Exminster Methodist Church, Main Road, Exminster EX6 8BT
Email email@example.com, Minister: Rev Ben Haslam, Telephone (01392) 256716
All services in the church are cancelled at this time
If you are interested in a weekly e- service please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also you may have a private communion with Reverend Ben via telephone. Please ring him to arrange one.Letter from Revd Ben Haslam
The American revolutionaries did not think of themselves as revolutionary at all. Those hardy souls believed themselves to be defending ancient rights and freedoms against a tyrannical government, in the same way as many at time of the English civil war saw the conflict as a struggle between age old ‘Anglo Saxon’ liberties against the ‘Norman’ oppression of Charles I. ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’, as the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us. So often, great movements in history (and the Reformation is one), were not radical departures from what had gone before. They were, in fact, rediscoveries of truths and ideas which had been forgotten about or corrupted. The Methodist revival of the Eighteenth century might have seemed like a bolt from the blue to those unused to the raucous hymn-singing, the unbridled ‘enthusiasm’ (then a term of abuse), and the conscientiousness with which the early Methodist classes buckled down to their Bible reading and devotional life. Those who were swept up in that wonderful movement were simply rediscovering the sheer joy of following Jesus which the earliest Christians had known, before worldliness had compromised the church. Nothing radical – just back to basics Christianity, following Jesus with no-holds-barred. The effect on British society was immense, and few of those ordinary men and women who were caught up in this amazing movement would have had any idea that they were part of something so historically, as well as spiritually, significant. When John Wesley himself experienced his famous ‘heart-warming’ in May 1738, he wasn’t making any new discoveries. He wasn’t a spiritual explorer, plumbing depths that no-one had ever fathomed before. He was instead being confronted with an old, old truth that he probably always knew, deep down. At that time, and in that place, it was right for him to have this epiphany. He was ready to re-evaluate all his assumptions and come ‘back to basics’. He was at his most receptive and God struck home.
Life in lockdown might, for you, be proving to be a time of reflection and evaluation. If it is, that is wonderful. I pray that God will use the insights He gives you to enrich the Church when we are able to meet again. If that’s not quite where you are, if you’re crawling the walls with boredom and frustration (and it’s completely understandable if you are, so don’t feel bad about it!), then please know that God can use any situation, however unpromising, to bring growth and renewal in our lives. John Wesley, prior to his heart-warming experience, was at his wits end. He was tired, disillusioned, and ready to give up. Firing on all cylinders he certainly was not. God, it seems, is present in the fading embers of human experience and can fan them into flame just when we think they are about to go out for good. Jesus, in John 17, prays for the unity of his followers in the day, years, and ages to come. He prays this, because He knows that human history will continue to be a bumpy road, and for the church to hold itself together as a unified entity, bearing witness to the love and grace of God in the world, it will need more than good intentions and buildings. It will need the grace and strength that only God can provide. Jesus was praying for us, just as much as He was praying for those, He shared the Last Supper with. He was praying for us, most especially, for challenging times such as the ones we are living through now. He was praying that, rather than giving up, we would discover, like Wesley, a fresh wave of the Spirit, doing surprising things, bubbling up from long forgotten springs and bringing living water rushing over dry, parched ground. However, you’re feeling at this time, don’t give up on the God who never loses His capacity to surprise, to save, and to bring new life and new hope.
God bless, Ben