A Methodist / United Reformed Church Local Ecumenical Project
Loving God Loving People
Pastoral Letter - July 2020
We continue to move slowly forwards in terms of coming out of the restrictions we have been living with for over 3 months. This has been a time of testing for us on many levels including our faith I imagine. I hope you have been able to engage with worship in some form or other – through the television, the radio, YouTube, written services sent by email or printed out. Or maybe you have found your own ways to worship using books, or the nature around you, or just ‘being still’ in God’s presence.
I have valued the telephone conversations I have had with many of you; sometimes these lead to a sharing of spiritual insights and discussion about books we are reading; other times it is good to just get to know you better through a more general chat about what is going on in our lives.
Some books I am reading are challenging ways of thinking that I have held for many years and are making me look more deeply at my relationship with God. One book called ‘Absolute Surrender’ by Andrew Murray, a minister born in South Africa in 1828 (he died in 1917), begins by Murray recalling a conversation he had with a man training Christian workers in Scotland. Murray asked this man what the church most needed. Apparently he answered very quietly, simply and determinedly: ‘Absolute surrender to God is the one thing’.
I wonder how we react to those words? Do you immediately know that there are areas of your life that you haven’t fully surrendered to God? Do you feel that you will never be a good enough Christian to manage it? Or perhaps, you can’t get a handle on what areas of your life need looking at?
Giving our all to God is not easy, and by our own strength is pretty much impossible, but by God’s grace and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can trust God that it will be possible. The part we need to play is giving God proper access to our lives through our diligence in reading the Bible and spending time in prayer. This might mean that we need to bow down before God and apologise for our lack of effort – when we do that God will lift us up, dust us down and fill us with his blessings.
It can help to picture ourselves at Jesus’ feet; laying down our self-centredness and our habitual failings, then… (using Murray’s words’):
‘…trust Him (Jesus). Do not worry yourselves with trying to understand all about it, but come in the living faith that Christ will come into you with the power of His death and the power of His life. Then the Holy Spirit will bring the whole Christ – Christ crucified and risen and living in glory – into your heart.’