Our Minister, Rev’d Alma Fritchley, sends the following Message for the month of December 2019 ….
By the time you read this I will have, God willing, been Ordained into the URC and inducted as a Minister at Castle Community Church. I also expect to have started getting to know some of you quite well and those ongoing conversations will be something I cherish.
When I think about the journey that has led me to the wonderful town of Northwich and this exciting new chapter in my life that will take shape at this church, I have had reason to ponder God’s remarkable way of doing things!
When I was young, I attended Methodist church in my hometown of Retford in Nottinghamshire. Happy to go along with my sister, and mum and dad, I learned about the church, my faith and the Bible stories that were in turn exciting or terrifying! I’m thinking in particular of David and Goliath (thrilling stuff) to the murder of the baby boys as Mary and her small family fled to Egypt (horrific, really, especially with my somewhat graphic Children’s Bible story book – not uncommon in those days).
And then of course I hit my teens and the church had to go.
God let me meander my own agnostic way for many years and then, well, God decided on another path for me and like most paths it wandered a bit, had a few dead ends, went down a one-way street the wrong way for a while until finally the penny dropped and God’s tap on the shoulder got rather more insistent.
And I wonder how many people have had a similar experience. That moment when God draws us in, draws us back or even drives us on. Perhaps the story of the Prodigal son resonates a little here. This young chap was headstrong, wanting to forge his own path, forgetting his past and distancing himself from his family to concentrate on the new and exciting adventure that surely just lay ahead.
And though I don’t quite see myself as the Prodigal daughter (an adventurer in that sense I am not!) there are a couple of similarities going on here. That putting aside what has been the bedrock to search for new dreams and fresh ideas. And for our biblical character that ‘go it alone’ adventure that proved to be such a disappointment. The Prodigal son had no idea where his path would lead – though it eventually led him home to safety and acceptance.
And I had no idea where my path with God would lead either. Learn a bit more about the Bible at college? Great. Take on a role as an Elder? Fantastic. Working as a Chaplain in a Care Home? Why not?
All these things were steppingstones on the path to now.
Like countless others, indeed like the young man in Luke’s gospel, God’s steady but insistent encouragement brings us face to face with faith and forgiveness.
I look forward to sharing this continuing expedition with my friends at Castle Community Church, for who knows where it may lead, because when God draws us in, we discover that journeying with God is the biggest adventure of them all.
God bless and God speed!