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View from the Manse

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Dear Friends,

This year, when we celebrated Pentecost, one of the phrases that kept coming back to me was the relentless restlessness of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, each of us will have travelled a journey of faith. Some remember Sunday School days very well, along with who taught us what, but then as the experience of life continues our understanding of God's activity also changes.

There is a wonderful verse in Isaiah (43:19) which says, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" God it seems is always doing a new thing, whether it be with individuals and their faith journey, or with churches and their mission and ministry in any given place. We are not static. The church, God's church, has never been a place of memorial or preservation, rather a dynamic living entity.

At a recent Circuit Meeting Plus event, one of the themes that came across is that in the life of today's church, there are many things that need to be done. Some are more visible than others, yet each of them is service to God and we are all in this together, ordained and lay alike. One of the most cherished parts of our non-conformist history is the way we have always tried to express the ministry of the whole people of God. This is as true now as it has ever been.

In recent years, we have tried to structure our annual reports in a way that recognises the different ministries that people exercise in the life of our church. It is much more than giving it the title of 'ministry' as it seeks to express our faithfulness to God in the tasks that we take up. When I was a teenager, our minister said a few times that if we wanted evening services to work well, then we needed to give everyone a job, for this was the only way to get a congregation. Evening services are now very rare in most churches, but I thank God that the majority of people in the congregations don't have jobs to do every Sunday. One of the gifts is to simply be in worship and receive what God wants to say.

One of the more recent hymnwriters puts it this way: "God who sets us on a journey to discover, dream and grow, lead us as you led your people in the desert long ago .... Exploration brings new insights, changes, choices we must face; give us wisdom in deciding, mindful always of your grace." There is more than a strong hint in this hymn that to be led by God is not to be led as individuals but to be led together, and I am grateful that the leadership at both Trinity and All Saints grapple with some of what all that entails.

There is no doubt that we live in interesting and challenging times and in a society that has changed enormously over very short periods. The Covid pandemic taught us of the importance of using Zoom and other means of keeping in touch with each other, and that technology, whether websites or social media, was how so many people engage with the world. This sometimes means a more fragmented community, but also has the potential to bring a fragmented community together. God's "new thing" today embraces this as much as everything with which we are more familiar. The last verse of the hymn I quoted earlier says this: "Keep us travelling in the knowledge you are always at our side, give us courage for the journey, Christ our goal and Christ our guide. And may we say "Amen" to that.

Every blessing
Ian

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01235 520282
office.allsaintsab@gmail.com

All Saints Methodist Church
Appleford Drive
Abingdon
OX14 2AQ

There is free parking in our car park behind the Church in Dorchester Crescent.

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