Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience whilst our building project is going ahead and check for news on the Building Work page.
It is a tradition that our Minister writes a letter every month which is printed in our magazine, "The Messenger". Here is Deacon Marilyn's letter from the March edition.
The beginning of Lent is a good time for us all to reflect on what the future holds.
The book Refocussing the Vision: Religious Life into the Future by Barbara Fiand, a sister of the Order of Notre Dame de Namur (a French Roman Catholic Order dedicated to providing education) uses the term 'crisis place' to describe the place many religious communities (like the Methodist Diaconal Order and others who live by a rule of life) find themselves most times in delivering their ministries, and speaks of this as being a place of challenge which is not always pleasant. Yet she goes on to state that a 'crisis place' can also be a turning point, and a sign of health and normality.
This made me think of where we are at this time at Four Oaks with the building works and the challenges that come with it. I was reflecting on how our response to this 'Holy Disruption' (as I call it) or 'crisis place' (as Barbara Fiand calls it) can turn a place of challenge into a place of invitation, a new beginning, transformative and creative in our approach and response to our community, as we aim to be a "Beacon of Light".
A turning point! A Holy Opportunity! Although I trust most of us may not consider the building works and all the inconveniences endured at this time as a 'crisis place,' I acknowledge the sense of frustration in our conversations. Fiand suggests that to transform and enable 'Holy Opportunity' we should move away from seeing such challenges with the eyes of anxiety and fear, as that would make challenge into a place of dis-ease and dis-quiet, resulting in loss of flexibility and stifling creative thoughts. I am thankful we have not gone down this route. Instead I want to acknowledge the opportunity of interaction that this 'Holy Disruption' has created of having refreshments after service in the Sanctuary. People staying after service to have conversations and sometimes a hot drink, talking to people they would normally walk past en-route to the hall. I thank God, and long may it continue.
So, we begin this season of Lent with its invitation to visit the wilderness - that place of ambiguity - which Scripture tells us is not only a place of danger but also a place of salvation. As we, in our personal preparation and prayers and in our corporate life as Four Oaks Methodist Church, prepare for what God is going to do in our community in Sutton Park Circuit and within the wider Methodist family, let us: learn from the saints and trust in the God of all truth; listen to and orientate ourselves towards the One who calls us and serves us; witness to God's faithfulness among us by the way we live and interact with others, creation and self; live without fear of the future, knowing the One who calls is the promise keeper. Let us commit corporately to seeking to be our best self, a creative, mature and confident community of God's people.
In this season of Lent, and going forward, let us be prepared to respond to Holy Opportunities!
Shalom for the season and the journey ahead.
Deacon Marilyn Slowe