A New Year 2017 Word from Peggy

 

Happy New Year! I wish you all many blessings in 2017. I read the following meditation at the ecumenical prayer gathering in December. It contains a meaningful message appropriate for the threshold of a new year.

    'Hope' by Ken Taylor

'What hope is there when ...?' Begin so many questions. But there is always hope, and where there is hope there is life.


Hope is also realistic: it faces squarely the enormity of evil and the sin that disfigures every human life. It has known failure and disappointment, suffering and despair, and has not been broken.

Hope is not optimism, never that superficial, arrogant belief that all will turn out well in the end regardless of what we do.

 

Optimism is complacent, brash, insensitive, and hope is none of these.

 


Hope is humble, trusting, vulnerable, and quite invincible.

 

 

Hope is an open space, it is room to manoeuvre, to grow, develop, reach out and move forward.

 

 

Hope insists there is always a way forward, a way out of the impasse; but it is only a possible way forward: we do not have to take it. We do not have to move or change or grow; we can stay exactly where we are if we wish - denying hope, refusing life, rejecting resurrection.


But hope believes that whatever happens, we are never at the end of the road, because just ahead of us is God, opening a way for us to follow. "Hard pressed on every side, we are never hemmed in; bewildered, we are never at our wits'
end; hunted, we are never abandoned to our fate; struck down we are not left to die." (2 Corinthians 4. 8-9)

 

There is certain and unlimited hope for you - to be accepted and risked in faith, responding to the beckoning of God.


Autumn 2016 - A Word from Ian

Dear Friends,

'All are welcome, all are welcome, All are welcome in this place'.  I love this hymn. It speaks to me of the purpose of the church. An embracing community of hope and acceptance. 

Robert Schnase in his book 5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations talks about radical hospitality: “people offering the absolute utmost of themselves, their creativity, their abilities, and their energy to offer the gracious invitation and reception of Christ to others”.

Jesus said his followers were to be like lights on a hilltop - good news for travellers in the dark, offering direction and the promise of a welcome – and that the things they do to make this happen should cause others to praise God.

Robert Schnase makes the point that: “Churches practicing Radical Hospitality offer a surprising and unexpected quality of depth and authenticity in their caring for the stranger. Newcomers intuitively sense that.”

My prayer is that we will make every effort and plan during this time (and after this) to invite people into our churches. I appeal to each of you that we will incarnate Christ, by welcoming the strangers into the community of love – Christ’s Church! 

With love, Ian

An extra Autumn 2016 Word from David

When we decided some years ago on a name for our new building we chose "Emmanuel Centre - Home of Battle Methodist Church", emphasising that the building is for the community, and we, the people, are the church (something Dana Budd constantly reminded us of). Our building impresses people who come to it. But it is our openness and hospitality that will convey what we are about.

Ever since the conversion of Constantine in the fourth century the church has been in danger of becoming like an empire. You can see this in ways the church has been governed, perhaps making rules for the populace, becoming more powerful and in many ways promoting itself. The gospel of Jesus Christ becomes overshadowed by the institution of the church.

The eternal God who made everything came from heaven to engage with all kinds of people here on earth. He cared about the underdog. He challenged those in leadership positions. He washed the feet of his disciples. Jesus calls us, his church, to be servants of a particular kind, as he was. But there is a difficulty in that a true church of Jesus Christ is by its very nature political (as Jesus was) - not in a party political sense, but in seeking God's ways and God's justice in the world he cares for. This means it will sometimes oppose what politicians are wanting, and again the danger is that we try to use the world's means which tend towards exercising power and showing how significant and important we are. Jesus' way was more subversive! He aimed to change people from within, not by coercion. God invites people to find a new mind set, to see the world through different lenses, to know how loving he is and to want to work with him. Jesus emptied himself of all his transcendence as God, and came as a servant.

In the years of preparing to move to our new building we acknowledged and summarised some characteristics of a grace-filled church:

Ministry of Presence
Gentle Church
Catalyst for change
Relationships - of the utmost importance
Demonstration of the Life of Jesus


This is costly! It requires giving time to others. We dare not promote ourselves. As we come alongside people we pray that they will see Jesus, not us, and let him make changes in their lives.

David







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