How strange it is to be writing to you my final letter as Superintendent and heading for Sandal in Wakefield. I am already surrounded by boxes in my little office/ study at home, but there are many more to pack and there’s certainly a lot to do before Carol and I finally leave.
Saying our farewells during a ‘lock-down’ is certainly not how I imagined ministry concluding in the Circuit; it does not seem to be a proper closure for us, or for all our friends around the Circuit.
I trust the broadcast farewell service and conversations will, in some way, communicate how much we value you all and also provide a fitting celebration of all that we have shared together in mission and ministry. I hope to return to say a proper goodbye later.
There are so many highlights as I have preached and shared in ministry with you around the Circuit, at Circuit Suppers, events, coffee mornings and various meetings. It has been good to see things birthed such as Zac’s House Kingdom Community and the Circuit Worship Team develop after their training and to see how they are now exploring local preaching! What a
privilege it has been to serve you as Superintendent and to see things dreamed about, such as the sale of Mobberley tennis courts, actually become a reality!
One of my favourite passages of scripture is Philippians 1 from verse 3 ‘I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now….being confident in this, that he who began
a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” Need I say more!
I commend Alan Bradley to you and thank you ALL. God bless and goodbye for now. Your friend and minister,
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19
Rob and Carol’s Farewell Service.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, we will not be able to meet as usual in the church to hold a farewell service for Rob and Carol. However, there will be a farewell service broadcast online from 10am on Sunday 26th July on the website www.kmc.org.uk. Rev Phil Gough, a close friend of Rob’s from
Firefest, will be the speaker so please do join us online to celebrate Rob and Carol’s ministry.
The farewell service will be available to watch at any time afterwards and there may be some DVD’s to purchase later for those unable to access the internet.
Welcome Service for Rev Alan Bradley
We shall welcome Alan Bradley as the new minister at Knutsford Methodist and Superintendent of the Circuit and Carol his wife at a service on Sunday 6th September at 6.30pm led by the Chair of District Rev Dr Andrew Lunn. At the moment we assume the service will be via the internet, not in Knutsford Church, but this will be confirmed nearer the time.
Circuit Leadership Team Meeting.
The next CLT Meeting will be held on Thursday 16th July at 7pm via Zoom.
The date for the next Circuit Meeting is set for Wednesday 9th September at 7:30pm. At the moment, this is likely to be held online via Zoom.
We celebrate with the Stanton family the safe arrival of Esther Joy,
born on Wednesday 10th June. We send congratulations to Neal, Sarah, Joseph, James and Judah for Esther and pray God’s blessing and love over them as they adjust to being a family of six.
Ø Safeguarding. As a Circuit, we are working hard to make sure we are compliant in terms of safeguarding training and DBS checks. For those who need DBS checks done, please contact Jenny Bailey or Jenny Manning to set up a time.
Ø We would like to encourage anyone who is on Facebook to “like” the Alderley Edge and Knutsford Methodist Circuit page.
@ You can also contact us on our Circuit email address
Ø Please note: If you include your personal details in an article, then it will be assumed that you are giving consent for these to be included in the newsletter, which may be in the public domain.
IT’S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE TO ROB AND CAROL.
As we say goodbye to Rob and Carol who move on to serve the Lord in a new Circuit, we celebrate each of them for the gift they have been to us. Over the past 8 years, they have given much of themselves to this Circuit, both at Knutsford and Plumley and within the broader Circuit and their ministry will be truly missed.
Rob had previously served in Arnold (Nottingham) and Ingol (Preston). He is known as being passionate about mobilising the church to meet needs within local communities and to bring hope into the lives of individuals.
His book ‘Hope in the Main Street’ tells the stories of where he has seen churches reaching out to bring hope to people. As he tells of his story
and the amazing experiences that he has had of dealing with the national press after the murder of Marian Bates in the town of Arnold to meeting royalty and a Prime Minister, he hopes to empower others to tell their
Prior to his current appointment, he was the Senior Campaign Manager at Bible Society working on city wide media campaigns relating stories in the Bible to Soap Stories and also on the leadership teams for national campaigns such as Hope 08, Biblefresh and ‘The 2011 Trust’ (celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible).
