Minister's Monthly Message
Greetings to you wherever you are. 2024 has stuck its tongue out at us. With weather ranging from soggy wet to freezing cold, and with one day utterly different from every other, we seem set for a year of ups and downs, ins and outs, a real omelette of a year. And this may be true as we anticipate so many small and big changes in the life of our circuit and our churches this year.
At the beginning of this another year, I hope and pray we will all have good health, and that those of us who are lonely or grieving will find companionship. I hope none among us are heartbroken in this year. I hope we will attract the curious and the longing into our worship, and have the generosity to greet them. I hope our children flourish, and we are more able to nurture them and their parents. I hope we find easy ways of doing church life that do not keep us all indoors with meetings, and do make us leap out of bed when Sunday comes.
February is the month of love – St Valentine plays his part in all of that. It’s also the turning point between winter and spring. This is the season when the trees are being pollarded getting ready for new growth and development. No doubt, soon they will be bursting into colour. And I think there’s a lot we can learn from this season, a time to get ready for new things that God will inspire to bring and set our minds with positive anticipation of the coming seasons.
This year, Lent starts early, as early as on Valentine’s Day, and let me share a funny story about this season: “I’m giving up negativity for Lent. We’ll see how long that lasts.”
I think this joke tells us how easy it is (and how difficult it is to avoid) to dwell on the negativity in life. In recent weeks, in our circuit staff meetings we shared how important it is to hold onto positivity, a positive mind and a glimpse of God and His work in us, within all the challenges we often face in our daily endeavour to follow Jesus and serve his church. And this is what we will affirm once again at the Circuit Ash Wednesday Service this year which will be held at Ilford at 7pm; the sign of ashes on our forehead, the negative symbol often related to our mortality and sins, when they gain the shape of a cross, become something forever positive, the love of Christ. At the heart of this season, there is Christ who chose love no matter what the world threw at him. That love was for everyone, no matter what. That love is stronger than fear. That love awakens and revives. That love encourages us to dwell on, and tune more deeply into, what Jesus has restored in us by giving up his life for us on the cross, the image of God’s perfect love in us.
We will end this season as we invite all our churches to come together for evening sessions at 7.30pm during Holy Week (from Monday to Thursday) on ‘sensing the passion of Christ’ led by Mmasape. There will be no weekly study sessions during Lent in anticipation of the weekly study sessions on Acts from Easter to Pentecost. More details on these will be published nearer the time.
So friends, as we embrace another beginning of this blessed season in our tradition, let us embrace this gentle and loving nudge over Lent, the sign of Christ, who is our redeemer and saviour. Christ, who brings his perfect love to us has power and grace enough to drive our own fear/worry or negative thinking and gives us courage and strength to still follow him on his way to the cross, encouraging us to carry our own, and Christ will continue to journey with us until the work of his love is accomplished in our lives.
The Lord bless you and bless you kindly,
Barking, Dagenham and Ilford Circuit
We are a friendly family of nine churches and one community centre: Barking, Ilford, Goodmayes, Gantshill, Barkingside, The Drive, Seven Kings, Beacontree Heath and Old Dagenham Methodist Churches and Grange Hill Methodist Church Project. We serve communities across Barking, Dagenham and Ilford with membership that spans all ages. Our members come from many different countries and backgrounds and we aim to help everyone feel at home. We are part of the wider Methodist Church in Britain and belong to London District of the Methodist Church. The Circuit oversees, supports and resources local churches in living out our mission and calling. Our Circuit office is located at Beacontree Heath Methodist Church. Methodist Circuits are also grouped into Districts, and this Circuit comes under the London District (headquarters in Westminster).
To be welcoming congregations where all (young, families and elderly) grow in the knowledge, love and service of Christ; speaking and living out a unified vision of God’s kingdom within the BDI Circuit in line with “our calling” in the Methodist Church.
To seek to enable its local churches to respond to the Gospel of God’s love in Christ and to live out its discipleship in worship and mission. The Circuit endeavours to realise this policy through managing its resources effectively, stimulating vision and encouraging mission initiatives.
Growth in our Spiritual life through