Friday, 8 September 2017
Happy Methodist Hogmanay
During the two years I have lived in Scotland I have gained a greater understanding of the significance of celebrating the New Year - "Hogmanay" is big north of the border! The Methodist Church in Britain starts a new organisational year on 1st September each year so for Loraine and me this has been a week of events marking that.
We began on Sunday morning at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London for a great time of worship and dedication. It is a time of transition for Wesley's Chapel as Rev. Dr. Jennifer Smith takes the role of superintendent minister so we were delighted to share in worship with her. Loraine preached on "Ambassadors of Christ" (you can still watch the service here). As we arrived, we encountered Rev. Jorg Niederer, a Swiss Methodist minister who had walked here from Switzerland over the past two months! I had been following his blog intermittently during his pilgrimage and was so glad to meet up.
After a fantastic international lunch there we made our way to Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, where we shared in an evening service of Holy Communion and prayers for healing. This was conducted in a very relaxed and Spirit-filled atmosphere and it was so good to see clergy and laity together giving and receiving ministry in this historic church. I tackled the evening Old Testament lectionary reading from 2 Kings and you can listen to my attempts to make sense of it here. We were both somewhat awed to find our names on these boards... we stand in some mighty shoes!
On Monday we shared in a very special event at Methodist Church House as 8 young people were commissioned to serve in a variety of situations as interns for one year. Abigail, Dean, Georgia, Hannah, Helen, Madalena, Rachel and Rebecca will be in locations as diverse as Action for Children, Rome, Central Finance Board, the House of Lords, JPIT and the Academy for Executive Coaching. It was such a privilege to meet them and hear about their plans; do remember them in your prayers.
On Tuesday we headed north together to share in worship, conversation and encounter at Manchester Central Buildings as we saw in the new year with Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (TMCP) and members of the bilingual Swahili-English congregation, and from the circuit and district. Another great experience and good to hear of the work happening there from Rev. Ian Rutherford and Deacon Ruth Lackenby amongst others.
Back to London in the evening to be ready for the Connexional Team New Year gathering. Along with the brand new Youth President, Michael Pryke, I led brief prayers before the team meeting which Loraine addressed. She used the idea of early explorers struggling to navigate mountainous territories when they were only equipped with canoes for river voyages. We too need new equipment for new terrain in the church in this generation. The meeting then heard from from two exciting pieces of work, the Holy Biscuit in Newcastle, and church-planting in Stoke-on-Trent, both of which are finding just those new tools for new situations. The Connexional Team work very hard in all sorts of ways - when I arrived at Methodist Church House at 8:30 on Monday morning I was surprised how many people I found already at their desks, beavering away. Do pray for these folk as well.
Perhaps the idea of a "Methodist Hogmanay" sounds like a contradiction in terms, but John Wesley certainly valued the opportunity a new calendar year brings to renew our walk with God, so perhaps not! Charles Wesley's new year hymn "Come, let us anew our journey pursue" (Singing the Faith 460) includes the phrase "and never stand still"... which seems to have fitted our week quite well so far!
Of course the week has also included the terrible destruction of hurricane Irma. We continue to hold a suffering world in prayer - do visit the facebook pages as well if you can.