Chapel Street Methodist Church
Penzance

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Minister's Letter, 28 January

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

I have been living here now for about nine and a half years, but I still get the occasional bit of mail addressed to the people that lived here before me. This week I received the first piece of mail addressed to the person who will succeed me in six months’ time! So perhaps I just fill a gap between those who have come before me and those who will follow me. That is true of all of us. It puts us in perspective. The Bible reminds us that we bring nothing into the world and take nothing with us upon our death (1 Timothy 6:7). In between, we pick up many things left to us by our predecessors and leave things to those who take on jobs or houses or gardens after us. We are merely custodians of what we have, we hold things in trust, which makes it all the more important that we are good custodians. I might imagine my time here on earth, or in Penzance, as the filling in a sandwich between two slices of bread. I hold the slices together and I hold them apart. I live in the space between the past and the future but my life is also the link between the past and the future. What kind of filling am I? God has given each one us this life and this phase of our life. Let us live life well, in thanksgiving to God but also because we are part of His greater plan for the future of the world.

It is good to get feedback on these letters, especially about the jokes! One reader shared with me the excellent advertisement on the BBC for ‘Live Women’s Football’. Ladies seem to have reached equality with men when playing football, but they do need to be alive! Equality is in evidence on a sign outside of a hairdresser’s near to me which states ‘Men’s barber (women welcome)’.

I was out for my statutory daily walk earlier this week, and as Monday was such excellent weather, I walked up over the countryside northwards from Gulval. It was good to be reminded that nature is not in ‘lock-down’, that the crops are growing apace and that the birds are busy. As I normally do in an area with which I am not familiar, I followed the marked footpaths on the Ordnance Survey map, with all the quiet satisfaction that comes when there is a stile in a hedge exactly where it should be! Walking back across a series of large fields with no trodden path, I encountered a wide farm track going in the right direction and made good speed along it until it landed me in completely the wrong place. Instead of reaching a gate into a lane, I was surrounded by a massive industrial farming complex, from which it took me some time to extricate myself. Studying the map at home revealed the truth that the footpath marked on the map that I should have taken ran to the west of the farm track. But there was no mark of a footpath across the grass, whilst there was a wide gravel farm track which looked obvious and appealing. Had I had a compass, I need not have made the mistake, but taking a compass for a walk near Gulval seems a bit over-dramatic!

We have the Bible as a map and compass to guide us in the right way through life. Let’s use it. It is so tempting to follow other pathways, well-trodden, and obviously used by ‘everyone else’. This is most true when what we are tempted to do, doesn’t seem very different from what we should be doing. By setting us on a slightly different course it can lead to hugely different results. Only a few unkind words can lead to an ever-widening distance between us and someone else, a small act of meanness can lead to serious neglect. Small lies can lead to catastrophe. Cutting corners results in big bumps. And then faced with things going seriously wrong we ask ourselves “How did it come to this?”, and have to admit that some time ago we neglected to follow what the Word of God was clearly showing us. Follow Jesus in small choices and we will not get lost in the big future.

With warm regards and richest blessings to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 14:41 on 28 January 2021

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