A Methodist Way of Life

A Methodist Way of Life is a way of living.  It is to help us establish a rhythm to our prayer lives, and we can gather a few others and together share our faith journey.

Like the early Christians (Acts 2: 42-47), we seek to express what it means to follow Jesus in the regular, practical actions of worship, learning and caring, service and evangelism.

In this sense, A Methodist Way of Life is both new and old.  It is new, in that Methodists first discussed such a way at the 2018 Conference, although it is based on Our Calling, agreed in 2000.  That, in turn, was built on what Methodists have always done, since the days of John Wesley, in trying to follow Jesus and live out the Christian faith – just as those first followers in Acts did.

If you fancy gathering (online for now) with one or two others and sharing in a rhythm of spirituality together please consider this.

Please visit the website and view this new YouTube film.

Reflection and Prayers from Adlington House

Derek Hall, chaplain at MHA Adlington House in Rhos, is offering prayers every Tuesday in place of the usual weekly service. He is sharing them with us too. Thank you, Derek.

Derek says, “Don’t forget if you can our joint prayer time at 10-30am and then at 11am one minute silence remembering those who have died in the staff and residents in MHA.”

This Sunday we celebrated Pentecost; this is the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit which happens 50 days after Easter.

Today’s reading is from Acts chapters 1 and 2.

Acts is a book in the New Testament that tells how the disciples acted after Jesus’ death and resurrection with the new energised life they received from God’s Holy Spirit.- After Jesus was taken up to Heaven, His Spirit was given to His disciples at the  time of a festival now called Pentecost. Through His disciples receiving Jesus’ Spirit, Jesus could be present everywhere His disciples were guided. And what happened in the first century is happening today. He, the Spirit, lives in all the followers of Jesus who have asked Him to come into their life. He teaches us, reminds us of Jesus’ words, convicts us of sin, shows us God’s righteousness, guides us to know His truth, His peace, His comfort, and always gives Glory to Jesus. He is the very presence of God. He is helping us to live as God wants us to.

Ephesians 2:18-22 “For through Jesus we all have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”  

Jesus’ Holy Spirit builds us up and binds us together in His love. And we’ve been chosen to aid in the building up of God’s Kingdom. To do this we must gain knowledge and the plans laid out in God’s will. Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

If we don’t ask, if we don’t seek, if we don’t knock, we won’t gain entrance into the household to gain the fellowship and tools we need to be an effective worker. In our quiet times of prayer we must open up our mind our body our spirit to gain the inside knowledge that’s available in God’s presence. In those times we find out what God has done, is doing, and what God wants to be done in this place.

Let go – let God’s love enfold you, let God’s love embrace you, then as we do, we find that we feel moved to worship and adore Him. We must never give up in our efforts to seek Gods will in our life. And if you are like me we find out that we need more knowledge, patience, wisdom, love, and understanding. But God will open these up to us when we need them. We just need to take them, and use them as available tools, for each day’s experiences. Then in our oneness with God through faith in Jesus we can appropriate the Spirits power each day to enable us to fulfil our individual ministry (don’t forget, all ministries are equal and as valuable in God’s sight). And the most important is prayer.       

Coming to our prayers –

We completed our look at the Lord’s Prayer last week that gave us a guide of how to pray, and a better understanding of the prayer. It also established that we now have a family relationship with our Father God and His Son our brother Jesus Christ. So we now belong in God’s Kingdom where we can experience His Spirit and Glory in all our life. If we don’t it’s our own fault through either sin or lack of faith. We are the only ones who can spoil this relationship, God’s love doesn’t change; He dearly loves all His children not because we are cleaver or good, but because He is our Father. He loves all His children, the clumsiest, the dullest, and the worst. His love lives under everything and His love is eternal.

We must grasp it as the solid foundation for our Christian life, not to grow up to that life, but to grow up out from it. When we desire to come close to God – we find He is already waiting for us, wanting us to come close and be in His presence. So we must be in the right spirit to have a meaningful communion with God.

Come Holy Spirit wash, renew, revive, refresh us and bring us to that place of meeting with our Heavenly family, where we can know and feel their presence with us, sense their Glory, where we can worship and adore them for what they have done, are doing, and are going to do – then as we do our troubles and concerns vanish – we find out what real matters in our lives and those around us.         

