Chapel Street Methodist Church

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Minister's Letter, 2 December

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

I hope to see some of you this weekend as our Churches can re-open. To those of you who cannot gather in our buildings let me reassure you that you will not be forgotten. The on-line prayer groups will continue, as will my YouTube sermons and Edwin’s Zoom services. Whether you are on-line or on the premises, we are all one in Christ.

Meeting face to face doesn’t quite mean what it says these days. I noted with a wry smile the headline that ‘Face to face talks on Brexit were to recommence’. The accompanying picture was of Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator, arriving in face mask. So much for face to face talks! He certainly couldn’t say what Ronald Reagan once famously said, “watch my lips”. In Colossians 1 we read that Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God, and although it will be only in heaven that we shall see the Lord face to face (1 Cor 13), Christmas is the time to celebrate the fact that Jesus abandoned ‘social distancing’ and came to be amongst us (Phil 2).

As the days have got shorter and shorter, I have found myself running up country lanes as the dusk has been falling. The hedges and the bare trees stand out starkly against the wintering sky. This is a season when the hedges are cut back by flail into severe, ruled lines, from which the occasional tree protrudes.

Flailed hedge

Plodding past one such thorn tree, it occurred to me that the whole hedge was thorn and that this tree was simply a bit of hedge which had grown normally. All of those flattened hedges are trees that did not grow up. Christian history gives us inspiring examples of towering Christians who grew to be great and saintly, but they were made of the same stuff as we are. To grow to the full potential that God has created us for, means growing up normally, which in God’s plan is magnificent. So, let us not be discouraged, flattened or put down by anybody. Neither let us come to believe that where we have reached in life is our natural growth limit. We were not meant to be a hedge! God wants us to burst up into our full potential, our natural fulfilment as His children; to live what the great Chinese Christian Watchman Nee called ‘the normal Christian life’.

My wife came home on Tuesday and exclaimed, “You’ll never guess where I’ve just run, I’ve run along the prom!” Well, I thought, that’s what proms are meant for! It is not extraordinary, it is a return to normal after abnormal closure. So, let’s get excited that Jesus is transforming us into the full stature we were designed to have in the first place.

Warm regards to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 15:19 on 2 December 2020

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