Rev Raj Patta also has a blog: ThePattasblogspot
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church,
Advent seasons’ greetings to you all. When do we start Christmas? Well, this year I had my first Christmas sandwich from our local Martins in October, and ever since then it has been Christmassy with plans for Advent, carols and other services. The Methodist Church’s Advent theme for 2023 ‘Out of the Ordinary’ is an invitation to recognise that the birth of Jesus Christ, the saviour of the world, takes place out of the ordinary, inviting us to recognise the pitching of God’s tent in our ordinary places and spaces.
The global context of the war and violence in Israel Gaza has disturbed me a lot, challenging me to think what is the relevance of the birth of Christ in such a violent context? How silent is the “Silent night holy night” in which our saviour Jesus Christ takes his birth? Perhaps with war, bloodshed, killings, kidnaps, bombs, airstrikes, loss of lives particularly of children, intense military engagements, Christmas 2023 is wrapped around the ugly sights of the ‘violent nights.’ It was reported in the news that a group of 28 premature babies from Gaza have been evacuated to Egypt for medical care to survive, crossing the borders in the incubators. These sights remind me that when Jesus was born, he was “wrapped in swaddling clothes and was laid in a manger as there was no room in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Saviour Jesus Christ identifies today with these children in his birth and invites us to care and save children in their vulnerable situations like that of war and violence. Maybe ‘incubators’ in that war zone are the modern ‘mangers’ that calls our attention to know that Jesus’ birth finds its relevance in saving children from dangers and death.
I will be leading an Advent course online on the theme ‘out of the ordinary’ on every Thursday at 7pm starting on the 30th November till 21st December and those of you who are able to join are invited to come along to collectively reflect on this theme. Details of the zoom link are in this newsletter. We also have planned services for carols, nativity and Christingle, please do join in those services. We also have a thanksgiving service on the 31st Dec at 4pm at our church, to thank God for 2023 and to wait on God to step prayerfully into 2024.
My prayers and thoughts are with those who are unwell among us, and may God’s healing and peace be with them. My continued prayers for the future of our church so that we continue to be a worshipping church, a welcoming church and a witnessing church.
May you all have a blessed season of Advent and have a meaningful time at Christmas with friends and families.
Thanking you all,
Raj 22nd November 2023
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church,
The peace of God which passes all understanding be with you all. I join you all in rejoicing for what God has been doing through our church. We had a fabulous church BBQ last Sunday, and thanks to all who worked hard in organising it, despite the rain playing hide and seek. We have had some good feedback from people who have attended it, and we have all recognised how important is food and hospitality in building communities. There has been a very positive vibe at the BBQ. Also at our open church conversation last month, we have now agreed that we will have food after church once a quarter, again an attempt to strengthen our fellowship and friendship.
Food and hospitality are not only a good community building activity, but are also deeply spiritual and theological motifs. Jesus was always busy with hospitality, either feeding people, or eating together not just with his mates but even with tax collectors and sinners. The whole idea of ‘eucharist,’ which was Jesus’ last supper with his disciples is centred around food. And today, when we gather for the ‘holy communion’ let us not forget that we are called to dine with Jesus, receive Jesus through the bread and wine and go out to be like Jesus sharing and caring for people around us, particularly those that are hungry and thirsty. So, my prayer and hope is that we as a church will be a feeding church, a church offering hospitality and to be a church advocating for food justice in the context of growing hunger and poverty in our context today.
This summer, the Biblical image I want you to reflect about is from a dream where prophet Amos had from God as recorded in Amos 8:1-12, which is a ‘basket of summer fruit.’ It is interesting to notice that the sight of a basket of summer fruit leads Amos to prophesy that the time is coming for a famine in their land, a famine not of bread or a thirst of water but of hearing the words of the Lord (11v). In this vision, we recognise that the image of a basket of summer fruit is not about prosperity or about exceeding harvest, or justifying the acts of the rich and greedy, rather is about justice and famine of God’s word to the people in that land. In situations of justice, God’s word flourishes like a basket of summer fruit, and in situations of injustice there is a famine of God’s word. In other words, wherever God’s word flourishes, justice thrives, and wherever justice is practiced, God’s word comes to life and fruition.
May you all have a good summer and the warmth and sunshine of this season refresh and rejuvenate our bodies, minds and souls. I also want to thank you all for your prayers during this my re-invitation process, and await on the Spirit of God to lead and guide me in all my future endeavours for the reign of God here on earth. Come September 2023, with the new Connexional year, let us pray that there will be new possibilities and new avenues for us as a church to work and engage with. May the Spirit of God strengthen and support each of us in offering our gifts to the life of the church and may God’s presence always accompany us in the journeys of our lives.
Thanking you all, Yours in Christ, Rev. Dr. Raj Bharat Patta, 18th July 2023
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church,
Grace and peace to you all in the name of our saviour Jesus Christ. Trust you are all doing well and enjoying the sunshine.
During the months of March and April this year, as you all know I spend some time at Edgeley Community Church trying to get to know people and the context. It has been quite a learning experience and we are praying and working towards ensuring the continuation of Christian presence in Edgeley through the church. There is a thriving Hong Kong Christian fellowship flourishing at Edgeley Community Church and we are praying that it will continue to offer pastoral care and spiritual support to the Hong Kongers living in Stockport.
As many of you know I am in the process of re-invitation in our circuit. This has been a time of discernment for me, exploring the call of God in my life at this given time and context. Appreciate you all for your prayer support and praying that God will help me in listening to God’s voice and to be continuously led by the ‘hand of God’ in my ministry.
When I think of the call of God, it is God who calls us to God’s work. God calls us all according to God’s grace and not based on human merits. When Jesus called his first disciples, it was a moment of surprise to them, for Jesus called them from fishermen to be ‘fishers of people’. The next question is how do I know the call of God in my life at this time? Well, God continues to speak to us in various diverse forms and methods. God has been speaking to me through the Word of God, through hymns, through prayers, through friends, through churches, through community and various other ways. For in the book of Hebrews it is written, “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.” (Hebrews 1:1-2) God is speaking to us ‘by’ a Son, ‘by’ Jesus Christ, which is to say that God is speaking to us by the incarnation, life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. So, listening to the voice of God by Jesus is the key in our discernment of God’s call in the journey of faith. So as a church, we celebrate the festival of Pentecost and the season of Holy Trinity in the coming days, and may we seek God’s help in discerning God’s call in our lives, for God calls to us to diverse ministries in diverse settings. Let us explore our gifts and let us bring to God for the service of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
May you all have a blessed summer and enjoy the gift of life making God the centre of our lives. I also thank God for the various ways God has been working at Heaton Mersey. We had a fabulous Easter event in April and thanks to our friends who are continuing to worship at our church, for they bring so much love and strength to the life of our church. I am also very happy the way monthly mid-week communions are shaping up at our church, and it is good to see so much happening in the life of our church through family church, through play time, through crafts and chat, through Bible studies, through Holiday at home and through various other community engagements. Let us continue to celebrate God’s goodness in and through the life of our church.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Raj Patta, 23.05.2023
Grace and peace to you all dear Heaton Mersey Methodist church. As we step into the second month of the New year 2023 (the newness of the new year starts to fade as it enters its second month) we continue to thank God for God’s consistent faithfulness to each of us in our journeys of life.
The last two months have been quite demanding at work with lots of hospital visits and funeral services, besides ministerial and theological commitments. Having done many funerals this season, I have been reflecting on the meaning of life in the light of death. As some of you know, one of the most grieving incidents this season was when one of our Indian friends who was working as a nurse in North Manchester died right after Christmas at the age of 28 fighting cancer for five years. Thanks to the generosity of friends all over, who stood by us and supported us as we were able to send her to her home town in India for her funeral in the presence of her family members.
