I do hope this finds you well. Please do not hesitate to get in touch at the rectory if there is anything I can help with practically, or prayerfully, or if you simply would like a chat.
It has been lovely to catch up with people by phone, and online. We have held select vestry meetings online (oh, how I long for face to face meetings again…!)
It is so hard to believe we are now into June. At the start of lockdown did we really think this is where we would be at this moment in time? 12 weeks have passed since we were last together.
So many festivals and significant dates have passed in our church calendar. Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday – celebrations that we hoped to share together, gathered in one place to worship Almighty God.
We had hoped to celebrate our Parish’s 60th anniversary with a flower festival – ‘2020 vision – a festival of flowers’. We do plan for this event to take place next year, and God willing, one focal point will be based around the wonderful Irish hymn ‘Be thou my vision’.
I mentioned The Irish Blessing in our online service. I suggest that you take a listen to this blessing because the chosen recording was the hymn ‘Be thou my vision’, and this version is an arrangement that captures our wonderful land beautifully.
All Irish churches, North, South, East and West, were invited to participate in recording a common blessing for a local cause dealing with Coronavirus; and were asked to dedicate their blessing to that cause / group in their local community. The organisers wanted to encourage the widest possible participation, denominationally, geographically and also in terms of backgrounds of age, ethnicity and abilities, all representing the richness of an Irish Blessing and the spirit of Pentecost.
With words dating back to the 6th century, or the 8th century (opinion is divided) this lorica (prayer of protection) has spoken to so many people throughout the ages. Translated from the original Irish in 1905 by Mary Byrne, the more familiar version is the hymn written by Eleanor Hull in 1912.
On Trinity Sunday in York Minster, Archbishop John Sentamu laid down his crozier of office on the high altar, with The Irish Blessing playing as he did so. Dr Sentamu requested the piece for his last act after 15 years as Archbishop, because his favourite hymn is ‘Be Thou My Vision.’
These may be strange times, strange days. But these are also exciting times, as more people than ever are connecting with God in new and exciting ways. Church will not necessarily be the same when we return to our buildings. We have a lot to learn from these days, and God has given us this extra time to think, to consider why we do what we do. Our worship as we gathered week by week in our building was to prepare us for the week ahead, for our mission in the world.
As disciples of Jesus Christ we all have our mission, our part to play, in enabling others to experience ‘life in all its fullness’. In our reading for Trinity Sunday Jesus commissions us – his followers – to go out into the world, to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything he commanded. This commission is for all followers, ordinary people, just like those first disciples. But we don’t need to feel daunted or feel fear, as we are not alone, as Jesus says: “Be sure of this – I am with you ALWAYS, even to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20
As we start to navigate our way out of lockdown, let us (re)consider our vision as a church, and our mission both as a church and as individuals. May we never forget to put the Lord at the centre of all we do; and pray for opportunities to share his love. May the Lord always be our vision.
As we look forward to the time when we can meet together again, continue to pray for each other.
Wishing you, and those you love, God’s protection and blessing.
Stay safe and well.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine on you
And be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you
And give you peace.
With love and prayers,