Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Statement from Methodist leaders following the tram derailment in Croydon

It is with great sorrow and concern that we learned the news of the tram derailment in Croydon this morning. It seems unimaginable that people making a simple journey to work, or school or home have been hurt or killed in such a sudden and tragic way.

Local church leaders are ready to help in any way that they can and prayers will be offered in churches across Croydon and London in the days to come. Church members use the tram regularly because it is reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly and this is a very sad day for the whole community in Croydon.

The prayers and thoughts of Methodists in London are with the injured and with the families and friends of those who have died. We remember with thanks the emergency services and their tireless efforts to save life and to bring comfort.

The Revd Peter Clarke – Superintendent of the Croydon Circuit of the Methodist Church
The Revd Nigel Cowgill – Chair of the London District of the Methodist Church

The Revd Michaela Youngson – Chair of the London District of the Methodist Church
Reflection and prayer following the USA Presidential Election

From the Chairs of the London District of the Methodist Church

Following a fractious and divisive campaign, the results of the election are in and the world has woken up to the news that Donald Trump is President-Elect of the United States of America.

For many this is a victory, and the pundits and commentators will spend months speculating on what motivated voters to make the choices that they did. There will be those who feel vindicated and a sense of freedom in what seems like a new era in world politics.

For others the result is frightening and the world feels a less safe place, a place where the vulnerable are not protected and where the new era of politics is merely the same wolf of privilege and power in sheep’s clothing of a different flock.

It feels as if hate has overcome love. As Christians, we know that cannot be the end of the story. Love conquers hate, good overcomes evil, unity is always more Godly than division.
How do we respond to what we see in the world? People of good will and people of faith need to love more, love better and love with more fervour, more passion and more self-sacrifice.

As Methodist people, our tradition is to love like that, to roll up our sleeves and help our neighbour in need, to ask hard questions of the powerful and to be willing to risk our own comfort for the sake of others. It is also our tradition to pray.

A prayer following the 2016 USA Presidential Election
Gracious God
you hold all things together for good
and you long for creation to be restored
and all your people to live in peace.
We pray today for the United States of America
for all who voted in the election,
and for all who chose not to vote.
We pray for those who will take office in government
and for Donald Trump as he prepares to take on the role of President.
Grant all in power and leadership
your gifts of wisdom, compassion and humility
that those governed by them might live in unity and peace.
We pray for your world,
that barriers of hate, prejudice and fear be broken down
and replaced by bridges of love, openness and trust.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

The Revd Michaela Youngson

The Revd Nigel Cowgill
Chairs of the London District of the Methodist Church

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Some pondering on grace.

Theology Everywhere - a weekly blog with a range of contributors reflecting theologically.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

How beautiful you are
(Written for my children some years ago - but seems even more relevant now, particularly the last stanza.)

I catch myself watching you
as you play in the garden,
bend in intense concentration over your latest craft activity,
mess up the kitchen making a sponge cake.
You look up and smile
but if you find I'm watching you too often
you ask what's wrong
and I tell you for the thousandth time that
I cannot believe how beautiful you are.

Amidst mud or glue, or clouds of flour
you giggle and grumble and grin your way through life.

The distance between us grows
but so does the love.
Letting you grow up and be whole
is the hardest of all privileges.

I want to protect you,
to make everything perfect, precise, safe and sound.
I want to heal you, help you, hide you and guide you
but I do you no honour if I make the world
a saccharine place of empty security.

So live a real life, a full life,
a life with scratches and disappointments
that mark the truth of living in abundance.
Live a whole life, a generous life,
a life with ups and downs,
heartaches and joyful celebrations.
Live a human, glorious life,
and fly safe in the knowledge that I will love you
when the landings are smooth and
I will pick you up and love you still when the landings are rough.
Live a real life.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Reflection – two glass panels. Orlando/Good Friday and Lampedusa/Pieta

(First used at the Connexional Leaders Forum of the Methodist Church, meeting in September 2016)

Image 1
I invite you to reflect on two images – these are glass panels and soon I hope to make a third and they will hang in our District Meeting Room at Central Hall. The first was originally to be called ‘Good Friday’ but it came out of the kiln on the morning that the news broke about the massacre of dozens of gay men in Orlando, Florida – so now it is called ‘Orlando Good Friday’. The second image is called Lampedusa pieta.There is something about the geography of grief that grounds it in our experience – place names change their meaning when dreadful events take place there: Dunblane, Piper Alpha, Nice, Paris, Orlando – we seek to glimpse one iota of incarnational love as we ask again and again, ‘Where is God in all this?’We have asked for 2000 years, ‘where was God on Good Friday?’I’ve often bemoaned the fact that Christians dash from the phoney cheers of Palm Sunday to the fulsome cheers of Easter Day, without paying sufficient attention to the narratives of complex love that weave through Holy Week. Yet I only have to watch the news today or any day of the year, to find myself located by the cross; transported again to exist in a constant Good Friday – watching, transfixed, unable to look away. I stand helpless and dazed by the enormity of loss and the reality of crucifixion that is happening every day in our world.Image 2

We keep on asking ‘where is God?’ as the little ones drown in an azure ocean whipped to a grey froth and frenzy.I see a thousand pietas today – the traditional blue of Mary’s robe becomes the turquoise of the Mediterranean and the mothers bend in anguish over their children and the grey robes of needless death overwhelm attempts to bring a glimpse of humanity or divinity in the midst of the chaos.How do we live as people of the resurrection, as people of good news in a world drowning in violence and grief? That is a proper question – not how do we survive and get through each day, somehow keeping a semblance of mental and social health – but how do we choose to live as people of the resurrection? How do we make it real, not for our private, exclusive holy club’s sake, but for the poor, the oppressed, the blind, the lame, the prisoner… for the refugee, the asylum seeker, the voiceless and the condemned?How do we respond to the God of grace, who lies face down on a beach?
How do we respond to the God of love, slaughtered for love’s sake?
How do we respond to the God of peace, who calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves?To what do we choose to pay attention, as people who have moved beyond despair to hope?How do we choose to act as people of resurrection?How do we choose to pray as those who believe in good news?

Monday, 13 June 2016

A fused glass panel formed 12.6.2016
by Michaela Youngson
The news broke yesterday morning. Another bloody Sunday, another 'Mass Casualty Incident', another slaughter of the innocents. You could write the script, the anguish, the courage, the text messages, the community response. The media behave as you would expect. The politicians behave as you would expect. Hate makes headlines, fear makes votes. In the face of such deep distress, such pointless horror, we stand transfixed, silenced, helpless and watch another generation dance the same dance as the last and the one before and the one before.

The panel shown here was originally to be called 'Good Friday' but it came out of the kiln yesterday, on the day that the news broke.  Perhaps there will be new life, a dawn beyond the horizon of grief but for now, for God's sake, we stand as those who looked upon the cross and wonder at a world desperately in need of a new narrative. A thousand pietas could be painted today, of mothers clutching their son's lifeless bodies. A thousand pietas could be painted tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow - until love defeats hate. The blood will flow, mingling with the tears - until love defeats hate. The stories on our screens will burn our eyes blind to compassion - until love defeats hate. Hasten the day - until love defeats hate.

Saturday, 9 April 2016


Reflecting on the Justin Welby story. Impressed by his response but wondering why a journalist thought it his business to investigate and cause pain to people. My own family background is interesting on my Father's side and it is impossible to get to the facts about his parenthood. It damaged him throughout his life. The Archbishop's response hints at healing being found in working out our own identity through the choices we make, rather than in factors entirely beyond our control.