It’s the start of another Lent, and an opportunity to take stock, reflect, and take up a Lenten discipline at this most holy time of year. This is something which I encourage each one of us to do, both individually and as part of our community, as we consider where we have been and where we are going in our journey together.
Why? The ongoing question…
Our first two ‘Why?’ sessions have been surprising and thought-provoking. Setting off on this journey of re-visioning as we continue to follow up on our ‘Quo Vadis’ report of a couple of years ago, I thought that we would soon be at the point of putting together a small group to form a strategic plan, but our discussions seemed to be going another way. Before we sketch out any strategies, we are being encouraged both to wrestle with and grow from our past, and consider who we are now, rather than what we have been.
It is by no means an easy process – we so often live into our history, rather than from it, and discerning who and what we are, and who and what we hope to be is a task which I encourage all of us to engage with. The notes from the previous sessions will be up on the revised Web Site soon, and they encourage us to think not about what we do, or how we do it, but about the core of the ‘why?’ behind St. John’s. The discussion will continue on Saturday, 17th February from 9:30am to 12noon in the Church, I encourage all who can be there to come and engage with this discussion and our move towards planning and a ‘future focus’ for our parish.
Still Moving Forward
We aren’t, however, inactive as these discussions continue. A group headed by Joan Huzar has been hard at work revising our financial recording and reporting and will be presenting that at our annual Vestry Meeting. The meeting, on Sunday, 25th February at 12noon will contain the necessary business of our Annual Meeting, as well as the St. John’s Court Annual meeting, but will also involve a vote on our support to have same-gender weddings at St. John’s which has to be formally stated by the Parish. At the Vestry I will also present a new way of electing Wardens – as we move from ‘Deputy Wardens’ (one elected, one appointed) serving for up to three years, to ‘Assistant Wardens’ elected to serve for one year at a time (renewable twice). This will offer opportunity for those who wish to take on such a role, but are not necessarily able to commit for three years. The People’s Warden will continue to be elected for a three year period, and Rector’s Warden appointed for the same. My thanks to Duane Lecky and Penny Holt who have served as my appointees for three years, and for Joan Huzar who was elected for a year as Assistant People’s Warden, as they stand down from those roles at this year’s Vestry, I want to publicly express my gratitude for their hard work and service, and for their wisdom on Parish Council and in the Warden’s group. Likewise, many thanks to Rhoda Brodie-Smith, Doug Sheepwash, Michael Zenger and Trevor Elton who have completed their terms as Parish Councillors, your contribution to the life of our community has been much appreciated. Thank you to the remaining members of PC, and to Graeme Brown, who remain, along with our Parish Clerk, Molly Patton and treasurer, Kate McCabe.
Alongside this, as our parish life continues to grow we continue to need more to contribute to the specific ministries within St. John’s. We particularly need servers, Chancel Guild members, vergers, members of the healing ministry team, pastoral team members, and people to help with coffee after our Sunday services. To enquire about any of these – or any other part of our parish life – please contact myself or Carol-Ann and we will make sure we put you in touch with those who are responsible for co-ordinating these activities. Thank you all for your contributions.
Again this year, I would like to encourage us all to take this time of Lent as an opportunity to address our spiritual journey as individuals and as a community. We will mark the beginning of Lent with our Ash Wednesday services, an appropriate way to commit ourselves to journeying through this sacred time.
I recommend taking up some spiritual reading, or other learning, over the time of Lent – a book such as Queering Lent offers a daily poem for reflection, and the book Radical Reconciliation is a powerful call to Social Justice and a reconsideration of what we mean by Reconciliation. This will also form the basis of our Wednesday ‘Lunch With a Point’ beginning at noon on 21st February and carrying on for the five weeks following. During Lent there will be opportunities in each week to gather together – the usual pattern of Eucharists and Contemplative Prayer plus a weekly ‘Reel Thought’ evening where we watch a movie and take time to talk about it’s meaning and content, we will also have a time each Monday from 12:30pm until 2pm when the Church is open for quiet contemplation. There will be other opportunities to meet, talk, think and pray over Lent and into Holy Week, please watch for details.
Your Clergy are available to you!
I have had a number of people come to see me recently with a particular desire to talk about deepening their spiritual journey and learning; some have expressed concern that they thought I might be ‘too busy’ to spend time in such a meeting – this is certainly not the case. If you would like to chat to, or would like a visit from, myself or another member of the ministry team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Of course, you don’t have to feel that any conversation with me must be ‘deeply spiritual’ and I am always happy to make time to meet up for a coffee, or some other beverage, and get to know any of you better. I am also hoping to have a ‘newcomers’ lunch or tea in the near future, for any who have joined the Church in the past couple of years – as soon as details are finalized I will make them available. I hope that such events, alongside Sunday Reflections, Sermon Circle, and other activities and meetings will offer plenty of opportunities, to both get to know one another better, and find out where we fit in to the life of our parish.
And there’s more…
There is more happening than I have time to address in this letter. As always, a calendar of events is attached to this note, including a number of things which have come from our Learning and Spirituality group. Please take some time to catch up on all that will be going on and join in as you wish and as you are able.
Our music continues to be a core part of our life together, and as well as being key to our Sunday morning worship, can be enjoyed at our Evensong services on the first Sunday of each month at 7:30pm.
All the above is, of course, just a snapshot of the many activities taking place in and around our parish community. Thank you all for your support in our varied ministries, and I hope to see you all very soon. Do remember that I am available, and happy to meet up with any of you who would like to get together. It remains a joy and privilege to serve the Church of St. John the Divine and the community in which we are set.
Wishing a blessed Lent to you all.
With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel,