Minister's Monthly Letter
I once attended a service – “On the foolishness of God” - that creatively linked the date (April 1st) and it’s being Good Friday.
There is no such combination this year as Easter is very early and Good Friday on March 25th. However on the first Sunday in Lent it is also St Valentine’s Day (February 14th). On the planning sheet I use to look ahead at services I scribbled three words – “Hearts and Ashes”. The services will wrestle with the powerful combination of the highs and lows of our lives.
Traditionally the ash for Ash Wednesday comes from burning the Palm Crosses distributed the previous Palm Sunday. Please consider bringing any palm crosses you have at home back to church in the next few weeks – there will be a box for gathering them in the church entrance.
Last year we held a service on Ash Wednesday but that is not possible this year so we will offer “ashing” on Sunday February 14th as we reflect on our frailty.
One of the major challenges faced by contemporary Christians is our understanding of human relationships and the nature and purpose of marriage. Currently this is brought into focus by changes to the law in 2014 that enabled the introduction of same-sex civil marriage. Here is a topic that touches both hearts and ashes. How should the churches respond?
The Methodist Church has asked every Circuit (or United Area in our case) and local church to consider whether we should revisit our understanding of marriage and the documents we issue to explain it. I am delighted to say that the Rev Heather Leake Date, who has visited us before to help our thinking about this, is available to guide our reflections. Currently we anticipate a meeting will be held on either Wednesday February 10th (Ash Wednesday) or Thursday the 11th at 7.30 p.m. - please look out for further information.
I invite you to pray for the preparations for the meeting and the meeting itself. There is another matter for which I would ask your prayers. You may well know that Lindsey Tilbrook, our Church Family Worker, has indicated she plans to step down from the role in August/September. I am very grateful that this is later than she originally planned to help cover my sabbatical over the summer. Her transition – she will very much remain part of the church – will be a time of sadness (ashes) and thanksgiving (hearts) for what she has done. Please pray for Lindsey but also for our church family – particularly those organising the search for her successor.
Are you drawn to praying for the church and the world? Would you be interested in being part of a prayer chain receiving prayer requests of a public and not so public kind? Please let me know. If you are (more) drawn to practical action might you be available to be part of the team organising this year’s Summer Fair? Please let me know. Prayer and action hold together the hearts and ashes of the world!
Rev Bob Sneddon