This September letter comes with warmest wishes and blessings to everyone – and I hope you have all enjoyed the slow-time of a summer break that seems to have flown by.
I wonder if you have a particular task that seems to crop up much more frequently than others? Well, this letter is one of those tasks for me. It seems no sooner have I written one parish letter, than it is time to be thinking about the next one. What makes this a challenge is that it has to be done in advance so as to allow time for editing and printing etc. And so as I write, I am anticipating the beginning of the new term while in the middle of enjoying the August holiday season.
The point I am making is that sometimes we can only imagine what we are going to think, feel or do in a given situation or moment in time based on how we – or others – have thought about it in the past. But it’s hard to really know how we will feel in September – until September actually arrives, isn’t it?!
And don’t you think that there are quite a few times where we judge our reaction and response to something based on public opinion or past knowledge and experience – and that we might be somewhat closed minded which, of course, can limit us to learning more. Someone once said that our mind is like a parachute – it doesn’t work if it isn’t open!
And so I am writing this letter for us all to enter into a ‘spirit of open-mindedness’ – whether entering into a new job or new school experience – or needing to find a new way of using time as children start school or leave home for university – or whether we find ourselves living in a new way or place for one reason or another, or whether we are simply being challenged to see something in a different way than what we’ve always done before.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t too many years ago that I had to question the way I felt about church and my less-than-complimentary opinions of it at that time. I had to open a very closed mind to the fact that actually, it isn’t at all like the way I had thought and believed it to be.
The Church I returned to wasn’t the one I remember – about religiosity and ‘holier-than-thou people and about giving up the pleasures and comforts of the world to become some sort of spiritual, ‘other-worldly’ guru. And actually, we only have to look at Jesus to see that while he did go off and pray up in the mountains, he soon came back ‘down to earth’ and lived on the ground amongst the unique mix-bag of people who made up his community – just like we are a mix-bag of people and organisations and groups in Wrecclesham – all having a unique place in our community and all equally valued and special. Community and relationship is what the church is all about today…
And another thing while I am in confession-mode(!) – it wasn’t that long ago I would not have been inviting you to take part in an Alpha Course at St Peter’s. I had a judgement about it based on what I thought I knew about it which actually, was based on perceptions because I hadn’t even taken the course, I might add!
But while I was on the trip to America earlier this year, my mind became open to taking a proper look, and I am so thankful I did, because if ever there was a brilliant way to explore life’s big questions – and explore faith in a safe, non-judgmental space in the company of like-minded enquirers sharing a meal and conversation together, then Alpha 2019 is the answer.
So now, the St Peter’s table is set and the welcome warm, and I look forward to meeting you as we enjoy the Alpha experience together for the first time – further details are enclosed.
My prayer for us all these coming days is that whatever lies ahead, we might open our hearts and minds so that we can let go of what we think we know about ourselves, to become who we are meant to be today – and so embrace more fully the adventure of life – a day at a time – in whatever shape or form that comes along.
Blessings and Love, Rev Jacqueline
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