Rob and Carol have left a legacy that includes Cameo, Zac’s Kingdom Community, The Friendship Cafe and so much more. There has been much to celebrate. Some of Rob’s special moments include services when the Circuit gathered and sung a good Wesley hymn and raised the rafters, alongside more contemporary songs such as ‘Be still for the presence’
when those present were keenly aware of God’s presence in the worship. He describes taking Harvest Festival services around the Circuit and speaking about the Parable of the Sower, whilst using his Father’s Fiddle sower and spreading seeds around various Chapels and even the Chelford Market at their Harvest Festival.
In terms of their move, Rob said, “There is a whole mixture of emotions – we are particularly sad to be leaving people at this time, when people are going through a really challenging period.’
One of Rob’s favourite verses is Philippians 1:6: ‘Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ Rob says ,’This was a promise prayed over me at Easter People many years ago when I was first feeling called to the ministry. Whatever doubts I have had about my own ability in ministry, I have
always been able to trust that God is doing a good work in me and through me. He has not finished with me yet!’
“The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.” (Numbers 6:25).
THOUGHTS FROM AROUND THE COMMUNITY AND CIRCUIT.
 From Gill Weeks (OBE): Chair of Trustees at The Welcome.
“I have known Rob Cotton for a number of years and he has been a great supporter of all the Town events. More recently, I have had the pleasure of working with Rob in my capacity as the Chair of The Welcome and he has helped enormously with the great work that we do there. Most recently we have worked together on drawing up a Memorandum of Understanding on how the Church and the charity will work together in the future for the good of the people of Longridge and Shaw Heath, his help and support
has been invaluable.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish Rob and Carol every
happiness in their new position. As a Yorkshire person myself, I feel confident that the Wakefield Circuit will be very welcoming – our loss is their gain.”
 From Councillor Tony Dean
“Although I’d known Rob for some time before, I first had close contact with Rob Cotton when I was arranging my mother’s funeral in 2014. She had been over in Cheshire for nearly three years, in the Sunrise senior living establishment in Mobberley. The funeral was conducted sensitively and with great attention to detail, which the whole family appreciated. The following year I became Mayor of Knutsford and asked Rob to be my
Mayoral chaplain – he accepted the challenge and conducted my Mayoral service that year, amongst other duties. He lives close to me so we see each other regularly and I’ve always been struck by his sense of humour, his unstuffy approach to conducting his services and his unstinting ministry in the community.
Over the last few years he has been a great help to my wife in her role as Chair of Trustees at the Welcome Charitable Trust in Knutsford. I will be sorry to see him leave, as he contributed a lot to our community, but I wish him a good life in Wakefield – which coincidentally is close to where I was brought up, in Halifax and Leeds!”
 From Elizabeth Hall: Senior Circuit Steward:
“How time flies when we have friends around us. It has been a pleasure to have had our minister Rob and his wife Carol here with us over the past eight years, the last four as Superintendent. There has been much change in the Circuit during that time, with ministers coming and going, Plumley joining the Circuit, Zac’s House opening and Over Peover Methodist chapel closing.
During this time, Rob and Carol have initiated many new ideas, events and activities yet he has always had time to stop and talk to the person in the street, chat after worship or visit the elderly, sick or dying person. Four
years ago, Rob took over pastoral care of Plumley Methodist and regularly attended events such as the monthly coffee mornings and other social activities as well as leading worship on a regular basis. He has also led services at all the other churches in the Circuit whenever possible.
Rob has even found time to write a book ‘Hope in the Main Street’ which is a very interesting read. His energy and enthusiasm, vision and dedication to ministry is amazing.
Throughout Rob’s time in the Circuit, Carol his lovely wife has been at his side. Carol has a smile for everyone and her food is to die for! They
are both very family-orientated and adore their growing number of grandchildren.
We are all very sorry that Rob and Carol are moving on but it is the right time for them. However in these strange times it is especially sad that we are unable to give them the farewell they deserve. May you both settle and be very happy in Wakefield.”
“THANK YOU” FROM HIS CHURCHES.
‘Summing up all Rob and Carol have achieved at KMC is hard to condense into a few words but we give grateful thanks for the way in which they have led us over the past 8 years. When Rob arrived in Knutsford, he hit the
ground running and it wasn’t long before the congregation was running with him. It has been an interesting journey and we thank both Rob and Carol for our being able to travel with them.
Both are innovative thinkers and we can see that in Rob’s vision to plant a Church and consequently the birth of Zac’s House.
