Tag Archives: Good News

Waiting in hope … a hymn for Advent

For preachers and worship leaders who are beginning to think about Advent services, here is a hymn which may prove useful.

I wrote it with the tune Deep Harmony in my mind, but the editor of Singingthefaithplus suggests Niagara as a more upbeat option. O Waly Waly is another lovely Celtic tune which would add a different dimension to the text.

 

We wait in hope for hope to come:

promised of old; the righteous one.

Help us to watch, expect and pray

and then to greet Messiah’s day.

 

We read the story of your plan:

this world redeemed by heaven’s Son.

Grace breaks upon the present time;

mercy and hope through David’s line.

 

We hear the prophet’s voice ring clear:

‘changed hearts and lives are needed here’.

So, when the Spirit fires your Church,

make us a sign for all who search.

 

We go to share this great Good News:

heirs of the promise – we will choose

to live in hope that all may sing

praises to Christ, the infant king.

 

Copyright © Gareth Hill Publishing/Song Solutions CopyCare, 14 Horsted Square, Uckfield, TN22 1QG http://www.songsolutions.org

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A heart of welcome at the heart of the Good News

Surf and fairly-traded coffee, Wesleyan history and cherry bakewells or a massive indoor skatepark with cans of drinks from a vending machine … I encountered three amazing ways of sharing the Good News of Jesus yesterday. On the face of it they were different, but their heart was identical.

I’ve had the privilege this week of being able to share some of Cornwall’s delights with Steve Swann, who’s coming to minister in the county in September. Yesterday was a day for travelling to three projects where the Methodist Church is leading the way.

The first stop was at The Tubestation in Polzeath. I’ve got to declare an interest as the “midwife”, I suppose you would say, who led the team which gave birth to this surf church. It’s always a joy to go back and relax in the chilled-out vibe of a place which I believe to be the most special church on the planet. As Steve, John (who came with us) and I chatted to Dave Matthews – the project’s spiritual director – I caught again the depth of love for community which underpins everything about Tubestation.

 

Ness_painting_right

The latest development is Zeath Gallery, with paintings by members of the church community and others (above is Right by Ness Lannen), and some astonishing woodwork, including a pine cone which weighs a ton and a table which you would need to build a home around!!

In sheer numbers Tubestation is an astonishing success. From a congregation of six in 2001 to an Easter service with 300 now is an amazing God-blessed journey, but it’s the constant search for new ways of blessing the community that is the hallmark of its mission: not “are you saved” but “come and rest”.

From there we went to the tiny hamlet of Trewint and Wesley’s Cottage where John Wesley and his preachers were offered hospitality by a poor stonemason and his wife in the 1740s and later. As a result they preached and kept coming back and sharing the Gospel. Digory and Elizabeth Isbell, the couple, were so impressed by Wesley, that they provided two extra rooms for him to stay and preach. The cottage has been restored and one room is believed to be the smallest Methodist preaching place in the world.

When we arrived, John Hogarth the warden began by offering tea and cakes and then told us the history of the cottage, the “prophet’s chamber” built for Wesley and his preachers, and of the increased visitor numbers. Wesley Cottage is one of the places in Cornwall where heritage is being used to enhance 21st Century mission rather than simply look back to what used to be.

The_unit

Our final visit was to an industrial estate at Launceston where the Methodist Circuit has backed The Unit, a massive indoor skatepark. We spoke to Sam and Simon, who live surrounded by noise and the chaos of skaters and bikers as they host this brilliant outreach initiative. The condition of use is that the youngsters have to stop for a 10-minute Bible study, delivered in down-to-earth language and using the Skater’s Bible – the New Testament in a modern translation. It was punchy, open and began with a clear welcome to everyone: we’re happy to have you here, God’s happy to see you here, enjoy being in this place.

As we drove home – thrilled with what we’d seen – the reflection wasn’t so much about the contemporary nature; though that was great at The Tubestation and The Unit. Because what held all three places together was the welcome they offered.

Surf and fairly-traded coffee, Wesleyan history and cherry bakewells or a massive indoor skatepark with cans of drinks from a vending machine … God is in the detail, his smile is in the handshake and the invitation to be yourself in his presence whether the place echoes with 250 years of preaching and prayer or a few months of acrylic paint and a hard hat.

Reality on the menu please

LPO street party 1

The sun has reappeared after 24 hours of rain – God’s timing spot on as always because the blue skies returned just in time for Sunday lunchtime’s street party here at Le Pas Opton in the Vendee.

It’s something of a tradition now at Spring Harvest Holidays for the main entrance to be blocked off by tables and chairs and a bank of red-hot barbecues as families join in with their picnics. You see the people who have cooked pasta or made salads sitting next to those who have shot into the site’s shop and bought a pack of saucissons – and those who’ve just brought along a baguette!

But the great thing is that people who’ve never before spoken to each other sit side by side and chat like long-lost friends. As a former minister of mine used to say “well if I’m going to spend eternity with you I ought to find out something about you.”

Food was really important to Jesus, of course. He made sure the disciples caught enough fish after a fruitless night at sea because they needed to be able to feed themselves and sell some to make money; he feed 5,000 men (plus women and children) with a packed lunch; he enjoyed parties – especially with the wrong kind of people; he loved the conversations that came out of sitting at a meal with people.

And of course, on the night before he died – the night people were plotting to do away with him – he took bread and wine and turned a simple meal into a profound encounter. He took bread and broke it and declared it to be his body. He lifted up the wine and said it was his blood – a new covenant for the world for the forgiveness of sins.

As church we need to learn to a

ppreciate food for its own sake; that it’s good just to eat and be together. You don’t need an ulterior motive – ooh, perhaps if I make a really good cassoulet it may convince my next door neighbour that they ought to try Family Service on Sunday. Or perhaps they may just get to like you a bit!

Of course we want people to come to faith and discover Jesus for themselves but surely because they realise that the people who are in the church are Good News people in every way?