St Erth Methodist Church - Services
The dates of the Services for the immediate future and the Preacher's names are detailed below. All Services will be in the Chapel and will commence at 11.00 am except where shown.
IMPORTANT NOTICE - WHILST THE CURRENT CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IS WITH US THEN SERVICES WILL EITHER SUSPENDED OR CONDUCTED UNDER THE PREVAILING GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES. THE CHAPEL WILL BE OPEN AT CERTAIN TIMES FOR PRIVATE PRAYER AND SERVICES WILL CONTINUE VIA ZOOM. PLEASE USE THE 'CONTACT' BOX OR SEND AN EMAIL FOR THE CURRENT POSITION.
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter April 2021 Week 3
“… Jesus... said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ Luke 24:36b (NIV)
We are still in the season of Easter, or possibly more correctly; in the
season of resurrection! Between Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost Sunday, we continue to reflect on the impact the resurrection of Jesus has had and still has on humanity.
The Disciples were going through various emotions on a daily and weekly
basis. For three years they had an interesting and varied experience as
they walked with Jesus. Now, since His death and resurrection, everything
was different. They were anxious, self isolating and nervous about having it known that they were followers of Jesus. They were also having to deal
with a situation beyond their level of experience.
At this point in the Luke narrative, the Disciples are again told the amazing
news that Jesus was alive, this through the news of the two who had
walked with Him on the road to Emmaus. As they were sharing their
experience, Jesus appeared.
Due to our human limitations and inexperience, the group were startled and frightened. It all seemed so surreal. Their minds and hearts were all a
flutter. Jesus knew this. Therefore He said “Peace be with you”.
These are such powerful words. We would all love to have peace. More so
since we see the recent scenes that took place in London; now in
Minneapolis, the continued tensions in Syria, Myanmar and Yemen to name a few. These are just some areas where there is no peace.
Peace is more than just an absence of conflict. True peace emanates from
within. It is a peace that passes all understanding and is different to that of world peace (John14:27). This type of peace is to be found in acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we accept Jesus the Peace Giver, then a transformation occurs in our lives. We see the world differently. We see each other as one human race, complimentary to each
other. Let us pursue this inner peace through pursuing Jesus,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter April 2021 Week 1
“… Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’...” John 19:30 (NIV)
This Holy Weekend is filled with so many aspects and events, it can be
difficult to decide which to focus on. Lets start by reminding ourselves that
Christians share this weekend with all Jewish people. For the Jews, the
celebrations began a week ago on the Saturday evening past; and ends on
the evening of this Sunday.
What is it that the Jewish nation celebrate every year at this time? It is the
liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The Jewish God, Yaweh,
was revealing Himself to Pharaoh through Moses by challenging all his
preconceived ideas of who and what god was like. The “plagues” was God
revealing that He is mightier than the gods of Egypt. But Pharaoh was
stubborn. So, there was the last revelation; that God had power over life.
The Israelites were instructed to kill an unblemished lamb and use the
blood to mark their door posts. By doing this, their first born sons would not die as death passed over. Obviously the Egyptians did not know to do this, so their first born sons died that night. Pharaoh relented and let the
In our “sanitised” society it seems to much to consider that God “caused”
death. It gives an impression that God is cruel. That would be an incorrect
In fact, when we look at the Passover / Pesach during the events
connected to Jesus, we see a thread running through history that reveals
God as being merciful.
All humans have a bias to follow gods of our own making. This has led and
still leads to death. We are entrapped in a cycle of not been able to rise
above self. That is a general description, I agree; and yet it is a reality.
Thus, we need something or Someone to help us out.
Jesus is the One Who has achieved this. That is why he said “It is finished”. By His blood we “escape” death and experience the God of Life, Who offers liberation and new life. With the tomb empty, we know that things can be resurrected. Culture, society, creation, community, interpersonal relationships can all be resurrected because of Jesus.
Here is an idea, maybe give someone a cross and not an egg this year.
Have a blessed weekend.
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter March 2021 Week 4
“As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace ---...” Luke 19:41-42 (NIV)
This Sunday is Palm Sunday, and marks the start of Holy Week.
The week begins with great joy and anticipation. It progresses with
betrayal, death and grief. It culminates with unbelievable elation!
The people at the time of Jesus entering Jerusalem were expecting a
“saviour”. Someone who would save them from Roman oppression and a
perceived slavery. It all seemed a bit like history repeating itself; with their slavery to the Egyptians, and then conquered by previous invading nations.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, during the week leading to the Passover
celebrations, they sensed that something was about to take place. Their
hope and expectation was that the Roman authorities would be chased out
of Jerusalem and Israel by a powerful leader in the line of King David.
But, once again expectation and reality showed themselves as been poles
Jesus knew and could see that people were desiring peace. Their view of
peace was one that could only happen if Rome no longer had any part in
their lives and national identity. Jerusalem was a “hot-bed” of unease,
distrust and manipulation. Jesus knew that even if the Romans left, there
would still not be any peace. The rift within families and distrust among
neighbours was to deep. In seeing and knowing all this, Jesus wept.