Carol, also, has brought new things to KMC like Hampers of Hope, Cameo,
Friendship Cafe. We were never sure what we were going to be asked to do next but we knew that we were in safe hands as they followed their (God’s) vision for KMC.
During their time with us, Rob and Carol have always ensured that we have been well provided for both spiritually and pastorally but during this time of lockdown it has never been more evident. About the time that Rob began his ministry at KMC, a colleague of his preached from our pulpit; she said ‘You have a great minister in Rob’ – and she was right!
We are saddened that we are unable to give them the send-off they deserve but this doesn’t lessen the love and respect we have for them. The words ‘thank you’ don’t seem enough for all they have both done to take KMC from ‘good to great’ but we say it sincerely. We will miss them – but our loss is Wakefield’s gain and we ask God’s blessing on their ministry there.’
‘On behalf of all the members and friends of Plumley Methodist Church, we want to express a big “THANK YOU!” to Rob for his ministry and pastoral care and for looking after us over the last few years, and to Carol for supporting, and being involved in many of our special church
services, activities and events.
As a church we thank Rob for being our minister over the last 3 years. During this time we have been blessed in many different ways by and through his ministry commitment and caring nature.
Rob has led our worship and meetings in a most faithful, spiritual and
prayerful way always sharing with us the Good news of God, and our
Christian faith has been enriched by this.
Rob said at our Church Council meeting in February, his last as our minister, that it had been a joy to look after and have responsibility for Plumley. Well, it’s been not only a joy but a privilege to have Rob as our minister. We have all benefited from Rob’s commitment to our church and community and it’s been a privilege for us to know and work alongside Rob, being inspired by and supported by his ministry.
As we look back, we thank Rob for many inspiring acts of worship, his pastoral care, sharing his witness and service with us and our community, and for the care and love shown at times of joy as well as sadness within our Church family.
We have many fond memories of Rob and Carol’s time with us and we recall the special services through the Christian year followed by fellowship and refreshments, the Study group, the coffee mornings, afternoon teas, garden party and harvest suppers, (spot the theme). All were occasions where Rob and Carol would share their ministry as they talked and mingled
together with everyone.
We are sad to be saying goodbye and we will miss you, but we wish you well on your move to your new circuit with all its challenges and opportunities. We send you on your way, wishing you all the peace of God’s love. God be with you today and always.’
 AND FROM HIS COLLEAGUES…
“As I reflect on the many different aspects of Rob’s ministry, I think the thing that really comes to mind are the many different stories of his interactions with people. Rob truly celebrates each and every one of the people he interacts with, and when he is ministering,
whether it be chatting to a farmer or having a wedding or funeral interview, he really comes alive, and shows his heart for pastoral ministry. A while ago, I had to jump in to run a new members’ discussion at KMC when Rob was not available. I was truly touched to hear how he has impacted each one of their lives and inspired them to not only dig deeper into their own Christian journey, but also to become a part of the church. Thank you for inspiring us to make it about people.
I want to personally thank both Rob and Carol for making me and my
family feel welcome and for helping us find our feet and minister in Britain. Go in the power of Spirit, and I know you will be a gift to your new community.”
“Rob expressed much about his ministry in Knutsford in his book ‘Hope on the High Street’, but there’s much more to him than that. I’ve been really pleased to work closely with Rob on developing the project in Northwich, which has become ‘Zac’s House’. It was great to see his passion and commitment for this new initiative and to be alongside him as he piloted it through some really tricky negotiations.
Developing a vision across two circuits and two districts was not and is not an easy task, but Rob has really stuck at it and given it his full commitment.”
“As I have come to join the circuit team, as minister at Alderley Edge, I have really valued his colleagueship, his support and encouragement in what has not been an easy situation for him. I will miss him, not just as a colleague, but also as an inspiration.”
“There is a picture on the back of needlework representing John Wesley’s visit to Exeter as displayed in the Cathedral which in some ways can reflect aspects of Rob’s ministry:
-Travelling about and enjoying meeting folk as well as encountering well known dignitaries.
-With Carol, sharing a wonderful gift of hospitality and being welcomed in many homes.
-Inspiring people to bold visions, even if this is unsettling at times.
-Urgency of preaching.
-Faith the foundation.”
