Newspapers do not usually print anonymous letters but in one recent instance the 'Church Times' did. One can understand that the writer might not have wanted his Vicar to associate the sentiments expressed with him or her! Here is part of what was said.
“The Church of England operates a two-tiered society where clergy and their concerns take precedence over anyone else. This does not communicate an affirmation of the many volunteers who keep the Church of England going
The Church is in crisis over the future of its ministry. We are becoming an increasingly volunteer-led organisation, and it is imperative that the Church grasps the implications of this change in terms of pastoral support and inclusive affirmation of the laity . . . There is a lot of fawning and flattery over those who are ordained, as though their very status made them a cut above us all. Now that we are in crisis over ministry numbers, we cannot afford to maintain this attitude.
Peter tells us that we are all a holy priesthood and that we are all able to offer sacrifices acceptable to God (I Peter 2: 5).”
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, I didn't like the phrase about 'fawning and flattery'. But this was not because it isn't true, but because, to an extent, it is. Vicars are treated, most of the time, with a degree of
First of all, many thanks to all those who shared our 45th wedding anniversary with us on Palm Sunday morning. It made a lovely occasion. And thank you too for the flowers and gifts. The rose has gone into the garden this afternoon.
I am writing this well in advance due to holidays. I know Jim thinks I am away far too much already! But current clergy now have six Sundays off a year, more than I have ever had. Soft, the younger generation! Anyway, this will account for the fact that anything that has happened since Easter won't have registered with me.
For Christians, what happens after Easter is the hard slog of being a believer in the world. One version of our Lord's final words to his disciples (in Acts chapter 1) is this: “you will receive
Why are you a Christian? There are many possible answers to that question. But one, surely, has to be that Jesus is alive and, in one way or another, a present reality to you. If he is merely a dead prophet – like Mohammed, incidentally – then he may be revered as a wise teacher, but you cannot believe in him, you cannot find him a present help. There are at least two reasons for accepting that Christ is alive. One is implied in what I have just said, our personal experience of him through prayer, worship etc. The other, however, is objective. Quite obviously, someone who
Lent is nearly upon us. The days when it was observed by strict fasting are long gone. And, I must admit, I find it hard to stick to miserable hymns for the necessary five weeks! It is much more sense to make positive use of the season. I heard on the radio today an interesting physiological explanation for why diets never work. Perhaps a more obvious reason is that we can't stick to them very well. The same is true of New Year's resolutions. Remember yours? They are probably history. Well, Lent can be a sort of Christian New Year, but with the advantage that it's only a few
On Christmas Eve Wentworth Church has held a carol procession by candlelight ever since I started it way back in 1992. In that year 110 people came and, evidently, enjoyed the experience because they have kept coming back, year after year. The general trend since then (except when snow and ice have intervened) has been upwards and in 2010 the attendance was 275. But this last Christmas there was an exponential jump in numbers and the church was absolutely packed (and that is not an exaggeration! We actually ended up with families turning away at the door). We counted the candles we gave out, and there were 425. Amazing! And a record for an act of worship here, surely? As well as a wonderful start for Christmas for those who came, especially for the children. £550 was donated afterwards and this was given away, as it always is, this time split 50/50 between Crisis at Christmas (who work with the homeless) and Bluebell Wood Hospice. Mark Wigglesworth, the Bishop's Evangelism Officer, says that
It is really illogical to regard a single date as a new start, but we do, most of us, think of New Year in that way. The church's calendar supports this as, during the first few months of the year, we shall be recalling our Lord's baptism and then his presentation in the Temple. The latter was rather more like the way families use baptism today, the time when parents brought their babies to church in an act of thanksgiving.
What will 2012 bring? We think we know and may already have booked things like holidays. But in fact, of course, we don't know if we shall be doing any of the things we imagine we will. Even in the 21st Century, life is uncertain. I am sure you know the lines which follow, though perhaps not the
An encouraging discussion was held at Harley Mission (the church's proper name) last month. Of course there were one or two items of business to dispose of, such as what to do about the sycamore trees growing near the building, but most of the time was spent talking about how to reach out to the community and to make our worship more attractive. One or two conclusions were that:
• coffee will be served after all services, not just once a month, giving an opportunity to chat and get to know each other better;
• whenever there is a 5th Sunday in the month, as there is in January, we shall have informal worship in the church room;
• we may try to vary the communion service more, as the book ours is based on has lots of choices;
• Corinne, one of our Sunday School teachers, would like to explore starting a village choir for young people.
You may wonder what does go on inside a church. Well, come and find out, and give us your opinion about how we could do things better.
I was taken aback last month by the numbers wishing to recall a loved member of their family at the Memorial Services held in our churches. “The memory of the just is blessed” as it says in the bible [Proverbs 10:7]. Special people, in other words, and those who have meant a lot to us remain important to us, however long it is. One can forget this when engaged in the normal surface chit-chat with a person, but often just beneath is a deep and lasting sense of loss. I hope that bringing that memory to church and recalling that we all, on earth and in heaven, stand before the same throne of God, has helped.
You will see in this month's calendar there is to be a meeting at Harley Church on 7th November. Such meetings take the place of a committee, which we don't have down there. Hurray! I say (sorry, PCC, I really am aware that larger churches can't be run on the principal of one man, one vote). Anyway, this is important because the congregation is in a bit of 'down' patch at the moment. We need to think about ways we can grow the church in the village which is,