I would suggest that Jesus weeps even today when He looks at the world
and sees our lifestyle choices, and our behaviour to each other.
In the past week we have seen a few folk who have hijacked a protest to
cast aspersions on the police force. In parliament it was said that the UK is
“scaling” down the MoD, but (not since the Cold War) are stockpiling
nuclear weapons. (As an aside, how is stockpiling weapons of mass
destruction any different to nations that are thought to be creating weapons of mass destruction?)
Jesus weeps. True peace is only found through an inner salvation, which
occurs when we look at the cross and see an “innocent” killed for us.
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter March 2021 Week 3 Lent 5…
“By faith Abraham...was enabled to become a father...All these people were still living by faith when they died...” Hebrews 11:11-13 (NIV)
During this past Lenten week, the annual Presbyterial Synod was held via
Zoom. Synod was brief compared to previous years. It was ably chaired by
our District Chair, Steve Wild.
The reading above was read by Alastair. This was his last “act”, as later the
Synod agreed to his “request” to “sit-down”; i.e. to enter retirement. Not that any Christian ever retires from being Christian or ministry. Indeed, Alastair still has a lot to do before July!
The writer of Hebrews begins Chapter 11 with the well quoted verse
describing faith as being sure of what hope for and certain of what we do
not see. St. Augustine put it this way, “Faith means believing what you don’t yet see, and the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
This is quite a challenge; believing in something that cannot be seen, but
having faith it is there. Imagine that you were flying to a holiday destination (I guess that is all we can do at the moment as travel is still out of the question). There can be all the scientific explanation given on
aerodynamics, but it can still be a “mystery” to some of us. And yet, we
would climb on a plane quite confidently and expect to arrive at our
destination. In faith we climb aboard even though we cannot see the air that provides the aerodynamics for flight to occur. We trust in the engineers, scientists and pilots. We take their word and confidently fly around the world.
I realise this is not the best illustration to use to convey the concept of faith, but I do think it helps us get an insight. We are not able to “see” God, but His Word tells us He is here. Jesus made God personal through His coming to earth. So, we have the written word and the Word which reveal the reality of God. Thus, we need to confidently “step into” our Christian life, and know that we will arrive at the destination.
Put another way, as we journey in Lent, it is an opportunity to reaffirm our
faith in Jesus; and know that He is our guide (pilot) in our life travels. We do not know what lies around the corner, but we do have faith that Jesus is with us as we go around that corner.
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter March 2021 Week 2
“...I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God...”
Jeremiah 7:21-26 (NIV)
As we continue in the Lent season, we reflect this week on the God we
worship. Or, maybe, we need to clarify which God we worship.
That can be a very difficult question to face. To answer it requires a deep
soul search; which will challenge any pre-conceived ideas we might have.
The above reading was listed this week on the Methodist “A word in time”
page. It is a very challenging passage of Scripture. The Israelites had been
rescued from slavery centuries earlier, and had been called and chosen by
the One God to offer worship to this One God. The “law” of God given to
the Israelite nation through Moses was very clear; worship the one true
God (Exodus 20:3). But, the Israelites were continually influenced by the
other religions which were in the land that that they lived in. They
introduced new customs and “followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts” (Jer 7:24). The consequence of this was that they “went backwards” (Jer 7:24).
In spite of these actions, God continually sent messengers to the people.
But, the people chose to ignore and “did not listen” (Jer 7:26a). However,
the promise remained; “Obey me, and I will be your God” (Jer 7:23b).
When I look at humanity, I see how we as humans are choosing not to obey God; and thus are not able to experience the new life that is offered through Jesus. In fact, it would seem that regardless of all the current technological, space and scientific advancements taking place; humans are falling backwards as a species. We are struggling to get along with each other; we want privacy but also want to publicly “hang out family squabbles”; we want to be free to behave however we want, but also want to hang onto traditions.
This affects us as Christians too. We know that God is our God, but we get
distracted by influences of the world which presents humans as god – “we
are in control of our destiny”. There are other aspects in popular culture that indicate that we don’t want to listen to God’s word these days.
Yet, there is hope. This is why I am so grateful for Jesus, because in Him
everything can be transformed; if only we choose to “obey him”.
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter March 2021 Week 1 Lent 3…
“The heavens declare the glory of God...” Psalm 19 (NIV)
Over the last two weeks I have been having zoom Lent sessions on
In the first week we looked at how God is revealed to us. We used Psalm
19 as our text. From verses 1-6 we read the Psalmist declaring that God
can be found just by looking at the expanse of creation. Indeed, there are
many influences around us, and personal experiences of life that can help
persuade us that God does exist. This is referred to as “general revelation”.
God displays His presence and existence through creation. If we took the
time to look deeply into the cosmos or the inner workings of the atom, we
will discover God. Over recent decades scientists are realising that
everything that is, is not as a result of chance but rather of design. The
Psalmist did not have modern scientific apparatus, but when looking at
creation saw a great artistic design. What in creation captivates you, and
reveals God to you?
