Tag Archives: faith

“All This for You”: There is Room for You and Me

As we begin the journey of Advent, the churches I serve are following the theme ‘There is Room’, and in week 1, thinking about how, when God reigns, There is Room for You and Me.

Last Saturday, I had an experience while leading a baptism service that took the truth about how There is Room in God’s story for all to a whole new level.

I’ve done numerous Baptism in the last few years, but always for toddlers. So last Saturday was the first time I baptised a baby.

The baby I was baptising was about 6-7 months old, and as I held this helpless, dependant, innocent child in my arms, looking at his peace-filled, sleeping face, and spoke some of the baptism liturgy over them, I was somewhat overwhelmed…


for you Jesus Christ came into the world;
for you he lived and showed God’s love;
for you he suffered death on the Cross;
for you he triumphed over death,
rising to newness of life;
for you he prays at God’s right hand:
all this for you,
before you could know anything of it.

In your Baptism,
the word of Scripture is fulfilled:
‘We love, because God first loved us.’

Methodist Baptism Liturgy, Methodist Worship Book p.92-3.

I had to take a breath to remind myself I was in front of a room full of people and was leading a service! In that moment, it had become as if it was just me and this innocent baby. Like nothing else mattered but the words of truth I was speaking over them – that the truth of God’s gift to them is that There is Room.

It took the grace of God to a whole new level for me. An innocent baby who cannot yet comprehend or communicate an understanding of God’s grace – yet God outpours his grace anyway. “All this for you, before you could know anything of it.”

I had the great privilege of declaring that truth to them, their family and friends, and welcoming them into God’s family.

God’s grace transcends our human understanding. Transends our western obsession with needing to be deserving, to earn and achieve all we have.

God’s grace is outpoured on the world – through the life and love of an innocent baby, born in a manger. A baby who declares There is Room in God’s Story for you, for me, for us, for all.


Find out more about Advent & Christmas events at Bognor Regis, Felpham and Westergate Methodist Churches as we declare There is Room .

Advent & Christmas 2022 at Bognor Regis Methodist Church

Advent & Christmas 2022 at Felpham Methodist Church

Advent & Christmas 2022 at Westergate Methodist Church

Harvest – a Time of Gratitude

Here on the south coast of Sussex I’ve just journeyed through the joyful season of harvest among the church communities I serve.

At Bognor Regis and Felpham Methodist Churches we invited donations of groceries and cash for Bognor Foodbank, and I was astounded by the generosity I witnessed. We had tables laden with groceries, and almost £500 in donations to support their ministry.

I find Harvest a time which makes me stop and take notice of what I have. To be reminded of the seasons of the year that work together in producing abundance from our land., To see those things to be grateful for that I can otherwise take for granted. To have an attitude of gratitude and praise to God all that he provides.

One of the stories we find in the New Testament is the feeding of 5000 men, plus women and children, with 5 loaves and 2 fish.

The gathering of the huge crowd had not been planned for, it was getting late and food had not been prepared. The disciples suggest to Jesus that he calls time to the event, sending the people off to get themselves some food. But Jesus says no, you find them something to eat.

I wonder how those disciples felt in that moment? It is a wonder to me that the gospel text doesn’t go on to record the mutterings of the disciples ‘who does he think he is, we’ve told him we’ve not food, where are we meant to get the food from?’

All the disciples find are 5 loaves and 2 fish. Little is available, but the need is great. Yet with a push from Jesus what they have is made available to be shared, and with a blessing it spreads much further than anyone could have imagined.

Rather than seeing the challenge of feeding a crowd of thousands with 5 loaves and 2 fish as an impossibility, Jesus showed that with gratitude and acceptance of what we have, abundance can come.

Too often we can fall into the trap of grumbling greed. if we are not careful, society can lure us into a way of life which seeks to look after me, myself and I, gathering everything for ourselves.

But that is not the way God calls Christians to live. God calls us to live lives of gratitude, thankfulness and contentedness with what we have and receive, and to share it with others.

In the disciples sharing, their orienting themselves towards others, many more were satisfied.

“Gratitude begins with paying attention, with noticing the goodness, beauty, and grace around us. The practice of gratitude becomes more central to our communities when we stop feeding the cycles of complaint and orient our lives around praise, testimony, and thanks.

Christine Pohl, in ‘Living into Community’, p51.

Gratitude as a way of life brings us into a greater realisation of the goodness and beauty all around us day by day.

No matter what little we have, be it our time, our money, our energy, our resources, our gifts and graces, what we have in the widest sense of the word – with Christ it can be used to do immeasurable more than we may think or imagine.

To reach many people, to bring sustenance, satisfaction and goodness to people in a world which is in great need of goodness.

