Saturday, 23 May 2020

Signs of Hope

If you pass Halton Trinity Methodist Church up in the village above Shopping City you might have noticed the poster in the noticeboard. It was placed there before the Lockdown and the NHS rainbow in the window thing that folk have been doing to support the NHS. It was probably done whilst we were experiencing the relentless amount of rain over the earlier months of the year (remember them? Just about forgotten now, unless your house was flooded out).
It just seems to be a very appropriate message for our times.
The story of the rainbow is perhapps the most famous story from the Bible about Noah and his Ark with all the animals saved from the great flood. This basic story of a great flood has found its way into many different beliefs and religions and many discard it as a myth. However a myth can contain truths that can be a source of encouragment, in this case its a story that says storms do pass and life, maybe very different, continues. In our current situation with the Covid 19 restrictions of social distancing, when the storm ends is not exactly clear but already there are signs that some form of normal life is being re-establieshed. Certainly the pressure of economics is a strong driving force to re-establish a normaility to the high streets and the shopping malls across the world - people's livelihoods depend on it and we already know that some shops that have closed during the lockdown are unlikely to ever open their doors again. But that is the nature of the retail industry; some stores close and others open, new opportunities present themselves. The same is true of many other industries with some big names announcing job losses. 
However, in the midst of this storm we are seeing some very hopeful signs of life with a growth in a sense of social responsibility, certainly more evident and encouraged. The natural world seems to have taklen a breather as polution levels drop. The change in working practice could result in more people working from home at least some of the time - reducing the number of commuters, reducing travel costs and pressure on the roads and polution.
Whatever the changes and the transitions that we pass through in this evolving situation, the creator of all is with us. 
That can sound a bit glib and just another sound bite, but for those that know the peace of God in the midst of their suffering, even to the point of death, this is no false promise but the tangible reality of God's love holding them.
This is a peace unlike anything else and has to be experienced to understand it and even then its is otherworldly. 
All over the world Churches are praying for the world. Christians in Runcorn are praying for you.
Peace be with you.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Keeping your sanity in a world gone mad...

How are you doing? keeping sane? It's tough, isn't it? I can imagine that working in a shop is even more challenging as you deal with the needs for social distancing, the constant threat of a potential encounter with a shopper carrying the virus who could be any one of those who you would normally welcome.
I have heard that some folk are shopping for what appear to be the most unessential items and you wonder if they are taking the situation seriously.
But what is truly essential? I'm told we can survive on just a bowl of rice and water each day. There are places in the world where for many people that is their staple diet. I can't imagine that, can you?
It is written that "man cannot live by bread alone" That's a qoute from Jesus, and he is right. We need to feed more than the body.  Somehow we must feed the mind and the spirit too. The mind needs to chew on things that stimulate, and our spirit craves a deeper sustenance than just survival, if we are to live. What do you feed your inner being on?
Being so locked into the progress of current crisis doesn't tend to help, it isn't what you might call 'uplifting' with the constant focus on deaths and problems with PPE, its the stuff of  sleepless nights. Yes it will end but the problem of putting life on hold until this crisis is over is that you miss out on life now. 
There are some news items that do cheer the heart - Captain Tom Moore is one such story. But there are other things too. Each day I walk the dog and there are some small woodlands nearby where the bluebells carpet the ground and you can hear the birds singing - its a timeless feeling of peace and joy at creation just doing its thing. 
The apostle Paul, writing to the early church in a time of persecution says this to them:
Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 
(Phil 4:6-9)
The peace he is talking about isn't a stillness, quietness or restfulness which is temporary but the peace of God - the Hebrew word is Shalom - which is a wholeness, a complete wellbeing of mind and spirit, a contentment.
One way of obtaining this peace is to cultivate a positive focus by giving thanks for the good in our lives; homes, family, relatives and friends (even if we can't meet with them) being just a few.
Remember with thanks the people who have been so helpful to you in your life, those who have bought the best out in you.
Think about the things or people that inspire you and lift your spirit.
Finding the joy in the things we can do.
The apostle Paul also encourages us to bring our worries to God in prayer.
Prayer doesn't need to be formal; it is often best a conversation with God as we speak out our heart's burdens; it can be silent or spoken, words in our head or on our lips.



