Thursday, 14 January 2016

Do I need lessons in Woodwork?

Yesterday I received a message which warmed my heart but also made me chuckle – ‘Every blessing as you continue your fantastic Vice-Presidential joinery!’  Predictive text is amazing, but sometimes it comes up with unexpected alternatives.  I immediately sent back a message – ‘Well Jesus was a carpenter!’  (I hope they realised what I was talking about).

I assume the sender meant ‘journey’, but as I thought about it I realised that perhaps ‘joinery’ is a better word after all!  We have an amazing ‘Connexion’, and as I go around the country, and overseas, I realise just how important it is.  Jesus calls us into a community.  We are disciples together, learning and following Jesus. 
John Wesley said there is no holiness but social holiness – we need each other, to be accountable to each other, to support and encourage each other, to join together in the journey.
My recent visit to the Leeds District was full of examples of that ‘joinery’ in action.  I was moved and inspired by the ‘Church in the Dale’ in Nidderdale.  The amazing Mike Poole is a real blessing for the churches in the Pateley Bridge Circuit. His faith and enthusiasm shines through, and there was a real feeling of ‘connectedness’ among people of faith of all denominations, and with the wider community in the dale.  

Steve Wild and Mike Poole

At Summerbridge, I had such a surprise to see the inside of the church filled with signs of vibrant engagement with young people and families.
At Darley the wind roared, but the welcome was so warm.  At Glasshouses we saw how the church met the needs of the elderly in practical ways, such as tables in front of the chairs for worship – which also worked for meals.  That was an example of radical hospitality! 

I will never forget my arrival at Wath, an extraordinary five sided building, which is the smallest chapel I have every seen, but a bit like a tardis with its gallery. As we opened the door, people had rushed there before us, and were singing What a Friend we have in Jesus.  The chapel is open every day for walkers and passers by to find a quiet space, filled with prayer.

At Pateley Bridge we had a wonderful, warming lunch, and it was a joy to see not just people from all the churches in the circuit, but also people from the other churches, including Darren, the Anglican Vicar, who trained with Mike in Durham.  God knew what he was doing when he brought them both to Nidderdale!

Small churches, in a rural area, together they are strong in faith, and witness to the love of God in action, and I thank God for them and ask his blessing on all the lovely people I met.
I feel God's love surrounding me every time I wear the scarf and hat knitted for me by the ladies of Pateley Bridge. Seen here on a New Year's walk at The Cloud!  I guess knitting is another sort of 'joinery'! 

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