I have now been at Central Hall for four months and in that time, I have come to realise how privileged we are to have a Methodist Church at the heart of this complex city and region. Every day we encounter the spectrum of problems, issues and joys that are all part of city life. Whether it is comforting the homeless; listening to the marginalized; signposting the confused; speaking with the powerful, we count ourselves fortunate to be God’s servants in this place.
As one church we realise that we cannot solve everything. Working together in partnership with other agencies and other churches brings greater rewards to those we serve. Our combined knowledge and resources bring creativity which would not have happened if we were all working individually. We see that in the multitude of networks with which we engage, which embrace both faith and secular groups.
But we must never forget that God is at the centre of all we do. Sometimes in the chaos of the day, it is easy to fall into the trap of being so busy with doing things for God, that we forget the productive and energizing action of stopping and spending time with God. An active prayer life; searching the scriptures and receiving Holy Communion are as much means of grace as works of mercy (John’s Wesley’s Means of Grace). Being with God is an important part of our discipleship and should not be treated as an added extra.
This January, Central Hall has been hosting a daily (weekdays only) noontime prayer event for revival in Greater Manchester. This has been led by various church leaders and whilst many sessions seem alien to our Methodist tradition, it has opened my eyes again to how powerful worshipping and working together in partnership can be. Every time we think our way is the only way, we cut ourselves off from learning from others and from experiencing God at work in different spaces.
During today’s session two different leaders from Evangelical churches thanked God for the Methodist Church. For one, his story spoke of a Methodist congregation who loved him, a non-Christian, into faith when he was going through a rebellious phase; the other reminded us of our glorious heritage of preaching and social action. For a brief moment I felt pride, but that passed and humility became the greater emotion. For whilst we are members of the Methodist Church, it is God’s Church. The work God has done through our organization over the centuries is amazing. God has raised up from an initial small group of believers, preachers; leaders who have fought for justice; those with a pastoral heart and too many others to name. It is easy for us to think we are living in the dying stages of the Methodist Church as we see declining congregations. I wonder what God has in store for us this coming year if we embraced humility and bowed before his throne. Are we determined to do things the way we always have, or is God calling us to consider trying new things; listening to others and developing new partnerships?
As we continue through 2024 I ask you to reflect on this verse from Luke 10:2
The harvest is ready but the workers are few
How might we equip ourselves better for God’s work? What do we as individuals, churches and a circuit need to change so that God’s glory is reflected through us and enables us to bring in that magnificent harvest.
Deacon Jenny Jones