Letter to parishioners, 5 February 2022

Saturday, 5 February 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

This has been a busy week. As well as the usual round of home communions and interaction with the schools, we have marked the end of the Church’s celebration of Christmas by removing the Christmas tree and crib, I have attended a day conference for Rural Deans and I have led our first meeting for all the Authorised Lay Ministers in our Deanery. A busy, but inspiring week.

Since the relaxation of the Covid rules relating to the visiting of other people’s homes, I have had a growing ministry to those who have become housebound over the last two years. As each intimate celebration of holy communion draws to a close, the person I am visiting often says, ‘Thank you’. I understand why they offer their thanks, but I also wonder if they realize my gratitude for being given the privilege of taking the sacrament into their homes? Holy Communion is the core service of the Church. In the liturgy of communion we ask for God’s forgiveness for all that has distanced us from him in recent days; we hear the word of God; we offer our prayers of intercession; we share the peace of Christ; and we participate in the simple meal of bread and wine which Jesus gave us as a reminder of his presence with us always. Those whom I visit in their homes have been lifelong churchgoers. Through various levels of incapacity they are no longer able to make the journey to Church each week, so the Church now goes to them. The love of Christ seeks them out and offers a level of reassurance and spiritual refreshment that keeps their faith alive and their engagement with the Church active and profound. That spiritual joy is truly inspiring.

I mention the ministry of home communion for two reasons. In the first instance I am inviting you to encourage anyone you know who might benefit from receiving the sacrament in their homes to contact me and join the many others who enjoy the peace and intimacy of this simple service. Secondly, it connects with our gospel reading of the week (Luke 5:1-11). In this passage from the beginning of Luke’s gospel we hear of Jesus’ call to the first disciples. We hear Jesus saying to Simon and Andrew, James and John, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ We also hear of the response of those fishermen: they left everything and followed him. Just as Jesus called those first century fishermen into his service, so he calls us. As well as visiting the housebound, I led a meeting of those who have responded to God’s call by accepting the ministry of Authorised Lay Minister in our local churches. That call came in many ways, but has the common thread of Jesus calling and someone responding in faith. 

In the coming weeks we will be journeying with Christ towards his crucifixion and resurrection. We will see the self-sacrificial way in which he set aside riches and power for the good of others. Let us pray that we might use the coming days to reflect upon Christ’s call in our lives, and let us pray that we might then set aside our apprehension and our need to be the ‘one in charge’ of our destinies and set off on our pilgrimage of discipleship. And, let us pray that through our words and actions we might bring many to the Lord whose forgiveness, love and divine sustenance is available for all.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen