Rector's Letter for June
DEAR SISTERS AND BROTHERS,
A friend of mine is a great bird watcher. Maybe you are? Some sit in their gardens and put out nuts and seeds and see what comes in; others put on boots and coats and march off to windy hills and lakes to watch the seasonal birds flock to their temporary resting places. Learning to sit still, to wait, to pay attention, is a great lesson in our urgent world where usually we decide what is going to happen.
I have found myself, increasingly over the years, becoming a “Jesus watcher”. By this, I mean that when I read the gospels, I find myself paying attention to what Jesus is saying, doing, how he is relating to all that is going on around him and how he reacts to people. The more I watch, the more I realise that I have made up much about Jesus, projected my ideas, the ideas of teachers, preachers and Sunday School, onto the man who is there in the writings. It is both sobering and exhilarating. Sobering, because I suspect that I, in turn, have passed on ideas that have no basis. Exhilarating, because it is as if I am meeting Jesus for the first time.
Jesus talks about the Kingdom. That is, he talks about life now, life as it is and life as it could and should be. And he invites his followers (disciples, me, you) to pursue the Kingdom. And he frames this in terms of seeking God, not engineering the world to our own ends by our own power.
Archbishop Justin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, drew on this idea when he and Archbishop John of York created the “Thy Kingdom Come” season, the 11 days from Ascension Day to Pentecost. This season is a season of prayer. They put it this way; Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray for more people to come to know Jesus.
I invite you, then, to join me in a season of “Jesus watching”. Watching as we pray for people we know around Bury (who may even live in our houses!) who have not encountered Jesus, not found a deep awareness of his presence in our world. We shall be offering prayer cards for you to name the people you will be praying for at the end of May. Sometimes we think Mission is not our thing, beyond us or impossible. Here is an invitation to make possible God’s Mission among us.
A key date in the Church’s Calendar is the Feast of Pentecost. This year it falls on 9th June. We are going to make a big thing of this. We are inviting you to our Parish Eucharist at 10am when the congregation will be swelled with our Uniformed Organisations. After the service, there will be a Parish Garden Party and activities in the Rectory Garden. The Scouts are cooking reasonably priced food. I know that the temptation for some is to keep to your usual habits. We invite you to break those habits and make new friends at this party to celebrate the birth of the Church. There is an article about helping at this event on Page 6 of the Parish Magazine.
And then…. in the evening, we have Bishop Mark coming for the confirmation service at 6.30pm. We will be joined by folks from Ainsworth Parish. We have a whole bunch of candidates and it would be utterly fabulous if as many people from the congregation can join them at this service. It is a great reminder to each of you who are baptised and confirmed, of our steps on the journey of faith.
Sunday by Sunday we gather to worship the Lord in the Eucharist. Which suggests that the Eucharist is at the heart of our offering to God. Confirmation is often understood to be the gateway to communion (it’s not but that is a long story). And, in the Church calendar, there is one day when the Church invites us to pause and think about what it means to encounter the Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. That day is Corpus Christi (formally called “Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion), the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. This year it will be 20 June. We will celebrate the Eucharist at 7.30pm. We invite you to come and join the Lay Assistants and those who are “on the altar”.
And finally, 30 June is the Bury Show in Burrs Country Park. Last year, I was delighted to observe the Mothers’ Union out in force, staffing the Lost Children’s tent and ministering to younger families. A wonderful event to round off this very full month.
And…. If you’re wondering about Sheila and her ordination on 22 June…. You will find more in the Parish Magazine.
With love and prayers,