Verses 7-11 of the Psalm goes on to say that God is revealed in His law.
The law of God is there to bring life. The Psalmist describes it as radiant,
trustworthy, sure and more precious than gold. It are even sweeter that
honey. It needs to be noted that the law the Psalmist would be referring to, would be those contained in the first five books of the Bible. These laws
were given by God to the Israelite nation because they had been a nation
of slaves for 400 years. They needed structure to survive as an
autonomous nation. It needs to be noted that the laws had three parts to
them. There were civil laws, ceremonial laws and moral laws.
Sometimes people struggle with the word “law”. It would not be
inconceivable to replace “law” with “the word of the LORD”. Again, God
wanted and wants us to experience life in all its fullness. To achieve this,
He has given us guidelines on how to be human through His word: and
ultimately through the Word – Jesus (John 1: 1-2). So, God is revealed not
only through creation, but also through “law”.
What do you think we can learn about God through His word, that we
cannot learn through creation alone?
Let us use this period of Lent as a deepening our awareness of God,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter February 2021 Week 4 Lent 2…
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” 1 Peter 3:18a (NIV)
You may remember that last week I made reference to Sir David
Attenborough and his phraseology used in a BBC series.
This week I refer to another BBC programme. It is the detective series
which transports us from our cold winter to a land with a hot climate. I am
talking about ‘Death in Paradise’. Allow to me to “paint the picture” of a
scene in the last episode of the recent series.
The scene involved three of the main characters of the show. It was the
Commissioner, Sergeant Hooper and Marlon – a trainee police officer.
Earlier in the episode Marlon was provoked to strike a member of the
public. This resulted in a formal charge laid against him. The consequence
was that he could not remain as a trainee officer; would go to court and then sent to jail.
As the Commissioner was preparing to take Marlon to court, an unexpected situation develops. Sergeant Hooper steps up to the Commissioner and says that it was not right for Marlon to be sent to jail. The Commissioner said that “his hands were tied”. Sergeant Hooper then says that the filed report was wrong. It was not Marlon who had struck the civilian, but that he had done it. There is stunned silence and an awkwardness by everyone.
Sergeant Hooper insists that it was he who had committed the offence. He
does this because he sees potential in Marlon, which would be lost if he
went to jail. The Commissioner has no option but to change tact. Marlon is
reprieved. Sergeant Hooper, however, now has to experience the consequence of being the police officer who assaulting a civilian.
Now, why have I belaboured this whole scene? Well, it offers a parallel
illustration of God the Father, Jesus and us. We, humanity, are like Marlon.
There is good potential in us, but we are provoked to reject God
(Commissioner). The consequence of that behaviour is separation from
God. However, Jesus (Sergeant Hooper) sees our potential and is prepared
to “takes the rap” on our behalf. He desires that we are united with God.
There is still a consequence related to “taking the rap”. Jesus dies on the
Cross. Jesus does this “to bring you to God”. What amazing love!
This is what Lent and Easter is about,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter February 2021 Week 3
“...the Father has sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world.”
1 John 4:14 (NIV)
This Sunday marks the beginning of Lent. In the past week we had Shrove
Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Did you have pancakes on Tuesday? Are
you ready for fasting, prayer, reading the Bible and a time of reflection over the next few weeks?
Lent is a time to remember the period that Jesus was in the wilderness;
spending time fasting, praying and then dealing with temptation. An
interesting parallel exists between what He was experiencing and what
many are experiencing in our present time. Many are having the feeling of
being in a wilderness, and being confronted with temptations. Living during a global pandemic is causing people to experience a wilderness of
isolation. The pandemic is exposing people to fear and the temptation to
give in to it. Remember, Jesus overcame. We can too. We are able to get
through this as we allow Jesus to hold our hand and guide us through the
wilderness; on the path that He can see and we cannot.
Lent is a time to prepare for Holy Week, Good Friday and Resurrection
Sunday. It is a time to remember Who Jesus is and why He came.
The BBC is broadcasting a series called “A perfect planet”. You may have
watched it. It is presented by Sir David Attenborough. If you have watched
the trailers of the programme, you might have found it interesting the
phraseology been used. David, now at a very mature age, mentions that
this planet is perfect, and everything is perfectly placed for life to be. Those are amazing words; because as Christians we know that to be true. The Bible says as much. In the episode about humans, David says the world was perfect, until humans entered the world and have put everything off balance. Again, amazing words! This statement is half true. The world was perfect even with humans. It was only when humans chose to ignore the Creator of perfection, that the world is now off balance.
When lawlessness, which is sin, entered our world; imperfection entered in
too. God’s desire is for the perfection to be restored. It is for this reason that “the Father sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world”. It is for this reason that Jesus faced death, overcame death and was raised to perfect life.
