Our minister is Reverend Kim Stilwell

 

 

 

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

Kim

 

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.

 Blessings

 Kim


 

July letter

 

Dear Friends

"For such a time as this" is a phrase I recall from studying the book of Esther some years ago. Esther was in the right place at the right time to be able to use her influence to rescue the Jews from a pogrom.

The cumulative effect of all the events we have seen so close to home over the last months have led to the "sombre national mood" described by the Queen, mixed with a feeling of bewilderment at US, French and now our own Election results - where is it all heading? Where are we to find good leadership for such a time as this?

In the aftermath of Grenfell we as Christians have a powerful message about justice for the poor, our duty to put care for one another as a priority over cost savings. We have a message about being alongside those who are victims of the tragedy - showing God's love, as demonstrated by people of all faiths (including our sisters and brothers at the Notting Hill Methodist Church).

In the aftermath of terrorist attacks we have a message about loving our neighbour, whoever they may be, about reconciliation and forgiveness.

In the midst of bewilderment at where this will all end, we have a message of a loving Creator God revealed in Jesus Christ who proclaimed hope in the healing of the world, and the healing of ourselves - an eternal God in whom we can trust.

Christianity has a message for such a time as this, and our hope and prayer is that many people will find their hearts stirred by God, ready to listen.

Sadly we cannot expect that they will flock into our churches on a Sunday morning or afternoon to quietly be told. It is up to us, following the example of our founder John Wesley, to find ways of speaking and being the message in the places where people are, with those we encounter, and with those whose paths wouldn't normally cross ours.

Our regular "Prayer with a Purpose" in October will meet in the Balance pub at Luston and will be a Community Harvest Celebration. This is a simple example. Our friends at Living Waters have a monthly Café Church in Costa. Our Agricultural Chaplain and his team are visiting farms and at Livestock Markets.

Have you any thoughts about sharing our message "for such a time as this" in and around Ludlow today? Please keep praying, and share your thoughts

Blessings

Kim

 

June letter

 Dear Friends

I write to you in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing atrocity. Many of us will have felt moved to tears by the tragedy of the loss of young and beautiful life. We have longed to comfort the parents and friends who lost loved ones and are devastated. The shock we have felt has been exacerbated by the fact that this all happened so close to home.

It is hard to fathom the mind of a terrorist, but it is clear that there is a group of people who are ready to bring their ideology of hatred to bear on innocent children enjoying themselves.

I find myself as moved by the immediate, generous and profoundly human response of those who have shown their solidarity with the victims through actions and declarations of support.

The contrast is between on the one hand those who see others - in this case, mainly western girls - as a legitimate target, and consequently of no intrinsic worth, and on the other hand those who identify with the suffering of any human, regardless of ethnicity, gender or age, and will do all they can to relieve it.

Tragically, some are already using the tragedy to sow further seeds of division and take people down a path toward equally despicable attitudes of hatred and acts of violence in the name of nationalism.

As Christians it is always helpful to reflect: what would Jesus do?

We need only to turn to the parable of the Good Samaritan to see human behaviour as it should be, serving the needs of whom we meet, whatever their origin, whatever our differences, whatever the cost - for they are all our neighbours. This was precisely the actions of, among others, the taxi drivers, many of them ethnically Asian, who responded to the urgency of the need in Manchester by repeatedly offering free lifts home. These acts are as moving as the candlelit vigils - all signs of our determination not to surrender to evil but to show what we have the potential to be.

We have an election this month. Whoever we vote for, can we make sure that they hear our demand that we as a nation be known not by our strength, security and safety, but by our "love for our neighbour" (as Jesus understands the term)? May we be known by the love which drives out fear.

Blessings

Kim