Ministers Message: October 2019

Ministers message, as published in the Church Gazette

October 2019

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:1-2, NRSV

Dear Friends,

As I write it’s September 20th and across the globe thousands upon thousands of young people, accompanied by many others who stand with them in solidarity, are taking part in the global climate strike calling for climate action.

The commitment, tenacity and sheer numbers of the young people taking part should be nothing less than a wakeup call to us all as we hear the message they calmly but clearly declare – it is time for climate action.

Their message is one that as Christians I believe we should be actively supporting, encouraging and listening to, as they challenge us and all society, as well as national decision makes, to live in ways that enable the flourishing of the world which God created and declared good.

As I reflect on these events, I’m challenge in three ways. Firstly I feel God convicting me in asking how I am playing my part to truly care for the environment? How much single use plastic did I put out in the rubbish today? How am I using my voice to bring people’s attention to the immediate action that needs to be taken as individuals, and as communities and societies to save ourselves from ourselves?

Secondly, I’m struck by the unwavering boldness and passion these young people demonstrate, and feel God asking me where I find that same unwavering boldness and passion in his church. What fires us up? What issues rally us to unite and stand together?

Thirdly, I’ve been stunned by the arrogance and rudeness people have responded to these young people with – which has been patronising, hurtful and deeply judgmental. It challenges me to be aware that when others challenge our behaviour, practices and activities as individuals or as church, or bring fresh ideas, our response should not be dismissal or arrogance, but one of openness, listening and reflecting and being willing to consider change. Otherwise we end up like those Pharisees and Scribes grumbling about who Jesus was spending his time with, and entirely missing the message.

As church, society, country, and climate, I think in one way or another we stand at a crossroads – and we all have a part to play in the road ahead. So the challenge we’re left with…

How will we respond?

In Christ,
Rev Dan
Tel: 01243 823895
dan.balsdon@methodist.org.uk

 

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Exploring Prayer

October 10th
Lectio Divina – Learning to chew on the word of God.

This will be done in a group format, with an increasing level of input in each ‘round’ of reading. Information will also be given about praying alone with lectio.

October 24th
God the Creator – Finding God in all things.
This will consist of imaginative prayer exercises led from the front that enable people to recognise God and prayer in the mundane activities of daily life both outdoors and indoors. Option of sharing at the end.

November 7th
Pain and suffering – Praying with Psalms.
The Psalms contain all human emotions. We will look at some psalms in the context of human pain and suffering, and then do an exercise in writing our own psalm.

November 21st 
The Gift – responding to the gift of life and faith
Fantasy prayer that brings a new dimension to conversing with God, recognising the gift of life and faith, and our response to it. This is a led imaginative exercise, and will end with creative drawing.

December 5th
Ignatian imaginative contemplation – Getting inside the Gospels.
Background will be given to enable people to get themselves inside a Gospel scene during a led contemplation. Time for sharing experiences in prayer at the end of the session.

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“Another year over, and a new one’s just begun!”

Ministers Message for Church Gazette
September 2019

“Another year over, and a new one’s just begun!”

Dear Friends,

I know it’s not Christmas quite yet, but for we Methodist folk September marks the turn of the new connexional year. Across the country, ministers who have moved over the summer are starting new chapters in ministry and along with their families are beginning new seasons in schools, workplaces and communities. Please pray for them, and the communities they will be serving as they all travel through this time of change and transition. In particular, please pray for Frank Okai-Sam, wife Patience, and their family as the move into our circuit and Frank begins ministry in Southwick and Storrington.

In some ways it seems like yesterday it was me beginning a new season of ministry, and in others it feels like it has been a long time. In part because we have already achieved much together over the last year.

We’ve spent time reflecting on our vision as a Christian community and have completed the first part of that process, we’ve begun to discern the next phase of property developments, we’ve continued to develop our worship and deepen our spirituality, we’ve welcomed new people into our community.

Looking forwards, among many other things we’re beginning to have further conversations about how we engage in mission, outreach and seek to be a welcoming invitational community.

Among the following pages, you will find the first of what will be 4 articles which begin to explore the 4 aspects of our new vision statement. So this month we explore the first and central part – ‘Journeying with God’.

Elsewhere, you will also find the first of what I hope will be a series of articles called ‘What’s your story’. Each month we’ll hear from people in our community sharing something of how God has shaped them and is working in their lives today. I hope we will all find these contributions invaluable as we learn more about each other and how God is working among us all.

