Letter from the clergy - Friday 14 August 2020

First published on: 14th August 2020

Dear Friends,

On Sunday we will have a focus on children in our online service, as Robin Gamble comes to preach, asking ‘how much do we care about children?’ This might be in relation to our own children, our grandchildren, or maybe children we know in church. Of course, we care a lot about their wellbeing physically, emotionally, and socially, but he asks, how much do we care about them spiritually, about them getting to know Jesus personally? Children depend on grown-ups to keep them safe and help them make wise decisions in life, but in the most important area, their faith journey, he asks how willing are we to talk to them about Jesus and the things of God?

These are all really good questions. Robin turns to Sunday’s Gospel reading, Matthew 19 v13-15, to remind us that Jesus wants children to come close to him, he wants to bless them, and they are important to him. This was in contrast to the prevailing view in society in his day (and indeed his disciples) that adults and their needs were the most important, but as is often the case, Jesus is counter-cultural, challenges our assumptions, and helps us to see things in a new light.

Robin is the bishop’s adviser for church growth, and the author of the ‘Collect for Growth’ that we use in our Morning Worship services, so it’s good to be able to hear him preach, for those who have online access.

I know from conversations with members of the congregation that work amongst children and young people has been really important to St John’s for many years. So let’s take the opportunity to pray especially for our children this week, for leaders who spend lots of time preparing Sunday School material for them, for all those at ABC Church who are nurturing children and families in Christian faith, and for all the children in our lives. Let’s pray for the children in our community, for families who have been struggling with home-schooling and the demands of working from home, and for our local schools. Let’s pray for children who have become disengaged with learning, and for teenagers who are worried about their future prospects because of the coronavirus situation. Some will have received exam results this week, that may or may not be what they were hoping for….

Looking ahead, our first Sunday service back in church will be on 23rd August. Do join us if you can. In the early weeks, we will have just one service each Sunday, a Parish Communion service which starts at 9.30am, so please come early, to allow time for checking in, and for the Churchwardens to find you a suitable ‘physically distanced’ place to sit. Please also wear a face covering when you come. If you do not feel safe or able to come out, don’t worry, we will continue to have online Sunday services and Wednesday dial-in services for the time being, and we will also continue to deliver these letters and the notice sheet to those who are not online to help you stay in touch, with many thanks to Lorna and Lesley for their pastoral ministry. These are all good things that have come out of the new way of being church that we have had to develop in recent months, and we are thankful for everyone who has cared for others in visiting, phoning, collecting food for Pudsey Community Project, or in recording themselves for online services. Together we will get through this! Do also please pray for the process of appointing a new vicar. The closing date for applications is next Wednesday, and interviews are to be held on 7th September.

A blessing.

May the Lord fill you with hope and the assurance of his love,
may you be blessed and kept safe through all your days,
and may you be enfolded in his glorious peace. Amen.

With grace and peace,
Sue McWhinney         
sue@stjohnsfarsley.org.uk         
07484 181699


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