Somers Park Methodist Church
How time flies. I have now been your minister for a whole year! I am not one for looking back, but in preparing to write this piece I did reread what I wrote a year ago. I told you about three of my favourite hymns, "Be thou my vision", “God of all power, and truth, and grace”, and “Christ’s is the world in which we move.” They speak to me of moving forward in the power of God, of being both rooted in God and outward looking, and about being the place where people in their need can be touched by the love of God. I hope that my ministry this past year has reflected those things, because they are what motivates me, and I hope they motivates you.
Looking forward we face many challenges. Our congregations continue to age (don't we all!), and numbers are less. At Lansdowne we have lost many friends to sister death, and several at Somers Park Avenue. We have also had to let go some of our major plans, such as the redevelopment scheme at Lansdowne Crescent, and face the loss of most of the young people who worshipped with us in the past in both those churches. Perhaps Upper Welland remains the most unchanged of our churches, although the ill health of a few in such a small church can seem more significant. These are challenges which are not unique to Methodism in Malvern, but true of many of the Churches in the town, and of organisations in which we take part such as the Lyttelton Well.
So where to now? I come back to those three hymns, and their commitment to vision, to God, and to compassion. As Christians we are not called to be successful, but to be faithful. We follow a Master whose ministry ended at the cross. Rather than everything collpasing there that was where it all began, in the sacrificial and obedient faithfulness of Jesus. He did not compromise for a second on his vision of God's Kingdom, on his commitment to his Father in heaven, and to the outpouring of mercy and love towards those in need. Like him our vision needs to be rooted in God and faithfully offered to the world.
There are no substitute for a life of prayer and service. Whilst increasing age and diminishing numbers make our task hard we have in God an infinite and eternal resource. That resource is love, and something we can all do is love. The greatest commandments, says Jesus, are to love God with all our being, and love our neighbour as ourselves. From the youngest to the oldest we are all capable of love, directed towards God in lives of constant prayer, and towards God's world by the friendship we offer to others.
We must be true to ourselves and be faithful to God. The rest is in God's hands, and given who God is, I would say the future is bright. Easter, Pentecost and the City of God await us.
With every blessing