“Rob has always been a great supporter of our mission in Northwich and Uganda and was an inspiration and real team player when we were in Uganda last August. We have been so blessed to have Rob & Carol’s support, input and prayers at Zac’s and they will be truly missed. We pray that God blesses them greatly as they move to Wakefield, that they follow His lead and that God provides them with direction, support and friendship in their new mission and that they always feel His love and presence with them.”
TO ALAN AND CAROL BRADLEY!
This summer, we welcome Rev Alan Bradley and his wife Carol to our Circuit. Rev Alan will begin work in September as the new minister at Knutsford Methodist Church and Superintendent of the Circuit.
They share a little of their story with us…
‘We hope that you and your families are all keeping well during this time, although we have not yet arrived in the Circuit, you are daily in our prayers and we look forward to the time when we can meet together.
I have been a minister for 20 years and never experienced anything like the impact covid-19 has had on our churches and on the shape of ministry. The present crisis has brought a great deal of change and forced the Methodist Church to reflect on what it means to be the church when we cannot meet in our buildings.
As we hear stories of how our churches are responding to this time, we are heartened by the depth of pastoral care, the many acts of kindness and the innovative ways of worshipping in lockdown. We continually rely on God’s
grace for all things, and this recent crisis helps us see that more clearly. Although it is difficult to make future plans at this time, we trust that God is able to use this furlough from our buildings, to shape us to be the church he needs for his purpose. We naturally build upon what has gone before and like you we would want to say a big thank you to Rob and Carol for their ministry and service to the Circuit over the years, they will be greatly missed.
You may be wondering who we are, so we have been invited to say a few words about ourselves. Carol and myself have been married
27 years, we met at university in Portsmouth; Carol studying Psychology and me studying Geography and Economics.
Carol’s passion has always been to work with families and is presently working as a Social Worker in child protection.
We have a son, James, who is studying Maths at Uni of Leeds, and a daughter Kate, who will be hopefully starting her degree in Contemporary Performance Practice at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland this September.
Prior to being called to ministry I worked as a Prison Officer in Buckinghamshire, at HMP Grendon – good preparation for ministry some have said! I then moved to Bristol to study and train at Wesley College, for 3 years before being stationed at Epsom Methodist Church.
One of the joys of being an itinerant minister is that you get to move around the country and our next move was to the North East where we have served in the South West Tyneside Circuit for 15 years, the last 6 as Superintendent.
For any journey, where we have been is important, but it is the future which excites us, this is clearly a challenging time for God’s people as we seek follow Christ and be faithful to him.
We look forward to sharing those steps together and ask your prayers for us as we seek to make our home in Knutsford and share in the work of the Circuit.
A FEW FUN QUESTIONS FOR ALAN AND CAROL …
Where were you born? Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Carol: Cardiff Carol: Night Owl
Alan: Near Loch Lomond Alan: Night Owl
What is your favourite thing to do in your ‘free time’?
Carol: Outdoor swimming
Alan: Walking in the Lake District
What is the best part of your job?
Carol: Seeing people make lasting change
Alan: Seeing people grow in their relationship with God
What is your favourite ice-cream flavour?
Carol: Vanilla (Good quality)
Alan: Pistachio (has to be Italian Gelato!)
What is your favourite quote?
Carol: ‘You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know.’ William Wilberforce.
Alan: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’ Jim Elliot.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15.
NEWS FROM THE CHURCHES
Rev Rod Hill gives us an update from Alderley Edge…
‘Ecumenism has been a strong point in Alderley Edge for a long time. Churches Together functions well, organising a regular round of joint service each year to mark special occasions. It was good, in January, to host the annual service for the week of prayer for Christian unity and to be
able to share that service with colleagues who I hardly knew at all. How different now!
It was great to share, last Sunday, in a ‘Black Lives matter’ demonstration in the park in Alderley Edge, together with colleagues from St. Philip and
St, James’ church and from around the Circuit.
During the lockdown we have been working increasingly closely together. The ministers of St. Philip and St. James have, together with the ministers of AEMC being producing a daily ‘thought for the day’, which has been widely circulated.
The vicar, Robin Pye, leads morning prayer every Friday on our Methodist Facebook page and I have shared in some of their worship online,
including preaching for them. All of this has led us to begin to explore possibilities for an even closer working together in the future. Here is what I wrote in our recent newsletter.
“What might it look like for Alderley Edge to have one Christian Church, operating on several sites under various denominational jurisdictions, but the Christian Church in Alderley Edge? I’m not suggesting that we become a formal Local Ecumenical Partnership and I’m certainly not suggesting that we dispense with any of our buildings.
