Category Archives: Notice

Message from our minister, June 2017

It’s only a few weeks since London suffered a shocking terrorist attack and now we have learned of another tragic incident in Manchester. Andrew Lunn, who used to be one of my lecturers when I was a student, is now a Chair of District and he writes the following…
Best wishes,
Andy

Rev Andy Clark
minister@ChessingtonMethodist.org.uk


From Andrew Lunn, Chair of Manchester and Stockport District, and Paul Martin, Chair Bolton
and Rochdale District

In the face of the violent and deadly attack at the Manchester Arena, the Methodist people in Manchester are united with many others in their sense of shock, and in their prayers for all those who
have been bereaved, wounded, or traumatised.

As we seek to respond to this terrible event we are grateful for those who have affirmed that, so far as it is possible, we will not let this attack change our daily lives. Some people have been tweeting using the hashtag #WeAreNotAfraid – in this way those who are stronger support those who feel the weight of anxiety, pain and fear.

Among the stories beginning to emerge there are many about the ways people have sought to help others: providing safe places, or lifts home, or passing on messages to help those who were separated find each other. It is through such small acts that we reaffirm our commitment to one another. Every such act makes a stand against violence and fear.

In a diverse city one thing we can be sure of is that people in Manchester will not let this event divide us. Manchester is the home of a movement called We Stand Together (#WeStandTogether), in
which people of many different faiths and backgrounds recognise that we find strength in our common humanity.

We are deeply grateful for the many assurances of prayer which we have received from around the country.

God of compassion and mercy,
amidst the pain and trauma of this day we turn to you,
for through Christ crucified we know that you have taken to heart the suffering of our people. In fear and anxiety, strengthen us.

In despair and pain, comfort us.
In incomprehension and anger, reassure us that your love and life are stronger than the hatred and violence which overshadows our city today.

Console those who carry a burden of loss, injury, or trauma and empower all who support them. Strengthen all who seek to stand together in peace and unity.

We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Message from our minister, May 2017

Easter is upon us once more – and may I convey my warmest Easter Greetings to you all. Some of you, if you’re like me, will have eaten too much chocolate over the Easter weekend, perhaps after giving it up for Lent. Well, unbeknown to you I gave something up for Lent – light bulb jokes – so now that Lent is over I wonder if you would indulge me in a few….

A) How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Two – one to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

B) How many real men does it take to change a light bulb?

None. Real men aren’t afraid of the dark.

C) How many Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?

Well, I remember one occasion when it took five of us actually. Of course we were all real men and not afraid of the dark but nevertheless we were asked to fix one of the lights in the church. We first discussed the safest way to get the large old ladder to straddle the pews. Three of us eventually held the ladder in place and one climbed the ladder to change the bulb. It would have been barely possible, and very dangerous, with one. It would certainly have been possible, though still not particularly safe, with two. With three it could have been done safely and well but there seemed no harm in adding another two to make a team of five. It was more fun working as a group.

I was walking Max in the park today and happened upon a group of dog walkers together. It’s a common sight – the already enjoyable pursuit of dog walking can be improved still further when shared with other dog walkers. Sometimes things are just better when shared with others.

During our Lent Studies this year we had 14-18 people that came along every week and shared their experiences of following Jesus. Making time to study God’s word with others and honestly reflecting on the joys and challenges of living for Him can really help us to grow as Christians. House groups, for example, offer prayer, Bible study, support in times of need or stress, and friendship at a deeper level. We are fortunate to have such groups led by Linda and Anne, but could we have more such groups? Reaching a wider group of people? Would you be interested in joining such a group?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes why not come and have a word with me about it. When Mary Magdalene met with the risen Jesus he suggested she go and share the news with the disciples! The disciples on the Road to Emmaus, on recognising Jesus also hot footed it to share the news with the others. The followers of Jesus have been sharing news of Him with each other ever since! And house groups stand proudly in that tradition. As the disciples gathered together, Jesus appeared to them and they were filled with joy. I hope you will have a share in that joy over the Easter season and beyond…

Blessings
Andy

Message from our minister, April 2017

In my younger days I wondered what all the fuss was about the resurrection. On the one hand I wondered why anyone wouldn’t believe in it. On the other I wondered what the problem was even if they didn’t believe in the resurrection. I couldn’t see why it was that important. I felt that it would be of far more use to us to consider what Jesus had to teach us during his ministry rather than
deliberate on his death.

Nowadays I see it a bit differently. Death is the great equaliser – no matter where we are from, how old we are, how prosperous we are or how downtrodden we are – we know that we are going to die and that death is final – to come back to life after death is impossible. This is why the resurrection of Jesus is central to the Christian faith. When we are mindful of the sheer implausibility of the resurrection we begin to see its importance.

The author George Ladd is in no doubt of the importance of the resurrection, “If Jesus is dead, his entire message is negated. If he is dead, the hope of a triumphant coming of the heavenly Son of Man is obviously impossible. Furthermore, if Jesus is dead, his entire message about the Kingdom of God is a delusion.” You see it is the resurrection of Jesus that validates everything he said
and did. His works aren’t just to be seen as good works by a good man. He did those things not just as a man but as the Son of God.

And, no one other than Jesus has ever been recorded as being resurrected. There are other cases in the Bible of people being brought back to life, having died, of whom Lazarus is the most obvious example, but only Jesus was resurrected. As the author John Stott said, “Resurrection, is not the same as resuscitation. Those whom Jesus raised from death during his earthly ministry were resuscitated. They came back from death, resumed their former way of life, and then later died a second time. Resurrection, however, means the beginning of a new, a different, and immortal life.”