In all of this what I have learnt is, life is a gift of God, and each one of us are called to live it well to the best of our abilities and capabilities, for life returns back to God at death. One of my friends have asked me at funerals should you not talk about Jesus’ life rather than Jesus’ death? Perhaps it is important to talk about Jesus’ new life in his resurrection which followed his death and his life. Jesus offers hope of new life and that’s the strength of Christian faith in facing the mystery of death. Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian contemporary writer and philosopher writes to mention these words on his epitaph: “He died while he was still living.” This is to say that he was busy living life and death came along and met him when he was still living. The call for each of us is to get busy living out life in all its fullness seeking hope on Jesus our anchor and face the event of death. As Christians we are called to live our lives courageously, unafraid of death, for death is inevitable, so is resurrection and new life in Jesus Christ.
The season of Lent begins from 22nd February and may we spend this Lent drawing nearer and nearer to the Cross of Jesus Christ, which is a foolishness to many but the power of God to us.
I seek your prayers as I begin to discern the calling of God in my life, waiting to be led by the hand of God in all my future ministerial and missional engagements. On a more personal note, I am excited to inform you that my PhD research is now being published into a book and will be released in March 2023. The title of the book is Subaltern Public Theology: Dalits and the Indian Public Sphere, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) Thank you all for all your support and encouragement.
May God’s love and mercy embrace each of us and may God’s healing and peace be with all of us so that we can bring more meaning to our lives and add meaning to the lives of the people we meet and bring glory to God.
Raj Bharat Patta
24th January 2023
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church,
Hope you are all doing well and trust you all had a good summer. As the nation is mourning the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II, we thank God for her life and services and also uphold in prayer the bereaved family and the nation at a time like this. Our prayers also go with King Charles III, for his leadership and service to the nation.
September has been quite a busy month at work with the start of a new Methodist Connexional year. We had a welcome service for Deacon Janet Amey, who has joined our ministry team in the circuit. Let me take this opportunity to welcome Janet as she accompanies us in the ministry with our church.
We had our synod meeting last Saturday, and it was a delight for JoAnne and myself to lead the opening worship on the theme of church at the margins. I had the opportunity of solemnizing two weddings this month. I also had the opportunity of leading the funeral service of Sheila Lowe who found peace and solace at our church. We had our circuit meeting this week. The six-week discipleship course offered by the circuit has also begun. We also had our leadership team meeting online. Starting this month, I will also have the pastoral charge of Edgeley Community Church and seek your prayers for my ministry.
I also should share that we had a lovely time visiting India in August and thank you for all your prayers. It was such a good time for us to spend time with family and friends in India after four years and we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. The hardest part of our India trip is bidding farewells and saying good byes to family and friends. We returned back to Stockport to receive good GCSE results of Jubi and we are happy for his results for he was able to get the subjects he wanted to do in the sixth form.
As we step into the month of October, let us reflect on our call to Christian discipleship, for Jesus is inviting us to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow him. Perhaps it’s time for us to reflect on the things that we need to deny in ourselves and put the needs of the others as a prime focal point and take up the cross of suffering and follow Jesus the liberator. Following Jesus is not about an inward looking into ourselves rather an outward calling in serving the needs of creation and people around us. Let us keep celebrating Christian discipleship in our lives and ask God to empower us with God’s Spirit so that Christian discipleship is felt and recognised meaningfully in our society.
Kindly pray for the mission engagements of us all as a church so that we make the gospel of Jesus Christ relevant for our times.
May God’s blessings be with you and may the peace and grace of our God go with you all.
16th September 2022
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church,
May the peace and grace of the risen Jesus Christ be with you all. Trust you all had a good time at Easter. April has been one of the most happening months with lots of activities across the circuit. The Yurt which was put up at Mersey Way was a great experience, listening to lots of conversations and making contacts with people out in the public square. The open-air Circuit Palm Sunday service at St. Peter’s square in the centre of Stockport was another great occasion for us to be out in the public space to worship and witness together. The distribution of Easter cards in the neighbourhood of the Heatons was well received, and we have had some positive feedback about the cards. The Heatons Good Friday Walk of Witness was very well attended with people from all our local churches participating in the walk and in the service afterwards. Our mid-week Communion service on the Good Friday also went well, for these mid-week communion services have now become one of the regular features with good attendance. We also had a good time at the Easter egg hunt at our church. Thanks to all who have participated in all of these events and for supporting them in various ways. Appreciate it a lot.
We have been asking people to help us with the various roles at the church, and thanks to people who have signed up for certain roles. We still need people who can take on the roles, and if you are able to please do let us know. We are also sending the call out in this newsletter for your kind perusal. In our moving forward as a church, we need volunteers to help us, and please be considerate in taking on some roles.
In this post-Easter period, it is important to think and reflect on the life and witness of our church. At the first Easter, the women saw the unexpected event of the grave stone rolling away and finding an empty tomb. When they were perplexed, the women heard the voice of ‘why were they finding the living among the dead?’ And having experienced the spirit of resurrection, the women went and proclaimed the joy of the gospel to the men disciples, who discounted and discarded the news of the risen Lord as ‘idle tale’ or ‘nonsense.’ So as a church, it is important to carry this spirit of resurrection to people around us in being and becoming channels of life giving. We as a church are called to be signs of hope in situations of life-denying forces, for the living and risen Jesus Christ can only live and dwell among the living communities. Therefore, resurrection invites us to introspect the life-giving spirit of our church and of our Christian discipleship. In what ways are we as a church offering life-giving and life-enabling opportunities to people around us? It is important for us to make the resurrection of Jesus Christ an activity of the present. May we as a church invoke such resurrection spirit and be relevant and meaningful for our context today.
On a personal note, it will be five years this summer, since I started to work in the Heatons and in the Stockport circuit, and therefore have begun to discern to where the Spirit of God is leading me in my ministerial and mission engagements. As I prayerfully discern this process, I seek your prayers and would appreciate your support in my discernment process. May you all have a blessed month of May.
Thanking you, Regards, Rev. Dr. Raj Bharat Patta
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church,
Grace and peace to you all in the name of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
The season of Lent begins from 2nd of March this year, and for the next forty days we are invited to reflect on the passion of Jesus Christ and his journey to the Cross. I remember as a child, we attended Lenten cottage prayers for forty days at different houses of our congregation members, reflecting on the story of the events of the Cross. It has an indelible impact on my life, and every year as Lent approaches I am nostalgic of those times, and prepare meditations on the Cross. I would encourage all our church community to spend some time in prayer and reflection during this season of Lent, understanding the meaning and relevance of Jesus death on the Cross, and on the gift of salvation that Jesus offers to each of us. Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” These words of Jesus are poignant to each of us, for the first condition of Christian discipleship is to ‘deny oneself’, which is to deny ‘self’, for it was said, “love is selflessness and self is lovelessness.” In other words, the condition to follow Jesus is to give love a chance in our lives, which is about denying our ‘self.’ Next Jesus says, ‘take up their cross daily’, which is about carrying each of our cross experiences along with us, not just ‘once for all’ but daily. Thirdly, it is about ‘following Jesus Christ,’ for the world today offers many things to follow, but following Jesus Christ is the most important calling, and especially during this season of Lent, let us ponder on our Christian discipleship in light of this verse and let us remain faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As a church we thank God for all those people who support the mission and ministry of our church in various ways. We are grateful for their time, for their gifts and for all their efforts. In our moving forward as a church, we do need more people to share the roles and responsibilities. We as church council and as leadership team have been thinking about it, and can I please request people in our church to take on some responsibilities so that we can share and support one another. Volunteering is a call of God, and if any of you think you are able to offer some support, please do speak to one of our leadership team.
On Palm Sunday, which is the 10th of April, the circuit is planning to have a joint outdoor service at St. Peter’s square in the centre of Stockport, and may I invite all our church friends to kindly participate in it, as it this is an opportunity for united public witness in the public sphere. On Good Friday, which is the 15th of April, we have the walk of witness as Heatons Churches, and may I also invite our church friends to partake in it if you are able to as it is yet another opportunity for a united public witness.
In the last two months, we are glad to have had two baptism services in our Church, which is very encouraging. Let us keep praying for these children and their families so that they will be nurtured in Christian faith. Let us keep praying for all our church friends, and let us support one another, and care for each other. My prayer for our church is that we continue to be a worshipping church and witnessing church, living out our faith relevant to the realities of life in our communities. May God’s peace and blessing be with you all. Have a blessed season of Lent.