Let us pray for our family around the world, people made in God’s image – there are over 150 countries experiencing war and conflict, those places where there is the shortage of drinkable water and famine – all are experiencing the covid19 virus. Father bring help and aid and most importantly bring Your Holy Spirit to move leaders, bless the afflicted and to heal the nations.               

We pray for our families, friends and neighbours and all known to us who need our love and prayers .We pray that they may encounter the living and healing power of Christ in the midst of their troubles. To your Glory Jesus. Amen

Wind and Fire

Below is another reflection from Rev David Ray. Thank you, David, for sharing this with us. The reflection follows on perfectly from my service for Pentecost yesterday, with very much the same idea behind it. God is speaking to us through these things. What is he saying to you?

We will be reflecting more on the Holy Spirit throughout June, especially in the Friday discipleship group studies and hopefully in the Sunday services too.

I first met Mary when I was a Methodist Minister in the Portsmouth Circuit. Being a Junior Church teacher, a Pastoral Visitor and Church Council Secretary were among the practical things Mary did in the life of the church.

However, I particularly remember her as one of the most spiritual people I have ever met.

During my time in Portsmouth, one of the congregations I cared for undertook a major project. With the help of a property developer they demolished their large Central Hall and built a new church along with nine town houses. You can imagine there were times when this imaginative scheme faced huge problems and we sometimes wondered whether we would ever realise our dreams.

On one occasion, when the project seemed to hit the buffers, Mary suggested that we have a prayer meeting after a Sunday evening service. We prayed for about three hours. Within a few days the blockage was cleared and we were moving ahead again!

During the next few months we had several prayer meetings when the way ahead was uncertain and each time the path became clear. Thanks be to God.

And thanks be to Mary! It was her sure faith and her quiet and gracious confidence that challenged and guided us.

Imagine my utter surprise when, during a House Group, Mary shared doubts about her having ever received the gift of the Holy Spirit. We talked about her struggles with faith and subsequently I visited her at home so that we could continue the discussion.

As I said earlier, Mary was one of the most spiritual people I have known and she was clearly a woman of great faith. And yet she told me that it troubled her that she had never had a ‘Damascus Road experience’ like St Paul (Acts 9:1-9). She was also confused by talk of ‘a second blessing’. She had heard other Christians speaking about the time when they received the Holy Spirit and that moment seemed to have been a spectacular time of renewal that she had never had.

“Am I really a Christian?” she asked me. Her doubts disturbed me. I went from her home troubled, saying that would think and pray about what she had shared and then return.

To be honest, I too have always been troubled by talk of ‘a second blessing’ because it seems to introduce the idea of some Christians being superior to others. Surely that cannot be right. I will agree with the idea of a second blessing if I’m allowed to believe in a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on, blessing! I am continually being blessed by God.

Anyway, to return to Mary’s dilemma. I went back to talk with her again after I had been given an insight into the way God’s Spirit comes to us.

This is what I shared with her.

On the first Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) the room where the disciples were was described as being filled with ‘a violent wind and tongues of fire’. Such a powerful demonstration of God’s Spirit was necessary to convince the disciples that they had the courage to leave their hideaway and go on to the streets of Jerusalem to witness to Jesus Christ.

Wind and fire!

Wind can be strong like a hurricane – but it can also be as soft as a summer breeze. However it comes, it is still wind.

Fire – can manifest itself as a forest fire – but it can also be just a little spark. However it comes, it is still fire.

And the call of God to follow him can come in a spectacular ‘turn-you-right-round-now’ way as it did for St Paul, or it can come as a quiet, but unmistakable whisper, as it clearly did for Mary – and does for many Christian people.

As we celebrate again the great festival of Pentecost on Sunday 31st May and as we reflect on God’s gift of his Spirit, let us remember that he reveals himself in different ways to different people.

You may have had an unmistakable moment when you were called to be a disciple of Jesus. If you have then thanks be to God

On the other hand, you may not have had such an obvious call to follow, or a blazing and thunderous experience of God’s Spirit coming upon you, but that does not mean that you are not one of his faithful followers and filled with his Spirit.

Thanks be to God for the gift of his Spirit – however it comes.

Wind rushing, fire crackling God, help me to be ready for your unexpected life-giving power.
I celebrate your spirit that revives, inspires, renews and energises.
When I find it difficult to feel your presence, encourage my faith and re-awaken my confidence.
Bring me to a place, where exciting things will happen, where hope is found and all things are possible.
Come Holy Spirit, help me to dream of a new heaven and a new earth.
In Jesus name I ask it. Amen.

