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Something Wonderful Happened

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AMC Methodist conference 2018
AMC body of Christ

On the Wednesday morning of this year's Methodist Conference I shared a communion service in which those who had served the church in various capacities, both lay and ordained, but who had now gone to glory, were remembered. In front of me sat a couple who I knew. Their son was on the list of remembered people, and as we reached that point in the service, they stood and wept uncontrollably. And then something wonderful happened — nothing to do with process or agenda, finance, stationing or growth plans — it was simply that those who were sat around the bereaved couple moved a step closer to them; held a hand; placed an arm around a shoulder; wept with them. And I realised that it was going on all over the hall — the Methodist Church quietly and profoundly held all those who were hurting.

In one sense it was nothing extraordinary; it is what happens again and again, week in, week out, but goes mostly unnoticed. People who are wounded are held by others through a hug, a prayer, shared tears, a telephone call, a well written card. No answers or explanations are given, only space offered where pain can be named. And it is important that the pain is named: grief, hurt, anger, doubt, loss, despair, anxiety. For as we name it we remember that it is known by God and held by God.

We have been thinking in recent weeks about our purpose and calling as a church, and I think, to put it simply, we are to be the presence of God to each other, to our communities and to the world. We are not a business that must be grown, nor institutions to manage; we are not a club that some belong to, nor a 'members only' establishment. No, we are the Body of Christ; God's presence in human form, and so we hold the hurting, love the loveless, give a voice to the voiceless and declare that all are welcome — without qualification. I know that business meetings and conferences are necessary but, in truth, we fulfil our purpose as a church when we love and are loved.

To read Helen's full pastoral letter in LINK magazine, click here.

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