Letter from the clergy - Friday 25 September 2020

First published on: 25th September 2020

Dear All,

Well what wonderful news, that Gareth Howles has been appointed to be the new Priest in Charge at St John’s. Gareth comes with lots of experience, and is a friendly and sociable priest, with lots of interests, so I’m sure you’ll love having him in your midst, along with Naomi and their growing family. Before training for ministry Gareth spent nine years as the youth worker at Pudsey Parish Church, so he knows the area, and will bring lots of skills in working with young people, which is great.

This Sunday, Charles is preaching, in our pre-recorded service, in person at St John’s, and at Rodley, so do pray for him as he makes time to prepare for this, and as he continues to explore his vocation. I am thankful too for someone to share with me in taking the services this weekend; team ministry is always better than one person doing it all!

Our first reading on Sunday, Philippians 2.1-13 is a rich source of teaching from St Paul all about the very nature of Jesus Christ, who was fully divine, and yet came to earth as a person who walked on this earth, living in obedience to his heavenly Father, and dying on the cross out of love for the human race, revealing God’s very character. Jesus was so much more than ‘a good example of how to live’, he was in his very essence God, coming to live amongst us.

At the very start of this reading, St Paul urges the Philippians to be united in loving fellowship, being like-minded, one in spirit and purpose, affirming and encouraging each other rather than promoting themselves or their own interests. Having the same mindset in the Lord (v2) doesn’t mean that they need to have the same opinions, but that they have a disposition to look at things with the eyes of Jesus, from a self-giving and outward-looking perspective, motivated by love for others. Paul is longing for his brothers and sisters in Philippi to do this, and if they do, he says they will make his joy complete. I think these verses are very sound advice for us too as we continue to live in a time of transition, as a congregation awaiting our new Vicar, but also as people living with Covid-19 in our midst, reeling with the extra restrictions placed on us all recently, designed for the common good, and yet difficult to live with when the end point is far from clear. May we all grow in grace, perseverance, and inner resilience, as we navigate these strange times.

In three weeks’ time we will have our APCM. Janet and Lorna are willing to stand again as Churchwardens, and they have given sterling service during the vacancy, with the added workload caused by Covid. However we really do need two new people who will work alongside Janet and Lorna in the coming months, so that they are ready to take on greater responsibility next year, and be Churchwardens in 2021 (the 2021 APCM will be next April). Can I encourage you all to pray about this, and to ask if God might be calling you, even if you aren’t one of the ‘usual suspects’? Thank you.

A Prayer (Niteblessings)

Ever-present and ever-faithful God,
thank you for the strength you give us for today.
Help each of us to focus on what is before us,
rather than rushing to what is ahead of us,
or reaching back to what is behind us. Amen.

With grace and peace,
Sue McWhinney         
07484 181699

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