This week Fr Martin Magill returned to his local Methodist church, Joanmount, for their monthly informal service. He describes a bible-centred meeting that included lots of discussion and singing, as well as a chance to reacquaint himself with people he has met in the neighbourhood.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: Joanmount Methodist Church
This weekend I chose to attend one of the informal Sunday evening services in Joanmount Methodist church, which is my local Methodist church. The minister Rev Stephen Thompson had recently introduced these once-a-month services. One of the things I really liked about the experience was walking into the church having already met a number of the other people at the service in other places.
The opening hymn “Light of the World” was introduced by Jordan, a young member of the congregation, who led the singing. Stephen then welcomed us to this fourth such service and began with prayer.
He then introduced the topic – “is the Bible a lot of waffle?”
He asked this in the context of technological advances. After raising some more questions, we were then invited to discuss in small groups those things which we found hard to believe in the Bible. In the feedback, people talked about the question of pain and suffering, the battles, the destruction of human life, the rules and regulations, the miracles e.g. the parting of the Red Sea, the feeding of the 5,000, Jonah in the belly of a whale and such like. Stephen then played a short video with the hymn “Surrender,” which featured a conversation between a woman and Jesus. We then sang: “Strength will rise”.
Afterwards, Stephen presented us with some hidden facts from the Bible and suggested the book is full of hidden treasure.
He gave us the example of the 12 tribes of Israel around the tabernacle and the clans within the tribes and their names in English – Man, Lion, Eagle, and Ox. He told us that the people of Israel camped around the tabernacle in the shape of the cross and explained that this can be seen as the New Testament concealed in the Old Testament. He then went on to point out that in the book of Genesis, in chapter 5, there is a long list of Hebrew names, which when translated into English contains the central message of the history of salvation culminating in Jesus Christ. Stephen argued that the Bible is well written and completely connected and that everything is connected for a reason: in short, we have a book that God has designed. We then sang the final hymn “The splendour of a King clothed in majesty” and Stephen finished with a final prayer. Afterwards, I chatted to some of the young people at the service and encouraged them to come to the www.haasshope.com event.