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Thoughts from the Vicar

 

 

Sunday 24th November
Stir-up Sunday

Praying for those who are sick

One of the spiritual disciplines for Christians is regular prayer, this includes corporate prayer (when we gather as Church) and personal prayer (our home prayer life). Both aspects of prayer are important and to help with personal prayer there are a number of resources available from the Church nationally and also from St Peter’s. Two things which are helpful are the Parish Prayer Diary with topics for each day of the month and the Worship Sheet which has both the Collect prayer and also a list of those who have asked for our prayers on it.

We will be making a small change to how the worship sheet traditional sick-list operates and hopefully this will help shape and guide our prayer more usefully.

“Many of the people who are, or have been, on our list of those who are sick speak of the strength and sense of God’s healing presence they have received from the prayers of the church. We are however aware that this list is sometimes a long one, and in order to focus our prayers it will in future be divided as follows:

  • Praying for healing for members of our congregation.
  • Praying for those who are no longer able to attend church and thus are “indoor members” of our congregation; they may receive Holy Communion at home or benefit from church visitors to a residential care home.
  • Praying for those who have asked for our prayers but who live outside our parish (these are often family of congregation members)

The listings in the Worship Sheet will rotate these groups, but do be assured that every person given to us by name for prayer will be prayed for. Please note that we do require permission from each person before they are named in writing.

  • Of course, you can offer your own prayers for those you know who are in need of God’s healing touch. Lighting a candle or writing a prayer and attaching it to our prayer tree can be a practical way of doing this; we know God does hear all our prayers in whichever form they are offered.”

     

    If you would like help or guidance in how to pray, there are a number of books in the Church library. You could also talk to one of the ministry team or supporting clergy in the congregation, all would be very happy to help.

    Patrick

Sunday 17th November
Second Sunday before Advent

A number of pastorally-hearted congregation members have enquired after Andrea (our Youth Minister) as she has not been at the St Peter’s 10.00am service since September. Usually if one person asks a question there are another ten who have wondered but not asked... so for all those pastorally-hearted people - Andrea is perfectly well!

They are, however, correct in noticing she is no longer worshipping at St Peter’s on a Sunday morning because we have changed her job role.

Following the sad death of Rev Stephen Callis there was no Ministry Team lead at the Church of the Resurrection. We talked to the Diocese about a range of options but with 23 clergy vacancies in the Diocese, even if we could afford a second stipendiary cleric (which we can’t), we would be doing well to find one.

It is one of the Church of England’s on-going mistakes to assume that lead ministers have to be ordained. Many Fresh Expressions and Messy Church congregations are lay led. Looking at the situation on Upton, Andrea has set up and chairs the charity that overseas all the work in the CoRe (the community hub), she is an active Vice-Chair of the school governors and will be the next Chair, as well as taking lessons and being highly involved in school life. She runs the various CoRe@4 services and is the first point of contact for numbers of community- focussed organisations in the area.

If, as we hope and pray, members of the community, families from school or participants in groups using the building choose to become part of the worshipping life of the church, they are most likely to do it through a connection with Andrea. Consequently, her new role involves being at CoRe for Sunday morning worship, either to provide a Young Church or to help lead Family Service.

We are already seeing the fruits of this decision with new families worshipping on a Sunday morning. She is still part of our Ministry Team, still runs the Friday and Sunday evening groups at St Peter’s and it’s important that out of sight isn’t out of mind - so remember to keep her and the ministry at CoRe in your prayers.

Patrick

Sunday 10th November
Remembrance Sunday

In the Old Testament God directly encourages his people to remember over 100 times. Remembering is important because God is active and involved in his world - he is not a concept or an idea, but is personal and active. God does things and can be remembered. The areas that God particularly highlights for His people to remember fall into two categories:

  • Disobedience and its consequences
  • And God’s rescuing and redeeming activities.

As well as the usual reasons for their going astray: power, sex and wealth – God’s people also made a wrong assumption about their vocation. They assumed they were chosen because they were better or more important than other nations, but that was a misunderstanding. God chose them to be his light, to glorify his name and to be his witness by being different from the surrounding nations. Their failure to live out this call and instead to behave like the surrounding pagan nations would sow the seeds of judgement and exile.

God was encouraging his people to remember so that they would be reminded both of God’s goodness and also the consequences of not learning the lessons of history.

There are a number of dangers of letting two World Wars move from our memory into history:

The lessons learned get forgotten: We forget the horror and we forget that the moments of incredible bravery and courage demonstrated by those on all sides do not negate the awfulness of war. Those who speak tritely of “Blitz Spirit” or compare challenges and situations today with the war do a disservice to those who lived with the reality of falling bombs, of friends and families killed or homes destroyed. Similarly, it undervalues the price paid by those who lost their lives or were wounded or who had friends die alongside them on active service – because it is just not the same.

Wrong messages take their place: If we forget how awful war is, we may forget the stupidity of walking in paths that lead to war. Looking back, it is easy to see the mistakes that led to the first world war and how that in turn sowed the seeds of the second world war. We are not so good at recognising the reasons after nearly seventy-five years of peace. Assumptions of national superiority or demeaning talk of other nations, casual racism and failure to condemn xenophobia are a worrying sign of the wrong messages taking root in our society.

As we remember today we can learn again the lessons of history and ensure the seeds we sow generate a harvest of goodness for the generations to come.

Patrick