Chapel Street Methodist Church

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Minister's Letter, 16 January

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you all once again. And how are things with you? It is really easy for me to ask you in a letter such as this because you have no direct way of answering me. If I really want to know I need to contact you individually and give you a way to respond. Many of you can recall in those days of long ago when you met people at church and you asked them politely how they were but didn’t necessarily want to know their whole story. Equally, we have suffered being asked the same question by someone who had neither the time nor interest to ‘hear us’. It would have been better if they hadn’t asked. Let us seek as best we can to know how others are, to listen, to sympathise, to rejoice with, and to ‘help one another on’.

The whole mask business is necessary but wearing. It is so difficult to sense how people are, how they are responding to you, how do they feel. It is tempting to think everyone is ‘dead-pan’ when of course they are not. In these times we could all do with a tail. This week I spotted a Cocker Spaniel being ‘taken for a walk’ in the rain. He was plodding through the puddles on the end of his lead having to go exactly where his owner wanted, but his tail was wagging. I could tell that inside he was happy! Good for him I thought. When someone asks us how we are, we could avoid saying “fine” when we aren’t, or to say “getting by” because it may be suspicious these days to say you are having a great day.

As appropriate to you and your friends, get your mask off. And do remember that Jesus doesn’t do masks. He looks with love right into us, so let’s be open and honest with Him. If Jesus could say to a blind beggar, “What do you want me to do for you?”, it shows that He wants us to be open and authentic with Him.

Sadly, I have spotted few amusing signs lately. There are warnings of ‘worn road markings’, which I must presumably drive over gently. I continue to walk past garage signs which warn against parking because the doorway is in use 24/7, as if you could park anywhere when vehicles are continually going in and out. On the A30 over the Blackdown Hills beyond Exeter, (yes, it is still there but without any traffic), the speed limit is 50 mph for miles, which is Ok until you see these tiny lanes veering off of the main road. Each lane has 2 massive signs telling you that down there the speed limit is 60mph. There’s always that slight temptation!

In 1 Corinthians 13, we are told that there are three great and abiding things, faith, hope and love. Whilst love is the greatest of these, let us not neglect hope, particularly at this time. Hope springs from the assurance of the Lord Jesus in our hearts, but although it is a work of the Spirit we need to embrace hope. Hope is really good for us. At the moment, there is a feeling that it is better to keep your expectations low so that we will not be disappointed by the future. But that way of thinking doesn’t make us happy. We’re just neither happy nor sad. It is far better to hope in the Lord; to surf on the up and down waves of life, rather than be miserably becalmed. Hope in things improving promises exhilaration, whilst hope when things are looking bad engages with our tragedy and gives us confidence that God holds open a way through and a way onwards. As Christians, we can travel hopefully because we know we shall arrive.

With best wishes to you in Christ Jesus,

Alastair's signature

Published at 17:03 on 16 January 2021

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