Sunday Worship

Our circuit worship today is led by me (Rev Bev Ramsden) on one of my favourite topics, Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. There is an all age address this week and there are children’s activities at the bottom of this post. The service can be found here.

There is also a televised service on BBC One at 11am (they keep changing the time) from Hereford Cathedral and led by the Right Reverend Richard Jackson, Bishop of Hereford (what do all these strange titles mean?).

Lockdown Quest

Here is something fun for you to do if you live in the Llandudno area, created by Arline Griffiths. Thank you, Arline!

This is a walking treasure hunt in which the object is to follow a given route to find the answers to the questions you have been given. You do not have to touch, pick up or collect anything. There are two halves to the quest, each of which includes the park and each of which takes about an hour (the second will follow next weekend). As the walk is circular, you could, in fact, join in at any point convenient to you.

If you want your answers checked, please leave them at the manse, together with your contact details. All those who complete the quest are welcome to take a sweet from the basket on the chair in the manse porch. Enjoy your walk in the sunshine!

Starting Point: The Manse, 20 Roumania Drive, Craig y Don

Walk to the nearest entrance to the park, on the corner of Roumania Drive and Park Lane.

(Answer the first two questions while looking around you in the gateway, then walk almost the whole way round the park in a clock-wise direction before taking the path across the middle to the main entrance.) 

  1. Which country did the queen in many of the names in this area come from?
  2. If you are an expert, how many times should you do the ladder walk?
  3. How many conifers are there lining the narrow path which runs alongside the hedge?
  4. Who planted what to commemorate the present Queen’s Diamond Jubilee?
  5. Which Waste Recycling Group supported the redevelopment of the park?
  6. Where is there a reference to John chapter 4, verse 13?
  7. For what offence would you be fined £500?
  8. Which ball-game are you not allowed to play?
  9. What is the point of the patch of long grass on the left?
  10. Who is committed to helping wildlife and bio-diversity
  11. Who invite you to sit back and relax?

Now leave the park by the main entrance, turn right and walk down Queen’s Road. At the T-junction, cross over the Zebra Crossing, turn left and walk along Mostyn Avenue as far as the cross-roads by St. Paul’s Church before turning left into Clarence Road. Continue right up as far as  Balfour Road.)   

  1. What kind of area does a lamp post tell us this is?
  2. What is Llandudno’s town motto (as seen at the Victoria Club)?
  3.  Which bus do you need to catch to go to Llanrwst?
  4. Which family used to own the grocery in the corner premises now occupied by the Co-op?
  5. What nationality might the family be/have been?
  6. What much needed free facility is offered to the community by Cafe V?
  7. What could you enjoy doing by joining the Llandudno Friendship League?
  8. What unusual residents do you think might live at no. 6?
  9. What might be considered fly-tipping and incur a fine?
  10. What is more expensive, a tortoise or a hedgehog?
  11. What is the Welsh for pharmacy?
  12. What does the bowler on the clubhouse tell us?
  13. What fruit do the two trees on the corner of Clarence Road and Balfour Road bear?

Now turn left into Balfour Road and walk along to the cross-roads. Turn right to cross over Balfour Road and then left to cross over Queen’s Road. Turn right and walk up the road for a few yards before taking the passage on the left through to Meadow Gardens. Follow Meadow Gardens round to the left to the junction with Roumania Crescent. Turn left, cross over the road and walk down to Roumania Drive. Turn right and return your paper to the Manse.

  1. When and where must you beware of moving traffic?
  2. Which house has a mirror to help a car-driver negotiate the gates?
  3. Who issued the instructions on how you must behave in Meadow Gardens?
  4. Where would you find a most unusual rainbow?
  5. Why might you phone 01492 884488?
  6. Which house seems to have lost its way?

Discipleship study – Ruth chapter 5

Yes, I know, there isn’t one!

But I promised that we would conclude our studies on the book of Ruth with a piece on Boaz. I did say that I would also do something on homecoming but I have decided that would be just too much information for us to deal with. It will have to wait for another time perhaps.

Next Friday we will be beginning a new study series on the Holy Spirit. I have produced the material, which aims to provide a good foundation for understanding and coming to know the Spirit, and how he works in people’s lives. It is available in printed form to anyone who cannot access the internet, so please ask those you know who might find this interesting. If they contact me I will send them a printed copy.

