Chapel Street Methodist Church

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Minister's Letter, 20 May

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

I hope that you are all managing well this week.

Within our churches, there is a wide range of situations that our members are dealing with. Some of you continue to be very busy and have worked right through. Many of you are retired and have not been drastically affected. Some of you are dealing with various medical conditions unconnected with the virus and have had your treatments disturbed or delayed. For any of us with some stress, lockdown makes life more difficult, like walking through glue. Many of us would love to see our grandchildren but our own children might like to see less of them!

A Christian Community was always supposed to include a wide range of people types (soldiers, academics, traders, prostitutes, priests, slaves, politicians), and today it is a strength that we can pray for and support one another on our diversity. If everyone had the same problem at the same time, we would sink together. As it is, comfort, encouragement and love can flow from members of the church and find its way into every crevice of need in other members’ lives. So, keep sharing, keep communicating, keep listening and keep praying.

Unusual times, bring unusual opportunities for those who can adapt. I gather that one on-line clothing company is doing very well because it has concentrated its stock and its sales-effort entirely on clothes people wear above their waist. As so many people are meeting on YouTube or Zoom or Facebook or whatever, no-one can see the lower half of anyone, and so no-one is buying fashionable trousers or skirts.

My first reaction is to dismiss anyone wearing a shirt, tie and pyjama-bottoms as lazy or lacking integrity. But if I want to sell fashion, I need to adapt to succeed. The church is famous for its conservatism and unwillingness to adapt to new circumstances and trends. So, the world moves on and disconnects with the church. Jesus gives us unchangeable and unnegotiable standards by which to live, yet He was enormously adaptable in reaching out to people. So was St Paul. We may need to set aside some of our preferences and church habits to adapt to the new ways people may want to worship and have fellowship after lockdown ends.

As of this week, The Methodist Church is still keeping its buildings closed to virtually everyone. As soon as we get some indication from the government and the church authorities as to when and how we can re-open, we will let you know. In the medium term, we shall not be able to fill all our preaching appointments and we shall have to make different arrangements whereby churches meet jointly or where a pre-recorded sermon is projected. Our present experiences of on-line worship and meetings may well be helpful in these next months.

And if you are just getting bored with a constrained routine which has ceased to be interesting and is increasingly repetitive, remember we never need to be tied down spiritually. Jesus promises, ‘Behold I make all things new’.

Warm regards and blessings to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 16:03 on 20 May 2020

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