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Pastoral Letter - July 2016

  • Last Updated: Sunday, 26 June 2016 13:19
  • Written by All Saints Admin
  • 26 Jun

Dear Friends,

On a recent day off, Peter and I set out on a walk up, over and around Bredon Hill. It was quite a climb up the hill in the heat! When we reached the top, we looked back from the top and surveyed the view and the way we had come. We congratulated ourselves on making it so far.

A journey can feel like hard work sometimes - if there are obstacles along the way, our new walking shoes are rubbing, the way is unfamiliar and we need to keep looking at the map or we take a wrong turn and have to retrace our steps. But the views from the top, and all we see along the way, the sense of achievement at persevering, knowing the calories we’ve lost and the muscles we’ve strengthened, all the conversations and laughter shared along the way, all make the journey well worth the effort.

It’s good to do this as we travel on the journey of life, take time to stop and reflect, look back at and appreciate all that we have experienced and achieved and admire the view. Obstacles we thought at the time were insurmountable, we got round. The wrong turnings we made didn’t end in disaster as we somehow got back on track or went on a new route. Situations in which we felt sore and pinched have been healed and we’re feeling more comfortable in the new places where we felt hurting and uneasy at the beginning.

Of course it makes a considerable difference to us as we journey to know that God travels with us. All along the way we can sense God’s encouragement, helping us to journey with courage, giving us strength to persevere and helping us to keep our eyes on the goal of our journeying, which is life with God, for ourselves and for others; the life which we can also appreciate and work for all along the way.  

We have been journeying as a single parish team in Bromsgrove for three and a half years now. Clergy and members of the PCC get a greater insight into the workings of the parish team. Others may still be struggling to understand why we do the things we do.

An example is the team service that we hold whenever there is a fifth Sunday in the month. This is an opportunity for the congregations of all the churches to come together to worship. Through our coming together we declare, not only our shared love for and faith in God, but our commitment to work together as the body of Jesus in Bromsgrove and Dodford. Though we are many, six churches, we are one body.

For many practical reasons, not least that we all know where we’ll be on that Sunday, we have decided that the fifth Sunday service will always be at All Saints Church at 10am. This is not an All Saints service to which members of the other churches are invited. It’s a team service that happens to be at All Saints. To emphasise this, each service will be led by a worship team made up from across the churches. Clergy, Readers and ALMs will all take it in turns to be involved. This gives us the opportunity for us all to experience the ministry gifts of all our worship leaders, lay and ordained. As all our churchwardens are legally wardens for every church in the parish, the wardens too will take a turn at being responsible for the running of the service, drawing in sidespeople and people to take the offertory for example. Our organists and choirs also work together to provide the music for our worship.

We have our next team service on 31st July. Please do come, to celebrate the love and goodness of God, our common life together and to support the worship leaders and officers of our churches.

Christine

 

stainglass window

Photo Credit: //www.flickr.com/photos/30369211@N00/3631679797/">Niall McAuley via Compfight cc

Pastoral Letter - June 2016

  • Last Updated: Sunday, 26 June 2016 13:13
  • Written by All Saints Admin
  • 26 Jun

Dear Friends,

I have remarked before in these ministers’ letters on the strangeness of writing something one month which will not be read for another month. As I write we are approaching Pentecost Sunday – the birthday of the church – the marking of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit coming into the world.

     Of course the Spirit of God has always been a part of us and a part of our story, right from the beginning of scripture where we read that the Spirit, or Breath, of God brooded over the waters. In the story of creation this image is one of bringing life. So too at Pentecost we remember the story of the coming of the Spirit upon those disciples who had known Jesus. But if we do not do more than mark it, if we do not celebrate the life-giving Spirit of God and pray that we too may be touched and inspired, lifted and transformed, then we have lost the meaning behind remembering. It is not an event just to remember from the past. It is about a relationship. Divine spirit meets human spirit and finds a union that brings life.

     As you read this, Pentecost will be well behind us and we will be approaching Midsummer, usually celebrated on 21st June. It is the longest day – that is the longest hours of daylight – in the northern hemisphere. It is named the summer solstice because it is the time when the sun is at its highest in relation to the angle of the earth at the equator.

The Celtic community mark Midsummer as a time of thanksgiving for the earth which has been given to us by God to care for and nurture and nourish. Midsummer points us to the story of creation when God spoke the earth into being by the breath of the Spirit, and formed the earth and all that is part of it. God saw that it was good.

     My friend Annie Heppenstall (author of The Healer’s Tree, and Reclaiming the Sealskin) and I used to run a series of meditations through the year based in the Celtic tradition of valuing sacred space, the sanctity of earthiness, and their place in our spiritual development. The meditations were named “Holy Ground”, a recognition that in all our endeavours and journeying to follow Jesus, the ground we walk upon is holy because of the presence of God.

     How different would our journey be, how different would our world be, if people walked gently and with awe in the world that God has created for us and has given to us to tend - all things that grow, the soil from which they grow, the air we breathe, and the people who share it.

     Annie writes: “To tend the earth with love, so that all thrives in a joyous wheeling of the seasons, is part of our human calling.”(The Healer’s Tree, p56, Wild Goose publications, 2011).

As we approach this marking of the year and watch the sun high in the sky, may we remember the Christ who is the light of the world, present at Creation, and the Spirit who continues to breathe life into us. Let’s be open to Spirit meeting our spirit, blowing away the staleness, tending our woundedness, and transforming how we live; so that the places we walk in the world are once again seen as sacred places in which God dwells.

Carey Saleh

 

stainglass window

Photo Credit: //www.flickr.com/photos/30369211@N00/3631679797/">Niall McAuley via Compfight cc

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