Rev Ann and myself worked out yesterday that we have written between us 68 weekly letters since we went into lockdown, we trust they have been in some small measure a fruitful resource, they have certainly seen us through some interesting times.
I am about to go on my Sabbatical which will last from 1st August until 1st Nov so this seemed a good moment to move from weekly to monthly letters, plus more of you will hopefully feel able to return slowly but surely to Church.
A Sabbatical, is part of the church’s provision for ongoing learning and theological reflection. It is not an extended holiday but rather a period of time away from the parishes, thereby creating a space in which the aim is to achieve a balance of rest, travel, study and reflection, it is an opportunity to discover fresh vision, to be surprised, I hope and to come back refreshed and sustained. I am going to spend time exploring Celtic spirituality in more depth and visiting some of our Celtic heritage islands to connect physically and spiritually with our forefathers in Christ, plus there will be spinning, and knitting involved too. I will continue to think and pray for you while I am away and look forward to sharing some of my experience with you on my return.
This Sunday we are hoping weather permitting to hold our Prayer and Praise Picnic in the field up at Ham, kindly given for the event by Mark Edwards.
When we organised it for this Sunday the reading from John wasn’t a factor in the date, so there is a certain parallel or symbolism in coming together, in sitting on the side of a hill, sharing bread and food together, hearing God’s word and praising him. We will not find ourselves short of food, for that we should be thankful, I hope that some of the earnestness that brought people to sit and hear Jesus will be with us, but each of us will bring that in our own unique way of journeying with Christ.
The Gospel talks about the feeding of the five thousand men plus all the women and children as well, this is a truly magnificent occurrence in the lives of those present and a miracle we have spent much time pondering upon down through the ages. The crowd were following Jesus looking for more outpourings of the many healings they had seen and received. They have begun to focus on proclaiming him a prophet, Jesus needs after the meal to go away, to be aside so they cannot achieve the short-sighted gain of making him a king on earth. He spends the time away alone, and returns after dark to the disciples walking across the water to the boat. It is such an awesome story of one day in the life of Jesus, it must have been such a privilege to travel with him whilst being the most scary and tiring experience too.
And yet we do travel with him, he is present amongst us, he will be there on the hillside, he will be present as we break bread, and eat, and talk, as we sustain each other in prayer, and comfort, and hope. Not just on the hillside but each day of our lives, when we meet in Church or over the gate, at the shops, on a walk. The bread of life sustaining and keeping us expectant of God’s love to be amongst us all, Jesus leaving the Lord’s prayer enabling and inviting us to look for the needs of the day, not tomorrow and only enough for the day, something we often forget to focus on.
When we see the way that Jesus treated people, one thing is clear. He liked them. He had compassion on them and cared for them. There were some people he had problems with, but only because they were religious hypocrites and thought better of themselves than everybody else, Jesus gave people time and effort and energy.
I love the beginning of our reading from Ephesians and leave it here as a prayer offering for us all.
I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
Be Blessed Rev Georgina