Sunday, 2 September 2012

The winter is over and now is the time for singing

Preparing for the first services of the year I read this as the Hebrew Scripture reading for the morning service!  It felt very counter intuitive.  Methodism, and to be honest, this Methodist minister feels so very old at times!  Just holding, for example, the ‘Field’ Bible at my induction as President put you in touch with hundreds of years of history.

Songs of Songs 2

“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

I preached both at St Giles Cripplegate and Wesley’s Chapel in the morning of the 2nd of September, and both impressed with their sense of tradition and age!  I’ve decided I like a good mahogany pulpit and nothing less will now do.  But that reading – instead of saying, ‘Summer is over’ – the Church’s summer, the good things that were, the great preachers, ministry, mission, success and glory; the reading reminded us that it was winter that was over.  What we look back on, our history and tradition, were not the glorious summer soon to be forgotten, but the first day of spring, with the best yet to be!  I have been haunted by the reading for the whole month; winter is over!  I wonder, you see, if Methodism is not over and done with, or indeed the Christian Church over and done with, glory days behind, but instead we’ve only just begun.  I shared that with someone, full of enthusiasm and not a little pride at the rather nice turn of phrase, and they told me, ‘That’s like the Archbishop argued when he said, ‘perhaps we are the early church!’’

Moving on rapidly in a long day, it was lovely to go Westminster Central Hall in the evening.  These two Methodist Churches are different from each other in a dozen ways, but both stunning as well.  Our healing service was excellent, gentle, powerful, encouraging and effective.  Mike King preached and what a pleasure it was to hear him expound scripture in the wise and passionate way he does.

Mark Wakelin

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