Sunday, July 07, 2024

Come and go


Today when the congregation gathered at St Nic’s there were almost as many who weren’t there (I counted 33) as were there (35). The church is not only those who gather, any given Sunday, but also those who are scattered, who are visiting family or friends around the country, or who are frail or ill, or, in Jo’s case, attending General Synod. And by the same token, we had two visitors in our midst, not regular attenders, simply aware of a longing to reconnect with God, and a sense that they might find God in this place, in this shared practice. You would be welcome, too.

Jesus calls us to him; and sends us out ahead of him. So, some of us gathered, to meet him in Word and Sacrament, to receive the love of God which empowers us to love God with our whole being in response, and love our neighbour as ourselves; and allows us to receive forgiveness where we fail at this, and wholeness where we are scattered in ourselves.

Heather and Christine read aloud from the Bible. Brenda led us in prayer for the Church and the World. Dave carried the cross, visual reminder of Christ’s passion; Peter carried the Gospel; and together they assisted in preparing bread and wine to offer to those hungry for God. I spoke of repentance, of changing our mind having spent time with someone else, which is the work of bridge-building between neighbours; and pressed bread on people’s palms as a symbol of God’s grace that supplies all our needs; and blessed those who, for whatever reason, felt compelled to come but unable to eat; and anointed many with oil for healing of body, mind, and spirit, for there were many there who needed that particular grace in their lives. And we sang, old hymns and a contemporary worship song, familiar paths and unfamiliar steps, the hymns accompanied by Susan on the organ.

After all had been fed, or blessed, and anointed, and some had gone, back to their homes and those they care for, I sat briefly with Joan, for whom Sundays are hard at times, too full of ghosts and the cloud of heavenly witnesses, the collision of past, present, and future, until her lift was ready to take her home. Then tea and biscuits with those who stay on.

This never gets easy, never gets old. Fifteen years a deacon, fourteen years a priest, and counting. Thank you, Jesus.


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