Raj Bharat Patta
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church,
December is here again, for some the last month of 2021 has come too quick and for some others it has been a long year with lockdowns, isolations and vaccinations. However, we as faith community are called to offer our thanks and gratitude to our God for God’s consistent faithfulness and grace throughout the year. As we reflect on this year 2021, all we can say is great has been God’s faithfulness towards us as a church. The way our church building was open for public worship in March 2021 when the restrictions of lockdown were relaxed, it provided hope for several people. When singing inside the church building was not allowed for it has impacts for the rise of infections, gathering out at the car park for the last hymn to sing aloud offered not only a sense of collective worship but also a sense of public witness, for which we thank God. Along with Heaton Moor United Church we collected food for school pantry and provided food at our local schools as our help in addressing holiday hunger was also commendable, for which we thank God. Our Sunday services on Zoom during the thick of lockdown was also a ray of hope in connecting us with God and with one another in that virtual fellowship. Our monthly mid-week communion services also proved to be very helpful for people who have been in isolation and we thank God for such grace. After almost 18 months we had our first café worship in November, we thank God for it. We thank God for the services of Tracy till summer and thank God for Sarah Rose who began her role as church and community worker at our church. We thank God for new friends who started to worship with us at our church. We thank God for all the pastoral visits and phone calls that happened during the year. We thank God for the church Barbeque in the summer. We thank God for the eco-visions of our church. We thank God for the Family church. There are several other things we are thankful to God during this year in the life of our church. God’s grace has been sufficient in our lives.
As we step into yet another season of Advent, into a new church liturgical calendar, we are invited to wait in hope on Jesus the Messiah, for our hope comes from Jesus Christ. For me, Christmas is not the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ, which we as Christians commemorate year after year, but Christmas is an opportunity to recognise that Jesus Christ is being born every day into our contexts offering hope, peace, joy and love to us, making the birth of Jesus relevant for our times. Christmas is not just a past thing, but is an event in the present where God in Jesus is taking birth in situations of poverty, exploitation and marginalisation of our times today. The story of Christmas is very radical that it unsettles the very idea of God who reigns from the realms of transcendence, but who came down to pitch God’s tent among the creation, being born as a baby, born as a poor baby, born in a manger as there is no place in the inn. May we as church like Jesus, be willing to pitch our tents among communities, sharing the love of Christ with people around us.
I wish you all a meaningful season of Advent, wishing you all a very inspiring Christmas and wishing you all a happy new year 2022. May Jesus Christ direct our ways. May Jesus Christ increase and abound in love for one another and may Jesus Christ guide us all to be like Jesus and make our world a better place to live in love. Happy Christmas!
Raj Bharat Patta
23rd November 2021
May God’s mothering love and care be with you all. Trust you are all doing well.
This week, last year in 2020, the World Health Organisation has announced Covid as a global pandemic, and it has been a year since we have all been coping with it.
This week I attended the Jewish Strategic group meeting of the North West region, and it was quite interesting to learn their involvements in the community. It is good to learn the contributions of various faith communities for the cause of community, sharing love and care for one another.
We also had our circuit leadership team meeting this week, discussing the future of few churches, and we appreciate your prayers. I also had a pastoral mission walk with a friend this week, and if any of you fancy a walk for a pastoral conversation, do let us know so we can do one.
You can read the reflection for this week on John 3:16 on this link:
Next week, we have our Circuit meeting and seek your prayers for all the Churches in the Circuit.
As you will know our church will reopen for worship next Sunday, which is 21st of March and we seek you prayers for it.
May we all have a meaningful week and stay blessed.
With warm regards,
13th March 2021
Trust you are doing well. May God’s love and grace be with you all. With the onset of Spring, I am sure it brings some cheer and joy with the flowers blooming in the gardens and parks.
Thanks to people who are joining on zoom for Sunday worship services and also for circuit Lenten Bible studies on Wednesdays on zoom. We also had our church council this week, and the council have voted to reopen the church building for worship on the 21st of March, and you will receive more details about it.
This week we had our staff meeting where we had the opportunity to share and discuss our work during these tough times. As lockdown eases out, we are making plans for our mission engagements. We also had a planning meeting of Stockport Interfaith about an interfaith vigil on the 22nd March for the National Day of Reflection, which is marked on the first anniversary since the national lockdown. We will share more details in the days to come. On the 8th of March, people across the world celebrate it as International Women’s Day, and kindly think of women, and celebrate their contributions for the church and society. Kindly also remember women globally, who are still suffering under patriarchy and other forms of violence and offer your prayers for them. We are called
to celebrate all genders as equally created in the image of God.
Let us uphold those that are sick among us in our prayers. Kindly take time in the week to give a call to a friend we haven’t spoken for a while. Let us also pray for students who will be returning back to
school from 8th of March after lockdown and also offer your prayers for teachers and all those working at schools.
You can read the reflection for this week on this link:
May the peace of Christ be with you all have a meaningful season of Lent and enjoy the Spring.
With warm regards,
6th March 2021
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist
Lenten Seasons’ greetings to you all.
Grace and peace to you in the name of the Lord and Liberator Jesus Christ. Hope you all had a good week. With the roadmap for the easing of lockdown being announced this week by the Prime Minister, let us hope and pray that it will not be too long before we can all meet in person at Church.
Thanks to all who have been joining at our circuit zoom service every Sunday, and they will continue to be offered. Thanks also to those of you who have joined for our circuit Lenten Bible Study on the Life changing stories reflections of the Church Action on Poverty. These Lenten studies will be held on every Wednesday till the 24th March 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom, and you are invited to join them.
This week I was attending a Connexional mission committee, and it was good to meet others across the Connexion who have been engaging in various forms of mission. Mission of God is diverse and we are called to affirm and celebrate it. We also had a good meeting of ‘Friends of Stockport Interfaith’ on Tuesday, and heard from our Stockport Council the various opportunities for faith communities to work with the local authorities. There are some follow-up plans from that meeting, which we will share in due course of time.
You can read the reflection for this week on this link:
alternatively if you want to listen to it you can find it on this
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/3D1FMtO1nWo
Some of you may be aware that in recent weeks there have been emails perpetrating to be from Methodist Ministers asking for help. This week few people received a similar text message on my name with a different number and the text was signed off differently to how i would end a message. If you receive a text message or email and are in doubt please contact the me directly directly, alternatively please contact with other people who can verify if a Minister has changed their details. To report suspicious emails please forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at email@example.com If you receive a suspicious text message, there will be a way to report it via your device. Alternatively, you can copy the message and send to 7726
Let us keep praying for one another, and specially for children as they plan to return to schools from the 8th of March.
May God’s peace be with you and may you have a meaningful season of Lent.
With warm regards,
28th February 2021
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church,
Lenten Season’s greetings to you all.
As we enter into yet another season of Lent, and for a second time in the Pandemic, we are called to take this time in seeking ways in translating the meaning and message of the Cross relevant for our times today. As I think of Lent, I remember my childhood days, where we as a family attended Lenten cottage prayer meetings for all the forty days, meditating on the entire story of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Year after year we were longing for those forty-day meditations, and it was such a spiritual exercise in understanding the meaning and message of Cross. Those were the days we had power outage, and so we had carried a petromax lantern every evening as we gathered for these cottage prayers, and that lantern served as a symbol for our Lent. That symbol, ‘Lenten Lantern’ has had a huge impact on me, and every year during the season of Lent I think of that image, where it shed so much light, for Cross offers light and grants strength in facing the challenges of life. I was also told, when electricity wasn’t still a reality, my grandfather and my grandmother who served as a local catchiest/evangelists always carried a ‘lantern’ whenever they went on to the cottage prayer meetings and visits. So, for this season of Lent, when we are still in the lockdown because of the pandemic, I want to bring up this image, ‘lantern’ to symbolise Lent, for the Cross of Jesus Christ serves as a lantern, bringing us light and hope in our own contexts today. May you all have a meaningful season of Lent. The circuit is offering Lenten Bible studies on every Wednesday on Zoom, which is on the ‘Life Changing Stories’ from the Book of Acts. Please do join in those studies.