Let us use Lent to look into the Face of Perfection, Jesus our Saviour,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter February 2021 Week 2
Love is in the air…
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son...”
John 3:16a (NIV)
February is usually considered the “love” month, due to Valentine’s Day.
There are those who are hoping for a card, flowers or chocolates from a
“significant other” or “secret admirer”. It can be a very stressful time for
some folk, especially a person who is shy; has low self-esteem or who likes someone but doesn’t want to make any embarrassing move.
Popular culture presents love and generosity as been dependant upon how
good we are or how well behaved we are. If we are good, then “Father
Christmas will bring us presents”. If we achieve work targets, we could be a candidate for promotion. Society works on a merit system – “if you do well, I will give you this”. This way of thinking and behaviour is found in
This is distinctly not the way of Christianity, or even represents God’s way
of doing things. Cultural and societal practices end up clouding our image
of God. What is your image of God?
The above Bible passage reveals how God works. God loves us to such an
extent, that His Son Jesus set aside the comfort of heaven to become one
of us. He chose to do this in-spite of knowing that He would be misunderstood and miss-treated by the very people He loves. That is such a sobering thought! He didn’t apply the “merit” system: “if I do this then you do something for me”. Instead, He does the opposite. Even if we don’t
reciprocate, He continues to love. Even if we reject Him, He still loves.
The love of Jesus does not depend on anything we do. It is all about who
we are. We are His creation, made in His image. But, we have distorted this image and rejected the relationship God wants with us. In short, we have sinned. This is the reason Jesus came; He has come as our loving Saviour.
This week marks the beginning of Lent; with Shrove Tuesday and Ash
Wednesday. This year we cannot get together to celebrate these events,
but that does not make them any less important.
Thus, let us again embrace God and His love for us this Valentine month,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter February 2021 Week 1
Wings like eagles…
“Even youths grow tired and weary...hope in the LORD...they will walk and
not be faint” Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)
As we enter the second month of 2021, so far it seems like nothing more
than an extension of last year. We are still in lockdown, and we are
concerned about the virus strain from South Africa. At least it seems that
this strain is only more infectious, not more lethal. We are also grateful for
the wonderful vaccine roll-out, and the good news of the potential approval of three more.
It is important to consider how blessed we are to have access to all these
vaccines, and the infrastructure to inoculate the population. There are
countries that do not have this blessing. Indeed, in South Africa I am not
sure how well they are coping with the new variant, or vaccines to treat the population. We need to keep such countries and situations in our prayers.
With this year having the “feel” of a continuation of last year, it is putting
strain on all population levels. In our reading from Isaiah, we see how the
strain of the nation living as exiles was affecting the youth as well. He
addresses this by offering hope by saying that as they hope in the LORD,
they will soar on the wings of eagles. They would be able to walk and not
grow faint. Admittedly he is referring to the time when the nation of Israel
would return to their land. To do so would require a long journey of
walking. Isaiah knew that this journey would even sap the seemingly
unlimited energy of children. I am sure they would have been asking “are
we there yet?”
Our youth may not be embarking on a physical journey out of the
pandemic, but they are none the less growing tired and weary. It would be
an interesting exercise to find out in ten years what their thoughts might
be as they reflect back to this time. Would they have found hope in the
LORD, and encouragement from the Church as they “walk” out of this
history making time into a new future?
May we find ways to offer support to our young people. Let us pray for
them; offer a listening ear; speak a word of faith and hope (instead of
words of derision about people / politicians, etc) and point out new
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter January 2021 Week 4
The weeping of Jesus… “Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (NIV)
This past week has been a very traumatic time for the nation. Over a
hundred thousand people have died from Covid-19.
It is hard to quantify in our minds this huge number. One way to do so is
by comparison. Wembley football stadium, the largest sports venue in the
UK, can seat 90 000 people.
Each death has affected at least one other person, but in reality would
have affected many. There are so many experiencing grief and loss.
Jesus understands this human emotion very personally. In the verse
quoted above, we are reminded of the human side of Jesus when he
heard about the death of Lazarus. He saw the grieving sisters and the
friends of the family all at a loss due to the untimely death of a brother and friend, member of the community.
There are other accounts of Jesus filled with compassion for people. We read in Matthew 9:35-38. People were coming to him, and brought to him, so that he could heal disease and sickness.
The response of Jesus to our human frailty should give us confidence to turn to Him for comfort and support; and to even find renewing faith in Him during this distressing time.
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter January 2021 Week 4
History in the making…
“Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord...” Psalm 86:8a (NIV)
What a week it has been! We have witnessed history in the making on so
As a nation we have seen the highest death toll from the pandemic, while
at the same time seeing three vaccines been rolled out.
There has been the news that global leaders forming the G7 will be
arriving in “little ol’ Carbis Bay” in June. Some see this as a great
opportunity. Others see it as a three day disruption to life (I would say that it won’t be as bad a disruption as experienced with the pandemic).
In the USA there has been the inauguration of a new President; which will
have global ramifications.
