Rev David Lawton

July 2019

Dear Reader,

I wonder what your plans are for the summer months? For many people, it is of course an opportunity for a break of some sort, whether going away on holiday or simply having a change of routine at home. And perhaps with a good book alongside, it can make all the difference.

I recently came across a super book by Margaret Silf, entitled: At sea with God’. In it, Margaret explores the wealth of imagery as she poignantly describes our life’s journeying with God like taking to the sea in a small boat. It’s a lovely illustration - as we leave the safety of the boatyard for the uncertainty and risk of unchartered waters, whilst en route to a mysterious destination.

If that’s true for you, how would you describe your voyage through life at present? For some, their sails are set, the sky is blue, and there’s a moderate breeze blowing them to new opportunities and adventures.

For others, the doldrums might be a harsh reality, where they feel as though their boat is simply going nowhere particular at present, and they’re yearning for some sort of change.

There will also be those who are facing huge storms and being tossed by enormous waves that threaten their little boat and they are naturally fearful, perhaps even for their lives.

And yet, there will also be those who are sat in the harbour, making repairs so that their boat is shipshape once again. Some may even be seeking the courage to venture out from the harbour that has ironically become more like a prison.

In various places within the Bible, we are reminded that throughout life we are never more secure than when we put our trust in God. This message is affirmed in the book of Hebrews (Chapter 13), where we are also told that the Lord will never let us down, never desert us; God is constantly there, loving, and intervening in our world.

In this knowledge, we can set-out with a deep thankfulness that God remains by our side in all that we face: encouraging, guiding and sustaining us as we seek direction; God is ‘present’ amongst us.

Such assurance is a real gift, but may of course also come in ways and at times that are surprising and unexpected. But as we learn to put our trust in God, to love God, and to travel together, we discover that the Eternal’s promises are true and trustworthy, and whose love never fails.

As we see from the 24/7 news and from our own our experience – life is rarely a breeze. Even if things are just fine for now, we know that our friends and neighbours at home or overseas are facing some really tough, often disturbing times. Yet, with our prayerful support and appropriate action we can make a real difference – no matter how small.

In God, we don’t sail alone, for we are called to hold each other before God in prayer; and in doing our bit to encourage and build a faithful Christian presence within our various communities, villages, and homes: valuing diversity, building relations, supporting and loving others in taking a step of faith as we journey together through life.

Every blessing this summer,

David

Revd David Lawton

Email: david.lawton@methodist.org.uk



June 2019

Well, here we are on the cusp of June, revealing that Spring has well and truly taken hold - and that the beginning of Summer is just a short while away.

For many people, both the young and those of us a little more seasoned, this means that our plant pots on windowsills, in greenhouses, and our gardens are perhaps now bursting into life with the buds, flowers …and an extraordinary variety of weeds.

Gardening can be really rewarding - pottering around, planting, cultivating, pruning and …even weeding too. Even my freshly mown lawn with its mix of grass, moss and weeds looks fairly good as you stand well back and admire the view - along with a mug of tea and a biscuit.

But don’t you find that sometimes our lives are a bit like gardens? Every so often we need to put a little more effort into cultivating and nurturing our relations with others; our call to embrace diversity, and our welcoming all forms of family - weeding-out those habits and attitudes that restrict our growth in the faith and which wound others; and pausing a while, standing well back – simply giving thanks to God for life, for family in all its forms, and for our friends.

As Christians, and those seeking faith, we are well used to the image of life as a journey with God. That journey can at times be clear and straightforward, whilst at other times we might need to rely heavily on the support, advice and sheer love of others who care enough for our wellbeing to help us get back on track.

Having just passed through May, and in subsequent months, the Methodist Church here in Navenby village has had some really significant ‘caring’ milestones. Firstly, we joined once again with thousands of others around the country to take part in raising funds during Christian Aid Week. This took place between 12-18 May and was initially set up some 60 years ago to support work with refugees in Europe following the Second World War.

Sadly, even today there are thousands of refugees who need our help to relieve their suffering and to know that others really care. All sorts of Churches and individuals do our bit to support this charity, and other charities, as we aspire to ensure that everyone has a safe place to call home. Like each of us, refugees also need nurturing and tender loving care.

A little later, on 19thMay, Methodists celebrated Aldersgate Sunday and Wesley Day. It’s a time when we mark John Wesley’s coming to faith (whilst he heard someone reading from the New Testament Book of Romans), where John states ‘I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.’

And as we look ahead, on 9thJune, we will be celebrating Pentecost– the time when God’s gift of the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus’ followers then, and now.

In his book ‘Tokens of Trust’, Rowan Williams describes how:Life in the Holy Spirit is fellowship, where Jesus is alive in the company of others; life, where each person, by the energy of the Spirit, gives the promise and possibilities opened up by Jesus to every other.

As Christians in our various villages, and as an active Methodist Church within Navenby, we simply seek to make Christ visible in what we say and do as we journey together through life. We know we don’t always get it right, but that’s when we know that in God’s strength and grace, we all need to do some more weeding.

Every Blessing,

David

Revd David Lawton

Email: David.Lawton@methodist.org.uk

April 2019

Christ has risen for the people….

Dear Friends,

This month, we continue to move through the season of Lent, and then on towards Holy Week, followed of course by our Easter celebrations.

As many Christians… and those seeking faith discover, Lent can be a really useful time in the Church calendar in which we are prompted to pause awhile – often to meet with others, to reflect on our journey through life with God. This opportunity reminds us that God is present with us throughout life – and of God’s deep love for the world he created as revealed though Christ’s sacrificial love for all.

Holy Week and Easter follow, when on Easter Sunday (and beyond) we celebrate the astonishing news that Jesus is risen from the dead!

It’s a particularly special time in Church and village life as we recall Biblical accounts of how the two Mary’s went to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been placed following his cruel death on the cross.

Unexpectedly, an angel appeared to the women and told them not to look in the tomb for Jesus – for he wasn’t there! Jesus had risen from the dead. ‘…go quickly and tell his followers ’ the angel said. So, the women left the tomb, somewhat perplexed, and ran to tell Jesus’ followers all that had happened. Why not read it for yourself in the first book of the New Testament: Matthew Chapter 28 verses 1-10.

But the Easter story wasn’t just good news in Biblical times – for it speaks to us today. In the midst of all that we face in life, God is with us giving us strength to cope, love to share - and the peace and presence of God goes with us as we travel through life.

If Easter was only about eating chocolate it would certainly be a scrumptious time…but there’s so much more! The brilliant news is that Jesus being raised from the dead is a powerful and tangible reminder that we serve a living God: the God who is active in the world today; the God who loves you, me, and all people so much that Jesus, his only son, was willing to die for us all, that we might be reunited with God. And in response to such love, we want to praise and thank God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Gospel message of new life in Christ is one that goes way beyond our celebrations on Easter Sunday. Death has been defeated. God has raised Christ from the tomb. Jesus isn’t to be found dead in a grave but is alive and with us. So, just like those first disciples - we too are called to put our trust in God, and we too we have the promise of new life in Christ starting now and continuing beyond the grave.

The songwriters John Bell and Graham Maule graphically describe it like this:

Christ has risen for the people

whom he loved and died to save;

Christ has risen for the women

bringing flowers to grace his grave.

Christ has risen for disciples

huddled in an upstairs room.

He whose word inspired creation

is not silenced by the tomb.

When it arrives, have a very happy Eastertime,

David

Revd David Lawton

(david.lawton@methodist.org.uk)

March 2019

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

December 2018

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 2018

Wait for it…

I 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

September 2018

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