May we grow to live lives of deeper gratitude for what we have; lives of generosity to one another; and lives of faithfulness for all that Christ can accomplish through what we can offer.

Seeking justice

An Adaption of a sermon preached at Covenant Services in September 2022 at Bognor Regis, Felpham and Westergate Methodist Churches.

For my first career I was manager of a Christian Bookshop and Resource Centre in Cornwall. Beyond the selling of books and resources, it was also a space of welcome, care and hospitality. We had a small sofa and coffee table in the shop, offering a place to rest, a free cuppa and, if desired, a listening ear and prayer.

It was a simple, yet incredibly fruitful, ministry. Many people would almost stumble across us, or be drawn in without really knowing where they were or why they had come in. But before long conversation came forth; God was at work.

Through that ministry I heard stories personal stories about many things, including problems and challenges people were facing. Relationship struggles; mental health worries; money concerns; unsuccessful job hunting… the list goes on.

The young man who’s benefits had been cancelled without a reason why…

The woman who had an unexpected bill leaving them without enough for food for the month…

The young female with minor learning difficulties having their social care support hours cut by half due to budget cuts…

It opened my eyes to the inequality that was on my doorstep. An inequality I knew was there but was only now beginning to really know. I was coming to see the world and life from perspectives other than my own.

But at the same time, hearing these stories about inequality, and seeing the pain, struggle, confusion and suffering there were causing, felt somewhat overwhelming. So many different issues, so many people falling through the cracks.

I would often be thinking as I walked home each day about those I had encountered. How can I help these individuals? What support can I signpost them to? Where is the system going wrong? How can I help change the system?

It is through the experience of this ministry that God opened my heart to discover God’s own heart for justice.

‘With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:6-8

Micah is speaking to the leadership and people of both Northern Israel and Southern Judah. Both have been living and being led in a way which was against the covenant with God.

Micah accuses them of rebellion against God, of hypocrisy, talking about God and observing the ritual temple practices, but in ways which were empty, meaningless and was built upon corruption, theft and greed.

This is now what god calls for – this does not honour God’s covenant with them. Ritual means nothing without virtue.
For what does God require?
To Act Justly.
To love Mercy.
To Walk Humbly with God.
That is what is good.

The Methodist Covenant Service has travelled in one shape or form with Methodism for most of its existence, an annual practice bult into our denominational DNA which celebrates the faithfulness of God to us and invites us to publicly reaffirm our commitment to partner with God in mission and ministry.

That wherever we are, wherever God places us,
Whatever circumstances we face,
We might serve God.
That we will be about God – not ourselves.

Methodism also has justice in our DNA. A denomination that was birthed out of a deep desire to ensure discipleship was taken seriously, and made accessible to all people. Much of Methodism’s historical heartlands are in mining communities, communities on the margins, to which this movement successfully brought a gospel of hope and relevance to them and their lives.

John Wesley, one of the lynchpins of Methodism’s beginnings, saw seeking justice in society as a central aspect of what it means to follow Jesus. To work for Justice by both responding to needs that appear before us, and campaigning for change.

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.

Attributed to John Wesley.

May we hear God’s challenge, as individuals and as communities, to serve God as we can, as and where he calls. To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. To share the good news, and actively work for justice in our communities.

To do all the good we can,
By all the means we can,
In all the ways we can,
In all the places we can,
at all the times we can,
To all the people we can,
As long as we ever can.

The crowd was pressing in

The idea of being in a crowd pressing in on one another is one we will not have countenanced over the last couple years. But think back to the last time you crowded into a concert hall, rock concert, theatre or cinema. Bodies close together, all anticipating the experience you have come to witness. Your eagerness to hear and see leads you to adjust your head position to get the best view.

Read: Luke 5:1-11

The crowd was not pressing in to get into the mosh pit. We are not told they were competing and tussling to get the best view. We are told they were pressing in because they were ‘eager to hear the word of God’ (v1).

What does your eagerness to hear the word of God lead you to do? How do you seek to listen to Jesus? Where has hearing from Jesus lead you to experience transformation?

In Jesus, his life, his words, his attitude and example, we meet and experience the goodness, grace and glory of God. Oh how eager we should be to encounter Jesus today! Whether in a crowd, where a few are gathered, or on our own – let us all position ourselves day by day to press in, and encounter Jesus.

Follow up: Take some time this week to read the rest of Luke 5. As you read, be eager to hear; how is God speaking to you day by day this week through these words of scripture?


Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

To Unfamiliar & Unexpected

In a pastoral conversation this week the person I was talking to reminded me of a story of a congregation turning up to a first service with their new minister. The congregation was full of expectation but the new minister was nowhere to be seen. The only person that was to be seen was a homeless person curled up just outside the front door asleep.

