We'll Meet Again!

Dear Church Family,

I hope this communication finds you well and enjoying this little burst of better weather. The garden here at the Rectory has really come to life in the last few weeks and my seedling vegetables, planted enthusiastically at the beginning of lockdown, are almost ready to be planted out. I’ve been able to get out for a decent walk most days in the last two weeks (the children and I passed the 20-mile target we set for ourselves last week) and it has been a joy to bump into various congregation members as I traipse around the streets and fields of Hutton. I really value those unexpected moments as we turn a corner or see a friendly face ahead and are able to snatch a conversation (at the appropriate social distance!) and realise how much I am missing you all. It’s at those times I have felt most like a pastor during this lockdown experience.

“We’ll Meet Again”

Photo by David T on Unsplash

The VE Day celebrations were not as any of us wanted them to be. I had hoped to hold a service for the community followed by a street party or picnic, but it was not to be. Alice and I managed to lead a short service of prayers and reflection from The Rectory on our Facebook page and enjoyed some homemade scones in the garden later in the afternoon. We also enjoyed the BBC tributes at both 3 pm and 8 pm, concluding with the message from The Queen. The parallels were drawn between the growth of community spirit during the war and this current crisis. It is good to be reminded that we are capable of great acts of love and sacrifice towards each other - and it is a shame that we sometimes have to wait for difficulties in the world for these things to come to the forefront of shared life. My prayer is that we will see these sacrificial acts continue as we emerge from the grip of COVID-19 in the next year or so.

New Leadership

Since +Stephen stepped down as Bishop of Chelmsford on Easter Sunday, the diocese has been handed over to the Bishop of Barking until the new bishop is appointed. +Peter is a wonderful leader and very down to earth. He has been writing to the clergy each week, to encourage and support us as we move through the year. I thought I would share some of his thoughts on shared ministry and responsibility from his most recent communication. A good reminder that we are all ministers of the church. He writes:

“Last week I wrote about beholding, that Godly gift to not just see, but rather to apprehend deeply with and for Christ. A colleague e-mailed me with a generous response and pointed me to the second half of that word - the ‘holding’ part of ‘beholding’. In effect we are to hold what we behold. Yes, we hold our people in Christ and in prayer.
Ministry is not always easy, but it is a calling and a privilege. Yet more than that, the bigger reality and joy in ministry is that we are held by a loving God who leads us to see the deeper needs in others and also in ourselves.
In the restriction of the pandemic it is easy for us to feel some level of pastoral incompetence because we cannot be physically close at hand with our people and their need. Of course, recognising our weakness is a good thing and makes it more possible for the Spirit of God to use us. But one of the great encouragements of this challenging time is that all the evidence suggests that there is more effective pastoral care going on in lockdown than previously, whether it be by phone, email, doorstep delivery or social distanced conversation and much of it is carried out by lay ministers alongside their clergy. I hope and pray that is a level of Godly service and collaboration we can retain and rejoice in, as the future beyond restriction opens up.