July letter

July letter.
Dear Everyone
Recently I was in St Albans to take the Church Anniversary at Marlborough Road Methodist Church, the last appointment I was at twenty years ago, before retiring as a Minister in pastoral charge of churches. It was great to meet again with a great number of friends in the congregation , many of whom I had not seen for a very long time.

I was wondering how I would get on. Whether I would recognise everyone, remember names, or whether they would think I looked and reacted very differently. To my great relief and delight, although at times, my response was rather slow, I remembered pretty well, everyone there that I knew and there was a great sense of rapport.

I suspect that the older we are, time goes more quickly. Twenty years seemed only as if it were yesterday.
How do we cope with the passing of time? For some, reminiscing has a useful purpose. There is a value in being thankful for the past because it always has a lot to teach us; and it is rather interesting to note that a few people whom we may have found difficult to relate to in the past we now see them in a different light. Ageing can often give us a deeper understanding and therefore a deeper sympathy with people who may have a very different outlook from our own.
We all have to learn how to value the past whatever age we are, as well as valuing the present. ‘Living in hope’ with a robust pro- active faith, explored gently and with compassion, I believe, is important. We all need to live with wider dimensions to our lives than just our own needs, and discover ‘eternal values.’ This is what true religion is all about.
If we are to’ have life, and have it more abundantly’ as Jesus said, we will need to put aside some time when we rest from our activities and consider what our lives are for.

Even just a few extra minutes every day in prayer and reflection can make a great difference!
With all good wishes, and every blessing,


PS. Apologies for not replying as yet to several emails. They are much appreciated.
(Still remembering the victims of terrorism and all who have suffered extreme losses of loved ones from fires, both due to human neglect of safety, and natural disasters.)



June letter

Dear everyone.
I recently sent a twitter, which said ‘we need to love widely’, to do this is ‘to do justly, love, kindness, and walk humbly with your God’. The First response (‘like’)to this twitter was from the president of our Methodist conference, another came from one of our police officers responsible for ‘social cohesion’ in a part of our city which is extremely multiracial. The officer is a member of a different faith from my own!
Learning how to ‘love widely’ is crucial in rapidly changing times. All of us are being challenged to move on from where we were in our thoughts and actions, not least about our national life. I believe that if we do not ’love widely’ we rapidly become a backwater in the world.
‘To love widely’, however, does mean that we have to seek out justice in the world for everybody. We need to be compassionate and kind to all kinds of people, and learn how to ‘walk humbly with our God’. The person who first wrote these words was the Hebrew prophet Micah who lived several centuries before Christ, but he still has a very clear message for us today. Faiths are expressed in many different ways. How important it is that we walk humbly along the way we are convinced is the right way to follow.
We are facing many violent situations at the present time. Terrorism creates fear, but it can never put right anything that is evil in the world… But seeking the right things, and loving our neighbour’s as ourselves, in other words, being truly compassionate, kind and fair, is a surer way, and the only way eventually to bring about peace and happiness for all people’s.
Sincerely, David
Apologies for the long delay in sending this letter due to computer problems. At present the victims of terrorism and the terrible fire in the Grenfell Tower block are bound to be in our thoughts and prayers. We also remember those who are so valiantly helping.

May letter

Dear everyone,
Chuck Berry was a great inspiration to many musicians. The Beatles were greatly influenced by his style ; but it was not just celebrities. Ordinary people became enthusiastic to make a’ joyful noise’ as tunefully and cheerfully as they could!
In his early days, I was at College training for the Ministry. We had a skiffle group. I used to play ‘the double bass’, It was made from an old tea chest and a broom handle with a cord tied to the top of the broom handle and the tea chest.
Although it was a very simple instrument, it was amazing how skilled you could get, and the notes produced had a distinctive quality about them. The improvisation required provided a challenge to us all, and money was scarce to buy quality instruments anyway. It wasn’t an era that lasted for long, but we thoroughly enjoyed what we were doing at the time.
‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.’ Says the psalmist. When the Psalms were written many of the musical instruments were of a simpler kind, but they gave pleasure to those who worshipped God in this way and to human beings in their merrymaking too-even if the noise was not tuned to perfection!.
We do not always have to have expensive equipment to entertain ourselves and others. . Sometimes the simpler things are, the more others can join in.
Life does not just consist of the abundance of the things we have, but rather the good and proper use to which we put our possessions and our talents.
It is not easy to live a simpler lifestyle, but the challenge is there for us all. May we resist an overwhelming consumer style approach to life, and cut back more on those things which are not essential. Life gets cluttered so quickly with things that we do not need.In doing so, we would also be treasuring and valuing the world’s resources so much more.
May we happily celebrate the month of May, and enjoy many of the simpler things we take for granted.
Every blessing,

