A Pastoral Message – Sunday 26th April

Dear friends

As I have been reflecting on the unexpected journey that we have all been on so far in this year, I have been recalling how, many of us had been moving towards the year 2020 with a great sense of anticipation that it would be a wonderful year of hope and vision.  Many churches had established plans under headings such as “2020 Vision” or something similar and some individuals had developed personal plans for their own spiritual development through this year.  We had great ideas about what we might be able to achieve and in many cases, a real sense of being led by God into those plans.

However, we now find ourselves in a place where we did not expect to be.  Many of us are confined to our homes far more than we would like, we cannot gather together for worship or indeed for any reason at all, we are fearful about our health, we are struggling with the lack of physical contact with each other, we are not able to celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries or the lives of our loved ones in the way that we would hope – we are not where we expected to be and we are not where we wanted to be.

In Acts 27 we read of how the apostle Paul and others set out for Rome, where he was due to be tried by Caesar, but eventually the strength of the wind and the consequential adverse sailing conditions meant that a different course had to be followed.  Eventually the boat was shipwrecked on the island of Malta – they were not where they expected or wanted to be.

Yet, in the weeks and months that followed, the apostle Paul was able to exercise a healing ministry amongst the islanders and many miracles were performed.  All of this ultimately resulted in Malta becoming one of the first Roman colonies to completely convert to Catholicism.

Because of the storm of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us now find ourselves exercising ministry and witnessing to our faith in places that we did not expect, in ways that we had not anticipated and amongst people that we perhaps did not expect too.  We have been reminded, if we needed reminding, that God is so much bigger than all of our plans and dreams.  His ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts.

So, whilst some of our original hopes and dreams for this month or this year might have been dashed, what new and surprising things is God doing in you, through you and around you?  What is happening simply because you are in a place where you didn’t expect or want to be?  What wonderful new things is God doing which may be even greater than our original plans?

Even in our disappointment and disorientation, God is able to do new things, so please do continue to look for those signs of encouragement and hope that are there to be found.  And if you have a good story to share about what God is doing or how your prayers are being answered, please do be in touch with Sam Roberts, our District Communications Officer on comms@sheffieldmethodist.org so that we can all be encouraged by your experience and praise God together even whilst we are apart.

Every blessing,

Gill Newton, District Chair