From the Superintendent Minister
(Taken from The Connector Issue 36, Jan-Mar 2020)
NEW YEAR WISHES
First, let me wish for you who read this message every blessing for 2020. I say “who read this message” because I am aware that many who receive a copy of the Connector every quarter do not have a clue as to what is contained in it. The Connector is given similar treatment to how some persons treat their Bibles – allowing it to remain on the shelf, but never consulted.
The Connector lists all the main events that are scheduled to take place for the three-month period in the five congregations in the Providence Circuit. These are carefully itemized and arranged simply and logically so that the barely literate child may follow. No adult can claim with justification that the Connector is difficult to read and to understand.
MAINTAINING THE CONNEXIONAL SPIRIT
I urge you, whose attention I have, to let other members of your congregation know of the value of the document; that the Connector’s aim is to keep us all connected to one another. But knowing what is happening is one thing. More important it is to develop the habit of praying for forthcoming events and activities, as well as pledging to support them, where possible, by your presence.
A complaint that I have heard repeated time and time again is that members, especially those of the largest congregation, do not lend their support to what takes place in the other congregations in the Circuit. They seem not interested in attending the rallies, harvest festivals, or any fund-raiser in the smaller churches. This constitutes a terrible indictment on the spirit of connexionalism which is akin to Methodism worldwide. Methodism is not a Christian denomination where congregations are isolated, having absolutely nothing to do with one another. Their leaders are not a law unto themselves because accountability is enshrined in our structures. A Congregations is accountable to the Circuit of which it is a part, a Circuit is accountable to a District, and a District is accountable to a Conference. Because we are all connected, what is done within one corner of the world commends itself to Methodists in other geographical localities of the world where we share an historical and spiritual relationship.
MAKING 2020 AN ACTIVE NEW YEAR
When we reflect upon the year that is past, there will be feelings of both satisfaction and regret. We may feel satisfied with the things that we achieved, while regretting that we were unable to get done some of the projects that had been envisaged. The dawn of the New Year provides us with an opportunity to correct some of the mistakes of yesteryear. In this vein, let me say to those who attended worship services during 2019 but did little or nothing beside that, how important it is to become involved in what your church is trying to do under the guise of mission and evangelism. Make 2020 your active year for doing God’s work.
As individuals, we have not been placed upon earth to be here forever. When one is a child, one thinks that there is all the time in the world to do whatever one wishes. As one grows older, wisdom sets in. The discovery is that there are so many obstacles to be overcome, and that one’s physical presence will always be dependent upon God. It is God in whom lies our health and who has the final say about the length of our sojourn on earth.
Postponement is really a sin because the thing that you can do today to please God is pushed into the background. Once this is done, there seems no urgency to “get the job done” hence it is no surprise that the majority of persons who delight in postponing things go to their graves having failed to do half the good things they had intended to do in the first place.
COMMITMENT IS COMMENDABLE
It is wonderful when persons see a job to be done, one for which they possess the requisite skills, and they proceed to do it. What we must do, as followers of Jesus Christ, is to search for the things for which we can perform creditably and get on with the job. My fear is that those persons who have merely been “pew warmers” over the years require that much extra encouragement to get them moving from their inactivity to a state of active involvement so that they become hands and feet for God.
PRESS ALONG, THEN!
With the days, weeks and months ahead in 2020, commit yourself to achieving something worthwhile. It may be that some of you had it in mind to offer as a local preacher, but you kept making excuses that you are not “holy enough”. Which of us is, anyway? Or you wanted to help an organization that is dwindling in your congregation. You have what it takes to inject new life into it. Your input can make a difference. But you complain about insufficient time left after work, about tiredness and lack of energy. Guess what! Some of the most committed members of our congregations are persons who have full time day jobs and who, at the end of the day are tired. However, they know how to prioritize and to organize, so that the things they must do as well as what they would really like to do are neatly ordered. Excuses do not get in their way. If you honestly wish to pursue a course of action, you will do it with the help of God.