You may wish to access some the Faith resources available in the Halton region, details below

Halton faith sector resources for use during Covid 19 shutdown

Buddhist, Wat Phra Singh Temple, Runcorn

Their morning Chanting is at 06:00 and Evening Chanting at 18:00 are livestreamed on their Facebook pages daily - the Facebook addresses are shown below.

Fb: Wat Phra Singh UK
Fb:
วัดพระสิงห์ ยูเค

In addition, their Buddhist nun Mae Chee Shirley-Anne is holding Guided Meditation practice every Saturday using Zoom.  The meetings will be announced on their Facebook pages every week during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Islam
How to attend a Muslim Friday Prayer service    كيفية حضور صلاة الجمعة الإسلامية
Catch up with a Friday sermon     اللحاق بخطبة الجمعة
https://youtu.be/CNZ0Z9bdiMc

Church of England

Daresbury Church is streaming Tuesday to Friday at 10.00am and Sunday at 10.30am on its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/daresburychurch/

St Berteline’s Church, Runcorn is live streaming a service every Sunday at 10am. It is live streamed on their Facebook page and then can be accessed there or on our website at a later point to view back.

www.stbertschurch.org.uk

Here is the link to Transform Widnes Website. 


All of their services are on the website along with other resources to help encourage people during this time. 

They will be having daily Holy Week reflections, plus Good Friday and Easter Sunday Services will be on this. This includes family friendly services. 

The website also has information of our Long Loaf community lunch, which has now turned take away! 

You can also follow them on Facebook under Transform Widnes. 

St Ambrose Church, Widnes

Information on services is on their Facebook page https://m.facebook.com >St Ambrose


Catholic

Mass is livestreamed each Sunday from Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral - www.liverpoolmetrocathedral.org.uk  This is normally at 9 am. However, please see below for Holy Week services

The Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool, is to livestream the Holy Week and Easter Services from the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.  The Services mark the most important time of the Christian year when the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus are commemorated.

The stream can be accessed from the Metropolitan Cathedral’s website at: www.liverpoolmetrocathedral.org.uk  

The Archbishop says, ‘This year our Holy Week devotions will have to be different as we rightly respect government restrictions.  We cannot physically gather as a worshipping community, but livestreaming gives us the opportunity to join together spiritually in sincere prayer and devotion as we commemorate the passion, death and glorious resurrection of the Lord.’


Services will be streamed as follows:
  
Holy Thursday, 9 April           7.00 pm        Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Good Friday, 10 April             3.00 pm        Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion

Holy Saturday, 11 April          8.00 pm        The Easter Vigil and First Mass of Easter

Easter Sunday, 12 April       11.00 am         Mass
 
St Wilfrid’s Parish Widnes has Mass uploaded to You Tube link is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC52-K27EaYwySzRmeP3f3eA

Ecumenical

Hope Corner has a service at 10am on Sundays. Either go to www.hopecorner.co.uk or use the link:

They also do Kid’s Church with all the links on https://hopecorner.co.uk/childrens-team/

New Life Christian Church Widnes

They do not live stream but do record messages every couple of days and post them on their Church’s Facebook page on their website and also on YouTube.
The Foundry, Widnes
They are streaming their Sunday services via watch.thefoundry.org.uk  they are at 10am and 8pm.

They also have children’s services online at burst.thefoundry.org.uk (age 3 – year 1) and fuse.thefoundry.org.uk (year 2 – year 6), they take place between 8am and 12noon on a Sunday.

Methodist, Runcorn
The three Methodist churches in Runcorn are now part of the North Cheshire circuit. 


This is a prayer wall we are trying to encourage people to use:

The local Methodist churches have Facebook pages





Methodist, Widnes

Methodist Churches in Widnes Worship

Short Livestream 10am on Sundays - Farnworth Methodist Church Facebook Page Farnworth Methodist Church