As the service began it was announced that the minister hadn’t turned up, when low and behold the homeless person walked up to the front, laid their sleeping back down and took off their coat to reveal themselves as the new minister. The congregation were shocked, and guilty that they had all ignored their sleeping homeless guest.

Luke 4:21-30

21 Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ 

23 He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.”’ 24 And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers[d] in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ 

28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

Our gospel reading today reminds us that God works in the unexpected places. Jesus is in Nazareth, and people can’t believe it is Joseph’s son. Jesus talks of how a prophet is not welcome in their hometown. Not welcome in their familiar surroundings. The words familiar and family come from the same Latin root, as words talking about the known and the intimate. It seems that here Jesus sows the seed that God may well call us out of our known and comfortable places to the unfamiliar and unexpected.

Follow Up: as the reading goes on, Jesus talks of God’s provision for Zarephath (1 Kings 17) and Naaman (2 Kings 5), both people who were deemed at the time to be ‘outside’ of the community of God’s people.

Read their stories and reflect on what God is saying to you through them today.



Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

The best is yet to come…

This week’s lectionary gospel reading comes from John 2, where we read of John’s first account of a Jesus-miracle; water turned to wine.

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 

His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 

When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 

11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

It was normal in those days that the best wine would be served first, then once everyone was a bit drunk the ‘not-best’ wine could come out and no one would be any the wiser because they were already a bit drunk anyway. So the idea that the best wine had been saved till last ran counter to the cultural norms of hospitality. It was absurd to think that the best had been saved till last.

I wonder if this is the metaphor John was using when he placed the story of this Jesus-miracle where he did in his gospel. Pointing out to the reader that after many centuries of God providing for the people he calls his, now the next chapter is unfolding, and it is the best bit.

But interestingly, John also tells of mother Mary’s role in this miracle. Jesus is pushed on by his mother to make this miracle happen. Who might God be speaking to you through today, pushing you on to fulfil Gods plan for your life?

Follow up: Reflect on how God has spoken to you through others in your life. give thanks to God for them.


Today’s thought for the day is also available in Worshipping Together, a monthly worship at home resource.

Choose Joy

For the last couple years we’ve had a Family Joy Jar. The intention is to write something down that has given us joy each day throughout the year, and then at the end of the year we open it up and read them together.

Last week when we opened our joys from 2021 it was a joyful time, reminded of many moments of joy we had as a family that we would otherwise have forgotten about.

Some of our family moments of joy from 2021.

Through our Family Joy Jar, God has encouraged me to begin 2022 by choosing joy. There is so much rubbish around us at the moment, the pandemic rages on, the refugee crisis continues, the cost of living crisis looms ever larger, our UK government is appearing more and more lawless by the day. it is so easy to end up frustrated, angry, disappointed and feel joy-less.

So I am starting 2022 seeking to choose joy. To mark every day by finding at least one thing to be joyful about – and the more days that go by, the easier it is to find it. It is as if, in choosing joy, I find joy.

Sharing some of this with our prayer group last week, we spent some time prayerfully reflecting on moments of joy in our lives. It was so uplifting and encouraging to hear each other sharing our stories of joy.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Every day is a day God has made. A gift God has given to us. So let us rejoice in this gift. let us chose joy and praise our maker.

I encourage you to choose joy today.

If it helps you, take some time to play the worship song below, and as you do, make a note of your own moments of joy .

New Year

New Year.
New Start.
Refresh.
Refocus.

Pray.
Dare to Listen. 

Dare to Dream. 
Dare to Hope.
Dare to Love. 

Dare to Fly.
To soar on wings like eagles.
To run and not grow weary. 
To live in the strength and power of God. 

Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
    
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
    
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
    gives fresh strength to dropouts.

For even young people tire and drop out,
    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (The Message)

‘This love we got is the best of all’ – Merry Christmas

I always look forward to hearing new Christmas tunes and carols, and watching the music video’s that come with them. This year I’ve been struck by Ed and Elton’s ‘Merry Christmas’.

Every time I watch this, I see reference to another past Christmas hit. Slade, Wham, Snowman, even a Sausage Roll!

If feels like they’ve looked back at all the classic Christmas tunes that people have most loved and tried to combine all the ‘feel-good’ buts into one video.

It has a wonderful, Christmassy feel about it, but the song is also very real. It starts with the truth that Christmas 2021 is also a Christmas of lament, remembering all that we have gone though these last 2 years…

I know there’s been pain this year but it’s time to let it go
Next year you never know, but for now
Merry Christmas

As we remember the Christmas story, the declaration of angels saying God’s promised one has come, and will transform the world…Mary, Joseph, shepherds responding to God’s message… there was much they didn’t know. But for now, in the moment, they look in awe and wonder at the Christ-child, who is love that is the best love of all.