Thank you all for joining in the Mission open evening that we had last month to discuss the way forward in our mission work. As it was emphasised, community, pastoral support and worship happens to be the core mission priorities for our church, and let us wait on God for God’s leading so that we will continue to be a missional church, sharing the love of Christ to all people in our neighbourhood. Please keep in prayer for the future of our church.
If it wasn’t for lockdown, we as ‘Heaton Churches Together,’ would have had a ‘walk of witness’ for Good Friday, but unfortunately we are not able to do it in the current circumstances. However, can I please encourage each of us to spend that day in prayer for the Heatons.
In the context of the vaccines now being rolled out, we are thinking of this idea of ‘Twinning your Vaccine,’ where those of us who have received the vaccine can twin our vaccine with people who cannot afford a vaccine in the poorer countries by paying for the two jabs we receive, through the Covax programme of the Unicef. By joining in this ‘Twinning your vaccine’ programme, we can show our care, our service, our friendship and our support to people living in the Global south, and we can strive in ensuring towards making the vaccine available and accessible to all people in all countries. If you feel prompted to support this idea, do contact me or Tracy.
May God continue to journey with us during this season of Lent, and may we draw nearer and nearer to the Cross of Christ. The resurrection of Jesus Christ offers hope for a new life and may that Spirit strengthen us during these tough and uncertain times.
Stay blessed. Thanking you.
Raj Bharat Patta 19th February 2021
Love is patient and love is kind, and may
love fill all your lives and give you the needed
strength in coping with this lockdown. Trust you are doing well and sending you all prayers.
The second Sunday in February is observed in the UK as the Racial Justice Sunday, and which is an opportunity for us all to rededicate ourselves in striving for racial justice, affirming equality and
creating a sense of belonging to all people irrespective of their ethnicity, colour and identity.
Good to see several windows in Heatons decorated with signs of love and spreading love. Appreciate u all for being part of this 'Heart Art' this month.
Herewith I am sending you the reflection for this Sunday and you can read it on this link:
The season of Lent begins from next week with Ash Wednesday on the 17th February 2021, and please do join us in the service at 7pm on zoom. In the subsequent Wednesday’s we have our Lenten Bible Studies led by the circuit at 7pm and please do join in those studies. Thanks to Tracy for
sharing the links.
May the love of God be with you all and let us be committed in spreading love to one another. May God’s healing be with them during these uncertain times.
Have a blessed week.
With warm regards,
13th February 2021
Grace and peace to you all. Hope you are all doing well and are coping well during this current lockdown. Glad to know that many of our friends have been vaccinated. We have entered February, and we will be thinking of love during this month and let us keep sharing it with one another in prayer.
This week we had our joint staff meeting with Heaton Moor, sharing and discussing our work plans for this month. Kindly uphold our staff team in your prayers and thank you all for supporting them and showing your love towards them.
I was at a Methodist Connexional mission consultation and a District mission meeting about our Stockport borough during this week, and both of them were interesting to understand the mission of God in our context today.
Herewith I am sending you my reflection for this Sunday, and you can find it on this link:
It is encouraging to hear from people their feedback.
Please remember Cathy Bird and her family in your prayers as her mum passed away this week.
We will continue to pray for our church members who are sick and are in hospital. May God’s peace and healing be upon them.
Kindly uphold in your prayers the Methodist District Synod meeting on God in love unite us report which will be held Saturday the 6th of February.
Thanks to Tracy and her team who are encouraging us all to partake in "Heart Art" and for their efforts in decorating the park nearby with hearts, spreading the message of love.
May God’s grace be with you all and may you all have a blessed week ahead.
With warm regards,
5th February 2021
A message from Rev Raj Patta
Grace and peace to you all during this third national lockdown. Hope you are doing well and are staying safe.
In light of the dangerously increasing COVID 19 infection rate, and with the message of 'stay at home' coming more strongly than ever, the leadership team has decided that we will move our worship service online only from this Sunday. This has been a difficult decision to come to, but in the interest of public health, and in our collective efforts to suppress the Covid pandemic, I hope our congregation will understand our need to act this way at this moment of time. So from this Sunday, the 17th January 2021, we will meet on Zoom at 10.45am for worship and the assigned preachers will lead us, until things get improved.
I am grateful to Sharon who will help with the technicalities of running this service online and for helping with music and the pre-recordings. Thanks to Tracy who will help in the coordination of these services.
Thanking you all for your understanding and for being gracious to one another during these difficult times. Tracy will send out the zoom links of our service on the notice sheets.
Kindly uphold our church in your prayers so that we will continue to be a loving community, loving God and loving our neighbours.
Stay safe, stay at home and stay blessed.
With warm regards,
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist
The grace of our Liberator Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Hope you are all doing well and are staying safe during this lockdown.
As I heard from our friends, I understand that the worship experiences during the lockdown have been very interesting. Thank you for your positive feedback for our Zoom church services.
As a circuit we are organising a virtual pilgrimage to Bethlehem called “Come and see Bethlehem this Christmas” on Thursday, the 10th of December 2020 at 7pm on Zoom and I encourage you to participate in it to support the cause of justice and peace initiatives in Palestine. The circuit is also organising ‘Carols in the Car’ event on Saturday, the 19th December 2020. Kindly pencil this date in your diary and do participate in it. You will receive the flyers soon.
Herewith I am sending you the reflection and the worship resources for this week for your kind perusal.
May you all have a blessed week and may God’s grace go with each of us in all the walks of our lives.
Stay safe and stay blessed,
20th November 2020
Grace and peace to you all in the name of
our Lord and Liberator Jesus Christ.
As the Government has introduced a national lockdown, for a second time, in order to contain the spread of the virus, we as a church will follow the given guidelines during this lockdown, as a sign of showing our love towards our neighbours. This decision of a second lockdown is devastating for many people, especially the poor and the vulnerable have and will continue to be hit the hardest. As a church we have been responding in different and imaginative ways to the challenges for the last seven months, by participating in online zoom services, by offering pastoral care to one another, by worshipping back at the church buildings, by working towards tackling holiday hunger etc. It is now
time again, to keep continuing to do church creatively and imaginatively, trying to offer hope to our communities through prayer and faith.
Let us keep praying for one another during these uncertain times, and keep helping those that are vulnerable among us. If anyone needs a help either with shopping or any such needs, please don’t hesitate to give a call to either me or Tracy.
On this Remembrance Sunday, as we remember all those who died during the War, may we also remember several unsung heros and sheros whose names have been forgotten or undocumented during the War. May we also commit ourselves for global peace on this Sunday.
The afternoon 3pm circuit zoom services will continue to be offered.
On a more personal note, it will be 17 years on the 10th of November this year since I was ordained as a minister in the Lutheran Church, and I thank God for the way God has helped me all these years in my ministry at various diverse settings and contexts. All I have learnt during these years is that the call of God continues to evolve, for it is God who will lead and guide us through in this journey of faith and ministry. Thank you all for your support and encouragement to me and my ministry. I solicit your prayers for me and my future endeavours please. I still remember the question as i joined the Methodist church, "do i see the hand of God in this my endeavour?", which keeps reverberating in me in the journey of my ministry.
May God’s peace be with each of you during this lockdown and grant God’s strength to cope with this situation.
With warm regards,
6th November 2020
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist
Hope you are all doing well. Starting this Friday, we are now under Tier 3 restrictions, and let us continue to keep praying for one another and specially for those who are vulnerable and for those whose livelihood is affected.
On Thursday, we were at our local primary school opening a food pantry, providing food for families who are facing holiday hunger. Thank you all for contributing food towards this cause, thanks to the volunteers and friends who helped in carrying and distributing food at the school. It was quite a moving experience loading food in our cars and taking to school and then distributing to the families. We will continue doing this again for Christmas holidays, and look forward to all your support.
Our circuit online zoom services continue to happen at 3pm every Sunday. As I have written last week, we will offer this year’s Advent study in four sessions on zoom, and kindly pencil the dates on
your diary please.
On Sunday, the 25th of October, ‘Church at the market place’ will be happening once again and I seek your prayers and support. For those interested I invite you to meet with me at 13:00 at Tiviot Dale that day.
I will be on my annual leave during this half-term holiday, which is next week, and if you need any pastoral support please don’t hesitate to call either our circuit office or Tracy, for any help.
My God’s peace and love be with you all and may the grace of God embrace each of us during these uncertain times.
With warm regards,
23rd October 2020
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist
Hope you are all doing well.
Thank you very much for all those who are supporting with the worship on Sundays at our church building, which I sincerely appreciate. Thanks to the preachers, stewards, volunteers, musicians and those participating in the service. As all of us are aware, we as churches are given permission for worship only, with many restrictions including no singing, no worship books, no tea and coffee after the service, no fellowship etc. Thank you very much for all your co-operation thus far. May I take this opportunity to gently remind that as part of our guidance given by the church and the government we need to disperse once the worship is finished without engaging in conversations with our friends outside the church for a good practice and witness in the community. I appreciate your understanding in this regard.
I also would like to thank you all for your support with food to share with one of our local schools. I sincerely appreciate for all your commitment and support towards addressing holiday hunger in our own locality. We had our staff meeting this week and have discussed several programmes for our churches and will keep you informed about them, one of which has been discussing about holiday hunger issues during Christmas holidays.
As Advent is approaching, we as a staff team are planning some programmes for this season during these uncertain times, and will keep you updated on this. I will be leading an Advent study group on Zoom on every Wednesday at 7pm starting from 2nd of December 2020. The theme I have chosen for this study is “Peace, Panic and Pandemic”. You are all invited to join in this study sessions. As a circuit also there has been some plans for Christmas, and we shall share with you soon the details of those events.
Yesterday I was at a consultation on Asylum seekers and were encouraged to write to our MP in addressing the concerns of these people with compassion and justice. We are also encouraged to write to our MP about reset the debt campaign, and I appreciate your support in these initiatives.
Stay safe during these uncertain times. Wait on God and keep praying for one another.
May the blessing of our True God be with you all.
Have a blessed week.
16th October 2020
Hi Heaton Mersey Methodist Church
Hope you are all doing well.
This week as I went into my office at Heaton Moor church, I was pleasantly surprised to see my table with full of tinned food, cereals, pasta, biscuits, and several other food items placed all over the room.
I then realised there cannot be any better way for a minister’s office to be used than to be used as a space to store food items to be distributed to children and their families at a local school in an
effort to address holiday hunger. Many thanks to all those who brought the food items for children during the last two Saturdays, and may I encourage others also to kindly join in this initiative please.
This Sunday, our circuit zoom service at 3pm will be a special service observing the Black History Month, and may I invite you all to kindly join in this service please. Thanks to all our volunteers, stewards, musicians, and preachers who are helping with our worship services on Sunday mornings. We will have our harvest Sunday service on the 18th October.
Let us continue to pray for another during these uncertain times. May God’s grace and peace be with you all and grant you a blessed week.
Stay safe and stay blessed,
With warm regards,
2nd October 2020
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church,
As we enter into yet another season of Advent, allow me to share with you what Paul when writing to Roman church in Romans 13:11-15 appeals in urgency to the early Christians to wake up and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, which comes to us with even more urgency with a challenge for our times. We have heard of advent calendars, advent candles, advent wreaths, advent decorations etc., allow me to introduce you to an Advent Alarm, which has begun its ringing, for Advent raises an alarm for us to wake up from sleep, lay aside the works of the empire and to put on Lord Jesus Christ. During this season of advent, a time of waiting, we are called to listen to the alarm of justice and act on it. Let people that have ears will listen to this alarm and respond to the urgency.
1.Advent Raises an Alarm to Recognise the Momentous Time:
Paul in verse 11, calls on the Church ‘to know what time it is’, for the time is ripe and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Advent raises an alarm to recognise this moment in time, as the time appointed by God to act and work. It is interesting to note that the word for ‘time’ used in Greek is ‘kairos’ rather than ‘chronos’. It is not the ‘chronological time,’ that Paul is talking about here, rather it is the ‘appointed time’, a time where God intervenes into our times at our end, a time for action, a time for introspection, and a time for an audit of truth
2.Advent Raises an Alarm to Reaffirm in the Nearness of Salvation:
In verse 11b, we see Paul further exhorts that “for the salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.” The distance and affinity to salvation becomes closer to people of God in their journey of faith, in relation to their initiation into the faith. Salvation is a journeying gift that comes closer and nearer to those that wake up to stand firm in their faith. Salvation oscillates between believing and discipling, and the call today is that salvation gets closer in our true discipleship to Christ.
3.Advent Raises an Alarm to Reject the Works of Darkness:
In verse 12, Paul further appeals ‘the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.’ Paul urges Christians to lay aside the ‘pyjamas’ of darkness and put on the ‘armour of light’, a vestment for the day, a vestment of the Kingdom of God, which primarily exposes those ungodly deeds, dispels darkness, and liberate people and communities with and towards light.
The relevance of Advent therefore is to swiftly act to the alarm that is ringing. The context of our times are so grim, for there has been a growing intolerance towards the other, increasing hatred against the stranger, increasing rise of consumerism where days like ‘black Friday’ are gaining their popularity forcing many people to invest on spending, increasing unaccountability of leadership in Church & society, an increasing refugee crisis, an increasing changes on our climate and planet, increasing poverty, increasing homelessness etc. and there is a sense of more urgency than ever to wake up to face and address the realities of our times. Paul’s words “The night is far gone and the day is near,” therefore conveys to us that this season of Advent raises an alarm to the church and to each of us as disciples of Christ to wake us up from deep slumber, to know the God’s momentous time, lay aside the works of empire and to put on Lord Jesus Christ onto our lives. Let us stop pretending to sleep and wake up with our eyes and hearts wide open to the ongoing acts of injustice and evil around us to raise an alarm for change, so that we can collectively partake and actively participate in transforming our world. Advent raises a justice alarm, hear O people of God, the alarm is ringing to go and act swiftly!!!
Rev. Rajbharat Patta, Ph.D
In Response to Philemon 1
Dear father Paul,
Onesimus, a liberated person in Christ Jesus, a freed slave from Philemon.
Grace and peace to you from God our liberator and the Lord Jesus Christ, who has freed us from all bondages.
Especially want to thank you for taking my debt on you and proved how important a Christian value it is to cancel debts on poor people as an important Christian discipleship marker. By taking my debt on you, you have shown me in practice the love of Christ who took my debts on him on the Cross, for I could experience it in my life. Thank you also for writing to Philemon to receive me as he would receive you, once again emphasising the importance of welcome and reception to anyone and everyone by the love of Christ. In that reception as exhorted by you my brother Philemon has received me as a brother, as a member of his family. I knew what it was to be a slave in his household once, and I also have experienced his love as a family member, which was because of the love of Christ. Ever since then Philemon has treated me as a partner in the mission of God, for we continued to work together for the realisation of God’s Kingdom here on earth. Many wondered what a beautiful sight it was to see the master and his previous slave work together as brothers and partners, which was just because of the love of and for Christ.
On a final note, dear father Paul allow me to appeal to you to call any practice of any form of slavery as sinful and unchristian, for in Christ we are all one. Any form of racism, casteism, discrimination, exclusion, oppression, patriarchy, trafficking, child labour and such other practices, which are modern forms of slavery does not fit with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and therefore we as a Church should resist such forms and stand in solidarity with those on margins and strive for justice in every given context. Christ has come to set people like me free and I will work to liberate all people who are chained in any form of bondage as a gospel calling for me.
Your fellow worker in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Raj Patta
October is Black History month
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church Family,
Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” Numbers 22: 28
We have seen films, where animals talking to each other in human language, like in ‘Finding Dory’ or ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox,’ etc. and for kids of this generation, who have grown watching these films, animals speaking in human tongue is not a surprise. In the early Hebrew times in Bible, God surprises God’s people with things they have not imagined, this time God opened the mouth of faithful friend of prophet Balaam, a donkey, who speaks back to Balaam for when he turned away from what is pleasing to God. It also interesting to note that in this passage, the angel of God is seen by a donkey and not by the prophet, for a donkey and the animal world is privileged to sight the presence of God, whereas it is concealed to humanity. When Balaam strikes his faithful friend, who had carried him all along at this instance thrice, donkey expresses his anger and exposes Balaam’s impatience and cruelty towards him. Towards the end, when Balaam’s sighted the angel of God after his donkey has sighted, Balaam repents that he had sinned.
This text from Numbers 22:21-35, is an invitation for us as readers to be prepared to be surprised by God, for God speaks to us not just through humans, but through his creation, more specifically through our pets, and the animal world, to expose our disobedience to God. The presence of God is sighted firstly by the rest of the creation and only at last by the humanity if at all they can recognise, for God’s presence is spread across the creation equally, not just the righteous and unrighteous, but also human and non-human (I confess that I am too anthropocentric in this usage.) This text calls us to treat our pets, animals, other creatures and humanity with respect and never mistreat them at any occasion, for we are all made by God as kith and kin in God’s creation. Be prepared for a surprise today, that God is speaking to you through the unspeakable, and through the unimagined.
Prayer focus: God of all creation, pets, animals, plants, all creatures and humanity, help us to be prepared to get surprised by you, for you are speaking to us through the unspeakable, and help us to recognise your voice among who we think are incapable of carrying God’s voice. Amen.
Let me wish you all a happy summer. May God go with you.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Raj Bharat Patta.
Pentecost is a very significant period of time in the liturgical calendar of the Church, a time to renew our faith in Holy Spirit, a time to be refreshed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and a time to rejuvenate our dedication in making the relevance of Church felt by communicating in the tongues of the localities of our times. The first Pentecost as recorded in New Testament happened at a time, when there was fear, peace-less-ness, timidity, and perplexity among the disciples of Jesus Christ. At that very stroke of the Pentecost, as the resurrected Christ ascended into heavens, the Holy Spirit poured down on the creation, the disciples of Jesus Christ came open and the Church went out. It was noted that the day of Pentecost is a celebration of the birthday of the Church, for the genesis of Church as a communion of people in God, Church as a movement of people in God began from that very day of the Pentecost.
In the gospel of John, in 14th Chapter from 15th verse, we see Jesus promising to send Holy Spirit as an advocate to this world in the context when the disciples were troubled in their hearts after the last supper episode in the previous chapter. Jesus in 16-17 verse says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” According to the Johannine Jesus, Holy Spirit is the successor of his ministry of advocacy, for that is the reason it is recorded as ‘another’ Advocate.
According to Jesus, the characteristic of Holy Spirit is to be a successor of the ministry of advocacy. It was only in the early Church the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit came into emphasis, otherwise for Jesus, Holy Spirit is the successor of advocacy. Jesus’ life and ministry has always been on the mission of advocacy, advocating for the rights of the outcastes, the rights of the children, the rights of women and the rights of those that have been on the margins of the society. Therefore, Holy Spirit succeeds Jesus Christ in carrying forward the mission engagements of advocacy, defending the rights of the vulnerable and those that been pushed to the margins. Therefore, the promise of Holy Spirit is to see that mission is in progress, the reign of God is in progress, and that we as celebrants of Pentecost, are called to be part of joint heirs with Jesus Christ in the mission of advocacy, whom Jesus gave us to lead with.
The arrival and outpouring of Holy Spirit is to lead creation into an accession of intimacy with the Triune God, building intimacy among one another and also building intimacy among the Creator and the Creatures. Pentecost is a celebration of the intimacy that one enjoys with one another and with the Triune God. Therefore, the down pouring of Holy Spirit is to establish healing and intimacy among broken relationships between human beings and God, between human beings and creation and between human beings and human beings. Pentecost is a restoration of relationships, intimate relationships, which furthers the reign of God here on earth.
Pentecost is a time to implore on to the mission engagements of advocacy as part of our Christian calling, striving for justice and peace in our own localities and contexts. Wishing you all a very meaningful season of Pentecost
June 2019, Rev. Dr. Raj Bharat Patta
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church Family
‘Christ is Risen’, and yes ‘He is indeed Risen’, let me wish you all a blessed and a spirit filled Easter. As Christ has been risen from the clutches of death on the Resurrection Sunday, death was buried in the empty grave once for all. Until the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death would have thought that none in the creation can conquer it, for it can swallow any person on this planet earth, irrespective of their identities. But when God raised Jesus Christ as the first fruit of resurrection, the poisonous sting of death has been broken and death had to be buried, whereby all who seek and believe the resurrection spirit would emerge victorious like Christ from death. And death no longer is a conqueror on life.
In Mark 16:3, we see “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” This was a question asked by the women disciples of Jesus Christ as they came in the early morning to anoint the dead body of Jesus Christ in the sepulchre. It was the Lord, who rolled the stone away from the entrance of the tomb and resurrected Jesus Christ from the bondage of death. This stone, which was cut from a rock (Mk 15:46) to lock the body of Jesus Christ, happens to be the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Rolling Stone Gathers no Moss” is a very famous phrase, which we often use and the meaning of this phrase is that, “Mosses need a stable and a moist environment to grow, and if a stone is rolling. it does not provide this environment, and therefore rolling stone gathers no moss”. And when I use this phrase in the context of Jesus resurrection, I mean to say that this rolling stone on the tomb of Jesus, when is rolled by the Lord during the resurrection of Jesus Christ, also gathers no moss and tramples the roots of sin and death to grow no more. The resurrection rolling stone gathers no moss, but provides an environment for new life, new strength and new hope to live in all freedom and justice.
If the resurrection rolling stone gathers no moss, and then what does it gather? Resurrection rolling stone gathered the activity of God, the attention of people and the allegations of injustice.
In Luke 24: 5, it is recorded, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” is a question that comes straight to us to think and answer. The living Jesus Christ can only be found among the living and not among the dead and death. In other words, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has meaning in relation to the living community. Easter is an opportunity to introspect the lively character of our community, for Christ is risen, so we see to it that we are living enough to promote life in all fullness.
May the God who raised Jesus from death grant us all a new life to live in a new way with a new hope of resurrection. Resurrection rolling stone gathers no moss but gathers new life and inspires all of us to witness and channel that new life to all around us. Christ is Risen, and He is risen indeed. Therefore, let us go quickly and share new life to those living in hopeless situations and in situations of lifelessness. Wishing you all a Happy Easter.
Rev. Dr. Raj Bharat Patta
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church family,
Grace and peace to you all and wishing you all a blessed 2019.
In the call narrative of Peter in Luke 5, we see an important trait of Peter, which I think impressed Jesus to choose him to be on his team. Having worked all night and returning with no fish, Jesus takes Peter again into the deep sea for fishing. On the word of Jesus, when they have caught a bounty of fish with their nets breaking, we see Peter and his team “signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so they began to sink” (5:7). This quality of Peter signalling their partners in sharing and helping with the bounty of fish, stand with distinction on Peter’s CV, and he was immediately called by Jesus to follow him. We notice in this pericope, the experience of nets being broken, heart being broken, and call made open. Making partnerships by transcending the boundaries is an important mark of Christian discipleship. Peter at that moment with a bounty of fish at his end, could have been selfish thinking he would be ‘great’ by selling that fish, or could have thought of ‘Peter first’ to take the major portion of that fish. On the contrary, Peter has the magnanimity of signalling and sharing with other partners, who might not be those from his same family, town, faith or identity. This text is very relevant for our times today, where hatred on the ‘other’ has been increasing, for striking coalitions and partnerships for the cause of the Kingdom of God is an important learning for us today.
