This evening, Thursday 30th April, will see the North Cheshire Circuit's streamed weeknight worship service.
Please come and join us from 7pm at:
You may have seen this striking image – Christ the Redeemer lit up as a tribute to key workers in Brazil. Some people called this disrespectful but I disagree, Jesus was a healer, a teacher and a refugee.
The Thursday night “clap for carers” has become an important feature of our lockdown, a chance to come together to show our appreciation and support for those working on the frontline, many who have come from overseas.
Yet only a short time ago some of our key workers were looked down upon, and called “low-skilled”. Migrant workers were made to feel unwelcome due to the “hostile environment” and some experienced racist abuse.
I was reminded of the following passage:
Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures:
"'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes?' Matthew 21:42
Whilst many of us are staying at home, it is the key workers who are leaving their homes daily at risk to themselves and their families keeping the country going, providing services to ensure that we are fed, safe and protected.
When this crisis is over I hope that we remember this and honour the memory of those who have died by ensuring that we value people for the contribution they make, rather than solely by where they have come from or the material wealth they have.
In the 1963 black and white film “Heavens Above”, Peter Sellers plays a naive but caring prison chaplain, Rev’d. John Smallwood, who is accidentally appointed as vicar to the small and prosperous English country town of Orbiston Parva, in place of an upper-class cleric with the same name, favoured by the Despard family, who practically run the town.
Smallwood begins his ministry, but his strong belief in charity and forgiveness puts him at odds with the locals, who all regard themselves as good Christian people. He creates social ructions by appointing a black dustman as his churchwarden, taking in a traveller family, and persuading local landowner Lady Despard to start a food bank which provides food for the church to distribute free to the needy people of the town.
Very soon the locals turn against him and when he tries to explain his actions to the residents he is besieged in the church hall and only just rescued by the police.
To save the situation, the Bishop appoints the 'original' Smallwood to the parish and “promotes” the 'troublemaker' to the Scottish island of 'Ultima Thule'. He is made 'Bishop of Outer Space' to the British space operations based there. When the pilot of the first rocket gets cold feet, Smallwood takes his place. He is last heard broadcasting a sermon over the rocket's radio and singing the hymn, “Jesu Lover of My Soul, let me to thy bosom fly”!
In a recent joint statement, the church leaders of Britain and Northern Ireland reminded us that, “Wherever we are, whenever we pray, when we speak and think of Christ, there he is in the midst of us.” Today Christ is in the midst of us on the front line, as we diversity our business, in shops as we queue two meters apart, in homes where we discover new tolerances in living more closely together, in the support we receive though a phone call, a bag of shopping or a WhatsApp message, in times of sickness and bereavement.
A little watched, virtually forgotten black and white comedy reminds us of a God who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son, to be in the midst of us, to show us what God is like and to help us to show that same compassion to others.
The song “Filled With Compassion” was recorded live at the Salvation Army’s Regent Hall, Oxford Street, in London on 2nd & 3rd December 1994:
A reflection on God, in the form of an acrostic poem, written while camping underneath the stars:
Interesting and intelligent
Over the top grace
Engaging and exciting
Giving us Jesus
I wrote Altruism as a tribute to a close friend of ours, Margaret Hassan, who was head of Care International in Iraq. In 2004 she was kidnapped and murdered, probably because she was obviously a Westerner.
But it seems that today it speaks of the amazing courage and skills of NHS staff, paramedics, and so many volunteers who also 'give to you'.
In the quiet, a sound is heard
So gentle, you have to reach to hear it.
In the clamour of busy-ness
Amid the explosions of fearful conflict –
Scarcely able to blow out a candle
Comes a voice.
Listen to the sounds of now, and through them,
Within them, sometimes buried beneath, it begins…..
Then it resonates, louder, louder, louder
through earthquakes, and war zones,
through cries of barbarism and indulgence,
it grows –
I give to you.
And when all are satiated with taking, and getting,
and squabbling for more – the voice can still be heard –
I give. To you.
Strangers giving themselves, to
Simple words made real in acts of love –
We are offered the gift – given in love.
There is no reason for us to have it
Except that it makes us stand a little taller
There is no reason for us to be given it
except that each of us is unique
This act of giving speaks still.
It speaks as flickering of light
The act of giving is at the expense
Of energy, health, time and even life itself
Yet it gives nothing but itself
to a people who have everything.
It gives nothing but love
to a people who can’t even love themselves.
It gives hope to people in despair.
It gives with no desire to get anything back.
In the understated quietness
The giving brings forth new life.
Morning Worship for Sunday 26th April, will be streamed online and lead by our Minister, the Reverend Andrew Emison.
The service will start at 10am.
It can be accessed here:
Held on the last week in April, Men’s Sunday was always an inspirational day in the life of the former Five Crosses Methodist Church.
A male voice choir drawn from the churches of the town and augmented by members of the Highfield Male Voice Choir would lead worship, often under the direction of Islwyn Jones, a great Welsh musician and man of faith, who encouraged many to take up singing.
Often at the end of the day the choir would perform “Eli Jenkin’s Prayer”, from Dylan Thomas’s 1954 radio play “Under Milk Wood”, sung to the tune Troyte’s Chant.
Thomas describes how The Rev'd. Eli Jenkins, one of the inhabitants of the fictional Welsh fishing village of Llareggub, prays for its inhabitants, “at the doorway of Bethesda House, the Reverend Eli Jenkins recites to Llaregyb Hill his sunset poem…”
Every morning, when I wake,
Dear Lord, a little prayer I make,
O please to keep Thy loving eye
On all poor creatures born to die.
