The Church exists to make more followers of Jesus Christ
This year the Methodist Church in Britain is encouraging its churches to become places where we tell our stories. The connexion has launched thestoryproject.org.uk - where you can explore how you can encourage the telling of stories and the sharing of testimony within your congregations.
I first started to feel a little under the weather round about the 11th March 2020, just after Boris Johnson had given his first speech to the nation but before we had gone into lockdown. I felt very tired and couldn't seem to find the motivation to do much. I had a hint of a headache, but put it down to being a bit depressed by the prospect of being shut in the house for weeks and also the after effects of a very busy week just passed. Two days later I started to feel slightly shivery and then suffered a mild stomach upset, nothing so unusual for me! As the following day, Saturday,progressed, I realised I had a raised temperature and couldn't eat so started to become a little concerned as I am sole carer for my husband who is at increased risk from infection. Sunday saw no improvement and if anything I felt worse again. When Monday dawned, my raised temperature was causing concern and I phoned 111 for advice. After a long wait I spoke to a clinician who then arranged for me to receive a call from the out of hours doctor on duty in Harrogate. She advised me that all cases of fever were being treated as potential Coronavirus infections as research had shown it could manifest itself in different ways. This made me rather worried especially about passing it on to Graham, my husband, from whom I could not self- isolate completely, though we could keep further apart some of the time. My family were very concerned as they could not come near, and anyway Liz was down in London, though David was closer to hand in Knaresborough. The Doctor also advised me if I became worse I should dial 999 and tell the ambulance controller I had a fever and they would know what to do.
I passed a sleepless night from Monday into Tuesday, with my temperature raging and slowly sipping my way through a jug of water by my bedside. I felt very alone, with only Classic FM for company but realised there was something else I could do, and that was to pray. I passed the hours of darkness praying intermittently and rather incoherently for strength to fight this infection and for the strength to continue to care for my husband. I asked God to spare me as my work here was not yet done. Around 5am I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face which helped a lot. I then fell asleep until 8am and realised my temperature had gone down a bit and I felt a little better. I rested in bed for much of Tuesday and slept soundly that night. I woke on Wednesday about 7am to the sound of birdsong and the sunlight streaming through the window. I realised I felt much better and the first thoughts that entered my head were the words of the hymn:
New every morning morning is the love
our wakening and uprising prove;
through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life, and power and thought.
New mercies, each returning day
hover around us while we pray;
new perils past, new sins forgiven,
new thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.
Now this is a hymn I had always associated with school assemblies and I had always regarded as a bit dreary, but on this morning it felt to reflect perfectly what I had come through and the words were packed with meaning. It took a good while longer for me to fully recover, but these words will forever remain seared on my memory. I shall probably never know whether or not I did have Coronavirus but I will always be thankful to God for bringing me safely through this experience and for keeping my husband safe and well. Now I have the challenge of keeping my promise to God to keep up his work here and now! I also have to give thanks to friends at Wesley who supported Graham through this time and to friends and neighbours who continue to help with shopping and in other ways. I do indeed feel truly blessed to have a loving family and so many good friends.
‘I was loved into the Kingdom’.
The Bible Study group I went to not long after we first came to Wesley 40 years ago was led by Tony Hitchen and had lots of wonderful, loving people in the group – some of whom are still with us.
I was an atheist then, and for all the arguments and debates about the nature of God and salvation and miracles and the rest of the theology we covered, it was the people that won me over – and not just the ones in that group but so many other wonderful people at Wesley.
I realised that if their faith – whatever it was (and believe me it wasn’t always clear or consistent) – if their faith helped to make them so loving and caring, then what was I doing trying to resist?
So I wasn’t bribed into the Kingdom by promises of eternity in heaven, nor by threats of eternity in hell, nor by the Bible or church doctrine or academic theological arguments. In fact I had to put most of that aside because it was getting in the way.
We need another language
That we can live on earth
To move us further forward,
To give the Word new birth
(source being sought)
You might think that this is all about religious jargon and that we should stop using words and concepts that mean nothing to those outside the church. And that is certainly part of the message.
A story told to Les
A small step forward…
I heard story recently of two long-time friends; over the years they had shared their stories together mainly of family growing up and covering joys and sadness, hopes and concerns. On one occasion one lady recalled her 'cheese scone' moment. It was a very difficult time and she was not eating at all and spirits were low. The other lady came to visit and brought with her two freshly made cheese scones. When her friend had left the lady was made a cup of tea by her husband with his forlorn question ‘can I get you something to eat…?’ Her totally unexpected response was ‘yes please, I think I would like a cheese scone’
It was many years later that the friend was told about this totally forgotten moment.
As William Wordsworth wrote in Tintern Abbey:
‘The best part of a good person’s life.
The little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.’