Forging partnerships and striking coalitions are a major challenge today in the context of growing individualism. Specially as followers of Jesus, we as churches cannot be in isolation thinking all about themselves, their own growth and memberships. It is important for us to build partnerships with churches and community members around, for sharing our gifts and resources with others demonstrate our Christian discipleship today. The experimental clusters within our circuit is an available opportunity for us to signal and share our gifts and resources. Heaton Churches partnerships are other avenues to strike coalitions for the cause of God’s Kingdom. We are also called to forge partnership with one another in celebrating unity amidst diversity, respecting and appreciating the other as they are. As we are in the process of making a new five-year plan for our Church, let partnerships be on our agenda, where we can work together collectively and corporately for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
During this month of February, when love is the buzzword everywhere, let us be reminded that ‘love is selflessness and self is lovelessness.’ Wishing you all a love filled month and year ahead. May the love of Jesus empower each of us so that we shall transcend the hard boundaries in forging partnerships for the cause of God’s Kingdom here on earth and live out our Christian discipleship faithfully and lovingly.
Stay blessed and be a blessing to many around you.
Rev. Dr. Raj Patta
For God is Near, Here and Now
Dear Heaton Mersey Methodist Church Family,
At the very outset, as we enter yet another new liturgical calendar of the Church starting from the first Sunday in Advent on 2nd Dec 2018, let me wish you all a happy and meaningful season of Advent. People around the world are busy with Advent calendars during this season and are enjoying the flavours of the chocolates. As faith community, this season invites us to prayerfully spend this time of the season, affirming in the nearness of God’s presence in Jesus among us. Allow me to share with you from Luke 21, a reflection for Advent, so that we are charged to spend this season in prayer, in hope and in peace.
Luke proposes that “Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.” (21:27) Such a sign of Son of Man coming, is a sign of hope for the communities who are in deep distress and suffering. Advent, therefore as a ‘time of waiting’ is an affirmation in the ‘nearness of God’ for our time. The existing signs of our times in the world are not just ‘end of our times’, rather are ‘times at our end’, and ‘times on our end,’ which needs a recognition of the coming of Son of Man into our times. Advent is an adventure, rediscover it, recapture it and reaffirm it.
Rediscovering the Nearness of God’s Presence:
“Son of Man coming in the cloud” is a landing note for faith communities today, for the recognition of this Christological title, which was picked from the apocryphal literature of Daniel, is situating God in Christ amidst the dirt, dust and dawn of our contexts. There is a nearness of God’s presence among us and amidst us when God in Christ pitched his tent among the materiality of our contexts. Advent unsettles the God of transcendence, who was above the clouds and resettles it with a God of immanence, who as ‘Son of Man coming in a cloud’, coming near to the creation and the creatures. The distance between God and creation is reduced in this process of ‘nearness,’ where God’s velocity of coming down to earth is accelerated, with the brewing of signs of our times today. This serves as a sign of hope for communities longing and waiting for transformation.
The relevance of Advent today is to invoke the nearness of God’s presence, redemption and reign into our contexts, for the Son of Man has already come and pitched his tent. Reconciliation and reparation become the key in striving for justice to situations of our times. The nearness of God inspires communities to work for justice, for Son of Man as a co-pilgrim participates in the struggles of the creation, striving for its liberation. Advent is adventurous, get into it, work for justice and become channels of hope, for you are the hope that the world is in need of.
Rev. R Patta, Ph.D.
Dear Heaton Mersey Church family,
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like this child, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-5
The disciples of Jesus Christ were debating ‘who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?’ Peter would have thought, Jesus may call on his name to be the greatest, for he will have the keys of the heaven as told by Jesus. James & John would have thought, Jesus may call on their names to be the greatest, for were well learned with a high-profile family legacy and the ones in the close circle of Jesus. Likewise, even the other disciples would have thought that Jesus would call on their names to be the greatest, for each had their own identity and capabilities. On the contrary to all their individual prides, Jesus Christ surprisingly called on a child, a ‘street child’, and said to them unless they become like this child, there is no entry into the kingdom of heaven, and who ever humbles like this child is greatest and whoever welcomes such a child welcome Jesus Christ. Jesus’ way of repositioning power is tremendously surprising to his disciples then and even to all those power mongrels today both in the Church and society. Jesus calls on a ‘street child’, challenging all of us to become like that little child, humbled like that little one and welcome such little kid into our houses.
How difficult it is to follow such a ‘street child’ in order to be in the kingdom of heaven? But Jesus Christ, de-centres the centre with those in the margins and makes those people in the margins to be at the centre stage. This way of re-positioning is a call to all the Christians and a challenge to all of us for a ‘street child’ is going to be at the centre and all who in all their pride thought would be at the centre will be in the periphery. Let us accept it and help the children to live their childhood in all happiness, for they are the cynosures of the reign of God. If we don’t become, if we don’t humble and if we don’t welcome the children, our Christian calling will be at stake.
Thanking God for the ministry of Family Church @10 and the Sunday club at our church. Looking forward to be challenged from the children at our Church.
Have a blessed October month.
Yours for the Kingdom of God,
Rev. Raj Bharat Patta
Dear co-pilgrims in the journey of faith,
Love God and Love Neighbour: Foundations for Kingdom of God
When Jesus saw that he answered wisely,
he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
In the context of Roman colonization, love for the emperor and the unquestioning submission to the empire were the dominant modes of spirituality, which the empire commanded and demanded from the colonizers. Therefore, Jesus in the first century Palestine, when asked to mention the foundational commandments by a scribe, he openly refuted and contested one’s submission and devotion to the empire by reemphasizing to love God and to love neighbour. The emperor was ascribed divinity and therefore everyone was commanded to worship the emperor. In such a context, Jesus displays an open public resistance to such commandments of the empire and projects the importance of love towards God and neighbour as a subversive anti-colonial spirituality.
The enquiring scribe in this text echoes to these Jesus’ commandments and further extends it by discounting the ritual practices of the temple on burnt offerings and sacrifices. Jesus then recognises that this scribe is nearer to the Kingdom of God. The reign of God contrasts with the rule of the empire, for in the former, love of God and love for neighbour takes centre stage and becomes foundational in its composition and practice. Kingdom of God is located in the acts of love for God and love for neighbour and is nearer to all such practices and performances.
It is time for us to resist the commandments of the modern empire today, where market, profit, consumerism, individualism, secularism, pride, etc. takes centre stage. Love of God and love for neighbour is all that is required in our Christian discipleship in making the Kingdom of God a reality for our times today.
This text also calls us to look out for people who are ‘not far away from the Kingdom of God’ in our own localities and communities. Speak to them, pray with them, collaborate with them in sharing God’s love, and inspire them to taste and see the love we have in Jesus Christ. May we during this month think of those people whom you recognise as those ‘not far away from the Kingdom of God’ and start sharing the love of God with them. In this process it is also a time for us to reflect ‘how far are we in the Kingdom of God?’ This question might seek a confession on our part and might offer new avenues of God’s love for the Kingdom of God around and amidst us.
Let us therefore resist and defeat all forces of empire of our times and allow ourselves to stay nearer to the Kingdom of God by loving God and by loving our neighbour, unconditionally.
Wishing you all a blessed summer.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Rajbharat Patta (July 2018)
What is Good in ‘Good Friday’?
During this season of Lent, when thinking of ‘good Friday’, I always thought, for the person on the Cross to whom Jesus said that ‘today you will be with me in paradise’, it was a ‘good Friday’, and to the other person who mocked Jesus it was a ‘bad Friday.’ What is ‘good’ in ‘good Friday’ has always been a perennial question that people of faith communities across the histories and contexts keep interrogating with. How can the brutal killing of Jesus on the Cross be called ‘good Friday?’ What is the politics of ‘good Friday?’
‘Good Friday’ is not about ‘romanticizing Jesus suffering and his death,’ rather a call to locate God among the crucified. There was a political bargain from the courts of Pilate, whom to crucify and whom to leave scot-free, and we know that the community chose ‘Barabbas’ (Bar Abbas in Hebrew means ‘Son of God’), which lead Jesus to his crucifixion. Good Friday, the day on which Jesus was killed is highly political, for Jesus died a political martyrdom. Therefore, one cannot unthread the political aspect of Jesus’s death on Cross from his holistic act of salvation. ‘Good Friday’ also calls us to unpack it from the colonial enfleshments that it carries, for this ‘good Friday’ is also understood in contrast to ‘black Fridays’ (very colonial term) where consumerism is celebrated to its core. Here is a subversive reading of ‘good Friday,’ which serves as one perspectives among many, that helps us in problematizing the same for our times today.
