To everything, there is a season…

I wonder if you remember the hit song Turn! Turn! Turn! (to everything there is a season)by the group called the Byrds? It was a popular song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes - set to music and recorded in 1962.  The song has a lovely, haunting melody and tells of how there is indeed a time for everything under heaven.  

With the Christmas and New Year celebrations now truly behind us we are together journeying into all that 2019 holds.  Within Methodism, January is a popular time for our annual Covenant Services where we recommit ourselves to walk with God throughout the year as he is with us.  In this, we seek to trust in God’s amazing grace and wonderful love that he will be with us and indeed lead and sustain us in all that we encounter together.

So, as we look to February and March, as the days begin to noticeably lengthen this is a valuable time for us to plan when we will pause to reflect on all that God is doing in our lives, our churches and our communities.  It’s a good time to purposefully make some space to thank God for all his many blessings.  In this, we see evidence of God at work in the world and in our lives, and look for his strength in all that is to come – the joys, sorrows and opportunities for mission and ministry.

Sunday 10thMarch marks our first Sunday in the liturgical season of Lent, a valuable time for reflection and spiritual renewal.  For Christians and those seeking to make a commitment in responding to God’s love in their lives, this is an opportunity to spend some dedicated time with others as we recall Jesus’ journey to the cross for all our sakes, and as we prepare for our Easter celebrations.

In all the busyness of this world, and even in solitude world, we each need to ensure that as part of looking after ourselves in body and mind – we also refresh ourselves spiritually.  In the Old Testament, the prophet Jerimiah (Chapter 1 verse 5) records the words of the Lord: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart

At this particular time of the year I encourage us all to make space to bring ourselves before God - both to recall how great his love is for all people; and as described in Psalm 139:1-3, 13-14, to praise God that he has searched us, that he knows us, and that in all the wonderful diversity of life we are fearfully and wonderfully made as individuals, and together as ‘church’. Food for thought indeed.

Every blessing, 

David


Revd David Lawton 

Email: david.lawton@methodist.org.uk




Advent - waiting expectantly for the coming of the Messiah…

Last month, my contribution focused on the topic of waiting… and how this can be a positive experience as we ‘wait’ trusting God.

This month, we enter Advent – and the season of preparation for Christmas.  It’s a time when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah.

During ‘Advent’, which means ‘coming’ or ‘visit’, we’re also reminded of Christ’s sacrificial love for all people. In this season then, we keep in mind both ‘advents’ of Christ - the first in Bethlehem, and the second yet to come.

In Jesus, born to Mary & Joseph, we see God’s unconditional love for humankind – as described in the scriptures; as sung about in countless hymns and contemporary songs; as written about by innumerable authors; and as lived-out daily by followers of all ages throughout the world - a love which will not let us go.

In response to God’s love for all, we are each called to draw close to God, to seek his forgiveness, and to welcome him as our friend and Saviour - present with us throughout life’s ups and downs. That’s why it’s such a special a time – as young and old alike thank God for the gift of the Christ child Jesus.

Consequently, this Christmas, why not join in the various Church and community activities and festivities that take place across our villages - as we celebrate that God is alive and active in the world today, and in our lives.

Turning to January 2019, we then draw on our Methodist heritage by holding our annual Covenant Services.  In these, we gratefully accept God’s promise of new life in Christ, and renew our commitment to God, seeking his strength and guidance in all we do in sharing God’s love with our neighbour.

These are special services to share together.  So, as we turn from 2018 and step into all that 2019 holds for us a world, as a country, and as the unique and loved individuals that we are - we look to God for guidance, for the strength to cope, and for much needed love and reconciliation as we enter the New Year.  We all live in turbulent times, but we also live in the light of Christ who is the Prince of Peace.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved one’s peace this Christmas - amidst all that life holds.

Every Blessing,

David

 

Revd David Lawton (David.Lawton@methodist.org.uk




October


Wait for it…

wonder how comfortable you are with waiting? Often it may seem as though as a society we are less and less prepared to wait for anything these days. Maybe we could view some aspects a little differently…

In an age of instant gratification; instant credit; instant messaging; and instant food, the whole concept of waiting for something can easily be dismissed as outdated and unnecessary.  Often, this is because ‘waiting’ is seen as something passive or lifeless, whereas in reality it can be time spent expectantly and with purpose.

For example, on 11thNovember - Remembrance Day, millions of people will observe a two-minute silence at 11am as they do each year, in the memory of those who have been affected in all conflicts.  This year, we also mark the 100thanniversary since the Great War was over. 

On that day, people unite together waiting in silence as we honour all those who gave their lives, those who were injured, and those who returned alive – as we give our thanks for the freedom we enjoy.  We look back with gratitude, and we look forward with hope.

By the end of November, we also step into the season of Advent – a time when Christians wait expectantly and purposefully to celebrate the coming of God to us as Jesus – born as a baby wholly human, yet wholly divine.

As we wait, we remember all that Christ has done for us in revealing to us God’s immense loving nature of justice and mercy.  But in waiting on God we also celebrate that God is active in the world today and in our lives.

In the Bible, the book of Psalms offers us a lovely insight to our ‘waiting’ on God. Here’s one from Psalm 40 verses 1-3:

1  I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
2   He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
    he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
3  He put a new song in my mouth,
   a hymn of praise to our God.
   Many will see and fear the Lord
   and put their trust in him.


    I wish you every blessing in the weeks ahead,

David

 

Revd David Lawton 

Email: david.lawton@methodist.org.uk






I wonder if you like to explore new places?  I must admit that I do - whether it’s discovering somewhere new whilst holidaying in the UK or elsewhere, or when meeting new people at home.  Whatever the circumstances, Sue and I have almost always found a warm and generous welcome.

This summer, during the first week of August, Sue and I moved to join friends here in Navenby and the Lincoln Methodist Circuit. The welcome and hospitality we have already received has been generous and very much appreciated.  Even at this early stage we have a real sense of belonging as we meet new friends in all the various Churches and local communities in which we live and serve.

As Christians, we often describe our discipleship as a journey of faith in which we constantly seek to join in God’s mission and ministry wherever we are.  Through this, we not only discover our gifts, graces and talents - and those of others, but we also meet our shared need to belong together as part of God’s diverse family as we discern the way ahead.

In the Acts of the Apostles (16:1-5) we are reminded how, for a time, Timothy joins Paul and Silas as they worked together, each supporting and encouraging the other as they stepped out in faith - and in doing so they are blessed in ways unimaginable.  

Whether we are long-established Christians of mature faith, or tentatively exploring what it really means to follow Christ at any age, we too can trust in God’s love for all – and in his strength and guidance.  In this, I’m reminded of John Wesley’s observation that, the best of all is, God is with us.

Whatever we are facing as individuals, however we are called to reshape our churches and share God’s love within our communities – our calling is to help make Christ visible in an amazing, yet often hostile world.

My continuing steps of faith are a result of Christ’s stirring, loving, and encouraging my heart day by day; and the many acts of friendship and good humour I encounter from those I meet as we live out our faith in all the messiness of life.  Its good to journey together.

One of my favourite hymns is: I the Lord of sea and sky by Daniel L. Schutte.  The words are a constant reminder of how God is with us in all the twists and turns of life, and that we are called in love and obedience to follow him in all we do. Easy to say, harder to do day by day.

Each verse carries the gracious challenge: Whom shall I send?– a challenge we personally and collectively are called by Christ to answer afresh each day. How would you respond?

Sue and I are really pleased to join you on this shared journey …and we trust that God that will continue to lead us all in his ongoing mission here - and bless all we meet in ways yet unimaginable.


    Every Blessing,

   David