In fact, I was taken aback a bit by the benediction of the event. The person who led the benediction was the Pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Delaware; Rev Dr S Beaman. On the whole, the benediction was one of hope and reconciliation. I was only taken aback by the concluding sentence which was: “In the strong name of our collective faith, Amen.”
Maybe I am over sensitive, but what was meant by “our collective faith”? I am hoping it was a reference to the collective faith of all the Christian denominations. For, indeed, from a Christian point of view and with our heritage in the Jewish nation, there is but one God. We know this God through a personal relationship with Jesus. Some would say that it is to much to say we can “know God”. But, we can! This is why a belief and acceptance of Jesus is so crucial. God wants us to know Him personally. We can have this intimate relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. It is with this personal relationship that we are able to be a healed, forgiven and transformed humanity. It is through Jesus that all the aspirations of
the USA inauguration and hopes of the world can be achieved.
Let us be concerted in our prayers for leaders of nations, peoples of the world and the Church; so that all can hear God’s voice in these historical times. Please include our District Chair, Rev Steve Wild, in your prayers too as he takes a sabbatical.
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter January 2021 Week 3
Death and life…
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life...Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26 (NIV)
Well, what a way to start this new year. I did suspect that it would be some of the same as last year; but did not anticipate the severity of the infections. The new variant of the virus is causing great anxiety among all peoples, not least the medical profession and politicians. The number of hospital admissions, and the number of deaths is eye watering! All the measures put in place are to avoid the NHS from becoming overwhelmed, and to save lives.
Lives and life are important. Our prayers and feelings go out to those who have lost loved ones through Covid-19. The worst way to experience death is through suffocation. It is horrifying to see and to experience.
I have heard it said by some folk that they don’t have a fear of death, but a fear of how they will die. I suppose we would all like to “pass on” quietly in our sleep. But, there are not many who experience that. I am thinking of those who have died through war, violence, accident, natural disasters. It is interesting that out of an estimated population of 7.8 billion people, only 1.98 million have died of Covid-19. Admittedly this number could be an under-estimate, as not all recorded deaths put down the virus as primary cause. This is true of trying to work out how many people die for example of AIDS. The secondary cause of death is recorded, not the primary of AIDS.
Death is the one thing that is constant in life. We will all experience it, no matter how much we try to avoid the thought of it. We all have our view / opinion of death and what happens afterwards. For some there is no “afterwards”.
However, as Christians we know that there is an “afterwards”. In the reading selected above Jesus Himself tells us that there is more to death than meets the eye. There is life beyond death. What is even more remarkable is that He is the resurrection and life! Thus, from a Christian point of view we do not fear death or even how we die because we know and believe that there is a far better life waiting for us beyond this life.
The question, though, is do we believe in the One Who said this? Do we take Him at His Word? It is when we do, death is placed in correct perspective.
Trust in the Lord,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter January 2021 Week 2
Which ‘star’ are you following?
“...We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:2b (NIV)
We are just two weeks into the “happy new year” and we have already hit
a bump by going into lockdown ver3! And in the USA there is the unsettling issue of democracy been flaunted.
We still have hope. Hope in the vaccines. Hope in the constitution of
America. However, there is a greater hope. A hope in God through faith in
Jesus. But, are we struggling to keep our eyes on Him, the Light of the
This past week, on Wednesday, we had the celebration of Epiphany.
Epiphany is the reflection of the “wise men” following the “celestial
SatNav” to the new King. Epiphany is also a reminder that the Christ Child
came not only for the Jewish nation, but for all people!
At the Zoom evening service two weeks ago Val Stevens (Circuit Local
Preacher) preached on “Follow the light”. She picked up the story of the
wise men and how they followed the light of the “star”. She pointed out,
however, that somewhere along the way they seemed to have taken their
eye off the “celestial SatNav” and followed convention.
Jerusalem was seen as the capital of the Jewish nation. It was where the
“king” had his palace. The wise men went to Jerusalem to find the new
born king, but were confronted by the scholars who said that he would be
born in Bethlehem. When they went on their way, the star was still there
leading them to Bethlehem. Thus, they had taking their eye off the ball. If
they had kept to following the star they would not have needed to go to
Jerusalem and alert Herod of the new king, and thus could have prevented
the boys under two in Bethlehem from been killed.
The question for us as Christians is: “Who are we following?” Is it the
politicians, scientists, climatologists, some other “super star”; or, is it
Yes, we need to take responsibility and act in a selfless way for the greater
good of all. But we do need to remember that, as humans, we are limited.
Our only true hope is faith; faith in the resurrected living Jesus Who will
return and transform everything.
Remain focused on the Light,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter January 2021 Week 1
New or “same old, same old”… “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
“Happy new year”...that is the usual greeting that has been used in the past. Maybe this year we need to think of a new greeting. How about….”Resilient New Year”, or “Courageous New Year”!
