I write this letter just prior to going on retreat. It always feels like a privilege to take time out of the normal routine and be guided on reflection by someone outside of my particular context. This year the leader of our retreat is Revd Dr Roger Walton. Roger was the chair of the Yorkshire West District, and a past President of the Methodist Conference, but is now a Supernumerary minister. Like many Supernumeraries he is still heavily involved in ministry but just in a different way. Alongside leading retreats he was influential in setting up the Methodist Way of Life, which I have written about before.
Interacting with people outside of our own particular bubble in my view is always healthy. Nancy and Roger Day will shortly be visiting the church in Nairobi that they used to attend, and I was requested to send greetings on behalf of the congregation here, which I gladly did. Even thinking about someone else’s situation and having some empathy for their needs gives us a slightly different perspective.
You will see here the latest Methodist initiative of Walking With Micah. This is worth looking into further, and as I said on Sunday if you have the time please watch and listen to the lecture by Gordon Brown on the Walking With Micah web pages of the Methodist Church. The material allows us to see with empathy from the view point of those who are currently struggling. Engaging in such material doesn’t only have the potential to make a difference to the situation we reflect on, but also our own values from our often privileged context.
here you will see me reflect further on the project that I am involved in at Sidmouth. In short, my role there is not to go into the community and tell them the gospel. Instead God’s love is already present, I am simply helping the community to find a language that authenticates that experience. By its very nature some of what I will be involved in might not be familiar to many of us. However, one of the lessons I need to keep learning is that the established church has got much to learn, for our language and traditions have become more and more alien to much of society. What brings me joy each time I encounter it, is that revelation and wisdom come to me as much outside the church as inside it. God thank goodness is not confined to the church, and it remains a pleasure encountering grace.