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” says Paul (Romans 8:38-39).

Let each and every one of us, wherever we are reading these words, know God in his love is working and moving among all of us and nothing can ever separate us from that deep and unceasing love.

In Christ,

Rev Dan

Tel: 01243 823895
Dan.balsdon@methodist.org.uk

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Minister’s Summer Message

Minister’s Summer Message

Dear Friends,

As I write, the sun is shining and the girls are enjoying playing in the garden, which is beginning to boom with fruit and vegetables to harvest and flowers blooming. This is the first year since being married that we’ve had a vegetable patch in the garden, and the girls and I have loved planting, watering, pruning, harvesting and finally eating that which we’ve grown together.

Doing things with others, whether as families, or with friends, or in groups of likeminded people, are all opportunities to learn from and about each other. The girls have learnt lots about plants and gardening, meanwhile I’ve learnt much about how children learn, in their questions, their wonderings and their excitement.

Learning is of course never over. it didn’t take long while I was a college studying theology to discover that the more I learnt, the more I still had to learn. But that is no reason not to ask questions, to wonder, and indeed, be excited by the opportunities for new discovery.

In the book of Lamentations we read “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (3:22-23)

These words, for me, are a daily reminder of the revelation of God – the daily excitement of new discovery. But yet, even with so much still to be discovered, God is steadfast and unceasing. Faithful and true.

So as you discover exciting new things this summer, I pray you continue to know God’s steadfast love and all unceasing faithfulness day by day.

Every Blessing,

 Rev Dan

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Walk of Witness 2019

Walk of Witness 2019

On Good Friday 2019, Christians from across the area gathered in unity for a Walk of Witness through the High Street, in witness with each other and to our local community, to the importance and centrality of the events of Good Friday to our Christian faith.

Attended by Christians and Churches across the area, and supported Bognor Regis and District Churches Together, the Walk of Witness is coordinated by Bognor Regis Methodist Church, and Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church.

Gathering outside Bognor Regis Methodist Church
Gathering outside Bognor Regis Methodist Church
A reading from the Bible: Matthew 27:27:31
Beginning our Walk of Witness
Walking
Pausing in the town centre, to sing When I Survey’ accompanied by the Salvation Army Band
Pausing in the town centre, to sing When I Survey’ accompanied by the Salvation Army Band
Pausing in the town centre, to sing When I Survey’ accompanied by the Salvation Army Band
Pausing in the town centre, to sing When I Survey’ accompanied by the Salvation Army Band
Arriving at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church
Gathering for a service of reflection
Gathering for a service of reflection
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Minister’s Easter Message: Church Gazette April 2019

An Easter Message for BRMC, 2019

Published in the Church Gazette, April 2019

Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.
Ephesians 2:16-22, The Message

Dear Friends,

This month, with Christians across the world, the events of Holy Week will shape and inhabit our worship and whole lives. As Ephesians 2 puts in, it is through Christ, who was led to the cross, that we are brought together, reconciled to each other and to God, made equal and find a home in God’s kingdom community. It is here we can truly belong. I hope and pray, that in whatever way you are a part of BRMC, you each can feel you belong as part of God’s community.

But the passage goes on. In being reconciled through Christ we are invited to participate in the very life of God. The home God is building, God’s kingdom community, is not merely built by God as our landlord for us to reside in as sitting tenants. No. As we are reconciled, as we find belonging, God invites us to participate in equal measure, as partners in the kingdom community. So God invites us to participate, brick by brick, individual by individual, all uniquely gifted by God, to be the holy temple, the church, the body of Christ, who God is shaping us to be.

Since I joined the ministry here at BRMC in September, you’ve often heard me asking that very question (or a derivative of it!) – who is God shaping us to be? The passage from Ephesians reminds us that God is the builder, and it is God who will aid us in answering that very question.

And God has already been doing so. In our conversations about vision for the future we’re reflecting, as a community, on where God has led us and leads us, and I thank all who have contributed to the discussions so far. We’ll include some opportunity to share where this exercise has lead us, and what the next steps are, during our General Church Meeting on 28th April.

Yet, God is already active among this community, seen and unseen, heard and unheard. Shaping us, loving us, strengthening us, encouraging us, brick by brick, whoever we are, wherever we are. The question about who God is shaping us to be is as much a question of recognising more tangibly where God is already active among our community as it is about asking what else God may be calling us to be. And I believe this starts with talking to each other about what God is doing in us, among us and beyond us.