And every evening at sun-down
I ask a blessing on the town,
For whether we last the night or no
I'm sure is always touch-and-go.
We are not wholly bad or good
Who live our lives under Milk Wood,
And Thou, I know, wilt be the first
To see our best side, not our worst.
O let us see another day!
Bless us this holy night, I pray,
And to the sun we all will bow
And say goodbye - but just for now!
A link to Eli Jenkin’s Prayer Performed by Treorchy Male Voice Choir:
The prayer guide for the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent Methodist District for 2007-2008 contains a beautiful prayer for the former Delamere Forest Circuit, of which Frodsham Methodist Church was part.
It seems especially relevant during this sustained period of good weather that must be helping many to overcome the difficulties of the current situation, occupy time outdoors and to lift our spirits. We thank God not just for the good weather, but for all the other signs of hope around us.
how wonderful it is to be surrounded by so much beauty.
Help us to take time to appreciate and to absorb the wonder of your creation.
Forgive us, O Lord, that so often we go through life at such a pace that we do not take time to be still and allow you to speak to us through the sights and sounds that surround us.
Help us, dear God, not only to see your beauty in the forest and the field, but in the people in the street, in the hospital, in our villages and in our towns.
Give us open hearts to receive and willing hearts to express, the love of Jesus in all we do.
This evening, Thursday 23rd April, will see the North Cheshire Circuit's streamed weeknight worship service.
Please come and join us from 7pm at:
One of the things about this current COVID-19 situation is that I am watching more television than I normally would. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not!
Among the various offerings of increasingly repeat broadcasts was an episode of Songs of Praise last Sunday (available online here for one month) in which Aled Jones visited Strawberry Field in Liverpool and explored the theme of inclusion. It considered socio-economic differences, people with additional needs (learning and physical disabilities) and transgender people.
One of the interviews was with a Methodist Local Preacher in training (the Methodist Church recognises the calling of non-ordained people to preach and lead worship) in Oxford who is deaf and uses sign language from the pulpit: the first completely deaf female Local Preacher in the UK.
It was a moving experience to hear the testimony of people who have, in the past, been excluded from ministry or who have had to hide significant parts of who they are in public to be accepted but today feel able to take an active role in Christian ministry.
And yet, and yet, during the programme the worship song Let us build a house where love can dwell, by the American hymn writer Marty Haugen, was sung. The hymn is positive and forward-looking and reminds us that there is still much to be done in the future. We aspire to be a Church that truly welcomes all, but we are not yet there. In Church more than anywhere else we actually approach God as equals to have a personal relationship with Him.
The Anglican priest Ken Leech who died in 2015 had a ministry in urban London parishes afflicted by poverty and confronted issues of racism and drug abuse among others. In his book Struggle in Babylon: Racism in the Cities and Churches of Britain he writes this:
In worship human persons stretch out their hands and hearts towards God. They do this as a community of equals; redeemed sinners bound for glory. In worship all distinctions of race, class, wealth and so on are done away. Worship cannot be Christian if it is not established on this egalitarian basis. Such worship is a subversive act, rooted in the values of equality and community, the very values that racist philosophies and practices deny.
Ann Loades, who is Professor Emerita at Durham University, in her commentary on this writes that ‘our deep-seated and gut-wrenching terror of those unlike ourselves have to be dealt with inside our ecclesiastical communions before we have the slightest hope of being believed outside them, if baptismal glory, and ourselves being given a new identity in Christ are to mean very much’.
This does not just apply to issues of race. It applies to anyone who is a minority or just different to us. We do not know what to think or how to talk about difference very often. But the good news is we can begin to address this. Scottish minister Nigel Robb, who works with those with dementia, says that, ‘the naming of the illness and the admission that it frightens and concerns us, reduces some of its power to subdue and render us passive and inactive in response… ignorance and fear are perhaps the greatest enemies'. And at present, The Methodist Church in Britain is engaged in conversations that will be difficult for some about what constitutes a marriage and our stance as a Church on same-sex marriages.
In 2018, Frodsham Methodist Church adopted an Inclusivity Statement that begins ‘We welcome everyone whether you are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, rich or poor. We hope that you feel able to belong, whatever your gender, sexuality, mental health, physical health, ability, race or ethnicity’.
What is even more radical about Christianity is that Christ not only came for us all, but he came especially to lift up those who are oppressed and marginalised. As Mary, the mother of Jesus, says:
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty. (Luke 1:52-54)
So, in my view, the message to those currently in the Church is this: let's embrace these difficult conversations that are taking place, whether they be on Songs of Praise, in our churches or anywhere else.
And the message to those who are outside the Church, or who are looking in, is this: you are welcome! The Church is not perfect, but it is a place where all can feel welcome; and all can have a personal relationship with our Creator. In the words of that hymn:
Let us build a house where love can dwell
and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell
how hearts learn to forgive;
built of hopes and dreams and visions,
rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome,
all are welcome,
all are welcome in this place.
Marty Haugen (Singing the Faith 409)
These are not just words to sing, but things to do.
 Leach, K.. (1988), Struggle in Babylon: Racism in the Cities and Churches of Britain
 Loades, A. (1995), Spiritual Classics from the late Twentieth Century
 Robb, N. J. (2017), Dementia Services Development Trust Pamphlet
 In 2014, Frodsham Methodist Church also explored the theme 'Is our Church dementia friendly'
Check out our Calendar for a listing of all events.
Frodsham Methodist Church Sunday 10am Worship on YouTube.
The reflections here are written by members of our congregation.