Short Cross Methodist Church

a welcoming Church with Jesus at the centre of our activities

Circuit Newsletter

May 2022


A Letter from 

The Chairman of the District 

Rev Ian Howarth

to our Circuit Family

 

Dear friends,

As I prepare for my retirement in August and look forward to a new phase of ministry as a supernumerary minister, I find myself reflecting on the nature of the Christian church, that I have been privileged to serve as an ordained minister for the past thirty-seven years.

It is part of my Methodist understanding that I have always seen my relationship with God as being lived out within a Christian community. To quote John Wesley: “The Bible knows nothing of the solitary Christian,” and again, ‘There is no holiness, but social holiness.’

From my earliest days as a Christian my faith would not have survived if I had not been in supportive fellowship with other Christians. I am so thankful to God for the small groups, the worshipping congregations, the people I have worked alongside in the church, lay and ordained, who have accepted me, nurtured me, and supported me, particularly through the difficult times.

My experience of the church as a supportive Christian community has been enormously important to me, and I have seen it as a key part of my role as a minister to help build and sustain such communities, for it is in such communities that Christians grow in faith and understanding, and it is only when that is happening that the Church can be a community that effectively shares the good news of Jesus Christ and his love.

That is not to say that church life is always easy. Thirty-seven years of ministry have also taught me that as well as being a supportive community, the church can be a challenging community. We are human and relationships are not always easy. Power dynamics are as dangerous in a church as anywhere else. Sometimes in our concern to be nice and accepting, problems are not dealt with early enough and so can escalate in unfortunate ways. We need to the courage and the wisdom to speak the truth in love and be honest with each other in ways that build each other up.

One of the things that I have rejoiced in over recent years is the church’s commitment to be an inclusive community. Methodism proclaims that ‘All people can be saved.’ and in a more diverse world, we are working hard to reflect that diversity in the life of the church and its leadership, as you see in your own circuit. Working across difference of race and culture is not always easy, but I find that diversity enormously enriching as we share our insights and experience together.

It is when we are truly a supportive community that deals with its challenges creatively, that is inclusive and welcoming to all, that we can be a missional community. One of the sadnesses of my time in ministry is the decline of the church across Britain, in most denominations including Methodism. We have not kept pace with the changes around us and have lost both the skills and the confidence to communicate the love of Jesus to those who have no knowledge of him.

My prayer for the church is that we learn how to be a missional community, that we work on the skills and grow in confidence in mission. That we are community that is attractive to others because we shows the love of Jesus in all we do, and because we are prepared to change and grow to communicate that love better to those around, both in mission and in service. A Christian community for the wider community in every sense.

I am looking forward to discovering how I can contribute to that as I discover new ways of ministry as a supernumerary.

May God bless you,

Ian Howarth


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April 10th 2022


Easter Letter to the Circuit Family


CIRCUIT NEWSLETTER

TITLE: THE PURPOSE AND POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION

“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. 

I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…  I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11).

In one of the most staggering statements of self-awareness and self-disclosure, the apostle Paul, having surveyed his history, spiritual heritage, and his personal achievements, compared them to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus and concluded that they were garbage. 

This man who was filled with passionate zeal for the Law and traditions of Judaism encountered Jesus Christ and became a radical disciple, a pioneer church planter, and in God’s hands, one of the greatest missionaries and teachers of the Christian faith. Paul’s fundamental purpose was to know Christ and to make Him known. 

His radical message was Jesus died and rose with power and purpose to make available to us the blessings and benefits of His risen life.

It is vital for our theological assessment and reflection to understand that Paul believed in and preached the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

It was the corner stone of his preaching and the central pillar of his faith. 

He was absolutely clear that: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor.15:13-14). 

It is of utmost importance that we understand that the resurrection is ‘no conjuring trick with bones.’ 

If Jesus is not alive, He has no power to impact our lives today. 

If He is dead His words at best might have some influence but He has no power to transform lives. 

That is why the resurrection is central to Christianity. No resurrection; no Christianity. 

Christianity is not based on abstract principles. 

It is a relationship with the Risen Christ, a Living Saviour, who infuses us with life, transforms us into His likeness, and empowers us to bring His life changing good news to the world.

What does Paul mean when he says he wants to know Christ and the power of His resurrection? Was he simply stating a personal preference, an exclusive desire, or is this a truth that is central and universal for the people of God? 

The prophet Jeremiah says, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Jeremiah would remind us that we have our priorities upside down in terms of things for which to aspire, admire, and desire. 

We have a strong propensity to gravitate towards those who are intelligent, talented, physically well endowed with strength and beauty, and those who are financially ‘well heeled’. 

Yet, what matters most is knowing the Lord, the covenant keeping God who delights in kindness, justice, and righteousness.

Jesus elevated this principle and gave prominence to the priority of knowing God personally. 

He said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). 

Eternal life is knowing God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Without knowing Him there is no true life. 

The apostle Peter emphasise this point when he wrote: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2Peter 1:3). 

When we know Him, He empowers us with everything we need for a godly life. John confirmed this when he declared: “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. 

And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. 