It is so easy to be overwhelmed by despair and fear due to the things taking place in the world today. There is the continuation of the virus pandemic, war, cancer and sickness. All of this finds a way to rob our hope and cause us to doubt that there is a good future ahead. Yet God promises us that He has plans for us that are of a good future with hope! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to look forward with joy to God's destiny on our life. This doesn’t mean life will be “smooth sailing” and without its challenges. It does mean that through our trust in Jesus we will overcome.
In a few previous reflections, I mentioned that we would like to press a “reset” button; so that all of the year past can be “deleted” so that can start afresh.
Well, this does not seem to be the case. My suspicion is that it will be a bit more of the same, even with the vaccinations and continued research. It may even be a bit “worse” due to the new virus variant. All of this causes us to come to terms with the fact that we are not invincible and that we cannot control our fate…
There are some things that are beyond our control. We cannot control how the EU will behave towards us from now on. We cannot control how other people behave under the stress of the pandemic. We cannot control the supply chain of produce. In these things we need to trust the people who make decisions on our behalf. Yes, there are situations when we need to “protest” the actions and decisions when it is blatantly clear that our best interests are not been considered.
What we can control is the decisions we make, and how we behave. The greatest decision we can make at this time is to continue to put our hope in Jesus, and to trust in God. Jeremiah came to that place in his life. When everything continued to be a struggle for him; he declared the words of the LORD boldly; that God has a plan which is not to harm us but to give us a hopeful future.
In one sense it is the “same old, same old”. We need to do the same this new year as in the old year, which is to trust in Him Who lived, died and rose again,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter December 2020 Week 3 Advent 4…
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, ...’” Luke 2:13 (NIV)
In the nativity narrative there are many instances of Angels appearing and
interacting with humans. Indeed, throughout the Bible there are accounts of people encountering Angels in their lives. We think of Abraham been visited by Angels who gave the message that Sarah will be with child in her old age (Gen 18:1-15). There is the Archangel who came to Daniel (Dan 10:4ff).
Angels have appeared to folk in “modern” times too. During the time of
fighting in Rhodesia, when farmers were been attacked, there are recorded incidents of how people / families / homesteads were protected by angels. Some of these incidents were verified afterwards through talking to the attackers. There is one account given of how “terrorists/freedom fighters” were gathering around a farm house. The family knew of the impending attack. They alerted the other farmers and everyone began to pray. After a while, the threat of attack disappeared as the attackers fled. The reason why they fled was because they were confronted with large white beings surrounding the farm house – Angels.
At this point it is important to note that angels are not us humans who have “made” heaven and “converted” into angelic beings. We are distinct from angels, as they are from us. Movies and books try to answer the question as to who or what angels are. The Bible is the best place to turn, even though it does not necessarily give a clear answer. This is because to understand angels is difficult for our minds while this side of eternity.
Angels are spirit beings who were around at the beginning of time (Job 38:1-7). They can resemble human form when God permits or wills it (Gen. 19). There are different orders or ranks of angels. Those that covered the throne in heaven were mighty seraphim angels (Isaiah 6:2). There was the cherubim who guarded the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:24). Angels do have some human features such as feet, voices, and faces (Isaiah 6:2).
Thus, angels are real but different to how artists or popular folklore would like to describe them. They are messengers of God, fighters and worshippers. God does send them at the appropriate time to intervene in human affairs. In our modern culture we might miss them, because our culture is only interested in what is proven and logical. We are sceptical and may even relegate their presence to just been an illusion or “aliens from outer-space”.
Let us remain open to the wonders of God’s interaction with us still,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter December 2020 Week 2 Advent 3…
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace
to men on whom his favour rests.’” Luke 2:13-14 (NIV)
When we look at the history of humanity, it seems to consist of strife,
battles and war. Sometimes it is localised, other times it is global.
Whenever we reach a point of ceasefire, we have good intentions to never
be at war with anyone again. In some parts of the world, it is believed that
the only deterrent to war is to have the largest and most destructive
weapons of war on hand.
Over the millennia people have tried to answer the question as to why there is war and strife. In fact, when there is no global or national war/fighting, there are still quarrels and conflict within cities, towns, neighbourhoods.
In the Bible we find in the New Testament one person who gives an uncluttered answer to the question of why we always seem to be “at war”. In James 4:1-10 we are told that the reason for conflict and strife is due to our inner conflict and strife created by our rebellion to God.
How can this be resolved? From a Christian perspective, it is resolved through believing in Jesus, who came to heal us from within (be born again – John 3:7) and who is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
The eternal message of the Christian Church is that the Prince of Peace has come to Earth to give us peace (John 14:27). This peace is not an absence of war and conflict, or even living in unity and harmony with each other. It is a peace that challenges and transforms us from inside out.