Saturday, 11 April 2020

The Great Pause

The world has, for the most part and for most people, stopped.
I used to joke “Stop the world I want to get off”. Crazy eh? Well the world just did stop. The mad rush of life. The endless and incessant tyranny of the clock. The list of things. The diary, the schedule, the plans, the pressures. Stopped. Everything is on hold.
It’s like in the movies where there is this ‘thought’ moment when the hero of the story has this moment when everything around them is frozen in time and they alone are left with their thoughts. They gain clarity, they see what is truly going on and know what they must do.
But are we ‘seeing’? Are we stopping or are we just trying to be busy in other ways? Are we just trying to ignore the stillness and silence, drowning it out with the noise in our heads and TVs, on social media, news channels as we are absorbed in the unfolding crisis, just waiting for everything to kick off again.
But what does it matter if it just means a return to the same blind racing around, destroying our lives, our planet, our peace, if we do not take time to rethink our lives? To reappraise the value of incessant consumerism on the planet, society and especially those that get left behind in the ‘human’ race. We have time to reflect on what is truly important, to re-evaluate the value of what we have valued most, have we got it wrong?
Do we really want just a resuscitated existence?
Or do we long for life with a capital L, Life in all its fulness, Life that has peace and joy and completeness at its heart?
In the Christian tradition on Easter Saturday we remember Jesus' buriel in the tomb. We think about the disciples hiding from the authorities - a kind of self imposed lockdown - not knowing what to do or what was going to happen. They could not easily go back to their old lives - they had seen and experienced too much just to forget but what could they do? They waited. And we wait too.

Jesus is in the tomb. He is buried.  No more meetings. No more preaching. No more sacred meals. No words. No moves. No breath Just death. Just waiting.
But resurrection is coming.
And Resurrection is not the same as resuscitation.
The resurrected Jesus calls us to live in the light of his resurrection.
The old has gone. The new has come. The offer of new life is for now. Not in some arbitrary time in the future. But Now.

So while you wait why not give some thought to your life. Maybe explore this Jesus fella. See what he has to say.

Every blessing

Tim

Saturday, 4 April 2020

We are in the most unusual form of Lent

We are in the most unusual form of Lent I have ever experienced – and it’s not a time to be giving up chocolate!
For many folk 'Lent' is a strange annual event where people give up chocolate before the Easter Bunny turns up with a load of chocolate eggs.

Lent is part of the christian tradition, a period of 40 days leading up to Easter Week, where we celebrate the last week of the life of Jesus Christ, his arrest, trial, crucifixion and burial followed by the climax of his resurection from death that preceeded the birth of the Church.

Why 40 days? It is the time that Jesus spent in 'social isolation' in the desert before starting his ministry on earth. It was a time of prayer, seeking His Father - God, in preparation for the work he was about to start. 
Traditionally Christians use the 40 days to give up something - chocoalte or alcohol or some pleasure or other - in order to reflect and pray about thier own lives and how they are following Jesus. 
I never expected to be giving up going to Church! And many more things beside. 

It is not easy to live through such times. There are mornings when I wake up and I think I am losing my mind (some think I lost it years ago but that’s another story!). I feel a strangeness, a sadness, a confusion and a loss of something I can’t quite name, and a fear that I no longer know what ‘normal’ is or what it will be. And I know I’m not the only one. 
Over the last week I have spent some time reading, thinking and praying about the situation we find ourselves in. 
The arrest of Jesus: Peter fights back in anger
Some have described it as a form of grief, a loss of all kinds of things all rolled into one. The loss of freedom, the loss of connectedness, the loss of work, of life-giving hobbies, of seeing families and friends, a loss of community. And in its place is a sense, a fear, that we don’t even know what our lives will look like when its over, if it ever will be truly over. 
Some have said that it is not surprising if we feel we are losing our sanity. The reactions we have are quite normal and will be different for each of us. Just like bereavement. And when you are grieving a loss of any sort you need to be gentle with yourself, not expect too much. The elements of grief will come at us at different times and different ways with no particular reason or sequence, again and again. Those of you who have been through this before will recognise the signs. And it is different for each of us.

What hope is there in this? I wonder about the way in which the disciples of Jesus experienced that space between the crucifixion of Jesus and their encounter with the risen Christ. A liminal space with all the elements of grief, and the fear of being hunted down and imprisoned, or worst. From our perspective in history we see the outcome; the resurrection bringing hope, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church heralding a new era filled with all kinds of challenges and opportunities. Its strange to think how the Church, in its various forms and formats today, has progressed from that small gathering of frightened men and women. I wonder if they could ever have envisioned it.

There is no doubt that much of our 'Pre-corona' lives will be lost - many shops will cease trading, many will lose thier jobs, and the shopping habits of people will change. However jobs will be created as new ways of retail are develped as the trend towards online retail is accelerated by this crisis. Already new jobs are being created and when our society emerges there will be more opportunities. 
Perhaps we will see a greater desire for physical meeting spaces, like cafes, and activities that enable social interaction, and spaces that facilitate our communities to grow and flourish. 
It is uncertain as to what society will look like but there will always be a need for community spaces and places where people can come together. There will always be a need for those that serve the needs of others. There is hope. There are new opportunities waiting in the wings. 

