After just a few weeks my diary is beginning to fill up rapidly and like many others I am already finding that if I let it, being a Minister could take up every hour of every day. There is never a clear end and there is always something else that could be done. The difficult task is to contain the amount there is to do into a manageable place and remember the words of a very wise friend “most important, keep what’s most important, most important.”
Modern people tend to live full lives. We fill our houses and garages with important stuff, fill our credit cards with important purchases, fill our calendars with important commitments, fill our thoughts with important problems, and fill in the gaps with important leisure. Then we too often find we have too little space for God, too little time for others, and too little energy to care.
We fill our Church lives with commitment after commitment and leave ourselves in a place where we often don’t have the time to be really committed to any of the things we do. Wouldn’t it be better for each of us to live deeply, to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the things that God truly calls us to, and then to have the energy to do those things really well?
Leviticus 19:9 says “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.”
The scriptures are full of examples of how God led his people to preserve ‘margins’ in everyday life—keeping the Sabbath, leaving some of the harvest for gleaning, and setting aside routines for annual feasts and “holy-days.” God instituted marginal time and space for his people
Jesus' first invitation to all who would believe in him is to "Come, follow me." Slowing down and creating space for God and for others is perhaps, the first expression of trust in God, of following Jesus, the first step of discipleship, and the starting point of a life of purpose and power.
Jesus’ life and ministry was busy, but he was never too busy to take time alone and to spend time in prayer. Taking time and space with God and praying about the direction he wants us to take will lead to greater rewards than all of us being too busy, doing too many things and doing them half-heartedly. It is in the slowing down and letting go of the things that are less important, that we will be set free. Free to hear what God wants us to do, free to care better for those around us and free to care better for ourselves.
The spiritual disciplines of prayer, quiet, meditation on God’s word, and fasting allow us to reserve margins for God. Each one of us is called to do something to help “God’s Kingdom Come”, on earth as it is in heaven, here in the place that we live. God has a purpose and a calling for each of us, a job that suits our own individual gifts and graces.
Make a bold stand, let go of one ‘less important’ thing or activity this week, or every week this month and instead, take that time and energy to spend time alone with God, praying for his direction both for yourself and for the direction of this church as we face the future together and so will I.
Maybe, in the quiet, we will hear Jesus calling us to follow him, to go to places we would have never thought of going on our own, to do things we have never considered doing before, to take risks for the Kingdom, and to do all the things we do, so well and with such enthusiasm, that everyone one around us will see the love of God shining from this place.
Kindest Regards Rev. Nik Wooller
On Your Mark’s, Get Set, Go - October 2011
Well the summer is behind us and a new Methodist Year is in full swing. For me, this is my second year at Epsom - the first felt like a warm up as I got used to the ways of the church and discovered all the events that happen during the year. It felt a bit like being in the local athletics squad. It’s great to welcome Nik to the squad and to have her on the team with Hazel and Ernest; indeed we could have our own four by one hundred relay team. In fact that’s a good description of ministry, as the people of God are always passing the baton on to the next person in the chain. I wonder if we see our role in that way. After all, the Christian faith is only ever one generation away from extinction and yet for over two thousand years it has survived.
So what does that mean for us? We need to be ready to train and to run the race ahead of us. Are you on your Marks?
Running the race is a good theme as we head towards the 2012 Olympics and it’s a theme that The London District has picked up in it’s theme, Medal 2012 - which is all about delivering Leaders for the Church and in particular Lay Leaders. As a Circuit we have been looking at ways of developing our people to be leaders and there will be news on that shortly, in the meantime talk to Kan Yu and find out about Medal 2012. Kan is a member of our church and was asked to be part of the team putting Medal 2012 together. On the subject of Lay Leaders I am delighted to announce that Sandra Oborski, another member at Epsom, has been appointed as the District Safeguarding Co-ordinator – as a Circuit we are delighted that one of our members has taken on this important role in the life of the church.
Of course it’s very easy to let a few people do the work, to run the race, but God calls all of us to join in. The word “mark” has a number of different meanings. It can mean a mark as in a stain, a blot - something we are ashamed of. This year we are going to be on our mark’s as we study “The Gospel According to St Mark.” At the heart of the gospel message is God’s love for us. Mark explains how much God loves us and that God wants to wash away the marks and the stains of our life of which we are ashamed.
Sometimes we talk of marking time. A sense in which we stay where we are we don’t move forward and we don’t move back. Often we feel the church should be that place of stability.
Mark’s Gospel reminds us that, as a Christian, there is no marking time, you are invited to run the race and press on towards the things that God has in store for you. Perhaps some of us have become comfortable and sat down where we are. The Gospel of Mark will, I hope, encourage us to move on to discover new challenges that God wants to set before us as we travel through Mark’s Gospel this year.
Mark can also be used to mean the mark you get for a piece of work – is the mark good enough, is it a pass or fail?. Often we try to measure our performance in terms of human success. We try to please people by achieving the right grade. God does not grade us – he loves us as we are and we are called to love others as he loves us. In that sense we are called by God, not to mark anybody in terms of ability or capability, but rather to accept everyone. Our Methodist heritage cries out the words “All Are Welcome”. As we explore Mark’s Gospel may we discover what it has to say about the welcome of the people of God and may we learn to live it out in our life as the community of God.
Most importantly, on your marks offers the picture of being in the blocks ready to run the race ahead. I hope that we will all settle into the blocks and be prepared to run the race God calls us to run. It starts as we read the book of Mark together.
Wishing you God’s blessing
Holy Communion may be included in any of these services, as announced in advance.
9.00 am Morning Worship
Generally a more meditative and reflective type of service.
10.30 am Sunday Celebration
A service for the whole family when a wide variety of styles may be used. A Crèche is provided and Junior Church (Sparklers, Pulse and Kosmic) is held at the same time (the children and young people starting in the main service and leaving at some convenient early point).
2 pm International Service
An International Service conducted in English, predominantly for Chinese Congregation worship. Everyone is welcome.
2 pm Chinese Service
A service conducted in Cantonese and Mandarin, with English translation, via wireless headphone. Everyone is welcome.
5.45 pm Café Style worship
An informal gathering, held in the coffee bar area and preceded by a cup of coffee or tea.
Midweek Worship Service with Holy Communion
Wednesday Communion 10:30 am in the church followed by coffee in Roots Coffee Shop
This is a simple service with a discussion following Tom Wright’s book on Luke.
We share bread and wine, concerns for the each other, the church and the world. You are most welcome.