A Word from one of our Ministers...
A sunny morning in mid-September is not the obvious time to be thinking about
Advent and Christmas, perhaps, but I am sure I am not the only one whose thoughts
begin to turn towards the Christmas season once September dawns. And if you are
one of those people who studiously avoid that C-word for as long as you can, I’ve
just used it twice and probably will again – sorry! I’m reading a book that David
bought to use in the Advent preparation season, and I am finding it useful already,
because it talks about the unseen people in the Christmas story.
The Methodist Christmas focus this year is on a theme of “Out of the Ordinary” and
shows us how we can glimpse God in the everyday and ordinary. I have a feeling
that these two things, the unseen and the ordinary, might be quite closely connected.
We have spoken about testimony and sharing stories a lot in the last few months,
especially with those who came to the July Away Day at Storrington. I wonder
though whether like me, some of you feel that you don’t have a wonderful WOW
moment of revelation or realisation about your relationship with God to share, and
that leaves you wondering what you would share in those stories. Many of us have
had a very slow and gradually developing relationship with God over many decades,
and there may never have been one of those cloudburst moments – and that is OK.
I want to encourage you to find these glimpses of God at work in the power of the
Spirit in the everyday, ordinary and routine moments of life: find joy as the sun shines
on the bubbles in the washing up water at the sink, hear the sound of the robin
singing in the garden with such abandon and know the moment of recollection that
God loves all the creatures, accept a smile from a stranger in Swan Walk when eyes
meet as you weave your way through the crowds towards the market, give quiet
thanks for rain after a prolonged hot spell when the garden is parched, recognise
God’s love in the care of your neighbours and family, say a prayer when you hear a
disturbing story on the news, speak kindly with the stranger whom you meet at
Village Café for the first time. God is present with us all, all the time. And whilst we
know that God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, not all such theophanies are
quite as dramatic.
Sometimes God comes quietly, gently and with care. Remember Isaiah? “Out of the
stump of David’s family will grow a shoot” (Isaiah 11.1) A small, fragile, green shoot,
easily overlooked, all too easily damaged, trodden on or crushed? When God comes
to us in that way, let’s not overlook God. Instead, let’s actively search out those tiny
glimpses, and be so glad that we have recognised them. So going back to sharing
our stories about God, it is just as powerful to share the story of a life spent with God
over many years, living out one’s relationship with God in myriad ways day by day,
as it is to share the story of one significant encounter. A life of devotion and
faithfulness is just as inspiring, and I think that we probably have quite a few stories
of life like that which we would be glad to hear in the church.
As Cornerstone Methodist Church begins to find its way in the next few months, I
pray that you would all notice God at work in the Church and in one another, and
give thanks for the ordinary and the unseen, the work that has to go on behind the
scenes, and the people who show up faithfully to do the ordinary work that sustains
our worshipping life together.
In Jesus’ name,