2015 March

March 2015

Dear Friends,

By the time you read this, we will be in the season of Lent. Lent is a time for reflection on our spiritual walk with Jesus, and perhaps doing something different from normal. It has been customary to give something up during Lent as a token of our engaging with the time of fasting that Jesus went through in the wilderness.

However, Lent can be much more than just giving up chocolate, cake or biscuits. It can be an opportunity to do something radically different that takes you out of your comfort zone. Jesus spent forty days very much out of his comfort zone, something that has been continued by mystics and pious  people throughout church history, from those who became hermits and those who wore sack cloth under tbeir clothes to the Celtic monks who would stand up to their neck in the North Sea – please don’t try this on Crosby beach as it is not safe!

There is something very spiritual about the practice and discipline of engaging with life in ways that you have not done before. I remember when at college, spending a day at Manresa House in Birmingham, the spiritual training centre of the Jesuits, learning the art of Ignatian meditation – imagining yourself into the story of Scripture such as a meeting with Jesus, and finding him there in a new way.  It is a discipline that I treasure and have used several times.

This Lent, I am taking myself in a new direction as I set out into Crosby, away from the comfort of Moor Lane Methodist Church and St. Mark’s. I have been challenged as part of work I am doing for college to put myself in a place where I will meet non-Christians. Clearly, I can’t put up a sign saying, ‘Non-Christians only.’ However, I do intend to spend time in Crosby at various locations, with the hope of talking to non-Christians.

I intend to do this through a project I have called ‘Christ in Crosby’ in which I will set myself up with an easel and paints to depict scenes from the Gospel set in Crosby. I can imagine Jesus walking by on the water as the waves drown the Iron Men once again. I can imagine Jesus walking along Moor Lane in the village as he did through various towns in Galilee.

The aim is not the quality of the art – perhaps that’s just as well. I hope that as people stop to look at the art in progress, to work out what it is, even just to comment that they could do better, so we may start talking about the subject matter and perhaps stray on to matters of faith.

Often, we expect others to come on to our ‘turf’, into our buildings to engage with Jesus. That was not how John Wesley worked. In a small way, a bit like him, I will be going to other people’s ‘turf’ where they feel at home, and see if we can talk about Jesus on their terms and to their agenda. If you are interested, you can follow my progress on www.facebook.com/Painting.Christ.in.Crosby.

So what about you? Is there somewhere you go, work, the golf club, the Rotary Club, whatever, where you could start up a conversation and see where it goes, not forcing the issue, but perhaps touching on what Jesus means to you?

That may well be outside your comfort zone, but that is exactly what Lent is all about.

Meanwhile, if you see a strange man walking about Crosby, paint spattered and carrying an easel, come and say, ‘Hello.’

With best wishes,



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