He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). 

The purpose of Jesus coming as our incarnate Saviour is that we would know Him. Knowing Christ is central to the gospel. 

We get to know Him by putting our faith and trust in Him. 

We deepen our relationship with Him through prayer where we share our joys, frustrations, and sorrows with the God of the universe who cares for us. 

We amplify and accelerate our spiritual growth by learning to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and keeping in step with Him as He leads us. 

These are some of the vital principles that we need to cultivate to ensure there is an infilling of His love and an outflowing of His life through the Holy Spirit living and working in us to enable us to bring His transforming love and hope to our communities with His resurrection power and life.

The joy of Easter is knowing the risen Christ and living in the daily reality of His resurrection. 

Paul gives us a beautiful insight into the working of this power when he wrote to the Ephesians. 

He does not ask God for more power. On the contrary, his prayer is “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe…which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Eph.1:18-20). 

What a joy and blessing to know that we have access to this incomparable great power to effectively advance the work of God’s kingdom.

As God’s forgiven people let us thank Him for what the cross and the resurrection of Jesus accomplished. 

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). 

In Christ we are a new creation; His Spirit lives within us. 

Let us encourage each other to move on with a renewed mind to expect great things from God and accomplish great things for God. 

Finally, let us embrace the deeper purpose to which we are called. We are a missionary people sent by a missionary God to announce the good news of His love, forgiveness, healing, and justice to a broken world. 

We are called to be lights in a dark world and salt to bring healing, and to influence the trajectory of our cultural conversations and political debates. 

As we stand facing the tragedy and brutality of war in the Ukraine and other parts of the world let us remember, “He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Cor.5:19-20). 

As God’s agents of change, we have a gospel burden to bless the world with the good news of Easter. 

Let us in confidence share this great blessing in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Christ is risen! Hallelujah!


Every blessing in Christ Jesus,

Peter


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October 30th 2021


Pastoral Letter to the Circuit Family


Jesus said: “This is my body given for your: do this in remembrance of me(Luke 22:19) Dear friends,

Every year the month of November reminds us of all that happened during the two World Wars. 

We read and know that during this time countless numbers of people who sacrificed their precious lives had a single purpose, that of liberating the world from tyranny and creating greater freedom for people to live in harmony with each other. 

Such memory enables us to affirm that people who died in the war gave their best so that we could live without fear today. 

Unfortunately, it is still a dream to be realised. Sadly, we continue to witness wars of all kinds in different parts of the world today. 

I remember standing in front of the great war memorial in Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland, one of the North Eastern States of India. I was inspired, challenged and humbled to read the famous Kohima Epitaph, “When you go home, tell them of us and say: ‘For their tomorrow, we gave our today’.” 

These words encourage the world to pause and reflect on the supreme sacrifice of people during those war years, and to reaffirm a commitment to live with dignity in order to give our best today so that future generations may live in freedom.

 This also challenges us to appreciate the courage of those who died without having the chance to enjoy life and so inspire us to do the same, to promote peace, justice and equality for all.

When God created humans, he also gave them freedom with a warning to “remember” not only his commandments but also his faithfulness and love that endures forever.“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22). T

he Bible reminds people to come back to God the creator, in all circumstances of their life and to taste and see His goodness.

When I think of Remembrance Day, it reminds me of our Lord Jesus Christ who was born in a manger, lived an ordinary human life, was full of compassion for those who were in need and was called to be the friend of sinners. 

He submitted his will to become the greatest sacrifice ever made in human history. 

His sacrificial death leads people from spiritual darkness into eternal light. 

He sacrificed his precious life to liberate us from eternal death and to give us eternal life. Though he did not commit any crime he died like a criminal to liberate humankind from the bondage of their sin. 

He was broken so that we can be healed. He was condemned so that we may go free. He gave his life to lead humanity from hatred into love and from conflict into eternal peace.

So, as we read through the Gospels, the life and ministry of Jesus remind us of many things which he did for the whole of humanity. 

The whole world needs to remember what God did through his Son Jesus Christ.

 On the night that he was betrayed we read how after realising that his final time had come, Jesus sat with his disciples to have his Last Supper in the Upper Room where he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22: 19). Jesus asked his disciples to eat the broken bread in remembrance of him. 

Through this act of fellowship, he wanted them to remember his sacrifice which offers forgiveness to all those who truly confess their sins and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour. 

He was full of grace and hope. He became a servant to make us his friends. He gave his present for our eternity. He became human so that we may become children of God.

So, let us surrender ourselves to him who surrendered himself to be the greatest sacrifice ever made in human history. 

Let us pause for a moment to remember Jesus’ meekness and majesty that was broken for us all on the cross. 

Let us remember to imitate his compassion, grace and love in our relationships.

 By remembering what Jesus did in that Upper Room we can be a great channel of peace: still conflicts, enable reconciliation between friends, and bring justice where there is injustice and equality where there is inequality.

God bless you,

Shalom my friends shalom, Rev Dr. Joseph Suray 

  • Short Cross Methodist Church
  • Attwood Street
  • Halesowen
  • B63 3UE


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