Our minister is Reverend Kim Stilwell


November 2017

Dear Friends

 I’m not sure why they’ve started naming weather events, and as a natural worrier I’m immediately fearful they’ll quickly use them all up!  (all the useable ones that is. You can hardly have a hurricane Kiley or Samantha after all!)

Today Ophelia has been terrorising these Isles, and we were treated to the spectacle of eerie light and a red sun peeking through thin cloud during the daytime.

Meteorologists predicted the storm and have explained the appearance of the sun as a result of a Saharan dust cloud.

But I wonder what our ancestors would have made of it all. These signs, taken together with repeated hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, floods lead to one conclusion – their gods were clearly very angry and they should prepare for disaster.

Some today have interpreted these recent phenomena in apocalyptic terms, but I would prefer to remember Jesus’ words “no-one, not even the Son knows the day or the hour.”

Of course, that doesn’t suggest being in denial about the possibility of a cataclysmic event, still less being unconcerned about the damage we do to the environment which brings about some of these events.

On the contrary, Jesus teaches that the proper approach to the fact of the uncertainty with which we all live, is to be prepared, by living faithfully and well with what is entrusted to us. We have to ensure that our lives bear good fruit in our works, in our words, in our relationships with God and with others, being a blessing to them and to God’s world – while we have time.

November is a time when we remember those whose lives were lost in various wars - those whose plans and dreams were never fulfilled, and to whom we owe a great debt. Their loss will not be without purpose if it teaches us, during whatever time we each have left, to live well, thankfully, peacefully, fruitfully, faithfully, so that we are prepared for whatever may come, assured that in all things, God is with us – for nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God.





October 2017

Dear Friends

At this time of the year we have to negotiate and readjust our bodies to rapid change in the seasons and in the pattern of life. Daylight is currently reducing by 4 about minutes every day! - no wonder the trees are hurrying to turn colour in readiness to shed their leaves. Temperatures will fall and there are well under 100 shopping days to Christmas.

For our family the change has been exacerbated by losing one member of the household to University life. This is the third of our five to fly the nest, and it doesn't seem to get easier.

Now he's gone, we notice the things about his presence around the house that we miss. (When he was here, I seemed to notice more the things about having a teenage male presence that were irritating!) Change and loss certainly remind us to be thankful for what we have while we have it.

But looking back with gratitude - perhaps with longing - is only one perspective on change.

Two passages of scripture come to mind for these changing times:

"No-one who puts their hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of heaven" (Luke 9.62). Our attitude to the past, implies Jesus, is to be thankful for it and to move on, not to be constantly yearning to hold on to it or reclaim it.  The furrow that lies ahead offers opportunities, delights (Autumn colours, watching Rev Richard Coles learn to dance on Strictly come Dancing?) and, no doubt, challenges to us all. How will humankind cope with our propensity to turn away from God, to fight one another, to think only of ourselves and our wants, to destroy the earth? We are called to embrace and make our impact on the future and, to use churchy terminology, to grow the kingdom of Heaven.  We look forward with determination, pressing on toward the goal, as Paul writes in Philippians.  

The other passage is the beautiful words of Psalm 23: "I fear no evil because you are with me; your rod and staff comfort me" - the rod to ward off danger, the staff to provide support, to guide, to know where we belong and that we are loved.  "Comfort" carries the idea of being strengthened, repenting and finding encouragement and consolation from our walk with the Good Shepherd.

So, Autumn? Winter? Christmas, even? 2018? Bring them on! - We're ready to embrace the future, to delight, to mould, for we are not alone.





September 2017 

Dear Friends

It's tea time! Tea is important in Methodism. It oils the wheels of listening and sharing with one another - so vital if we are to propagate the love of Christ. At the beginning of this new church year I'd like to offer you three other "T"s that are foundational to our Church Life at this time and that we do well to keep in mind for the whole year ahead.

Thanksgiving - yes we're into the season of Harvest Celebrations, and what a blessing they are! The sights, the smells, the songs that we associate with harvest services and meals all lead us in thought and prayer back to the God who is the source of all. With the world as it is today and with the enormity of the tasks that face us, it is very easy to feel overburdened to the point of despair. How vital it is then to remember the other side of the coin - a Creator who has given us a beautiful world to appreciate, delight in, care for and give thanks for. He has given us freedom from greed, guilt and sin, assurance of God's love. There is so much to be thankful for. A demeanour of gratitude is one of the most powerful of our tools of witness.

Transformation - being church is being there for all in need, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. After a slow start, our work among young people re-commences as we open the Café for them on Friday evenings from 8th September. Please pray for this. That same weekend is our annual Pudding Tasting - so much more than tasting puddings, as people come into the church building and engage in conversation. And we celebrate the growing work of Hands Together Ludlow which since achieving Charitable Status is taking great strides forward in addressing the genuine needs of our community.

Talking of God - when did you last talk about the sermon over coffee after worship? More usually it's the weather, the latest holiday or our increasing health problems! There is a widely-held conviction that we need to become better, more comfortable and more confident about discussing our faith with others. Our church study group in the Autumn will be centred upon the Time to Talk of God booklet and course. Do join in if you can.

I hope you'll agree that all these "T"s are closely connected. With their help we'll tease out God's purpose for us, both individually and together for the year ahead. Prayerfully we'll grow in love and in strength of faith and purpose - being together the body of which we are all members.

May God bless each of us as we earnestly seek to fulfil God's purpose for us in 2017/18



August 2017 

Dear Friends

This summer has been something of a watershed for our children. One has graduated and begun her new employment, another completed A levels marking (hopefully) his transition to University, another completed her GCSEs and will be going to 6th form College. In all cases the change was unavoidable, but I think they're all ready to move on and welcome a new phase, even if none of them is clear what the medium-term picture holds.

Our attitudes to change differ widely - some hope that nothing disturbs their lives, others long for variety. Perhaps we feel that the older we get, the more stuck in our ways we are - no wonder Jesus said, "Unless you become like children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven!"

But we mustn't make excuses. Our Superintendent in his Vision (adopted at the Circuit Meeting) called upon us to become "light on our feet that we be light in our communities". Being "light on our feet" makes me think of dancing and the hymn, "Lord of the dance" - moving through different styles and tempos as the situation demands, as Jesus demands for us - and whatever happens, the dance goes on.

I was lent recently a biography of John Wesley. It tells that in his dying hours he asked for a pen, but felt too feeble to write. Then he unexpectedly got up and "broke out singing in a manner which astonished all who were about him: I'll praise my maker while I've breath, And when my voice is lost in death, praise shall employ my nobler powers…." Here was a man for whom the dance went on until the last.

I think a good question for the Summer is "What new thing is the Lord asking me to do (even now)? What old thing is he calling me to lay aside?" In such a rapidly-changing world, few of our customs can have great longevity, few remain forever fit for purpose. So "What new opportunities is he laying before me today?" If I take them up, where they may lead I cannot know, but who would want to be left wondering what good thing might have happened if only they'd given something a try?

I hope my children's choices are good ones - but we'll love them whatever the outcome, and if we can do that, how much more our Heavenly Father will show the one constant thing - His love for us.