Rector's Letter for May
DEAR SISTERS AND BROTHERS,
Here’s a bit of a sermon preached on 15th April 2018 in the evening:
The doorbell rang. Outside was not one of the usual suspects but a reasonably well dressed guy who said that whoever was running the House on The Rock had guided him to the Rectory. I invited him in.
His name was Aaron. He was Jewish and wanted a conversation. As he sat, he saw my screen saver which was of our Easter break in Budapest. He got excited. He was Hungarian and our conversation veered into shared experiences of that city. And then veered back to the matter in hand.
I am not sure I understood everything he said but in essence he had managed to leave a bag at Victoria bus station. This bag was not his clothes bag or his work bag but his Shabbat bag, containing all the items he needed to observe the Sabbath; candles, cups, prayer shawl, the tefillin, the prayer box that they put on their heads, prayer book and so on. He explained that he needed his bag to be able to be faithful to his religion, to keep the law, to be obedient to the scriptures. Whilst speaking of his lost bag and the anxieties of not being able to keep Sabbath, he became intensely sad.
My new friend’s urgency to find a solution to his problem was unsettling. Unsettling because it raised several awkward questions in my head; what would be my equivalent discipline and devotional pattern? Weekly communion? Daily prayer? Daily reading of the scriptures? Do I mark our Sabbath with such a degree of seriousness? And what about you?
Moving on from questions of devotions and piety, complicated questions rose in my mind about why, if asked, many members of churches (maybe this church) would look a tad embarrassed and say that they do not have a disciplined or rich devotional life. How did we get there? And, if we have become so adrift from the practice of our faith that we see it sufficient to turn up to church occasionally, how can we reverse that?
In our forthcoming Mission Action Planning, we will look at our own nurturing, our own openness to God, our own devotional life. Maybe we, like Aaron, will also go into a panic when we sense we might miss time with the Lord.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has called the Church to a season of prayer called Thy Kingdom Come. This is a season of prayer for ourselves, our families and church and nation, that we might be refreshed in our faith and be renewed in confidence in witnessing to Jesus Christ. This season is from Ascension Day (10th May) to Pentecost (20th). To help us, the Church has provided resources. These will be offered from the end of April in the narthex. We do hope that you will not merely take but will use them, use them with the passion and commitment of Aaron.
Our Church will have Prayer Stations and we encourage you to use them, just as we will encourage those who come into the House on The Rock to engage with them. We mark the beginning of this period, on Ascension Day (10th May), with services of Holy Communion at 12.45pm (said) and 7.30pm (sung). Rumour has it that we are not in the habit of coming to church outside our usual pattern. Our usual pattern ought to include the Feasts of the Church and Ascension Day right up there. I look forward to seeing you.
As part of our desire to include those on the fringe and welcome new people, our Parade Service on 13th May (which falls in the middle of the Thy Kingdom Come season) will help us think about how we, at Bury Parish, might think about and talk about our faith. Our Director of Music has been helping the Cubs with their musicians badge and they will be coming to sing. TBC, our Youth Club, will be making the communion bread. We have a “visiting” preacher. Do come. Dare to bring a friend.
Christian Aid Week falls within the Thy Kingdom Come season. We have a Breakfast on Sunday 13th May. We hope that you will come along and support Christian Aid by rising early. Tickets available.
Pentecost (Whit Sunday) falls at the end of this season (20th May). We want to mark this in a variety of ways. We invite you to wear some red clothes, a sign of the Spirit. We are looking for people who are fluent in or able to read reasonably confidently in languages other than English. If you are, could you have a word with the Rector?
The Thursday after Trinity Sunday (31st May) is Corpus Christi, the day when we give thanks for the gift of the Institution of Holy Communion. There will be a service of Holy Communion at 7.00pm. This is particularly for the Lay Assistants and the Servers but we would love to be joined by whoever delights in this amazing gift of grace and healing.
With love and prayers,