North Wiltshire Methodist Circuit

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North Wiltshire Methodist Circuit

Privacy Notice Updated 2020

Dear Friends,

 

At the time of writing, hopes are high for England in the UEFA Euro20 Football Championship. England has just knocked Germany out of the competition in what has been described in the newspapers this morning as a “Wembley thriller!” The last time England beat Germany in the knock-out stage of a major football tournament was, of course, 1966 when England won the World Cup. In 1996, England notoriously lost to Germany in a penalty shootout when poor Gareth Southgate’s shot was saved by the goalie. The papers today talk of Southgate’s redemption as his young team secured a long sought-after victory. No wonder hopes are high! The quarter-final match in Rome against the Ukraine will take place on Saturday. The nation will again be on tenterhooks. We live in hope. Hope is such a vital part of life and faith.

 

Over the past year, we have lived in hope as we have coped with living with a pandemic. Hope is now high as the vaccine is being distributed so incredibly quickly. Our grateful thanks goes out to the scientists, the NHS and all the volunteers who have made this possible. We hope to see family and friends whom we haven’t seen for so long and we hope to be able to travel to see them and to have a break on holiday. It has been so good to be able to worship in church again with our church family and we hope that it will not be long before we can sing our praises to God, as part of our worship.  

 

We live in hope and not just wishful thinking. Our hope is not based on vague dreams, but the evidence of what we have seen and know. We have seen the skill and dedication of Gareth Southgate’s team. We know that they won their last match and so, based on that, there is hope that England can win their next matches and get to the final. We have seen the love of God so clearly in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We know that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. We know that Jesus brought the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand and that he showed us what life in the kingdom is like. We pray everyday for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven in the Lord’s prayer. We long for and live in hope of the day when God’s kingdom fully comes and, in the words of the Psalmist, “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”, (Psalm 27:13). This Psalm continues, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Wait for the Lord!” (v14).

 

This is our hope. It is a hope and not wishful thinking, as we see signs of God’s kingdom in our world today. We see it in every act of kindness, no matter how small, for one another. We see it in people’s care for one another, in keeping in touch by telephone, texts, “WhatsApps”, emails, Zoom meetings, cards and letters when we cannot meet in person. These things give us hope as we see people fulfilling Jesus’ command to love one another as he first loved us. We see God’s kingdom in the supporting of the local food bank and the generous giving to numerous charities to help children and adults in this country and in other countries. Helping a village sink a well, or a subsistence farmer solar power the irrigation of her crops, or provide children with bicycles so that they can get to school, or teach a farmer skills to help him keep his livestock are all signs of the kingdom and help us see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

 

Every time someone stands up for justice and truth, we see signs of the kingdom. When someone breaks down barriers between people and protests against prejudice of any kind, God’s will is done. Whether taking the knee, or writing to a MP, newspaper or local councillor, or befriending someone who is not like us, the love of Jesus is being shown and shared with others. Whenever someone makes us think about our set ways and challenges our thinking, encouraging us to be more inclusive and accepting of others, they are sharing kingdom values. The mustard seeds grows into a huge bush which gives shade to all people, as the kingdom of God grows. This gives us hope.

 

At Conference this year, Rev Sonia Hicks was inaugurated as the new President on 26th June. In her address she focused on ‘her theme for the year, “God’s Table: An Invitation for All”, reflecting on the racism and marginalisation she and her family have experienced and how the Church can respond to injustice and division in society today. She recalled the experience of her Great Aunt Lize, who had arrived from Jamaica with her Methodist membership card only to be rejected from her local Methodist Church because she was black. Sonia and her family eventually found a Methodist home at Walworth Methodist Church in South London.

 

Sonia, who is the first black woman to be elected as President of the Methodist Conference, speaking about her theme, said: “In a world where people are excluded because of their ethnic background, their sexual orientation, their gender or simply because, like me, they were brought up on a council estate, I believe that we are called to show God’s love for all people…. Looking to the future, the President said: “As Christians we are to mirror the grace and the mercy of God. We are to find ways of issuing God’s invitation of acceptance to those we meet on a daily basis. No ifs, no buts.” ‘(This extract is from the Methodist Church website where the full address can be downloaded or watched on a video link).

 Whenever people are rejected, we feel sadness and disappointment. However, when love is shown to people God’s will is done. We see the signs of His kingdom and we are filled with hope. We do our best to love all people, no matter how hard that might be, and when we do, we know that we are fulfilling Jesus’ command to love one another. We are doing our bit building the kingdom of God here on earth and strengthening the hope that we “will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.

 We live in hope as we follow England in the Euro20 Championship. We live in hope as we do what we can to welcome and love all people, as we help to extend the kingdom of God here on earth; a kingdom of justice, love and mercy. So let us “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let (our) heart(s) take courage; wait for the Lord!”.

 May God bless you richly today and always and fill you with hope,

Stephen