We’ll dance in the kitchen while embers glow
We’ve both known love, but this love that we got is the best of all
I wish you could see you through my eyes then you would know
My god you look beautiful right now
Merry Christmas

This Christmas I want you to see the Christmas story, not through Elton’s eyes – but through God’s eyes. God who wants us to see and know that in Christ we find the ultimate expression of God’s love.
Love that has no terms and conditions attached,
love that shows no judgement,
Love simply because God can do nothing but love us.

Just as we may well spend some of Christmas visiting or spending time with people we love, so too did God step down from heaven and become human, to spend time with us.
To live as we live, because God loves us.

So as Christmas comes around once again,
here comes the annual reminder of God’s love come down to earth,
and to us.

I feel it when it comes
Every year helping us carry on
Filled up with so much love
All our family and friends are together where we all belong
Merry Christmas everyone

We’ve had a tough 2 years, and while the landscape is changing it is still going to be tough for while longer… but the love of God we discover in Jesus helps us carry on through the highs and lows of life.

And that gift of love is not only for us to keep and cherish for ourselves, it is also one we are encouraged to share.

There are many ways of encouraging, of giving, of sharing, of caring for and loving the people around us. In our words, our actions, our giving and offering hospitality.

Christmas is a time to give and share and encourage,
Christmas a time to love,
because it is through the best love of all we discover in Jesus
that the world, and we all, can find true hope.

this love that we got is the best of all
I know there’s been pain this year but it’s time to let it go
Filled up with so much love
Merry Christmas everyone

Keep Watching….

The stage was set…
The house lights dimmed…
Silence…
Waiting…
Watching…
Anticipation building.

Then with great gusto, The orchestra begin to play,
The curtain begins to rise…
The stage is revealed, and the show begins. 

I still remember my first trip to the West End.
Anticipation was strong.
We knew the story we were about to witness,
Yet we didn’t know quite how they would do it on the stage.

So as we sat there,
We sat between the known and unknown,
intensifying the anticipation of what was coming…
The knowing made the waiting even more electrifying.
The unknowing made the waiting more exciting.

That image, for me, captures the essence of Advent,
A time of waiting in expectation,
Between the known and the unknown,
Remembering what was.
Waiting and watching for what will be.

Waiting inhabits most areas of our lives, in one way or another.
Sometimes waiting passes by unnoticed.
At others, waiting is a heavy millstone around our necks.

Sometimes waiting can be a joyous and uplifting time,
At others, it can be draining of all life.

And over the last 2 years waiting has taken a whole new meaning for us… waiting for our turn in the vaccine roll out, waiting for another news conference, waiting to know if there will or will not be more changes to the way we live our lives….

In Luke 1:39-45 we read of Mary and Elizabeth.
Both are pregnant…
Unexpectedly pregnant in fact…
Both families have been visited by angels foretelling something of what will happen.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 

Luke 1:41-42

Amidst all the unknowns…
Amidst the crazy uncertainty…,.
Elizabeth somehow knows Mary carry’s God’s promised one…
She doesn’t know how, what, why…
But she knows that this baby would be a fulfilment of God’s promise.

How it must have felt for Mary and Elizabeth,
Having a glimpse of what might be coming,
A glimpse of what God was doing,
Yet not really knowing God’s plan at all.

Confusion. Uncertainty. Fear. Disbelief. Loneliness.
Why them?
Why now?
How?
When?
What?

There must have been more q’s than answers.
But they were willing.
They trusted.
Waited.

2000 or so years on, we’re in a different place…
The promised Messiah came
Jesus came, lived, ministered, died, rose again.
Left the Spirit of God with us.

All could be made well with the world…
Peace, hope, harmony, justice, righteousness, clarity….

2000 years on, perhaps the world isn’t quite so different as we sometimes like to think. Humankind might have progressed, but thw world is still a mess.

While I don’t think any of you are expecting to give birth to a son of God any time soon…we are all also like Mary & Elizabeth.

We’re human.
Still human.
Still live with anxiety, fear.
We live with questions.
We live with uncertainty.

For me, there’s something about the known and unknown of the season of advent, the watching and waiting which reminds me that God is as much in the waiting, uncertainty and the unknown, as everything else.

As Advent reminds us of what was, is and will be,
We are reminded we worship a God who’s work has not finished.
Has never finished.
Advent reminds us to keep watching…
Watching for glimpses of the God in our daily lives.
Watching for the activity of God in the world.
Watching for God’s invitation to us to participate in that activity.

For that is God’s gracious and generous offer to us.
Inviting we watchers and waiters to participate in the continuing work of God.
So, keep watching.
In advent and in all our days…