The Autumn 2019 edition of the Methodist Church's magazine is now available.
Editor David Perry writes:
John Gillespie Magee Jr, the 19-year-old Anglo-American pilot who died when his Spitfire crashed in Lincolnshire in 1941, began his poem High Flight with the exultant phrase: “Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings”. His famous words come to mind when I look at our cover image.
I took the photograph standing on the cliff top above the expansive sandy beach at Filey, Yorkshire, which stretches for five miles all the way to the magnificent chalk cliffs at Bempton. Here at the edge of land and sea, a succession of paragliders were taking advantage of the late afternoon updraft to fly back and forth along the cliff line. Freed from the “surly bonds of Earth” they soared effortlessly, held aloft by natural air currents.
In this moment of quiet wonderment I recognised that I was witnessing a contemporary visual metaphor for the promise voiced by Isaiah: “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV).
Held aloft by an invisible reality whose presence is tangible and can be felt, the paragliders don’t question the breeze or doubt the thermals. They allow themselves to trust these truths of being on the edge and let themselves be lifted up and away.
And for a church living on the edge in so many ways, the prospect of hope, renewal and soaring with God is more than just enticing, it is the trusted and tested means of going for growth. A church on the edge is a church that is drawn inexorably to reconnect with God’s presence at the edges and discontinuities of life. It is there that we are called to soar in faith, freed from the surly bonds of “we have always done it this way”, so that we can glimpse in a fresh and reinvigorated way what our calling as followers of Jesus looks like today.
John Gillespie Magee Jr concluded his poem by affirming that he had: “Put out my hand, and touched the face of God”. If we are going for growth, so must we.
Published at 10:29 on 24 October 2019