1.‘Good Friday’ is about exposing the unjust political systems of the state that represses and criminalises Jesus for believing and professing in an alternative value system which is the Kingdom of God, for he was nailed on the Cross with an inscription ‘King of Jews.’ Jesus’ disapproval of a military state led him to be branded as a ‘political insurgent’ and eventually led him to be killed on the Cross.
2.‘Good Friday’ is a day where an innocent Jesus was falsely implicated and was taken to be crucified on a Cross, along with two other bandits of his times, at a public criminal execution place, which was ‘outside of the camp.’ It was a place where the soldiers gambled on Jesus’ clothes, spit on him, and rebuked him with all possible insults. Jesus died as a political martyr.
3.When Jesus cried ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ many around his Cross mocked him saying that he was calling on Elijah for help and rescue. To that question, we see that there was silence from God’s side. We run a risk of translating God’s silence as God’s absence. The politic of this saying needs to consider that God joins in the suffering of people, where God grieves along with those that are suffering to lead them into the resurrection experience.
4.The politics of ‘good Friday’ is always related to the ‘best Sunday’ to come, the ‘Easter day’, where God raised him from the death. It displays a politics of hope, for death and regimes of oppression are defeated and chained in the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. Resurrection of Jesus from death was a huge blow to the empire that believed that there is no opposition to their force, for on that day death died and was buried.
‘Good Friday’ therefore challenges us humanity to locate crucified Jesus’ among us, among our histories, among our contexts, who are opposing the repressive regimes of our times, and stand along with them in their struggles for justice, the highest good. ‘Good Friday’ finds its fuller meaning not in religious sanctuaries, not in our cosy comfortable zones, not in our parochial colonies but on the public streets where people are time and again crucified by the unjust systems of violence. ‘Good Friday’ comes alive and becomes meaningful ‘outside the camps’ of our times, in the refugee camps, in the excluded zones, in the prisons, etc. ‘Good Friday’ becomes relevant by disavowing hegemonic powers and principalities that suppress and marginalize people and communities and by standing for justice and peace of our times. The calling of our spirituality is to become politically sensitive to our contexts and attempt in relating our faith to the times of our times.
Wishing you all a meaningful observance of Lent.
Rev. Rajbharat Patta
January Reflection from our Minister
Explore and Situate God among those that are standing on the margins:
Shifting Locales and Changing Landscapes of the Church
The parable of the labourers in the vineyard as found in Matthew 20: 1-16 narrates about the land owner who hires workers at 6 in the morning, at 9 in the morning, at noon, at 3 in the afternoon and at 5 in the evening. Those that were strongly built, who were well experienced and had a very promising CV were employed in the very first round of interview. Those that were less qualified, but who had some other strengths were later employed at the next hour, those that had even lesser qualifications, but probably had some other skills like communication or so were later employed by the employer to work in his vineyard. In verse 6 we see the studious land owner goes into the market place even at five in the evening to see some people standing around to seek some work for the day. He then asks them, ‘why are standing here idle all day?’ and in verse 7, they replied, ‘because no one has hired us.’
Why is no one hiring these people? What could have been the reasons for their not being employed? Probably these people standing at 5 pm could not have been able to compete with the competitive world around, for those high class in the society define merit and thereby determine the norms for merit, describing them as incapable to work or so. Probably these people who are still standing eagerly to employed even at 5pm could have been people with disabilities and people who are mentally challenged, for no one wants to employ them because of their disabilities, for all those abled-bodies were preferred and given work in the earlier hours of the day. Probably these people still standing eagerly to be employed even at 5pm could have been women, for no one wants to employ them because of their being branded by the patriarchal society with their gendered stereo-types and prejudices as incapable to work. Probably these people still standing eagerly to be employed even at 5pm could have been homeless persons, for no one wants to employ them because of their class and discriminate them from all works. Probably these people still standing eagerly to be employed even at 5pm could have been people from migrant and refugee communities, for they do not have the same nurture as the others have in their upbringing, and are denied chances of employment in many cases. The writer of the parable in verse 7 even brands these people standing at 5pm as ‘idle’, implying the rest of them who were employed earlier seem to be smart and meritorious. In such a context, the land owner shifts the locale from that of the tradition and exercises justice by not only employing these people who are still standing at 5pm but also by giving equal wages to all of those that have started to work from the first hour till the last hour, making it a matter of eye soar to those that came early. Economic justice is ensured based on equity and equality.
In our times today, where the mantra of globalisation is sheer profit without any importance to human worth, where forces like patriarchy, caste, class, race, fundamentalism, etc rule as principalities and powers preferring those with so called capabilities and employing them at early hours, the parable calls us to shift our locales to those that are still standing at 5pm to be employed and recognised. In the changing landscapes of the church and society, the calling for all of us is to shift our focus to those that are standing at the 5pm eager to be employed, for no one hires them because of the stigma and discrimination they face.
May this New Year therefore call on us as a Church to look for and locate God among those that are waiting still at 5pm, and recognise the worth of life that has been equally granted by God to all. Unless we shift our locale to those friends and communities on the margins and make them the epicentre of our missioning, our faith may not have its savour and relevance. Shall we therefore raise up to the occasion of affirming life in all its fullness among those that are being pushed to the margins by the forces of class, caste, race, gender etc. and strive to break down these cruel forces, for God stands among those that are still waiting at 5pm to be employed and to receive equal wages like others.
Wishing you all a Blessed New Year.
Rev. R. Patta
November Message from the Desk of the Raj…
At the very outset, I rejoice in our God, who through God’s abundant grace has found me to work with the Stockport Circuit of the Methodist Church with a pastoral charge of two Churches, Heaton Mersey and St. John’s. It is indeed a matter of great delight for us as a family to be welcomed into the Circuit, and take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for all your love, reception and friendship that you have been extending to us.
As I reflect on my appointment, I cannot but acknowledge how wonderful are God’s works, for God acts are on God’s own terms and not on our terms, for God’s acts are mysterious and miraculous. As I am prompted by the Spirit now to work in Stockport, all I can say is, “I do not know what the future holds for me, but I know the One who holds the future,” and in that strong faith I look unto God as I begin my ministerial engagements. In this pursuit, I seek all your support, co-operation and collaboration in working for the deepening and widening of God’s reign here at Stockport.
To introduce myself, I am an ordained minister of the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church in India, and began my ministry as a minister at a local congregation of 150 families. It was such a learning and blessed experience to work in a local Church administering pastoral and missional duties. Later I went on to work with the National Council of Churches in India as an executive secretary for Commission on Mission, Dalits, Youth. Then I served the Student Christian Movement of India as its national general secretary working among college and university communities. I moved to Manchester to pursue my doctoral studies at the University, during which time I also worked as an Honorary Chaplain at St. Peter’s Church and Chaplaincy ministering the higher education community in Manchester. I love cricket, badminton, football, composing music and enjoy watching films. I am married to Shiny and we are blessed with two sons Raj Indeevar (Jubi) and Raj Sangheebhav (Jai Ho).
31st October 2017 marks the 500 years of Reformation in the history of Christianity, when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the doors of Wittenberg in Germany, initiating a great change in the nature and character of the Church. His clarion call of “Scripture alone, grace alone and faith alone” reverberates into our post-secular society today calling people of God to be guided and led by Word, grace and faith. As a Church, this is an invitation for us to rely and ground ourselves in Word, grace and faith, encouraging one another in prayer so that we as a Church can make our presence felt in our vicinities and neighbourhood.
As we march into November, and towards the end as we enter into yet another season of Advent, may we as a Church participate in transforming our communities, so that we can reflect the love of Christ to people around. Allow me to leave you with a thought for this month, which is from the writings of Archbishop William Temple, for his book Christianity and Social Order, where he says, “the Church is the only organisation that does not exist for itself, but for those who live outside of it.” May the Holy Spirit help us reflect and act on the very being and becoming of our Church today, and help us to actualise the salvation of Jesus Christ among our communities.