control. And just as Jesus didn’t challenge the system of slavery of his day, nor does he set out to Rome to challenge the political authority there. In the gospel of Matthew we see Jesus among his own – ‘the lost sheep of Israel’, challenging and asking questions.

Jesus is, as the hymn has it, ‘working his purpose out’. Here we see him in uncompromising mood. He is making it abundantly clear that all have to make a basic choice. A choice that shapes everything else in life. A choice Jesus makes which costs him dear. What is the lens through which we will look? Family, life, relationships, the world are all viewed through are basic beliefs and understandings. What are the foundations on which we base our decisions, our choices? Jesus urges us to choose positively.

Jesus also makes it clear this is not going to be easy. It will be divisive standing up to authority and power. Jesus not only says this in the passage but shows in his ministry, and pays for it with his life. Our choices really matter! In this context today we say Black lives matter, climate change matters, the injustice of systems that treat others as less important matters and are a focus for the church going forward.

As we look at the next steps, what it means to be Methodists, to be church, are we rooting gospel values at the heart of who we are and what we do. Like me, if you don’t know your Bible off by heart, we have to keep going back to it, checking, listening to one another and God (praying) and working our purpose out.

The Methodist Conference meeting via Zoom beginning next week is helping Methodists to connect and to reflect on this together, asking questions of ourselves, one another and God and urging us to act. Jesus didn’t overthrow the system of slavery, or the Roman occupation but did turn the world upside down through love and service. And began something which has far outlasted those systems of his time and continues to grow in the lives of millions of disciples in the world.

There is much to challenge us, much that we get wrong, but I am encouraged by God’s response to Hagar. Despite petty jealousy, human frailty, getting it wrong, giving up hope, God somehow works through this and redeems the situation, redeems life. New understanding and new life come. I am choosing to be encouraged by this and I hope you will also.

Peace be with you.

Much love, Nick

Call to Prayer 21st June 2020

Prayer @ 7pm – Version for printing

We live in challenging times. In truth, the challenge of these times is one that continues. However, the nature of that challenge has changed. In this present moment, we reflect on where we are now and this allows us to begin to try to understand the past months. Equally, we have the opportunity to anticipate what is to come.

In the Letter to the Romans (6: 1-11), the Apostle Paul reflects on the foundation of the Christian life which is our sharing in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a consequence, the life we live now is one shaped by the present reality of sharing in the life of Christ. As we journey together in the gradual exit from Lockdown, we do so in the sure knowledge that we share in the life of the Risen Christ.

We pray:

Faithful God, we thank you
That you are present with us now
As we share in the life of the Risen Christ.
Continue to be present with us we ask.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who inspires faith, we thank you
That you have been with us
In times of anxiety and uncertainty.
Keep watch over our memories of the past.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we thank you
That you will be with us
In the days that are to come.
Journey with us in the days that lie before us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who inspires faith, we thank you
For the life of your Son
Who for our sakes embraced human form.
May his life shape our lives in these present times.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we thank you
For the reassurance that you are merciful and gracious
And that your love abounds.
In your compassion, remember us and those whom we love.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who inspires faith, we thank you
For the knowledge that you will be with us
In all that we now face.
Go before us and provide for us we ask.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

Laughing in the face of the Impossible

Genesis 18:1-15; Matthew 9:35-10:8

Whatever you do don’t laugh! Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you know you’re not supposed to laugh but you just can’t help it? In a scene reminiscent of countless school assemblies where the headteacher calls out the names of people who are laughing, Sarah denies she was laughing. “It wasn’t me!” “Oh, yes it was,” comes the reply.

It was funny, but like school humour can be, also cruel. Promising Sarah a baby when she and Abraham are ‘old, advanced in age.’ Something Sarah had been longing for. The idea was ridiculous even when she shouldn’t have been listening in. It must have seen an impossibility for Sarah, and I wonder if the disciple/apostles offered a similar response when Jesus said to them: ‘Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.’ Yeah right, Jesus. Matthew does not record the disciples’ response but at the very least they must have wondered whether such a thing was possible for them. Fine for Jesus, but for them?

With Sarah the birth didn’t happen immediately – it took, I assume, nine months. Matthew’s record of Jesus talking to the disciples is a remembering set down for the early church (We hear Judas listed as one of the 12 apostles and described as the one who betrayed him – the ‘audience’ of the gospel already know the story). Perhaps then this account from Matthew is a remembering that sets out something like a manifesto for the early church. They are to carry on the mission of Christ. They are to proclaim the kingdom is present (at hand/near/within). Like Sarah, this takes time and the seemingly impossible is not accomplished overnight.

Worshipping together in a church building, singing hymns is an impossibility for us at the present time but that will change – even if it takes 9 months. The impossible, unlikely might seem laughable or even cruel at times. Yet God sits in the midst of all of this. The mission of the church has grown – starting out with the lost sheep of the house of Israel – the mission, our understanding and context has grown and changed. We are still called to point out the kingdom, to be healers, challengers of evil, and to do so freely with hope recognising the grace and hope we have received in Christ.

The blessing of a child for Abraham and Sarah comes after their generous hospitality to the strangers. One of the consequences of the global pandemic is that we have all been chucked out of our church buildings, but we are finding different ways to meet, to be church. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is nudging us. We have tended to think of mission in terms of getting people (especially young people) to come to ‘our church.’ We can’t do that. This is an opportunity to ask about our calling. Rather than asking questions like ‘what are the barriers that stop people coming to church’ perhaps we need to be asking questions like ‘what are the barriers to the mission of the church?’ Consider where Jesus spends his time and focus. It is those on the ‘outside’, those in need.

We need to learn from the ‘black lives matter’ movement. The kingdom is at hand amongst those who are experiencing oppression, those who are beset by the evils of racism rooted in our structures, those who are struggling to put food on the table because of the way society is organised. For the church to be truly church, we need to seek out the help of such people, to listen and act. The barriers that exist in our society not only bar people from fair access to education, healthcare, jobs, justice etc but are also barriers to the ‘privileged’ joining in the kingdom – look where Jesus meets conflict in the gospels. In churches we have often seen ourselves as the host inviting others in, but in Christ we see the kingdom revealed in those whoare on the ‘margins’ and perhaps we need to think of ourselves as guests amongst those on the margins. In so doing we begin to discover the kingdom afresh, pointing it out, and will be enriched.

Freely offered hospitality, free giving shapes the church and in our suffering of not being able to meet together there is an opportunity to remember our calling. We cannot go back from here, only forward. There is a huge task ahead for the church – impossible? I don’t mind if you laugh because I certainly do, but do also remember God’s response ‘Is anything to wonderful for the Lord?’

Peace be with you

With love, Nick