No human could come back from the dead so this event is something supernatural. There must be something different about Jesus. And, of course, the pages of scripture tell us exactly what that difference is – that Jesus is the Son of God. He is unique! For Christians the resurrection is final proof that Jesus is the Son of God.

Whatever your plans are this spring – I hope this will give you a lot of joy over the season. I wish you a very happy Easter.

Blessings
Andy

Rev Andy Clark
minister@ChessingtonMethodist.org.uk

Message from our minister, March 2017

As I write this I’ve just come home from the Friday morning prayer meeting. It is led by Ann, and is a great way for those of us that come to focus our thoughts on God, to enjoy spending time in his presence, and to share with Him and each other our thoughts, hopes and concerns. The pattern is Bible study, followed by the leader’s prayer, followed by open prayer. We are also blessed to have the monthly Saturday morning prayer meeting led by Andre – this meeting has a stronger emphasis on open prayer and happens on the last Saturday of the month.

Prayer meetings can be a bit intimidating for some who are not used to them. “What if there are awkward silences? What if my prayer isn’t as good as everybody else’s? What if I can’t think of anything to say? Perhaps I’d better leave those meetings to the people who are better at praying out loud than I am….” Actually the best way to answer such questions would be to come along a few times and see how you get on. Jesus offered different models of prayer – In Matthew 6 it is suggested that it is good to pray privately on your own – without making a show of it. But in Matthew 18 we are told that when two or three gather in Jesus’ name He is there with them. Prayer meetings, then, are not ‘instead of’ personal prayers; they are in addition to them. And actually they can be very useful if you are finding it difficult to pray on your own – something that many Christians will struggle with every now and then.

It’s also worth turning to God in prayer when big decisions have to be made – not to get out of making them (!) – but rather to share our plans with Him and seek his blessing on them. Just at the moment the church has a number of decisions to make. John and Joanna B. have done a wonderful job heading up our contemporary service – so how shall we develop the service now that they are moving on to pasture new? The parlour area of the church is where most of our building users enter and exit the building – so can we develop it to make it a more user friendly space? And the Circuit has asked each church to come up with a Mission Action Plan (which we are calling the 1% challenge – read on to learn more!) so this will also involve continued decision making.

Those attending the prayer meetings have already started praying about some of these things which is a great comfort to me. After all, the old proverb says, ‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ (Proverbs 19: 21) In all of our decision making, and in all the work we do as a church community we need to show God we are dependent on Him – not independent of Him! How do we do that? The prayer meeting is a good start…..

Blessings
Andy

Rev Andy Clark
minister@ChessingtonMethodist.org.uk

Message from our minister

There’s something about Mary

Mary is an old friend of mine. I describe her as an old friend, partly because I’ve known her since I was 10 years old – and partly because she is 50 years my senior! I met Mary at my local Methodist Church. She was an opinionated welsh lady with a nice line in sarcasm. After a Sunday morning service she would often come and check how I was – ask me my news and then make a joke at my expense! I used to appreciate these encounters and after a while I began to go and seek her out. If she was talking to one of the adults I would wait my turn, then tell her my news, she would make some sarcastic comments, I would laugh, then I would go and join the other lads and play football in the church hall.

18 years later I was being ordained in Scarborough – and Mary was one of the people who came to share the day with me! It was lovely to see her at my ordination service. The interesting thing was she wasn’t a minister, a preacher, or one of my Sunday school teachers, she was just a Christian lady who would take a couple of minutes each week to talk to me. Growing up, I heard a lot of talks in Church, and did a lot of learning exercises in Sunday school. It all helped to educate me but in truth I hardly remember any of it! I do, however, remember Mary, and others, who took an interest in me and helped to give me a picture of what a Christian is.

What do the young people in our churches think Christianity is? Is it “what the preacher was talking about?” Can they even remember what the preacher was talking about? If so will they still remember 3 months or 10 years down the line? What do our young people think Christianity is? Do they think Christianity is a list of do’s and don’ts? Do they see it as a Sunday morning routine? This may not be a compelling enough vision of Christianity to help them stick with the church through their turbulent teenage years and their early adulthood.

We hope and pray that for our young people Christianity will be an ever growing relationship with their Saviour! To help them they need to know others who are in a relationship with Jesus. They need to see Christians being Christians – they need to know and feel supported by Christian people. Parents and grandparents are often not enough. Other role models are needed! Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and ministers will be important but don’t underestimate the simple act of greeting a young person and asking them how they are doing! That’s what Mary did for me and I appreciated it more than she could have anticipated. Mary’s conversations helped me to feel part of a church community – rather than just a Sunday morning routine.

Obviously, when talking with young people it’s important to make use of safeguarding guidelines. If you’re not sure about these then get your minister or safeguarding officer to take you through them.

Did you attend church as a child? How do you remember the adults you encountered? How do you think children and young people in our churches today will remember us in 30 years’ time? The funny thing is that if someone asks one of our young people “What do you think Christianity is?” ………They might just think of you!

(For some really interesting thoughts on the church and young people try reading ‘Sticky Faith’ by Dr Kara E Powell and Dr Chap Clark, published by Zondervan)

Rev Andy Clark
minister@ChessingtonMethodist.org.uk

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