Rector's letter of August 2020
published in The Fippenny News of August 2020.
Changing a church building is never a light or easy decision to make. People’s emotions are very stirred by change and suddenly the church becomes a focus of attention.
What is revealed is a strong sense of ownership of the parish church, a sense of
entitlement to it and a deep welling of nostalgia.
Life events such as baptism and weddings, and services like a Christmas Carol Service are done beautifully in a church setting. But what can emerge if this is the only contact people have with the church is an idea of church that is not the same as the reality of Church.
The reality of Church is a group of faithful Christians gathering every week, (with a core gathering every day) to praise and worship Jesus Christ.
It is not always glamorous; it is not always polished (and it’s certainly not always warm), but it is always joyous and heartfelt. And Christians, whenever they meet, pray that those who do not know Jesus come to know him. Christians yearn for everyone in this village and beyond to know the peace of forgiveness, the overwhelming freedom of grace and the hope of eternal life.
Christians are called to proclaim the gospel afresh in each generation.
Church is not timeless or changeless. We don’t meet each Sunday as a historical reenactment society but as the people of God of today. Over time our liturgy (the wording of the services) has changed; the Bible translation has changed, the hymns we sing have changed and our buildings change.
People change too. Christians are not perfect – we are all works in progress but following the way of Jesus Christ is the way that leads to loving, caring service.
It is your church community that (preCOVID) provided a monthly hot meal for our older folk, helped run the Mud Pie café, ran 2 after-school children’s Bible clubs and a monthly Sunday school, ran holiday clubs and service for teenagers. It is your church that puts on quiz nights and Gardens Open and concerts which, while raising money for the church, also bring the community together.
Changing what we sit on does not invalidate any of what we do. It does not
lessen our worship of God and it does not stop the loving service to the
wider community. Am I championing the church? Too right – that’s my job
as its Rector. You have a lovely church community here and it is a privilege
to work and worship alongside them. If the passion and energy clearly felt
towards the church could be refocussed into mission and outreach we would
be able to do so much more.
If you would like to support the work of the church or (but better and) find
out more about Jesus please be in touch with me or Sue our Churchwarden.