From the Manse

While the minister is on sabbatical we have the Superintendent Minister's Letter

Dear Friends

At the beginning of this new plan you will be aware of a special circuit service, Celebrating God's Kingdom, to be held at Bishop Walsh School on the 25th of September. This is to launch our new circuit vision, 'Living & Growing God's Kingdom' and I am pleased that the Rev. Stephen Poxon a past president of the Methodist Conference will be preaching on this occasion and that our District Chair, the Rev. Ian Howarth will be with us.

A number of years ago I preached a sermon that contained a vision for that church but because I didn't say it was a vision nobody recognised it as vision. To be honest as I preached even I did not realise that it was a vision!

But what is a vision for our circuit and our churches? The vision statement that has been accepted by the circuit meeting is just that, a statement which tries to encapsulate the vision. So what is a vision?

It is appropriate to start with a picture. You are on holiday in the Alps and you decide to climb a local mountain, the problem is that you do not have a map but that's OK because just outside your hotel is a path with a sign post directing you to the summit of the mountain. As you continue on your journey you come to a series of forks in the path but it is still OK because the finger posts keep directing you in the right direction until you come to a fork and the sign is missing. What do you do? Do you give up and turn back? Or do you make the decision to follow the path that seems to be going in the right direction?

You follow this path and it takes you into a thickly wooded area and you lose sight of the mountain but you keep going until you are out of the woods and you see the mountain ahead of you. Sometimes you may take the wrong path and have to back track, but that does not really matter for the mountain is still ahead of you.

A vision is like a mountain. You may feel you may never get there, you may never get there, but you carry on because we need something to aim at, a sense of direction. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God was like a merchant seeking fine pearls. The Kingdom was not the merchant, nor was it the pearl it was the act of seeking are seekers, and it is that which spurs us on.

When we stop seeking we are finished. When we stop traveling forward and decide to return to the hotel, we are finished.

To be a little more practical the vision is not what we want our circuit, or church, to be but what God wants us to be. It is not invalid because we do not see how we are going to achieve it, God does not hand out maps but just says, "Off you go".

So, on 25th September we stop looking at the mountain from the comfort of our hotel lounge and start on the path that is before us.

Grace and peace to you

Alan