Letter from the clergy - Friday 21 August 2020

First published on: 21st August 2020

Dear Friends,

We have much to be thankful for, and I’m sure that many of us are really pleased to be able to worship God together in church from this Sunday, though please don’t worry if you don’t feel safe to come to such a gathering yet, it’s better that you stay safe and wait a bit.  

On Sunday, Shirley will be preaching, and Janet will be sharing some of our good news stories in a time of thanksgiving. Do join us if you can, online or in person. Shirley will be speaking about the turning point in Jesus’ ministry, and asking, can we say that there has been a turning point in our lives, that we have decided to follow Jesus and there is no turning back?

Before I was ordained, I was a member of the congregation at Bradford Cathedral for many years, and I used to enjoy showing visitors the carving on the bishop’s stall that relates to this Sunday’s Gospel reading, when Jesus says to Peter “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” which of course is why Peter is usually shown in stained glass holding some keys. These are the keys to the storehouse of heaven’s blessings, rather than the control on entry to heaven.

As we begin to look ahead, many of us are reflecting on how to build up the church in these strange times, when we are wanting to grow, and continue to affirm to the community that we are very much alive and active, and yet we will not be able to return to church life as we knew it in the time before lockdown. If you have internet access, I would like to encourage you to consider joining the ‘Reimagining the Church’ Webinar on Thursday 3rd September from 10.30am to 12noon, which is all about church growth. There are some excellent speakers: two bishops (Sophie Jelley and Philip North) and Robin Gamble, and they will be reflecting on the Acts of the Apostles and lockdown (Intrigued? Then why not sign up and see what they have to say!). Places are free but they are filling up fast. If you’d like to book a place, please send an email to comms.training@leeds.anglican.org

A few weeks ago, at the request of Bishop Nick, I showed a video made by the diocese to highlight the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters in Sudan, who are grappling with the effects of Covid-19 too, but without the social support that we have in this country. The PCC were so moved by the situation in Sudan that they decided to support the appeal with a gift of £250, for which I am truly thankful. If you would like to add to this gift, it’s not too late. You’ll find lots of information about the Sudan Appeal and how to give on the diocesan website at the link above.

I’m hoping to see many of you in church on Sunday for the 9.30am Parish Communion service. We will have socially distanced seating and other arrangements in place for our own protection, but it will be so good to meet together in person to worship our Lord. We won’t be able to sing, though we will be able to listen to music, and Eileen will be playing for us. We will be able to receive communion ‘in one kind’ (that means bread only, which is considered by the Church of England to represent the presence of Christ just as fully as bread and wine), or you can receive a blessing instead if you would prefer. Please come early in order to allow time for checking in.   

A blessing (written by Malcolm Duncan, Niteblessings)

May you have a deep sense of stillness in your soul,
a quiet confidence in God,
who promises never to leave you,
knows what you are facing,
and has the strength, grace and mercy that you need to walk through this season of your life. Amen.

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


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