Rector's Letter for June
DEAR SISTERS AND BROTHERS,
One of my reflections, on reaching this point, six months in as your Rector, is that almost all of my experience here has been one of the Church’s seasons; Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter have absorbed almost all of the weeks since I arrived. June, for me, brings in my first exposure to what the Church now calls “Ordinary Time”. We used to refer to this as “Sundays after Trinity”, suggesting they are in some way an after-thought, a pause between the real focus of Easter and Advent. One of the possible derivations of the word “Ordinary” stems from the Latin word “ordo”, which is about time and order. The change brings with it the intriguing and spiritually liberating insight that in this long season our hearts could be open to God in an ordered and rhythmical way. I am looking forward to sinking into this long period of deepening discipleship. I hope you are too.
This season may be “ordinary” but what we are invited to do during it will be anything but ordinary. There is much that the Lord is calling us to do and much that we each can offer.
I write this letter at the end of the Thy Kingdom Come period of prayer for renewal. I wonder whether you took up the opportunity to pray during it? At a recent parish meeting, I was struck by the awkwardness and ambivalence expressed about prayer. Liturgical prayer, the formal prayer of the Church offered in worship, is something we find we can participate in. After all, it is part of the reason we come to church. But the group indicated that the idea of praying on their own was something that they were unsure about. I am sure that they are not alone. And I am equally sure that there are readers of this letter for whom prayer, personal prayer, is simply part of daily life.
One of the outcomes of this meeting was that we will look to resource, encourage and equip our community in the whole area of prayer. It would be, for me as your still new Rector, really helpful to know from people where prayer fits into their Christian life. If any would like a conversation, whether you have found a pattern and rhythm that sustains your spiritual life or whether you find this whole area simply so difficult that talk of prayer causes guilt to rise in your heart or whether you fit somewhere in the middle, the clergy would be really interested. There is a great, if imperfect, saying about church life which goes like this; “Pray as if it all depends on God; work as if it all depends on us”. Both parts of this saying bear more than a grain of truth, I believe. And if so, then the “prayer” part needs actioning. Watch this space.
Mission Action Planning is something that we have already flagged up. Essentially it is a process whereby the people of a parish can, under God, focus their activity. We need to tell Bishop David what we are going to do by the end of November. The process we are going to use to discern our priorities here at Bury Parish is this. A group of us are going away (all the way to Bircle!) to come up with a “short list” of ideas that we think will help us in mission and ministry. This event will be on 16th June. I have asked specific people to come but would be more than happy to extend the invitation to anyone who thinks that they have ideas worth exploring or have a willingness to invest time and energy to help us implement the plans. God, you see, has secreted wisdom and creativity among us all. Once we have our “short list” of ideas, we will present these to you, in worship, over coffee, in the magazine and finally in a decision-making occasion. Whatever we decide will be decided by all. Do pray for this process (see previous paragraph for details...).
2018 sees the centenary of the 1918 Armistice. We are going to host a “taster” event on Saturday 23rd June. At this event, various groups will be displaying what is going to happen over Autumn in Bury. There will be refreshments and poetry and things to see. We do hope that you will come. We do hope that you will bring a friend or two.
And finally, Sheila Beattie is to be ordained Deacon on 1st July. This is a really special event and we ask you to hold Sheila in your prayers. Manchester Cathedral being the size it is, we cannot, sadly, encourage you all to decamp that Sunday. However, on 8th July we will be welcoming Sheila formally in our worship at 10.30am (note time - this is so as to include St Paul’s). We do hope that whatever service you usually attend, you might move your calendar around so you can join us, both at the worship and also at the Bring and Share lunch afterwards.
With love and prayers,