St Martins Church Ashton Upon Mersey

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               Some of the many faces of priesthood

Dear friends,

 

With the dawning of a New Year (and a new decade) this month, it's a time of looking back and looking forward. Certainly, this time last year, I had no idea that during 2019 I would find a new job that I felt God was leading me to. Having accepted the position in July as incumbent of  St Mary's, Prestwich, I fully expected to move there to start my ministry either just before or just after Advent. As we enter 2020 it's somewhat frustrating for many people still not having a definite staring date (or finishing date here at St Martin's) although I hope in the next few weeks that there may be some clarity about this.

 In the meantime I keep thinking about some words from the hymn Peace, perfect peace by Bishop E H Bickersteth,

 Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?

Jesus we know, and he is on the throne.

 No matter how uncertain we end - or start - a year, this truth is a vital one for Christians to acknowledge. Christ is reigning, in the universe and in our hearts, and present in all our certainties and uncertainties. And he is not some distant king, either geographically or relationally: he knows us as beloved sons and daughters. He walks with us into the beginning of each new day, each new year, each new chapter, of our lives. In this I take not only comfort but also courage, for he will not desert me or betray me. The future might be unknown - in all sorts of ways - but Jesus' constant love and companionship is certain. Which is a great comfort to me in this time of change - and should be to all of us as we look ahead to whatever the next chapter of life at St Martin's, in our country regarding Brexit, and in our own individual lives, might bring.

 Although the future might be ‘all unknown', the past year is worth reflecting on at this point in the calendar. There will have been high points and low points for all of us, with health issues, bereavements and births, changes in our careers or our financial situations, celebrations and disasters. How have they shaped and changed us during the past twelve months? Are there things which are still causing us sadness, pain or frustration? How are we coping with these things, and dealing with them? And how much have we opened our hearts to God's healing and peace, forgiveness and love? I know when life gets pressured or stressful it's not always easy to put God first in our thoughts and our hearts. Yet, he is the one who longs for us to know his company and his power. As we begin 2020, let us make it one of our resolutions that we try and spend a little more time in prayer, waiting upon God, in all the vagaries of life.

 The first two Sundays of the year will offer to us very vivid images to ponder. On 5th January we will celebrate Epiphany, and ponder what it means to see the Wise Men bend in adoration before the infant Christ after the long journey they have made.  All of our journeys, whether geographically or emotionally long or short, lead us to the side of Christ. How do we greet him? How do we respond to being in his presence?

 Then, on 12th January we will hear of the Baptism of Christ, at the hands of John the Baptist in the Jordan river. During the 10.15am Eucharist those present will be called upon to renew their baptism promises, reflecting upon how faithful and committed to Christ we are. These words will provide a further imperative to review our faith as we move into the New Year.

 I know not everyone will be able to be in church on 12th, and not everyone who is will be at the 10.15am Eucharist. So here are the words said in the renewal of baptismal faith for us all to reflect upon at home.

 Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship,

in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers?

Will you persevere in resisting evil,

and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

 Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

 Will you seek and serve Christ in all people, loving your neighbour as yourself?

 Will you recognise Christ's authority over human society,

by prayer for the world and its leaders, by defending the weak,

and by seeking peace and justice?

All respond    With the help of God, I will.

 

With my prayers for a blessed 2020,


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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