What can we do now? Some are already doing it - helping in whatever way they can to serve the
needs of our community.
Some us just need to 'stay in our homes' until the 'all clear' is sounded. Then comes the job of rebuilding a new society out of the remenants and rubble of the old. It might not look a lot different but how we live will not be unaffected. 
I encourage you to pray, to seek the Creator God, to reflect upon your life and think about what you will do in the future that is coming. It could be that this will lead to new adventures that will radically reshape your life. What will make the difference is how you position yourself mentally, spiritually and emotionally and that is, in part, the purpose of Lent. 


I realise that these thoughts of mine are utterly inadequate but they are what I have. For those who lose loved ones my heart goes out to you and I pray for your peace. For all, I hope and pray that you are able to stay safe, stay well and sane! I know many are worried and afraid about their job, families and businesses.  My hope and prayer is that we all make it through this and flourish in ways we can't imagine.
Every blessing be yours
Tim

Thursday, 19 March 2020

In these uncertain times....

Now that's a well used phrase. And probably very applicable generally as the world seems to be in some kind of meltdown in all kinds of ways. The advent of the corona virus is the lastest crazy and is clearly interfering with the normal flow of life of almost everyone.
As I chat with folk around Shopping City I'm hearing that the biggest concern is not so much about the viris itself (although many have 'at risk' relatives and friends), it is more the impact on finances, business, education, feeding the family and general wellbeing- their own and their loved ones, that is keeping folk awake at night.
There is also the frustration that the actions of those living in fear of not having enough supplies are creating a scarcity that impoverishes the lives of others, some of whom were already struggling with other life issues.

I want to say a few helpful things that I believe reflects the heart of Jesus and his message that speaks into this whole situation.

First "Love one another" is a command he gave to his disciples. This is not just wishing people well or have warm thoughts about them, it is about taking care of one another, being mindful of the needs of others in all respects of life. It is the heart of civilisation that we care for one another, particularly those who are the weakest and most vulnerable. When we act in selfishness we are behaving according to the principles of Darwin - the survival of the fittest - and that is to become like savages. We are better than that. We are called by Jesus - God in the flesh - to do better than that.

Secondly we are given a direct line to God: prayer. We are invited to bring all our concerns, fears and anxious thoughts to our Creator in prayer. No need for fancy words or flowerly language. Just tell God like it is - how it is for you. Let him have it both barrels if that helps because he can take it. And keep going til you have emptied your sack load or worries. However, be aware that God isn't your personal geni in the bottle or fairy godmother kind of thing. I believe he wants us to listen and follow his ways rather than the other way around, but he does care about us and desires that we begin a two way conversation about our lives. So after you have emptied out your worries, give some space to be quiet and listen for God's voice.

Lastly, know that You! - Yes You - are loved by God. And your family and friends. This current situation won't last forever - nothing much does. In fact only Love endures forever.
So love and allow yourself to be loved. And if you need help with that ask God who will always help.

I pray for you, that you will know the peace that flows from faith in God: the certainty of being loved even in uncertain times.

If you want to please visit the Post-it Prayer wall I have set up and leave a prayer there.

Every blessing

Tim


Thursday, 6 February 2020

A New Beginning


Hi, my name is Tim Coleman and I am a Deacon with the Methodist Church, working in the Runcorn area serving the Methodist Churches of Halton, Wicksten Drive and The Heath. From October this year I am also serving the community of Shopping City as a Chaplain. My role is primarily to be available to all retail staff and customers, to listen and be here for anyone who needs to talk. You don't have to be religious and I’m not here to recruit or convert but if you have questions or just need to offload, I’m available most Wednesdays between 10am and 4pm. I will be wandering about the complex and will be located in the community square around lunchtime. If you can't find me, you can contact me through the shopping city staff who will pass a message to me.

You can find more information about the Methodist Church, the Methodist Diaconal Order and Chaplaincy here:
Wishing you every blessing
Tim

https://www.facebook.com/runcornshopping/videos/577962066347261/?t=17

Signs of Hope

If you pass Halton Trinity Methodist Church up in the village above Shopping City you might have noticed the poster in the noticeboard. It w...