Our bias to self-centredness and self-preservation needs to be given up and replaced with the life and attitude of Jesus; ie: to be selfless and all giving. This requires us as humanity to acknowledge our bias/sin and to turn away from it (repent). It is as we do this, that we can realise the meaning of the angel chorus of “peace to men/women on whom his favour rests”. By no human means is this easy. Reconciliation between people and God can only happen through the power of God (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
In God’s strength,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter December 2020 Week 1
“’Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
Mark 1:3b (NIV)
We remain with our theme of Advent. We continue to consider that, for
Christians, Christmas is not an act of remembrance of Jesus having come;
but an act of anticipation that He will come again. In other words, we look
at the present and the future. Jesus is with us now by the Holy Spirit; and
He will return at some point in the future.
When we consider the future and the return of Christ, we must be careful
not to fall into the worldly view which hopes for our world to be restored /
rebuilt. Indeed, the world view would be that as humans we can manage
to do this; restore it through our own prowess. In the minds of some there
is a wish / desire that a reset button could be pressed. A bit like on a
computer. When the program freezes and the computer hangs, there is
the all powerful finger that can descend from on high and aim for the
on/off/reset button! When that happens, the machine starts up and all is
back to how it was before the Windows “blue screen”. With the
unprecedented events of 2020, there has been the wish by many that
there was such a button.
There are different beliefs that would point to a time ahead when “god” will push the reset button on our behalf and restore everything. Retaining the computer image, it has to be said that sometimes the push of the button does not reset or restore the machine. Sometimes it requires a total rebuild / new machine.
Thus, Advent highlights for us that when Jesus returns in all His glory and
splendour, He isn’t coming to restore things. He is coming to transform
things! He is coming to make all things new! (Rev 21:5a)
In other words, the return of Christ heralds a new heaven and earth; which will be beyond our current understanding of life. To solely press a reset button will only restart the life as we know it now; which will involve the “harvesting” of earth resources as now to live. With a transformed heaven and earth, life itself will be transformed! This is the hope of Advent!
It is with this message that as Christians we are to prepare the way for the return of Christ Jesus. Let us consider how we may do that this season.
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter November 2020 Week 5
“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great
power and glory” Mark 13:26 (NIV)
Last week I spoke about rebuilding; the rebuilding of our society and
culture. As Christians this is our task, spurred on by the anticipated return
of the One we live for.
In our “enlightened” 21st century there is a new culture which holds to the
view that the return of Jesus is a nice thought, but will it ever happen! In
fact, it would seem that the season of Christmas in our new culture is all
about families getting together and sharing presents.
It is very encouraging that the Government is giving the population the
opportunity to celebrate Christmas this pandemic year. As Christians, let
us use this opportunity to convey the real reason for the season.
The real reason is not so much an act of remembrance that God came to
us in a Child, but that this Child will return someday. This is what we reflect upon during the season of Advent. Advent is more than a count down / up to Christmas Day. It is a reminder of what is coming. We do this every year, lest we forget.
The passage quoted above is Jesus having a conversation with his
disciples. In response to a comment made by the disciples, Jesus points
their focus on the future; not the past or the buildings that symbolise the
past. It is interesting that he said these things before his death,
resurrection and ascension. We would remember that the angels said that
Jesus would return on the clouds. When he does so, it will be with great
power and glory.
Indeed, the traditional Christian view is that Jesus is coming back, and in
his coming back only then will the world be restored / completely rebuilt. It won’t be anything like what it is now, or even as originally intended to be. It will be far beyond our deepest dream and desire!
Advent is a time to rediscover the reality of this promise of return, and to live in hope anticipated!
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter November 2020 Week 4
“The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam
son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors...in place”
Nehemiah 3:6 (NIV)
Last week I reflected on how the transforming love of God in Jesus brings
change into peoples lives.
This change also brings change into society and cultural identity.
The reading today is from Nehemiah. We may be familiar with the Book.
The Israelites were in exile. The city of Jerusalem, the religious centre of
the Jewish people, lay in ruins. Travellers came to see Nehemiah and he
questioned them on the “homeland”. He was distraught when he heard the
news. He reacted in a very significant way; he went before God in prayer!
Following his prayer he then listened for the reply. He got his reply. It was
to go to Judah and rebuild Jerusalem.
Nehemiah was a great strategist. When he got there he mobilised the
people to rebuild sections. When there was threat of opposition, he
organised half the men to work and half to protect (Neh 4:16).
As a side note, I am not suggesting that we support initiatives to rebuild
the modern city of Jerusalem or even rebuild the temple. The temple is no
longer needed – Jesus is the final sacrifice of atonement and therefore no
other sacrifices are needed.
As Christians our cultural identity is not based in a building or structure. It
is based upon our relationship with Jesus. As we look at society and hear
the “news” of the plight of humanity, let us be like Nehemiah and ask the
Lord to reveal our part in transforming society and helping people find true
identity in God alone.
For each of us have a part in the rebuilding. All of us have gifts / skills / life
experiences. These are all transferable into the life of the Church and the
bringing in of the Kingdom of God.
In other words, we all have a place and a role in the rebuilding of our
society as we come out of the pandemic. As with the case of Nehemiah,
there will be opposition. Thus, those who have the skill and gift to “battle”
against “powers and principalities” (Eph 6:12) are just as important as the
“workers” of the Kingdom.
