PASTORAL LETTER FROM MARK CHESTER : 29th JULY 2020

Dear friends

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

One of the things I’ve been doing during lockdown is trying to grow exotic fruit pips. I’ve had very limited success (one mango), this I suspect is partly due to my child- like examining every day to see what was happening. I really ought to know better than that, I need to be patient and not throw them away after a few days.

A few weeks ago my daughter Lydia and her fiancé Edd managed to get married; the Bible reading that I choose for the ceremony was Colossians 3:12-17.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

This I thought is not only good advice for newlyweds but for all relationships, friendships and congregations. Pre lockdown many of us liked to ‘clothe ourselves’ in our Sunday best when we went to church but I wonder how many of us thought to clothe ourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience?

There have been many occasions throughout the 2000 year history of the world- wide church where Christians have thought that their favourite doctrines were more important than what Jesus called the greatest commandment i.e.to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There have also been occasions within the history of the Meon Valley Methodist circuit where there have been situations which have caused unrest amongst us and knowing a little of the way the human personality works I’m sure there will be matters in the future which may cause offence to some. It is especially in these times that we need to remember Paul’s advice on how to maintain our fellowship together. Let’s not be like me with my exotic fruit pips and give up on each other but let us be patient, forgiving and remember that we are all called as one body to live in peace.

I believe the most important message that we can give to our communities at this time is a message that embodies the greatest commandment, to love God and to love our neighbours.

Mark Chester (Circuit Steward)

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