Vicar's Letter October 2017

October 2017

Dear Friends,


As I said last month, let's start off as we mean to go on! Thank you to all of you who have been part of the Church's life in the past month, in particular thank you for all the support that our Harvest Festival received. It was very good to be able to support the FoodBank to that extent and to enjoy the wonderful decoration of the Church at the Festival. Have you seen the pictures at ? I know that not all of you are on Facebook, some of you won't go on Facebook on principle, and perhaps others of you have no idea how to. But it is worth being aware that this is a rather different way of sharing news and information, a way perhaps of proclaiming to our parish community that we have good news to share. Be aware too, that you can access that page without having to join up or sign in.  Thank you to those who have worked so hard to get that page going, to bring our Church a little further into the twenty-first century.


We do indeed have good news to share – in two ways, both of which always form part of our Harvest celebrations. One is the good news of what people can do for each other – epitomised locally by FoodBank and internationally by Christian Aid. The other is the goodness of God our Father, perhaps most easily approached in thanksgiving for the Harvest, for our lives, our prosperity, our happiness; but shown above all in the deeper, more fundamental action of Christ in salvation. Our Church's focus switches in a week from Harvest to the work of the Children's Society with Andrew Holt coming to us with information and encouragement on the Sunday this magazine is published and on the following Saturday the counting of the boxes that many of you have faithfully been filling in the course of the last year. Give thanks for all that has and can be done in that work, from providing for children who have no-one willing or able to care for them, to campaigning for a better country for children to grow up in. And go on from there to give thanks to God for the care that He shows for those whom society is most inclined to reject or ignore.


I believe in that Good News. I am also aware that there are many who don't and shouting a bit louder is not going to convince them (or some of you?). It is perhaps easy to give thanks to God for the Harvest if we have plenty to eat. What about those who have nothing? It is good to give thanks to God for the children who are helped by the Children's Society; but what about those who fall through the net in this country or those who live in much poorer countries abroad where there is no safety net at all? I can understand the doubts that enter people's minds about how loving God can be, if His love doesn't bring immediate relief to those in that kind of need. Rationally, I can't offer answers to that kind of question. But I am aware that it is those who are better off who find poverty the biggest problem, and those who themselves are healthy who are most likely to find a big problem in the sickness of others. I find it quite extra-ordinary that, in general (and I know that there are plenty of exceptions), those who suffer the most are the least likely to abandon belief. Watching a loved one suffer seems more likely to lead to unbelief. I offer no explanations and can only express my admiration for those whose faith is undimmed by adversity and note that those who have to face up to their own impotence before God are more able to trust Him than those of us who are asking the questions from outside. God's care – and our ministry – is not restricted to either group.


Part of that ministry will be personal and private to each one of us – such as buying a packet of cereal for the FoodBank or filling a Christian Aid envelope. But, through its worship, the Church as a whole, has a ministry to the community it is called to serve, and as we look at our life together as a team, we need to be aware of that outward looking ministry in prayer and worship as well as considering the provision of “services” (in both senses!) to those who choose to come. To take an example, from a “business” point of view, there is no point in continuing to hold an Evening Worship service at St. Cyr's; “demand” has just fallen away. However, is that the point? It may well be that we should reconsider our worship services in the light of the needs of the whole team. But let's be clear who benefits from such a service being held. It is not me and a few others – it is the whole parish in which and for which, prayer is being offered to God. And that is a greater gift than anything else you or I can offer. We need to acknowledge just how much God is doing through us and through his whole Church even if we find ourselves having to cut down to some degree the activities we hold in Stonehouse or in any one of the other parishes. We must offer the best ministry we can in the way that God calls us to the people He chooses.

God bless you all in the fulfilment of your particular ministry.

Charles Minchin