In God’s strength,
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter November 2020 Week 3
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under
heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)
This past week has been quite eventful, particularly in North America. It
was interesting to hear the President-Elect make reference to the above
reading. The gist of what he was saying is that it’s time to rebuild and
restore the country; putting aside the divisive rhetoric.
That message is very timely, as we continue to remember those who gave
their lives in service to country and world; standing against extremist
political views. We would hope that as humanity we can rise above the
base drive of destroying that which is different to “my way”.
The Kingdom of heaven is all about the transforming love of God, which
has the capacity to raise us above our panache to sin to a life of fullness /
abundance. Jesus is the key to this (John 10:10).
What is it then that makes us as humans to be less than God’s design and
desire for us? In “old” language, it is sin. What is sin? I remember a time
when smoking, drinking, swearing were all classed as sin. There was a
time when adultery, pre-marital sex, lying, cheating were all strongly held
as been sin. In truth, these are manifestations of sin.
In a simplified way, sin is defined by the “i” in the middle of the word. When
“I” repudiates God and thinks I can control my life and not believe in the
spiritual reality, then we have committed sin.
It is when we live like that we end up at each other's throats and
perpetuate the myth that one group is less than another; or that what I do
does not affect someone else on the other-side of the world.
It is a time for renewed awareness of the saving power of Jesus from our
sin life. Now is the time, now is the hour for change (2 Corinthians 6:2)
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter November 2020 Week 2
One or many...
“All the believers were one in heart and mind...they shared everything they had” Acts 4:32ff (NIV)
Well, here we are again. We are in lockdown MkII; not as intensive as in
March but still having an impact on our lives. And that is the intention of
the lockdown, to impact our lives. And this for the greater good.
With the “attack” of the virus and the global pandemic we are in a difficult
position. The virus is impacting the whole of society, not a few individuals.
We are all in this “storm” together. With the guidance and now new
restrictions, it is hoped that the spread of the virus can be halted; as was
the case in March/April. For this to be effective, everyone is encouraged to
recognise a “collective” responsibility and work for the “greater good”.
As we have “developed” over the centuries, we have become an
individualist society. “My personal rights and liberties” are more important
than anyone else and any affect I might have on others. Admittedly that is
a generalised statement. However, it is an overriding attitude which has
impacted our lives for decades now.
The concept and cultural view of individualism is contrary to God’s design
and Christian life. In the reading we see how the early Christians
recognised that they were now part of the Kingdom of God. This was
displayed by the act of sharing with each other so that no one had need.
Even back then this was a new concept. The culture of the day was “the
strongest will survive”. The early Christians knew that all people were of
value and those who had were to be considerate to those who did not
have. That was potentially why the Christian movement grew so quickly.
People identified with the core value of belonging together; being part of a
However, this way of life is not easy. We have a bias to self and self
preservation. This is due to a systemic problem. All of humanity use our
free-will to ignore / reject God and think that we are “above the need for
God”. When we think like that, we end up devolving instead of evolving.
When “I, me, myself” are our core value, then all the issues of seeing other
humans as less than human; the exploitation of natural resources and
warfare/terrorism are seen as acceptable. Jesus rescues us from this.
Which are you, an individual or part of the “collective”?
Rev Ed’s pastoral letter November 2020 Week 1 - - Heroes...
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went...” Hebrews 11:8 ff (NIV)
Last week I encouraged us to recall to mind those who have influenced our faith journey in our discipleship with God, in light of “All Saints Day”.
Have you recalled the hero’s of faith who impacted your journey of faith? My main hero is obviously Jesus. He is the real “superman” for this world from another world. Then there have been Christians who have influenced my life through their prayers, words of encouragement and general support.
There are “faith heroes” within the history of the Church too.
On the 31st October it was Reformation Day. Why do we have this day? It is because of a “hero of faith”; Martin Luther. He was a German professor of theology, a priest, author, and composer. He was an Augustinian monk. He became a seminal figure in the Reformation. He was ordained in the priesthood in 1507. He came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church; in particular, he disputed the view on indulgences. He is famous (or infamous) for nailing his 95 theses to the church door in 1517. This was a challenge to the Catholic Church.
Luther was not without his faults. Like all of us, he was a “sinner”. It is interesting that even the “super heroes” in movies and comic books have a “dark side”. And yet, in spite of his faults he realised that we cannot “buy” an indulgence to reduce the “wrath” of God. Luther taught that experiencing the saving love of God is not achieved through good works or making penance. It is a free gift from God through faith in the ultimate “hero” - Jesus.
It was this understanding that led him to write an introduction to Romans. It was this introduction which impacted John Wesley when he attended a Moravian church service in Aldersgate Street in 1738. When John heard those opening words, he felt his heart strangely warmed, and he knew that he “did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation” (Wesley’s Journal).
Each in our own Christian saint way can influence people in their faith journey. What legacy would you be remembered for?