Chapel Street Methodist Church

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Minister's Letter, 9 September

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you all. I have not written for a few weeks which for me have involved a family camping exploit to Dorset (rained off and lost tent in gale etc), and having my hernia sorted out (all plain sailing but a bit sore).

We have continued with our various kinds of worship and fellowship, online and in church. I have been greatly encouraged by the way that wearing masks has not muzzled worship or fellowship. We have discovered that worshipping does not necessarily require singing. This for Methodists who were ‘born in song’ is an important, if unwelcome lesson. We are ‘Born in Jesus’, and He has blessed us in our shared prayers and readings. Even in our fellowship, we cannot smile through a mask, but we can love through one. As we have found in so many ways, there is no social distancing in the Holy Spirit.

I suppose that we are reaching a stage when we are neither completely locked down, nor sure of a clear path out of it. The ever-changing situation with new virus cases means that the government is feeling its way and making weekly adjustments. We may find that our worship is curtailed again, or we may be able to sing again! We wait and see, and we pray. I feel that the virus situation should not just be left to the best efforts of the NHS. We rightly pray for lots of other things, so we can also pray about safety from the virus both for ourselves and our churches. We can pray they find a vaccine. In the meantime, we might concentrate on living one day at a time. We can never have a completely sure idea of what the future will hold, although we feel more secure if we think we know what’s coming. In such a time as this it is hard to have a sense of direction in life, and certainly in the life of our churches. However, rather than putting everything on hold and waiting for a time when we can move forward again, we can live well with this provisional situation which will not last forever, but is NOW. God told Moses that He should be called I AM. Perhaps that will do for us today and tomorrow.

I was reading some CS Lewis recently. Lewis became an Oxford professor, wrote the Narnia stories and had a brain the size of Africa. He tells of the time when he was at junior school and he and his friends were arguing about whether the future is a line that we cannot yet see or a line that has not yet been drawn. Mmm . . .

This week, I was out for a medi-walk to get all the muscles around my waist working properly. At one point I stopped to do some pelvic exercises. As I did so, an athletic type ran past. It struck me that to an onlooker the runner was exercising and I was just standing around, whilst in fact, we were both exercising. Some exercises are on the outside, some are on the inside. This is certainly true of spiritual exercises. Some involve outward actions in worship and service. Very often, ‘to love is to do’. But visible discipleship is not everything. Indeed, Jesus warned the Pharisees that looking like athletes was no substitute for exercise (wearing the designer trainers without training). Much of our spiritual activity at the moment will be unseen, our prayer and indeed our private worship in silence. Those of you who feel that because of your vulnerability you cannot ‘do anything ‘ to contribute to the life of the church or help anyone else, can be the Olympic athletes of spiritual fitness, exercise and action! And as the Bible tells us; God Who sees what we do in secret will reward us.

Blessings and warm regards to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 12:38 on 9 September 2020

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