WORD FROM THE MINISTER – REV ANDREW PROUT
Matthew 28: 18-20 – ‘The Great Commission’
And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’.
We are fast approaching our 125th anniversary celebrations and with these in mind May has been earmarked as a month of invitation. This chimes with the origins of the Church when for twelve months the people set on establishing a Church and congregation in Fleetville organized open air services and social events which people were warmly invited to attend. We know for example that in 1893 invitations were sent to local residents for a gathering on Boxing Day which was highly successful. The first official service of the Hatfield Road Methodist congregation took place on 1st August 1894 in an old shoe factory on the corner of Cavendish Road which was rented for £10 a year until the first ‘Iron Church’ was built and opened in 1898 on the land currently occupied by Hatfield Road Social Club. It was then most likely in 1904 that the current site on the corner of Glenferrie Road was secured to pave the way for a larger building.
Through May everyone will be encouraged to hold five people from their circle of friends, family and neighbours in their thoughts and prayers, with a view to inviting each of these five people to one of the services or events taking place during our celebrations. This also draws its inspiration from the international ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative which will be taking place between Ascension Day and Pentecost, during which Christians are encouraged to pray for both the world and the five people God has placed on their hearts to be drawn nearer to God. Prayer and Invitation are two vital aspects of the Christian life. The Gospel itself is invitation. I recall how I would have never ended up in the Church, if a neighbour had not invited my parents, then with a young family to come along to what became my home Church in Exeter. In John Seddon’s 20th Century hymn ‘Go forth and tell’ he writes in the second verse …
Go forth and tell! God's love embraces all; He will in grace respond to all who call:
How shall they call if they have never heard the gracious invitation of his word?
Two hundred years previously Charles Wesley penned the words …
Ye servants of God, your master proclaim, and publish abroad His wonderful name;
The name all victorious of Jesus extol, His kingdom is glorious and rules over all.
Our task as Christian people is made clear not least by Jesus Himself in what has become known as the ‘Great Commission’ in the Gospel of Matthew. So let us in this 125th year be about the work of prayer, invitation, outreach and proclamation. It’s not a one person job. It is a task placed on us all by He who is risen, who ascends to the Heavens and is now seated at God’s right hand.
With every blessing as we give thanks together for years past and remind ourselves of what we must continue to do in making God known.
Rev Andrew Prout.