LETTER FROM A MINISTER
I’m a child of the sixties who was brought up by the seaside in Southport on the North West coast. So for me thoughts of holidays inevitably lead to humming ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday’ as I plan a getaway to the beach. Just the thought of wide seascapes, sea air, sand between my toes and ice cream cones can get me into a holiday mood as I reach for my suitcase.
As a probationer Methodist minister I entered the stationing system knowing that the Church would send me to the place where it judged I was needed so there was no advert to answer or interview panel to meet. I was sent and the churches I serve welcomed me because that’s the Methodist way. When I heard I was coming to Milton Keynes it was like being given a blank canvas as I had no knowledge of this part of the country. But one thing I did know was that it’s a contender for being the farthest place in England from the seaside!
But the sea has many faces. It can offer adventure and opportunity or danger and tragedy. For some of us, it means relaxation and fun while for others it is the source of a hard-won livelihood. An inflatable dinghy may provide an afternoon’s light hearted entertainment or be the desperate means of escape in search of safety and a new life. Every day we read of people rescued from unseaworthy boats or the tragedy of the lost lives of those who have drowned. Ordinary men and women fleeing from war who are more terrified of the threat war poses to their children than the uncertainties and danger of taking to fragile boats at night to cross the open sea.
In biblical times the sea was the home of monsters and the symbol of chaos and unpredictability. People were terrified by its dangers and sailors were wary of going out of sight of the land. When ancient people wanted to describe what it was like when God started to create they talked of things being without form like the chaos of sea waters. Out of the chaos God brings form, out of nothing something, out of darkness light. For the disciples Jesus’ authority over the wind and the waves was a sign of his divinity for only God could command the sea and take charge of the deep. Today Christians recognise Jesus as the still centre at the heart of the storms of life, a sign of God’s ultimate grace in a changing and uncertain world. We all need a place of safety when the storms blow and the waves crash down on our lives and we fear we will sink under the weight of our anxieties. At such times God comes alongside us and just as Jesus calmed the storm so he offers us peace and the comfort of his presence. If you want to find out more about the Christian faith then do look around the rest of this website (www.ctnp.org.uk).
In the meantime, I hope this holiday season will be a time of refreshment for you and a time of re-creation whether you are ‘beside the seaside’ in this country or you go further afield in search of sunshine.
Revd Nicola Martyn-Beck
Newport Pagnell Methodist Church