The text below about Boaz is mostly from John Pass of St David’s, who I asked for help with looking at the story from the male perspective. Thank you for your help here, John. The questions, in italics, are mostly mine.

The book of Ruth is titled as being the story of a woman. Some people say it should be called the book of Naomi. But what about the main man in the story?

What can we deduce about Boaz? Before reading the notes below, think back over your reading of Ruth and try to remember what you thought about Boaz and his actions.

Might you have looked at him differently depending on whether you are a man or a woman?

How about the story overall? Is it a love story, a romance, a historical account, or what? Might your view be influenced by whether you are a man or a woman?

Look at how differently these artists have depicted Ruth and Boaz:

Which version are you most attracted to? Why?

From Ruth chapter 2:

  • Boaz is an influential rich man.   V1
  • He’s also a man who loves God; uses God’s name to bless his workers.  V4
  • He obeys the law and allows the poor to glean in his fields. 
  • He’s probably much older than Ruth; calls her ‘my daughter’.  V8
  • He is deeply impressed by everything she has done for Naomi and prays a blessing over her. V11.

Sometimes, when you read commentaries on the book of Ruth, people suggest that Boaz fancied her from the word go. That he noticed her because she was beautiful. The Bible doesn’t say that anywhere – her appearance isn’t even mentioned. All that is referenced is her character: her courage, sacrifice and determination, that everyone in town knew she was ‘a woman of excellence.’ And that is what Boaz sees in her. He’s heard the gossip in the village, he’s been told that she is working her fingers to the bone and, since she is part of his extended family and he has the power to help, he does just that.  

Yes, he invites her to eat with the workers.
Yes, he makes an exception to provide more for her.
Yes, he instructs his men not to harass her in anyway. 

But there’s no implication it’s because he thinks he’s got a ready-made ‘catch’. Isn’t Boaz just a kind, generous older man trying to help a destitute young widow?

Well, is he? How do we tell?
How much do we read our own agenda into Biblical stories?
How much do we do the same with topical stories in the news today?
How much is the Biblical writer (or journalist in our time) trying to influence us?
How aware are we of the influences on our thinking?

In a world where we think everyone has an agenda we assume Boaz must have been on the prowl. Was his purpose to ‘groom’ Ruth?  

On the other hand, was this God-loving rich man, respected and honoured in the community, just being loving and kind as was his nature?  Maybe he was also a lonely older man with a broken heart? It’s interesting there’s no mention of a wife. 

Why not? Why would a wealthy, prominent, mature Jewish landowner not have a wife and family?  We don’t know for sure but it seems quite likely that Boaz had been widowed. The idea of ‘waiting for the right one’ wasn’t really Jewish custom – so it’s unlikely that Boaz had been holding out for his dream girl. It was also a sign of disgrace not to have descendants, children to carry on your name. So, given that he doesn’t appear to have children that must have been a source of distress for Boaz. Perhaps he lost his wife in childbirth?  It was very common.

Now, think back to the scene at the harvest celebration, where Ruth (encouraged by Naomi) lies down at the feet of Boaz as he sleeps.
How do you think Boaz felt when he awoke to find the young woman there?
How might he want to react?
How does he react?

Naomi’s plan for Ruth to seek out Boaz at the harvest celebration is successful.

Perhaps Boaz is flattered by the way she ‘offers‘ herself to him. But there is no indication in the account that he takes advantage.

He comforts her, ‘do not be afraid,’ and promises he will marry her, protect and provide for her – but that he wants to do this right. There are some family complications to sort out – a closer relative has first choice!  Does Boaz perhaps think he will lose Ruth – miss out through doing what’s right?  

But God has his hand on the situation. The relative declines, Boaz and Ruth marry, Obed is born, the lineage of David begins…and so to Jesus. All’s well that ends well! 

For Boaz, Ruth coming into his life was a real blessing for him as well as for her and Naomi.

Do you really think God honours people who are faithful and obedient to him? 

Is there ever a time when we can truly say “All’s well that ends well”? When is the end?

Do you think God often works through people to fulfil his plans? Have you experienced that? 

Why was Boaz attracted to Ruth?
What character attributes do you find attractive in other people?
What character attributes might be attractive in you?
Can God use these for his purposes?

To conclude, why not spend some time with God considering:

  • how you react to other people, whether you jump to conclusions about them, whether other people do the same with you
  • how you can offer your character to God, with all its positives and all its faults, for him to use for good.

Children’s activities can be found here.