Yesterday’s reading, of the feeding of the 5,000 includes:
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
Which is very reminiscent of the Eucharist, where we take bread, bless it, break it and give it. It is also very reminiscent of the christian life where God takes our life, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to others.
The breaks sounds perhaps a bit worrying, but our lives, when we first encounter God, are often clenched tight, and need breaking open to allow God’s love in.
The Parish is considering signing up to Inclusive Church, an organisation which encourages churches to look at who might not be coming into church because for some reason they feel it isn’t for them or they cannot do so. The reasons may be many and varied – perhaps it is an economic issue, culture, race, disability, a mental health issue, sexuality. Inclusive Church encourages churches think about these reasons and can help churches be truly welcoming.
Many churches and individuals have joined Inclusive Church and they are united around the following statement of belief:
“We believe in inclusive Church – church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”
On July 23, the Very Rev’d Dianna Gwilliams, Dean of Guildford Cathedral and chair of Inclusive Church, visited St Mark’s and spoke about joining Inclusive Church and it was decided that during August the clergy will preach on different aspects of inclusion and then the PCC will vote on the parish joining.
Hello, I’m your Parish Prayer Co-ordinator. Now, I bet you didn’t know we have a Prayer Co-ordinator and perhaps you are wondering what I have been doing all this time. Prayer underpins our lives and the life of our parish. It is the way we communicate with God and it is often an individual matter between you and God. It is certainly NOT the role of Prayer Co-ordinator to interfere in any way with your personal prayer with God.
We have run sessions introducing new ideas to reinvigorate your prayer-life and this is something we could develop. You may have seen pop-up displays in church with photos, artefacts and thought-provoking quotations. Or perhaps you have missed them … they are designed to be a momentary, fresh display to inspire prayer and help you to ponder theological questions during the week. There will be more. They are part of my role: I am passionate about finding ways to get people creatively thinking about prayer.
My latest target in the parish is the Prayer Boards we have in St George’s and St John’s. The aim is to take the prayers made via these boards and present them during the Sunday service. They will be brought to the altar and blessed at the same time as the collection (not read out loud). From there, they will be delivered to me as Prayer Co-ordinator and I will ensure that they are prayed from Thursday till the following Thursday. I believe this scheme will ensure that people’s prayers are prayed and honoured both on the Sunday at the main service and during the following week.
Obviously, if there is a particular pastoral issue, I will relay that to the ministry team. We will be trialling this scheme for three months, starting on 1 October.
If you have any ideas or concerns about this scheme, or the prayer-life of our parish generally, please let me know.
Lesley Shatwell (LLM)