Pastoral Letter Sep16 - Nov16
I had thought that by now the dust would have settled and we would have a clear picture of the future. Well the dust has settled on the decision, but the last month has been a blur in so many ways. Leadership in short supply, a seeming wall of shootings and destruction in which it is not clear who is responding to what and all this leading to fear and mistrust. In many places an increase in race crime is being reported. We might well look to signs of impending doom, but in that Jesus told his disciples not to get misled by signs of the age but to stand firm with heads held high.
The Methodist Church has responded to this with a statement read in each church on the Sunday after conference, itself a logistical feat! This letter reminds us that our belief as Methodists (Christians) is that the UK is enriched by diversity, that racism is the denial of the good life and that if we stay silent as others are abused we are colluding with those wishing to create division (http://www.methodist.org.uk/nationallife - for the full text). It reminds us that we have commitments to challenge racism and discrimination by loving our neighbour, the gospel reading for the Sunday it was read out being the Good Samaritan. It challenges us to do something practical. to e-mail our MP, or to wear a safety pin. Why? Well this is a national campaign to show you are safe to sit with on a bus, on a train, in a place where you might feel unsafe by the behaviour or words of others.
The challenge in turbulent times is to stand firm, to hold our heads up and live in the heart of our Christian Discipleship, and we can signify that with something as simple as an empty safety pin. Mission and witness to the love and compassion of God for the most vulnerable. The readings from the lectionary remind us of that again and again, it is the season of sun and holiday and we are being reminded to stand firm, to deal with the weakest with compassion. To involve ourselves in the mission of God, repeated again and again in the scriptures.
So for the beginning of the Methodist year, let us commit ourselves to standing firm, to holding our headsup and exploring what the mission of God is in our communities and finding the way we can be involved as partners with God.
God bless you, thank you for the welcome I have had and the work you have shared in with me and the staff. I look forward to the next year!