Letter to parishioners, 9 April 2021

Friday, 9 April 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

Last week was a time of great celebration in our Benefice. Five of our six churches were able to celebrate the great festival of Easter with a service of Holy Communion within the communities they have served for hundreds of years. Unlike Easter 2020, Easter 2021 saw us coming together to give thanks for Christ’s victory over death and sin and, for those who were unable to join us in person, there was still the services that have been provided for over a year on our website and on CD. It was truly wonderful to be able to join as a united Christian community in prayer and worship. It was also heartening to hear once again the great Easter acclamation: Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Our being able to gather in worship has not been the only cause for celebration in the last week.  Many of you have joined in our Easter Offering campaign this year. In recent weeks we have been collecting money to support the work of our local hospice, St Barnabas’, Grantham. It has been humbling to see how quickly we have raised a total of £1780 across our community. Many, many thanks for supporting this great cause so generously. Whatever your contribution may have been, please be assured that it has provided much needed help for an organisation that provides such valuable support as people’s earthly lives draw to a close.

Our first reading this week (Acts 4:32-35) puts the generosity of those who contributed to our Easter Offering into the context of the earliest church communities. In those early, post-resurrection days, as the Church of Christ was growing and coalescing, there was a true spirit of generosity and mutual support. There was a setting aside of greed and the self-obsessed accumulation of wealth. Instead there was a spirit of giving and love which is spelled out in this short reading. Those early Christians brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Sadly, this open-handed generosity is not the way in which we live out our daily lives in the twenty-first century. Over the last two thousand years we have set aside this aspect of Christian generosity with many church communities hoarding as much money as they can, just in case … !!!

Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus modelled a love for all whom he met and a level of service that many of us would shun as being ‘beneath our dignity’. The Christian Church speaks a lot about its call to love and serve but it struggles to put those two challenging words into practice.

In recent days the press has been full of accounts of mis-management and financial crisis in the Church of England. Many of the responses I have heard to these reports focus on the leadership skills of those in positions of authority; none of those responses have begun with the words: What can I do to help? The Church is not about the leadership skills of those whom God has chosen to be our leaders. The Church is about the whole community working in fellowship and prayer to honour the great commission we received from Christ himself, that is from the one whom Thomas declared to be My Lord and my God. Let us pray for the simple faith of those whose love and service created the Church we claim to love with all our hearts.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen