St Martins Church Ashton Upon Mersey

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Dear friends,

 

In the coming couple of months there are a number of baptisms booked in at St Martin’s for children whose families I have already got some connection with. A couple are second children, whose elder sibling was baptised here by me during the past four or so years; one child is the son of a couple I married in 2017. It’s lovely to make visits in these instances and to see how the family is getting on. Many of the babies and young children I’ve baptised since I arrived at St Martin’s are now at school or very soon will be – they soon grow up, as the saying goes!

 

Not many of these are regular visitors to church, however, and this is maybe something we need to give some careful thought to. Yes, life is busy and pressured for young families, but we try and make time for those things that are important to us. We must consider prayerfully how we engage with these families and help them explore and discover how God, faith and worship, in the context of being part of the community of believers in church, can be important elements in their lives – and in time, the context in which their whole life is lived.

 

Our neighbours at St Mary Magdalene are exploring what they call a ‘culture of invitation’ – better equipping members of the congregation to encourage others to come along to worship and faith-based events and not being too worried about the outcome of such invitations but realising God has a part to play in people’s responses. Something we should be praying about and considering perhaps?

 

One of the questions I’m nearly always asked by people looking to book baptisms is ‘How much does it cost?’ It’s sad that people think that there’s a charge to become a member of God’s church. However, whilst there is no fixed monetary fee, there is, of course, a cost if people truly respond to what God is doing in their life through baptism. Christian discipleship, if we undertake it in a committed and serious way, costs us dearly in time and effort and lifestyle, as well as financially. But the rewards of growing in our faith and getting to know God better, as well as coming to know ourselves better, can far outweigh the ‘costs’ to us.

 

But the root of such discipleship is having enthusiasm and love for that of which we are disciples – of God himself, of all his creation, and of his Church which he called into being through Christ. How we help people grow into such discipleship has no one simple route, which is at once both difficult and liberating. Difficult, because helping people grow in faith is never a case of ‘one size fits all’ – there are no easy solutions or answers; liberating, because it means that there are lots of approaches and routes, so we will all, though our various gifts and abilities, be able to find our place within the multi-faceted approach which can be taken and have something valuable to offer.. 

 

When something is important to people, or deeply inspires and excites them, risks are worth taking and time and energy and money become lesser considerations. In the past few days there have been news reports of the many deaths in recent weeks on Mount Everest, and the number of Tories now lining up as possible replacements for Prime Minister Theresa May have moved into double figures. I would not want either the risk of scaling Everest or the poisoned chalice of leading our country at this point in its history. But there are people who embrace both these things (although not both at once – that, surely, would be foolhardy in the extreme...) and that can only be because they are passionate about them and find something alluring in the pursuit of such goals.

 

How we grow in our awareness of God in such a way as to be so inspired and excited is something we all should keep in our prayers through the whole of our Christian life and discipleship. How we help those at the very initial stages of exploring God’s love in their lives and what that means for them is a different but related question and one which we need to address more clearly and robustly. It’s an especially appropriate thing to be considering this month as the Bishop of Chester comes to St Martin’s to preside over the sacrament of Confirmation.

 

May we all be newly inspired in our walk with God and in finding our place within the life, worship and mission of his Church in these coming weeks.

 

With my prayers,

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The Methodist Covenant Prayer

 

I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,

exalted for you or brought low for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

 to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

 

"BE PREPARED"  Our Lord tells us that he will come again... but he doesn't say when!  For over 2000 years people have been waiting but it could be tomorrow!

 
 

  

St Martin's Church, Church Lane,  Ashton-upon-Mersey,  Sale,  Cheshire ,    M33 5QQ  

0161 976 4086 
0161 973 4204