Which brings us back to Easter. Christ who suffered, died, and rose again. We are called to be resurrection people, resurrection community. We believe and live out the transformative gospel we proclaim in partnership with God. In the words of hymn writer Brian Wren:

            ‘Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
            The cross stands empty to the sky.’
Singing the Faith 297, extract from v1

So let us sing out – with our voices, actions and whole lives – as we participate in the transformative power of the gospel we know and experience ourselves, and wish proclaim to the world. Offering radical hospitality, unconditional love & overflowing grace.

In Christ who lived, died and rose again. Hallelujah!

Rev Dan

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Ministers message: Church gazette March 2019

Ministers message: Church gazette March 2019

Dear Friends,

As March arrives, we enter into the period of the Christian year we call lent, beginning to journey with Jesus and his followers towards Jesus’ coming death and resurrection.

Through its history, lent has had a rich and varied array of meaning to individuals and to the church, including being a time of self-examination, strengthening of faith and deepening of discipleship.

Today, we often talk about giving something up for lent, but in recent years, I have found it much more rewarding to use lent as a time to take something up. So for 2019, I want to encourage you to think about how you might take something up during lent.

Perhaps you’d like to commit to reading scripture and spending time in prayer each day. One way you can do this is through our ‘journeying with Luke in lent’ booklet. With our friends at Felpham Methodist Church, I’ve been putting together a booklet which will encourage us in our daily reading of scripture and prayer, using passages from Luke’s gospel as we journey with Jesus and his followers through lent to Jesus’ triumphal entry, the cross and empty tomb. These will also be available at BRMC if you’re interested.

Another way would be to join a study group. There are a number of lent study groups that Churches Together in Bognor Regis and District are co-ordinating (there’s info about them at the back of church). These can be great opportunities for meeting with and learning from Christians from other churches.

Through lent we are also running ‘Rooting Faith’ a course which Rev Tony and I will be running, exploring key aspects of faith and Methodism, and also explore what it means to be a ‘member’ of the Methodist Church. Whether you’ve been a Methodist all your life, or only recently, do come along and discover more with us. If you’re interested in exploring membership, this is just right for you, do come along on Tuesday afternoons, and/or have a conversation with me. If you’re interested, but daytime isn’t good for you, please let me know, as we may run the course again in evenings if there is demand.

There’s lots more ways you can engage with lent this year. As ever, do feel free to get in touch if you’d like some help in thinking about how you can deepen your discipleship and strengthen your faith.

In Christ, Rev Dan

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Ministers Message: Church Gazette February 2019

Ministers Message: Church Gazette February 2019

Dear Friends,

I wonder if any of you have ever watched ‘Who do you think you are’? As celebrities explore their ancestry, there are often new and interesting discoveries about ancestors history.

Our history, our past, plays a significant part in our identity. Our past can shape us and affect the sort of people we are, and seek to be. So if I was to ask that question of Bognor Regis Methodist Church, how would you answer? ‘Who do you, Bognor Regis Methodist Church, think you are?’

Identity is important to us. As individuals it defines us, shapes us and impacts the choices we make in life. As a church, our identity is equally important.

On March 3rd, as part of our Sunday morning worship, we’re going to spend some time reflecting together as a community on our identity and vision. We won’t be making an decisions on the day, but in conversation with each other, we will seek to celebrate what has been and look to what could be, all the while seeking God’s will and way for us as Christian community in Bognor Regis.

We’ll begin by thinking about our past:

  • What has God been doing among us in our history?
  • What brought you to BRMC?
  • What is our church’s story?
  • Where have we come from? How have we got here?

We’ll then think about the present:

  • What is God doing among us now?
  • Who are we?
  • What do we value about BRMC?
  • What is our present identity?

And finally, we’ll look to the future:

  • Where is God leading us?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for BRMC?
  • What can each of us offer to the life and ministry of the church?
  • What opportunities are there for deepening, developing and growing the mission and ministry of BRMC?

We hope many of you will be able to be there to share in our reflecting and sharing together. If for any reason you can’t be there, please do take opportunity, if you can, to share some of your thoughts with us. You can write them down and email or post them to me, or we could arrange to meet.

Do begin thinking about those questions and perhaps even talk about it to each other now, in readiness for the time we’ll spend together on 3rd March. More details about how the day will happen will come in the next few weeks. I hope and pray you’ll be able to join us.  

In Christ, Rev Dan

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