I do what I can. I need a shower. The shower is tepid and is nothing but a drizzle. The shower has a prostate problem.
Breakfast awaits. It is OK. You cannot beat a B & B breakfast. It’s cooked to order. Fresh and super. I am getting fat. And picky.
I have to hang on until 11:15 for the uploads to finish. I could have sent the data by snail mail. It would have been quicker. I am getting very picky.
Wesley’s New Rooms are in the City centre on Horsefair Road. I have to navigate the Bristol road system. It’s not very good. The sun is out today though, but not even that makes Bristol look any more inviting. There are however tons of people out. I mean the place is packed and buzzing! They all seem to be mostly my kind of folk. Working class. I will say this for Bristol, it looks like a very eclectic place, you know, full of electric ideas for the Dyslexic. I am judging the place to harshly. However, the first impressions that a city gives to people is very important. Get your act together Brissol!
The New Rooms are in a FANTASTIC location. Slap bang in the centre of the shopping area. Good grief, I would be preaching there outdoors every day. WHAT an opportunity. I walk past a statue of Wesley on his horse. I am praying for a horse. I shall call him ‘Peg’, (short for Pegasus.) I will also have a holster for my Winchester rifle, which I shall use to shoot out the lenses of traffic cameras and put the wind up Shopping centre security guards. I need a Clint Eastwood jacket to go with all this. My prayer list is growing. I tie Peg up outside of the stables that Wesley used for his own horse.
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The New Room is hosting a days seminars on Hymnology. There are maybe 80 people there, 65% women and all mostly in their 60’s.
I go and introduce myself to Gary. He is a really nice chap. The coffee is free. The Urn is kept in a cupboard. There are no toilets. How did Wesley manage. Did he have haemorrhoid’s from riding his horse too much. I mean it is estimated that he rode probably, what was it now, 1/4 of a MILLION miles! It must have cost him a fortune on his horse/horses. Are his horses honoured in heaven? I need a horse.
I wait for an hour and enjoy the seminar and the singing. We seem to be a completely disconnected group of folks. Outside thousands of needy people are shopping. Where is the urgency in Methodism to get the Gospel out once more.
All of a sudden Gary is in the Pulpit announcing my presence and inviting me up to speak. I can’t find the way! I feel a right plonka.
The privilege and honour, to stand in the very place where Welsey stood and preached oh so many times, some 270 years ago, is too staggering for me to comprehend. If I was into shrines, this would be one of my shrines. Wesley, you see, is not a game changer but rather a world changer. If he had a chance to come and visit The New Rooms today and see us all. If he had the chance to step outside and see the Broadmead shopping centre, the crowds with bags of shopping and the couple stuffing their face with a sausage roll from Gregs right by the side of the statue of him on his nameless horse, what he would would say? While we all examined his brothers hymns, scrutinised the sentence structure ( really appreciated it by the way) and compared them to choruses, I wonder if he would have taken his spurs off before kicking us all up the jacksie? Or I wonder if we might find him cowering in his pulpit today, weeping in shame? I wonder.
Gary honours me further by taking me up to Wesley’s Room. he tells me the pulpit is designed with purpose. “This place had no pews” says Gary “It was standing room only. There are no windows on the ground floor, not only to avoid the heavy window tax, but so’s not give the mobs a chance to break them, oh and if they broke into the meeting, the two pulpit structure and hidden access to it, would have kept John safe from the attackers and given him enough time to exit by the side door.” Amazing.
John Wesley attacked slavery in the very place the stinking trade was rife. He went out from the pulpitt and caused a few problems. There was riot or revival. The ministers were not pulpit bound, they sadled up their horse and went and proclaimed. What has happened to us?
For me, the most moving thing in Wesleys preaching rooms was the cupboard containing pigeon holes of about 1ft square. Here the itinerant preachers would leave ALL their valuables while they were away on mission. ALL thier valuables. As Gary said “They didn’t have a lot.” My Octavia is busting at the seems.
I interview Gary, who by the way is a retired headteacher and accomplished writer and published author. I would agree with some of Gary’s views, but I sense within him an utter frustration, a deep seated passion to get the church out form behind the pulpit and pews. I encourage him to think and act WAY outside of the box and when doing so, to always ask for forgiveness rather than permission! It works for me.
I thank Gary and walk into the Broadmead shopping centre. In the middle of the square, I bump into Apostle Francis and friends, quietly going about their business of winning souls to Jesus. AMAZING. I get the privilege to interview them and pray with them in the public square. On reflection, I should have preached, but I was still very tired. A pathetic excuse I know.
It is time for me to head for Oxford and find another bed for the night.
I am in the car. It is early. I mean around 3:30pm. I am 2.5 hours from Bridget. It is then 1.5 hours to Oxford from my home. I need stuff to be washed. I need Bridget. I am very needy.
I will very soon be out of travelling range back to Bridget. Wales, Northern Ireland and the dark regions of the North East of England (Why Aye Hinny). I am going home.
It’s great to see Bridge again (she has been in a Trustees meeting most of the day) and I am not in the door but 5 minutes when our good friends Phil and Jill ring to invite her out to the local Harvester restaurant for a meal. I can come to! Hallelujah, it’s Steak Dianne for me. When we get there I also have the new J2O Glitter Berry drink, which is a combination of red grape, cherry and a hint of spice with edible gold glitter that sparkles once the bottle is shaken. I ask the waitress if this will make my poo all glinty? She assures me it will not. I am disappointed. I could have had great fun with my wilder charismatic friends! “Quick, quick, come and look at this!” I repent.
It’s great to be with Bridget, Phil and Jill, Ernie, Diane and the Glitter Berry. Less than 24 hours ago I was suggesting giving up the tour. This is a treat. Poor Ernie lost his dear wife a wee while ago. I buried her. Phil and Jill are doing a stunning job in taking care of Ernie, whose hearing aid is not working correctly. Ernie is a veteran of the North Africa Campaigns, Somehow he survived the massacre at Monte Casino (one of the many now forgotten names which we should really never forget)
Ernie’s hearing aid problem and blindness leaves him a bit isolated. Well loved but isolated. At the beginning of the meal, because I left my glasses in the house, Bridget has to read the meal menu out to me. I feel a right Wally! Bit it makes me think.
I have had not a few friends, who have waited to sort their mortgage and pension out, planning to serve God when they are older, or even to just enjoy life more. They have believed all the SAGA and BUPA adverts and prepared for an active retirement only to find that old age has creeped up on them and decay and disease has overtaken them like Asahel in a hurry. Today is the day to serve God. It’s all we have. Who knows what tomorrow may bring.
I say goodbye to our good friends and go home with Bridget. The rest is none of your business. Praise God.
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