Bryan Coates questioned us at the Anniversary of Romsey Methodist Church about our role and purpose.
Bryan reminded us that Sir David Frost had lived in the nearby village of Michelmersh. In 1962, the BBC broadcast the satirical programme, “That was the week that was” (TW3) for which David Frost was the anchor. Frost was the son of a Methodist minister and in a biography, Neil Hegarty describes the values of Frost’s parents, Wilfred and Mona, as read by Bryan:
[David Frost: That was The Life That Was, Neil Hegarty, W. H. Allen, 2015.]
Bryan relayed these values to our situation in three points, perhaps reminiscent of the three views of the world in The Frost Report.
Socially aware with a keen sense of justice
In this time of benefit cuts, one twist of life can trigger a downward spiral. Bryan commended the film I Daniel Blake as compulsory viewing for Methodists. In that BBC film directed by Ken Loach, Daniel Blake is a 59 year-old carpenter, whose spiral is triggered by a heart attack. Bryan reminded us too that John Wesley’s last letter was sent to William Wilberforce in support of his campaign against slavery, and the National Children’s Home (now Action for Children) was started within Methodism as a response to abject need. Living faithfully and sensitively requires “the Bible in one hand and newspaper in the other”, a quotation attributed to the German theologian, Karl Barth. The current refugee crisis is a powerful demand on us to be aware and to exercise a keen sense of justice.
Bryan lamented that “liberal” is seen as a dirty word in some quarters. But the narrow, restricted view spawns violence and injustice. The Manchester bombing was a shocking example of this, and in Israel the government is influenced by strict sects, leading to policies detrimental to Palestinians. There is an urgent need to engage in open discussion of interpretation of scripture between those with divergent views. We need to work out how to be uncompromising on love, but broad minded on matters.
Evangelical and passionate
Being evangelical and passionate is not about being in one sector of the church but we should all have such characteristics. ALL is the keyword: God’s love is for all people. Paul opened his letter to the Romans to all loved by God:
To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people.
Romans 1:7 (NIV)
He was writing to small groups meeting in a house and in fear from a Roman Empire. We can be put off from Romans by its heavyweight nature, but it is very direct at the start. Paul is convinced that the Good News is for all; he has a passion to bring all people into the life of faith. Some of the classic well-known verses in the Gospels make this abundantly clear:
For God so loved the world that he gave is one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)
and the great commission, as in Matthew:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Bryan concluded by wishing Romsey Methodist Church a happy birthday and asking that these principles be evident in all that we do.