Ministers Letter – April 2008

Rev. Ray Coates
My Dear Friends,

As I reach Easter, I am filled with a deep sense of thankfulness for many things. There is, of course, the remembrance of all that Christ did for us on the cross and the joy of Easter with his rising. There is also though the sheer richness of life that I experience. When I look back sometimes and think of the austerity of the post-war years and then see where we are now…..

I rather liken how I feel to two things true of my younger days. I have a number of photo albums from when I had my first camera and the pictures are in black and white. That was true of many films I saw at the cinema, often excellent productions, but Technicolor, cinemascope and simply colour added new dimensions and made life richer. I do not have to imagine or remember the colours now. My diet was also limited because I would not try things. Peas and carrots, please, but never broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower or sprouts. I didn’t eat cheese (except on toast) or salmon or many other things. Since marrying Joy my diet has greatly improved!

And that’s the way I feel about my Christian experience. I grew up in Methodist circles and it was perhaps not until my mid-twenties that I tasted the water elsewhere. And gradually the experience has broadened. This year we had a good united service in January for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In Lent we shared lunches and reflected on the Lord’s Prayer with friends from other traditions. Study groups in Aberford and Appleton with Bolton Percy are richer for being ecumenical. There was on Good Friday a really good turn out for the Walk of Witness and it along with other things on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day were truly ecumenical and better for being so. Some I was privileged to lead (one of them in an Anglican setting) and others I merely shared in and they were enriching experiences. I also cannot help but reflect that something like Stepping Stone could not continue were it not ecumenical – no one denomination could staff and resource it.

What am I saying? Methodism is where my roots are and provide as much as anywhere can a spiritual base, and it will probably be a label that will be given me when life here ends, but this world is not my home – I am a citizen of heaven. There, everything will be fully ecumenical. There will not be a table and worship for Methodists and separate provision for Anglicans and Catholics and so on ad infinitum. We shall all be one. If that thought appals you, perhaps you’d better opt for another destination. If it doesn’t put you off, then make the most of this life’s chances for getting used to the idea and share and take part in the opportunities for fuller fellowship that Churches Together in Tadcaster will continue to offer.

With much love,

Your Minister and friend,