April letter

Dear everyone,
Earlier this week. It was my privilege to take Holy Communion at two residential dementia care homes. We had been unable to take the service due to various members of the small team, including myself, needing hospital care. The last time we went was ten months ago
After such a long absence. I felt quite nervous as to how everything would go; but, apart from two minor hitches, all went well, and we all felt elated.
Because of our long absence I must admit that I had been wondering whether we should give up this kind of Ministry, but the very fact of being there assured us that it was the right thing to carry on, and the residents who took part appreciated our visit.
However it raises the question. ‘When should we give up doing things?’ Scripture says, ‘never grow tired of doing good.’ In other words, as long as we have cognitive skills to do things for others and with others, we should. Our ‘old friend’ John Wesley says ‘do all the good you can… As long as ever you can.’
We may need to take more time to get things done as we get older. (and even when we are not so old!), but perseverance is a quality we should never neglect and cultivate at all times.
May the message of Easter inspire us to find new life, perseverance, and inspiration in all things that we do.
Every blessing,

March letter

Dear everyone.
Ash Wednesday, yesterday, the beginning of Lent, was a significant day for me in an unexpected way. My home had a spring clean.’ I do have some excellent help for a few hours on a fortnightly basis for many household chores, and this helps me along tremendously, but living on my own for the last three years has led to some areas of significant neglect on my part, and it’s good to see the whole house looking in pristine condition.
In some ways, Lent, is a bit like a spring clean. It is a time of year when we should set about doing some ‘tidying up’ in our lives, getting rid of excess baggage that has collected over the years in our lives, a sort of ‘pruning down’ process in order to help us live more wisely, efficiently and fruitfully.
There is a value in having some concrete objectives during Lent-some actual things that we do to improve our lifestyle in the best sense of the word. Giving up sweets, alcohol, smoking, rich fatty foods, even fasting may well help us to live much healthier, even longer lives; but there is always a much more fundamental question that we have to consider as Jesus did: what are we living for?
Basically from a Christian point of view, we are called upon to ‘to love the Lord our God’ in every aspect of our lives, and to ‘love our neighbours as ourselves.’
In other words, for all of us, whatever our outlook may be, we should be living for some worthwhile purpose. Our responses may be very different, but Lent presents a challenge to all.
May we make a good ‘spring clean’ in our lives at this time of the year, making sure that we do those things that matter most, this might include all kinds of unexpected things!
Every blessing,

For Lent thoughts on ‘What are we living for?’ visit https://davidmonkton.wordpress.com/lent17/

February letter

Dear everyone
This week my central heating has not being working. Try as I may, I find the instructions difficult to follow. I await a visit from the gas engineer to explain things to me.
Technology often demands instant attention, and our own priorities get pushed on one side. Sometimes in computing we can achieve a lot very quickly, but it rarely leaves us without some new problems to face and new procedures to follow. If we fail to grasp the meaning of some important phrase in the instructions, we may find ourselves spending hours trying to do a simple task.
In the world, too there is always change. We feel great dangers in it at the present time because of movements and organisations with ruthless intentions. Issues of justice and tolerance call for our urgent attention and prayers. May the day quickly come when we can sail into calmer waters!
How do we stay calm when so many things are sent to try us? Do we feel harassed in our personal circumstances, or troubled by what is going on in the world?
A well-known prayer written by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr reads.
‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.’

However, even in the things that we cannot change personally, we must be willing to speak out in support of those who can.

With all good wishes,
Yours sincerely,

PS. The gas engineer did come, and a personal explanation has made all the difference. It’s now working fine!

January letter

Dear everyone.
By nature, I tend to be an optimist, but there are sometimes when we all wonder how things are really going. My weeks leading up to Christmas were a bit like that. Two days before Christmas Day I had to go for my check-up after my op’. The consultant was pleased to report that it had been completely successful, and that I was now able to drive again. All this news was a really good Christmas present!
When we are going through difficult days, many people remind us that attitudes of mind can have a great effect on how we feel. They will remind us of the need to get out and relate to people, to keep our interests going, accept any opportunities that come our way, and avoid situations where we may be tempted to brood on our own.
‘Be positive,’ is the advice given. And it’s good advice; but it does it go far enough? Being positive, requires that we do positive things, and not just think about them!
It is right that we should not habitually make rash and rushed decisions; but procrastination needs to be avoided too. We cannot stand idly by. Jesus says. ‘Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.’ I believe that he meant this in a very practical way, as well as what you might describe as a ‘spiritual’ one. Whatever situation we are in, we should always be gently and even prayerfully exploring-seeking out information and support that will help us on our way, and in the process, help others as well. In this way, we will serve God in his world, our neighbours, and the whole of humanity in its wider needs.
Can I suggest that we adopt a simple motto for the New Year-‘Seek, and you will find.?’
We may not always find exactly that we think we want, but we may well find something better than we anticipated as we explore life, and its meaning, which brings about peace and contentment, positive about the situations that we face, and help others in their decision-making too..
With these thoughts in mind-I would like to wish you-
Every good wish for a very happy New Year.
PS.Thanks too for all messages, cards and prayer support. It has been greatly appreciated.