But what if we could be one missional community, working together on everything, in the way that is already happening in Cumbria?
What if this is a God given moment really to be radical and emerge from the lockdown as the Christian Community in Alderley Edge?
What if we stop, look, and listen together….before we move on?”
I am pleased to say that both the PCC and church Council have agreed to establish a small working group to look further into what it might be to see ourselves as one Christian Church on two sites in Alderley Edge – one Church in mission!’
Some other news from Alderley from Judy Povey and the Foodbank volunteers…
‘Sadly, we have to mention that our longest standing church member, Ruth Bracegirdle, died on Saturday, 6th June. Ruth was well known across the Circuit in various roles, most recently as the Easter Offering Secretary, when she actively dealt with the distribution of the envelopes and the arranging of the Easter Offering Circuit Service for what was then known
as Women’s Network. Her work as a house mother for National Children’s Homes (now Action for Children) was a source of great encouragement to her, as was her involvement in many and differing roles within the life of Alderley Edge Methodist Church during her long life. We remember Ruth
in our prayers and offer our condolences to her extended
‘Alderley Edge have also been doing a wonderful job of contributing items to the Wythenshawe foodbank and we celebrate this work and the difference this food makes to many people.
Rev Scott shares some thoughts and developments from Mobberley…
Mobberley learning to be manna from heaven ………………………
‘What an incredible learning curve the last few months have been, but also what an opportunity to reach out differently. There is indeed a great spiritual hunger out there as people learn how to live in a Covid-19 world and so we have developed a new vision for our church which is to be both a church in the village and a church without walls.
The inspiration comes from the Lord’s Prayer. When we pray “Give us this day our daily bread”, we often think of our physical needs. However, the correct word used in the Greek (“epiousios”) is better translated as our “supernatural bread” or “our bread from heaven.” This comes from the original concept of manna in the desert. In these difficult times, people are looking for food for the soul and are seeking spiritual hope.
As we continue with our range of online services including YouTube, Zoom, Bible Studies and the daily “Morning Brew.” We have also, with the help of our community, developed a website: www.mobberleymethodist.org. It was really interesting to see how that came about. At our Church Council, I proposed we develop a website, and this was agreed, but if I am honest it thought it would take weeks or months and cost quite a bit to develop. However, a local business man and head of the Neighbourhood Watch asked if he could do it for us as a gift to the church. I agreed, and two days later he had a prototype already developed which showed a lot of thought and planning. With the help of one of our new members, the site is
busy and really taking shape. What was truly amazing was to sit with two of the people who developed the website and see how affirming they were of the church, even though they are not members.
I know there have been many members who have not been able to take advantage of the digital ministry and so I developed a daily devotional which is posted to each of them. They long to be back in the building, and
honestly I look forward to that day as well. However, I also give thanks
because we have been praying for revival, and if we open our eyes, we
will see that God is answering our prayers, and teaching us to take
hold of the opportunities, and truly become like the early church – a
missional church, a church without walls.’
Mottram St Andrew.
Ian wright shares what Mottram St Andrew has been up to…
‘Despite the lockdown which caused churches to be closed just as we were setting off into Lent proper, our Easter desert at the front of church reached its fully fledged garden on Easter Sunday as intended, though
lockdown meant that only photographs would record its maturation. Nevertheless, these were appreciated as illustrations in our weekly newsletter and ‘Armchair Reflections’ which Rev Sue has kindly produced since the chapel has been closed. These have proved invaluable in keeping us altogether, informing and reminding us of what church is about as we’ve moved through Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity and beyond. With much appreciation and encouragement for the content from the beginning, Sue is still producing these publications each week with their mix
of illustrations, prayers, reflections, hymns, and internet related links for those with the technology.
Paper editions are also printed weekly and distributed locally for those of our congregation still without modern devices.
We joined with the rest of the country for the VE celebrations as well as was possible, fitting a reproduction ship’s bell at the chapel gate which was rung by Sue at the prescribed hour.
After this, the bell remained and was rung each Thursday afterwards as part of the local response in appreciation of the NHS workers etc.
Each Sunday a candle is lit in the church window facing the road (along with a number inside, including the Circuit Candle), as a way of indicating that the church remains and God’s Spirit has certainly not left the building! Each Sunday Sue alone has changed the tableau on the Communion Table and surrounds as appropriate and as a symbol of continuity for us all and so life continues until we can all meet again in person as soon as
our current situation allows.’
