Some of you will be aware that I give the answer ‘Chess’ when asked for my favourite sport. A good game between two well-matched players can be exhausting and exhilarating – a literal battle of minds in which tensions can and often do run very high. I have been to large theatres to watch world champions play live (the board is displayed on a large screen on stage to help everyone see) and sometimes the tension of the mental battle on stage is so great that audience members, and even players, have to leave quietly to find some mental diversion in order to relieve the nervous strain.
or “Why are there so many meetings?”
Historically, the connected Methodist Church throughout the world has been referred to as ‘Connexion’ – a term dating from Wesley’s time. It celebrates and acknowledges the connectedness of all members of the body of Christ, who together make up the worldwide Christian church.
Connexion meets formally as ‘Conference’ every year for a week in the summer. This is also the time when Ministers’ Ordinations take place, as Presbyters and Deacons are ‘received into Full Connexion’. It is here that reports are presented from all the subcommittees that have been meeting during the year, and it is here that all scheduled debates and discussions take place, always in the context of worship.
On Sunday 27th September 2015, members and friends at St Martin’s enjoyed a glorious Harvest Festival Service led by Mrs Linda Ogden. The church was decorated beautifully, as usual, with Ann Brown’s Harvest Loaf once again baked specially and taking pride of place on the table.
One of the nation’s most enduringly popular harvest hymns began its journey in a German poem published in 1782. According to William J. Petersen, Matthias Claudius (1740-1815) never had any intention of writing a hymn. Claudius was a German journalist and philosopher who was merely writing a poem about a group of peasants gathering for a banquet and singing a “Peasants’ Song”. The seventeen-stanza poem, originally entitled “Paul Erdmann’s Fest” depicts friends coming over to Paul Erdmann’s house and enjoying themselves. It praises both Paul Erdmann for his hospitality and God as the ultimate source of the feast.
You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.
I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
I am familiar with all your ways.
Many Methodist churches hold a special service in January, called a Covenant Service. Think of this as a New Year service, where we consider New Year’s resolutions, the year that has passed and the year that is to come.
The difference between a Methodist Covenant Service and an ordinary New Year’s Resolution, though, is that it is less about US making promises, and more about God’s promises to us. We look back on the past year and pause to reflect on the many ways that God has been faithful to us – the many ways God has blessed us and been with us through the year. This also causes us to reflect on our faithfulness (or otherwise) to God. In the service itself we read Scripture passages which remind us of the many times God says “I will be your God and you will be my people; my faithfulness is unchanging”.
“A Shining Light” (Matthew 2:1-12)
Scripture: Matthew 2:9-10 ESV
9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
In the cartoons, a sudden idea is often represented by the appearance overhead of a lit light bulb. Shining lights make us think of being dazzled, taken by surprise, found out. Perhaps we think of the dazzling light of Saul’s conversion. Whatever the connotation, the shining light can not be ignored.