Ministers Letter – February 2010

Rev. Ray Coates
Dear friends,

The theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been “You are Witnesses”. We’re all familiar with what a witness is – somebody who can give information about what they have seen, heard or experienced. If we had to do that in a court of law, we would, but probably many of us would not be comfortable about it. It sometimes seems as if the same is true when it comes to sharing our Christian faith with others – we do not always find it easy. So I was intrigued to look at the themes for each of the eight days – it’s really an octave rather than a week! They offer opportunities that we may not have thought of, may perhaps with some of them make us think, “I can do that.” Here they are…..
Witness through celebrating life….
Witness through sharing stories – I said at Christmas that we need to find ways of continuing to tell and share the story of the birth of Jesus because people no longer know it in many cases. We also have our own stories to share….
Witness through awareness – this includes awareness of global tragedies and reflecting on how as individuals and as a church we can respond to these. Preparing for a service I looked at the blog of a relief worker from Harrogate that was on the internet and found it very illuminating….

Witness through heritage and tradition – Harvest Festival time has long been an occasion when others are open to our stories, but in recent years things like the Christmas Tree Festival have offered opportunities for us to connect with people…..
Witness through suffering – not an easy one but our faith sustains at such times and may shine through powerfully to others. The way a friend coped with his loss of sight spoke very powerfully to men who knew him as their Prison Chaplain, more powerfully than many of his words….
Witness through faithfulness to the scriptures – what are the passages/stories that mean a lot to you….?
Witness through hope and trust….
Witness through hospitality – something Methodists have always been strong on…..

Among the things that encourage and inspire me are the stories of people who are often unsung heroes. You won’t find them in the limelight, but I often hear of the things they do behind the scenes and many know nothing about their love and caring actions. I could easily write a book about them and with some you might not find them in church services too often, but their witness is powerful and I rather feel God will say something like, “When you did it for such and such a person, it was as if you were doing it for me!” Thinking about it, perhaps their names are already in somebody else’s book, and that’s what counts.

With much love,
Your Minister and friend,