Zac’s House Kingdom Community.
Rev Neal Stanton tells us more about what’s been happening at Zac’s House…
‘We thank God that he is working between us and bringing us to a strong place of unity in bringing love and support to the people of Northwich and beyond. Some of our leadership team have a Huddle Zoom 4 days a week where we seek God’s face, support each other in prayer and friendship, a place where we are ‘real’ and can discuss our everyday issues and prayer
points for the day. John 13:35 – People will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.
Our Sunday Services are growing from strength to strength, not only with
viewing numbers but also with new gifts appearing. Kiera really blessed us
with the Lord’s Prayer the other week when she also signed at the same
time, amazing! Seeing Joseph’s confidence grow and Jesus shining through
him is inspirational and Debbie as she masters the ukulele complimenting
her beautiful singing. Our community is being led by Jesus to share all their
gifts and it is wonderful to see the progress week by week.
We have also had the opportunity in partnering with friends from elsewhere in the UK, USA and Uganda where they have shared their Love and Hope in Jesus with us.
Our Hope Bites have always been Spirit led and especially over the past few
weeks they have caused us to stop and think about relevant issues in our country and the world, Black Lives Matter is a very good example of where we can show peaceful support to a continuing problem that needs justice, hope and healing. We now have a tech team formed with Clara leading this, they have only been going a short time but have already proved to be
a good team and are making progress in all technical aspects that are probably way beyond most of us.
On Sunday 7th June 2020 Zac’s initiated a strategic prayer time with other churches in our community to lift up the 24-hour prayer mission that started 00.00 on 8th June. We had over 100 people praying for the lost and
broken, at least two people in every half hour slot. People from across the community, country and continents came together in prayer, including Richmond who is CEO of Pastors Discipleship Network in Uganda who called at 9am to join in prayer, an incredible 24 hours of talking with
our Lord, answers to prayer and verses shared.
In this next stage of coming out of lockdown we pray that we have God’s wisdom in how we do this. We pray for God’s protection, for peace for those who are anxious, for healing for those who are sick and for God’s love and hope to shine through in all that we do.’
COME LET US PRAY TOGETHER!
Some prayer ideas over the next few months:
Ø We pray for those who have suffered loss through the Covid-19
pandemic; loss of loved ones, loss of health and loss of financial
security. May they know the light of God’s presence and peace
with them, despite the present circumstances.
Ø Prayer for Rob and Carol in their move and as they begin a new
ministry in the Wakefield Circuit.
Ø Prayer for Alan and Carol as they move and begin to settle in at Knutsford, that they
may know the warmth of our welcome and God’s guidance as they prepare for a new
ministry among us.
Ø Pray that more people turn to the Lord and may we as churches and communities
grasp opportunities to grow closer to God.
A SHORT REFLECTION By Rev. Sue Swires
“Many people in the Bible, when they are contemplating answering the call of God, receive good advice from other people: Abraham and Sarah’s postman: “You say you’re going to ‘the land that God will show you’?”
Well, the post office needs a forwarding address- we need a post code- are you sure it’s wise to move without specific instructions from your boss?
Peter’s advice to Jesus: “God forbid it, Lord, that any struggle or sacrifice should come into your life on account of your using your gifts!”
Usually good advice heads up the obstacles to our answering the call
of God. And often, it makes good sense. But the good news turns out
to be a reliable compass as we live out our Christian calling: ‘God
knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from
the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same
lines as the life of his Son’. (Romans 8:29) Paul’s message is good news, but maybe not sensible. Discipleship? People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway. People really need help but may not thank you if you do
help them. Help people anyway.
The good news is that when we live out our calling as disciples we will sacrifice what we thought before was important, but we will be conformed to the character of Christ and experience the deepest joy possible in this life and the life to come. It takes courage to fly in the face of good advice and embrace good news instead.
Thank God “The Spirit helps us in our weakness…”
We mark change in the here and now. Together again soon (God willing), yet ‘the new’ is happening and moving on a reality. Remember Rob and Carol’s ministry, praising God for their sharing and witness, knowing that our lives have been intertwined in the Holy Spirit. As our thanksgiving goes with them, may they know new beginnings in what seem to be endings, and may we all trust to God’s future hope, for God knows what he’s about.’