Chapel Street Methodist Church

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Minister's Letter, 23 June

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

Over the past weeks, I have taken the opportunity to do a little more serious reading than normal. But now as I get busier, I am doing less and less reading and this is a shame. If we have done good things during lock-down, be that reading, praying, talking at depth or being still, these things are good in themselves. We will have benefited from them and we should not abandon them and replace them with the old things that we can again start doing. Good things were not just to fill up unwanted space caused by lock-down. Old things that filled our time before all this happened do not have an automatic right to reinstatement!

Thus, although we should soon be able to hold worship services and gathered meetings and will not need to depend on Zoom or YouTube as we have been doing, we need not abandon the on-line benefits we have discovered. Networking, pastoral care and online groups for fellowship and prayer need to be developed alongside gathered worship and personal meeting. Our mission to people beyond the normal reach of the church can be widened.

Watching very good worship music and listening to very good preachers, whilst sitting at home on the sofa has its attractions. We do not need to go out, deal with the weather, find somewhere to park, or indeed be irritated by some church members! And the TV licence fee has funded everything. As we look towards July and the restarting of gathered worship, we shall all have to stir ourselves to actually get to church once we are allowed to go.

Moreover, although it was quite exciting at the outset to see what can be achieved online, I have become increasingly aware that there are limitations to virtual meetings. Plugging into worship provided elsewhere is not the same as worship with people to whom you are committed. It will be good to again ‘Be in the Lord’s House, on the Lord’s day’.

You know that things are getting back to normal when the Council starts charging again in their car parks. It’s their way of helping the economy to bounce back! I recently came across an occurrence I have seen before in the Wharf-side car park. This is very large and has pay barriers at each end. On that particular afternoon, the barriers were down at one end, with cars queuing to pay and get out. At the other end, the barriers were up and exit was free! This is a great picture of our dealings with God. We are busy ‘paying our way’ through doing good works, whilst at the same time, Christ offers us freedom through faith in Him without cost to ourselves. Much of our mission is to gently point out to people that the Christian Gospel means ‘the barriers are open at the other end’.

Warm regards to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 16:24 on 23 June 2020

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