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Mike's Manse Message

OCT 2018
Dear friends

I write this from Dad's house in Co Durham. For the fourth time in 3 weeks I've travelled 140 miles to see him in his new care home. It's a long and tiring journey, almost entirely on the A38 and M1. Over the years and especially recently it's a journey I've come to know exceedingly well. In my mind I map it out as a series of landmarks: after 1 hour I expect to be past Sheffield and by 2 hours past Leeds. I stop at Wetherby or Boroughbridge depending on time. I can then crack on to go past Scotch corner and then the A167 for Dads house. On way I've passed Catterick Garrison where my cousin stationed, and the sign for Old Mothers Shiptons Cave which I've never been to but is on my bucket list.

The point of this travelogue? It's become such a familiar route that I rarely think about the mechanics of it, I just follow the familiar routine.

Sometimes Church life is like that: we follow the same routine as we've always done, without thought. We pay lip service to finding an alternative route, but we don't have the courage in case it goes wrong and we get lost!

But to try something different can often energise and excite us, and again it's the same in Church. Why do we always have to have the chairs in rows identical to the pews they replaced? Why do we sing 4/5 hymns and not 2 or 6? Why does the service have to be an hour because God might want longer (or shorter). The important point isn't contained in the answers we offer but in the wrestle and struggle to work out an answer; the second important point isn't about clapping ourselves on the back but it's about changing it all again when God directs us.

Friends, this is the start of a new Methodist Year BUT I don't wish to start it in complacency and I trust you don't either. We are engaged in a mindbogglingly exciting journey that shouldn't ever be mundane like the M1 but is full of excitement if you're prepared to let go of the route you've always known and take the risk of something different. I said I wasn't complacent and that's because I want to see the Church of Christ grow, numerically, spiritually and powerfully. Are you up for joining me on the journey?

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