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Current Message

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Dear friends,

A few weeks ago the media was awash with stories and speculation as to which films and their cast and creative crews would win at the Oscars. La La Land was the favourite for best picture - and for all of about 90 seconds at the Oscars ceremony it seemed that it had won, only for it to be stripped of the award as it transpired there'd been a tremendous cock-up and the film hadn't won at all.

Having not seen the film yet I cannot speak about it with any first-hand knowledge. Certainly it seemed to have entranced the British film reviewers, with daily newspapers The Sun, The Mirror, Metro, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times all giving it their highest score of five stars. So I was interested to read an article in The Guardian by David Cox, a couple of days before the Oscars, which took a rather different view of the film's content and worth.

Cox suggests that the film is about two people, Mia and Seb, who are ultimately self-centred, narcissistic, vain, humourless and insensitive. He says that, unlike many of the well-known films referenced in the movie (for example, West Side Story, Singin' in the Rain or Funny Face), La La Land doesn't really celebrate love and life, but quite the opposite:

"Its principal characters don't find meaning in each other. For the most part, their relationship is glossed over in montage. They get together when their careers are failing, and spend their time sharing notes. Once they have co-mentored themselves on the road to personal advancement, they ditch each other... On their last night together they pledge eternal love; but they also promise to follow their dreams. For them the latter was bound to trump the former: self-worship brooks no distractions. If, at the end, Seb seems a little lonely and Mia seems a little bored, no matter. Their final smiles indicate that both have attained what really matters: self-satisfaction."

Cox suggests, though, that it is a film for our times, as many people who are in the public eye would have many points of connection with Seb and Mia and their ‘journey'. Social Media and TV Talent Shows regularly reveal the unpleasant truth that there are numerous people who want to be famous, despite having no real talents or ability. Slanging-matches abound on facebook and twitter, and selfies are ubiquitous. There is so much more opportunity in today's world for connectedness and the sharing of life with all its joys and problems but increasingly many people seem happy to live on the surface, in their own little bubble of vanity and self-interest.

With all this in mind I turn my thoughts to the events of Holy Week and Easter as they loom ahead of us this month. The story of God's love shown in the life, suffering and death of Jesus Christ is far from one which is about vanity and self-centredness. We perceive at its heart a yearning for all people to reach fullness of life; for all people to be liberated from the weight of the sins which bind us to the past, which paralyse us with grief or guilt or sadness. We see concern and compassion for everyone to find ‘the life which is life indeed', whether they are rich or poor, high-ranking or lowly, men, women or children, black or white, Jewish or not. When his disciples appear vain or self-interested, Jesus brooks no argument - that is not the way of holiness; it is not the way of God.

We speak of ‘The Passion of Christ' as we enter into the remembrance of his final days and hours of earthly life before his death on the cross, and rightly so: Jesus was passionate about doing not his own will but that of his Heavenly Father. He was passionate about the people around him - and those whom he hardly knew. He was passionate about life and how life can flourish rather than shrivel. The story of Easter is a story of love and life.

What about us, though? What about our keeping of these holy days leading up to the celebration of Christ's Resurrection? Will we be passionate and loving? Will we sacrifice some time to be with Christ - and with each other as his Body, the Church - during the days of Holy Week? I worry that sometimes we are too easily tempted away from being passionate about Jesus, about our relationship with God. In all the churches I've worked and worshipped in I have been saddened by the small numbers who come to worship during these important days each year, especially Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Last year, I was astonished to hear that someone who had attended the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday had been dissatisfied with the fact that they had taken nearly an hour - apparently, if, in leading them, I had kept to the words in the book and not added an extra thought or two at each station, then the service would have been much shorter! Is it too much to ask of those who call themselves Christians to spend an hour or two with Jesus and each other on Good Friday, of all days?

As we move through the next couple of weeks I'd like to challenge us all to consider the depth of our passion for Christ; the extent of our love for God. I quoted David Cox as saying of La La Land's characters: ... they pledge eternal love; but they also promise to follow their dreams. For them the latter was bound to trump the former: self-worship brooks no distractions. If we have pledged our love to Christ, may we not fall into the trap of narcissistic self-worship this Holy Week and Easter, but truly give ourselves to him who, out of love for us, gave himself for the world.

With my prayers,



The Methodist Covenant Prayer


I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,

exalted for you or brought low for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

 to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.



"BE PREPARED"  Our Lord tells us that he will come again... but he doesn't say when!  For over 2000 years people have been waiting but it could be tomorrow!



St Martin's Church, Church Lane,  Ashton-upon-Mersey,  Sale,  Cheshire ,    M33 5QQ  

0161 976 4086 
0161 973 4204