Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Spirit, Light and harvest in Lancashire

The last week-end in September was spent in the Lancashire District where I was hosted by Paul Davies, the Chair of District, and Elizabeth his wife. I arrived on the Saturday in warm sunshine and went straignt to the seaside in Blackpool. But this was not the day for paddling, instead we went to the New Central Methodist Church in Blackpool where the Spirit of Light Festival was underway. And it was better than padddling and candy floss.
New Central methodist Church in Blackpool is in the heart of the shopping centre

Matthew at the Forest Church stand
The church hall was filled with a variety of stations where we were able to explore the way in which Christians can enable those who are already engaged in different forms of spirituality to glimpse the glory of God in Christ.
At one one of the stations Matthew told me about Forest Church where those who are drawn to forms of spirituality closely connected to the natural world can worship together and encounter God in those places using language and actions that are familiar to them. The Christian liturgy that has been developed for Forest Church includes circle dancing, and the cycle of the seasons is celebrated.

Revd Sally Coleman had organised this day and people flocked into the church to find out more, to walk the prayer labyrinth and to engage with one another and with God.

There is aprayer room in the church which is open to people most of the time. Some important meetings and conversations take place here.

Revd Sally Coleman and Revd Paul Davies inthe prayer room
Sunday began early when I was interviewed on Radio Lancashire before we went to Chorley. Chorley Methodist Church has been beautifully refurbished and we were celebrating this and dedicating the church. Paul and I arrived in time for the early communion service which was led by the minister of the church, Revd Sally Ratclife, it was good to break bread together at the beginning of the day.  After a lively morning service we gathered in the afternoon for the official rededication. The mayor and the local MP were with us and the church was packed. I was preaching, and what a privilege that was. With these wonderful new premises the real work begins as the people here find ways to share the good news in their community, I am waiting expectantly to hear exciting news from them in the future.

The congregation in Chorley Methodist Church

Rev Sally Ratcliffe welcomes us to the afternoon service of thanksgiving and dedication

I went with Paul to Mere Brow Methodist Church in the evening, where we were celebrating harvest. In this rural community, harvest is very significant and the thanksgiving offering of produce at the front of the chapel contained much that was home grown.

The choir had been drawn from across the circuit and enhanced our worship, contributing 3 special items.  All of us sang traditional harvest hymns, ending with the Manx Fishermen's hymn as is their tradition.
I was preaching again and we thanked God that because of Jesus we always have hope, even when the harvest fails. We know that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.

I am now falling behind with the blog so expect another posting today as long as the internet continues to work on the train to London!

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