Christian Aid’s work began at the end of the second world war in 1945. It was founded by British and Irish churches to help refugees following the War. For more than 70 years, they have provided humanitarian relief and long-term development support for poor communities worldwide, while highlighting suffering, tackling injustice and championing people’s rights. They offer help to people regardless of faith, all around the world.
Theodor Davidovic, a refugee and long-term Christian Aid supporter tells his story here: https://youtu.be/KWLK9VfOw5o
Thy Kingdom Come is a global movement of prayer that invites us to pray for people to come to know God. This year it seems all the more timely as we seek to come out of lockdown and start to physically come together as church once more.
I was challenged recently by someone who asked this question of the Church and its mission. “When was the last time you had an adult baptism in your church?” I found it challenging because in this one question it acknowledged that there are fewer children in our churches and that if we grow our congregations, we are increasingly growing them with adults.
It was a good friend of mine that told me there are three ways the Church grows:
1) Biologically. Families in churches have more children.
2) By transfer – people who are already churchgoers move into the area, or decide for a variety of reasons to change church. But this moving around of churchgoers is not actually an increase in the number of disciples.
3) We help new people to come to faith. We teach and nurture them in the ways of Christ and Christlike living.
It was this last point that perhaps led to the question, “When did you last have an adult baptism in your church?” There remains a great deal of openness in Abingdon for people to hear about our faith stories and learn of God. Yet, how do we reach these people?
Well, the Thy Kingdom Come initiative suggests that first of all, we need to pray to God regularly for people to come to know him. So this particular challenge is to pray for 5 named people each day between Ascension and Pentecost. There is no doubt that prayer is one of the greatest gifts we have that can draw people towards God. As we pray for our 5 people, so we pray that God will create opportunities for us to be open about our faith and our faith stories – and that we will be brave enough to share them.
There are two resources to help us: some small Prayer Cards, and a leather band to tie five knots in. Both of these are to act as reminders of who we are praying for.
The other main resource is a the Prayer Journal.
Our prayer is that we can join this initiative as part of our mission, and that God will bless us as we seek to bring more people to know him, or know him more.
Will you join us in this?
Rev Ian and Deacon Selina
You will have seen a great deal about ‘The Methodist Way of Life’. For many of us what is contained within this way of life is little different to how we imagine any Christian would live their life, but perhaps to have it distilled in this way is very helpful. Those who have an interest in the early days of Methodism will most likely say, ‘But this is nothing new!’ and indeed they would be right. Yet like washing our hands properly, which we have been reminded of by the pandemic, these once core practices and the value of them need to be rediscovered for our current time.
I have no doubt that small groups are an excellent way of exploring our faith, discovering God at work in our lives today, and supporting each other pastorally and prayerfully. Yet they often take time to establish and to build up trust, so that everyone can share confidently with others. I have also experienced the growth in joy and enthusiasm that has come from being part of such a group, and how it has blessed and challenged the wider church in its worship, its ministry and its mission.
The month of May reminds me of the opening line of a madrigal I used to perform regularly, ‘Now is the month of Maying’. It was always a fun piece to play with the recorder ensemble, it was light, it had merriment, but it also said that Now is the month. Now is the time.
Reflecting on the days after Easter and urgency that the Early Church had, thinking that Jesus would return very soon, I cannot help but wonder if that sense of urgency needs to be rekindled in the church of today. We should be sharing our faith and our experience of the risen Lord Jesus and teaching again those wonderful stories and lessons that have kept us rooted in God whatever life may throw at us.
The Methodist Way of Life could sound like some form of monastic discipline, but I believe it is far more positive than that. It is designed in such a way that helps us seek to build each other up. The main question is ‘How can we support each other?’ It is not an individual exercise, although there will be individual components of it. It is a Way of Life that is about having companions for the journey. I believe it is something that has so much potential for us all, and it is incredibly exciting to seek out what God has in store for us. Who will journey with you, with me? As we emerge out of lockdown a new chapter begins in our church and in our lives, yet as ever God is with us, and for that we are ever thankful.
On Sunday 13 September the bells rang out and Services resumed, Griff Fellows writes: We’ve dipped our toes in the water and held the first Sunday service in our church building since lockdown began. The service followed the familiar form with prayers, bible readings, sermon and hymns. We were not allowed to sing, but we could still concentrate on the words as the music played. Government recommendations were followed to the letter and we felt perfectly safe. No conversations were allowed in the church building but there was opportunity to talk outside. The service was much more than a toe in the water, more a proper swim. Take the plunge!