So, as I greet you for the New Year, I am looking forward to us working together. In the congregation to which you are attached, be a member in good standing. Do not hide or bury the talents that God has given you. Stay connected! Remember – you are not just an important individual, but an integral part of a valuable team involved in Christ’s mission. Let’s press along together!
George Mulrain - January 2020
From the Superintendent Minister
(Taken from The Connector Issue 35, Oct-Dec 2019)
The bible, in Acts 20:35, quotes Jesus as saying: "It is more blessed to give than to receive". My suspicion is that for most persons, we would invert the contents to read "It is more fulfilling to receive than to give."
As human beings we love to receive. This perhaps is as a result of how we grew up. As little children we love to receive presents for our birthdays. We are thrilled at Christmastime to open gifts in the hope that something we desperately longed for would be there. I know of some adults who make it a point of duty to tell you that their birthday will be on such and such a day of next week, with the expectation that you will place into their hands something of monetary value. From what I have often herad though, gifts do not have to be expensive. One merely appreciates the idea that someone has gone out of his or her way to make a fuss over them.
What persons receive to give them satisfaction need not always be tangible. Who, for example, does not feel pleased to receive good news! You've passed all your exams! They've located your child who went missing! What person does not love to receive compliments! That's a beautiful outfit you've got on! What a stunning hairstyle! Some of us feel belittled if no one ever compliments us. In fact, teachers compliment their students to encourage them so they will continue to do better. One of the truths about life is that we will not only be recipients of good news, but bad as well. We will not only be told about how wonderful we are. We will have pointed out to us, hopefully in love, the things that are more negative than positive. Depending on our level of maturity, we will be able to benefit from the uncomplimentary comments that we are bound to receive.
On this matter of being receivers, if one is not careful, he or she can develop a rather passive type of personality. Such individuals are not likely to be movers and shakers, or to be instigators for positive change. They are content to sit back, relax and have things done to and for them.
From my vantage point in church, I content that there is a danger that in worship, many have cultivated the same attitude. They have been attending a particular church for umpteen years. Then suddenly there is an urge to go elsewhere. The feeling is that the grass is always greener on the other side. So they leave the church to which they have been attached and venture down the road where it is rumoured that worship there is more lively. Without realizing it, they deserted a context in which, if they were honest, people were caring for them and their families. Such "adventurous" persons never really learned the value of giving, of contributing, of taking the initiative, of doing some worthwhile act of mission. They have always been the receivers, the very passive ones, waiting upon others to give and to do good. So for them, life consists of ever seeking contexts in which they will receive that which pleases.
I sound a warning that relates to how we train our children. We have heard the oft repeated child's comment: "Oh, church is so boring!" That incidentally is a commentary on us. We have not really taught our children that the purpose of worship is to encounter God. It is the opportunity for men, women and children to come together in fellowship, and to build one another up in the faith of Jesus Christ. Worship is not for entertainment. If we do not find the hymns, the music, the sermon etc entertaining, it is hoped that these will not detract from the receipt of spiritual and emotional gifts that help to affirm us as we face the challenges of daily living.
The words of Jesus Christ are therefore to be taken seriously: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." When we reflect upon his life, we note that he gave himself for the benefit of others. The message of the Cross is telling in this regard. The Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. As followers of Jesus Christ I urge you to develop the habit of being givers and not just receivers. Do not ask- "what can the church give to me?" There are far too many who continue to ask about church attendance- "what's in it for me?" Let us rather develop the habit of asking "what can I give?" The answer will come back to us in several ways.
Give of your time
Attend worship, participate in groups, seek fellowship of other christians
Give of your talents
If there is a music ministry attached to your congregation, and you are able to, then contribute to it. But there are other ways apart from music wherein you are talented, and you must endeavour to use your special gifts to enhance God's work.
Give of your money
Get into the habit of putting aside tithes or other financial contributions to enhance the mission of the church. Remember John Wesley's advice about money- gain all you can, save all you can and give all you can.
To sum up, I am calling upon all of us to create a culture of giving. We are to give, not in the hope of getting anything back. Give because God sent His Son into the world to give his life for us. As Saint Francis of Assisi would remind us, it is in giving that we receive and in dying that we are born to eternal life.
George Mulrain - October 2019