It seems ages ago that I was looking out of my study window pondering on what I would like to share with you for our summer magazine and here we are, September already!
I would usually say something about the summer giving us permission to break away from the usual routine of daily life, to slow and quieten things down, especially the traffic! But actually, after all that we have come through these past 18 months, I am not sure we know fully what a ‘usual routine of life’ looks like any more, and actually, rather than the traffic alleviating for the summer, it seems to have increased – likely due to the fact that we are able now to get out and about with more freedom than in the past, albeit a cautious freedom – we hope…
What will remain constant, however, is the ‘hello’ we say to new beginnings – new journeys for our young people through nursery, school, college and university gates; new jobs or new patterns of living through retirement, or changes in lifestyles, or changes in family circumstances, for good -through new additions to the family or sadly, having to live with increasing disability and immobility or having said farewell to a loved one and now establishing a new pattern of life without them.
Newness can seem strange and scary to us all. Whatever our age, it can be hard to embrace change and new things – even if the comfort zone we are in isn’t always comfortable. We can sometimes feel alone and believe that we are the only one experiencing these feelings, but we might not want to say anything so as not to burden people, or because we are a little embarrassed to be somewhat vulnerable. I wonder what the answer is? I bet many of us hope people would feel they could reach out to us if they were in need so we could help and be alongside them in some way, but we’re not so good at reaching out for ourselves and receiving the same kindness and care, are we?!
But I’d like to share this. We held a parish tea party during August – the first gathering together in a long time – and what came to me during this lovely afternoon was the fact that being part of a community instead of being isolated and alone – gathering together for one thing or another lifts the human spirit and mingles with that wider and broader spirit of love that is experienced ‘when two or people are gathered together.’
People were so overjoyed to be able to sit and share a tea together and catch up after such a long time and there were actually some tears of thanksgiving for the opportunity to alleviate the loneliness and isolation – either Covid-induced or self-imposed. And another thing another I realised was that it wasn’t the actual activity that counted as much as the gathering together with friends.
Community spirit is uplifting – this is what we say at St Peter’s every week as we gather to worship and share coffee and cake afterwards – when we have our social events – our fundraising events – our small groups – our special services. We say that our Gospel message – the Good News – is that we REALLY don’t have to be alone – and that we really can be nourished and uplifted when we gather together to receive hospitality, welcome and love from one another – WHATEVER we are doing. It is the gathering together that changes everything – being part of a community of fellow travellers on the journey of life.
And another thing that changes everything for us in our place at this time is that all that I am sharing with you happens through St Peter’s Church. Many of us would never have known each other except for being connect to Wrecclesham and St Peter’s – and it that connection that is the game-changer, whether we realise it or not, as this Community Spirit mingles through us and fills our hearts with that ‘not feeling alone’ peace that passes understanding – even if things are tricky on the outside. It is the Community Spirit – the ‘I can’t-quite-put my-finger-on-it’ atmosphere that feels different than other places – that feels warm and safe, special, and inviting…
And so – here’s my invitation to you – why don’t you STEP OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE OF ‘GOING IT ALONE’ and COME AND SEE what it’s like to join in and be PART OF A COMMUNITY of people who will help each other, laugh and cry together, take time to care for one another, have a giggle and a bit of fun at socials together, grapple with life’s twists and turns together, explore that somewhat unknown journey of faith together in whatever way works for them – but together…
People stumble into church because they have plucked up courage – followed a nudge – or some urge to step through the door of their parish church and meet up with like-minded people who simply want to live a peaceful and happy life, and to offer in a simple way what they can to help others…. Jesus might have been the meek and mild baby that we encounter at Christmas, but he also grew up to be an edgy risk-taker – a rally-cry for justice, peace and true-love of one to another – a believer in the power of prayer – and he also grew up to be the gatherer of people who formed the first church – a mix-bag of followers from all walks of life – all ages, shapes and sizes – dodgy dealers and holy-joes alike! They were all there, gathered and loved by God through Jesus and through the Spirit of love that mingled between them. Regardless of their differences, that community spirit united everyone in their similarities and mobilised an amazing first-century movement of goodness, that proceeded to spring up everywhere as church-communities of all various shapes and sizes. And so here we are today – St Peter’s – a twenty-first century church community that seeks to live out the first-century ‘Christ-ian’ principles that Jesus taught and modelled back then and for us today through the community spirit that binds us together and builds us up.
Whatever your faith – or none – you are welcome at St Peter’s Church always. As well as our regular Sunday services, here are some dates for your diary that might be of interest:
Wrecclesham Alpha Course Series 4 – beginning Tuesday 7th September – come and explore big
questions in a friendly, safe space…
Saturday 25th September, 3.30pm – Back-to-Messy Church BBQ in the vicarage garden – see
poster on the website homepage (sign-up required)
Sunday 3rd October, 10am – Harvest Festival
Sunday 11th October, 4pm – Launch of our new monthly afternoon service ‘REFRESH’ – 4-
4.30pm – gathering for a catch-up and tea-time refreshments for the children and tea/coffee cake/biscuits
for the grown-ups
Saturday 23rd October, 7.30pm – CONCERT – The return of the HART MALE VOICE CHOIR – see details on the website.
My prayers are with you for a September that is filled with promise of new beginnings, new hope – and new adventures and friendships along the way.
Blessings and love, Jacqueline
A prayer for September
September – the month of new beginnings for many, as summer fades and school and college terms start. After such a strange time of restrictions, hopes of freedom, with warnings to be cautious, it is hard to know what to expect this September. We can’t know what lies ahead, Lord, but we can trust you to see us through whatever it turns out to be.
Thank you for your promise, I will never leave you or forsake you… (Hebrews 13:5)
Help us to hold fast to that promise, to keep trusting you – and to be thankful for each September day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Read more clergy letters.