It’s still sunny. Which is very confusing to a Mancunian. [253]

I have to tell you that I, Bertram the Churchmouse, had a very narrow escape on Sunday. I came along to the outdoor singing to see my friends- I was pottering along a little bit late outside the vestry when an enormous and monstrous bird swooped down and threatened to take me off to be his friend for ever. I earnestly explained how much the people of the parish need me, and how they would be lost without me, reliant on the Rector (poor souls) to tell them what was going on and what they needed to know- and so the kindly bird, out of kindness to you, left me on the grass and went off in search of other prey- sorry, friends. Which means I am still here to tell you all that follows…

A huge thank you from Vanessa and Emmbrook Infants and Juniors to everyone who donated clothes to support the schools. The porch of the parish rooms was completely full of bags of clothes.

Please see email 251 again for the info about Beat the Street– Bertie needs some exercise and all of his friends are needed to help and encourage him so he doesn’t go back to his old and wicked ways of thinking that cutting cheese counts as exercise. (Hold on- I am Bertie and I did not authorise this message- not at all-umph… put me down, this is meant to be my message not yours, Richard…)

We need more people to fill in the very short and simple online form saying that we think it is a good idea that the new School on Matthews Green Rd be a Church one. See email 249- and I promise that it will take as long to find email 249 as it will to fill in the form. And I’m a mouse.

We are updating the prayer list this week- please let Louise Cole know if someone needs to stay on for the next month. Thanks.

Has your tithings group met recently? Do you not even have a tithings group? It’s the perfect time to join a group (which exists to offer support and encouragement and some deepening of the faith) or to poke the other members of your group to get organised again. If you like I’ll even come round to give a talk on how to survive being picked up by a red kite and taken away into the sky. Shudder. Or even my legendary talk on my favourite cheeses, which is a talk in 723 parts. Or on Waistcoats- the art of dressing to impress.

Here is the wonderful and gentle meditation Cara read out during the outdoor service on Sunday evening on Genesis 1 and giving ourselves permission to Let:

And here is a message I received from Bishop Steven, which I thought I would pass on to you. That’s journalism for you!

“The Church calls this period ordinary time, but the next six months must be far more! We need them to be an extraordinary time of gentle regathering, of determined rebuilding, of God rekindling fire in our hearts, of nursing our communities back to health, of rebirth for our church, and of God calling many people to new ministries and faith.

For ordinary time to be an extraordinary time, we will need to remember to pray each day, Come, Holy Spirit, and invite God by his Spirit to breathe God’s life into all we do together. 

So we want rename this season this year. As bishops, we want to look back when we get to Advent and say: well that really was an extraordinary time, when the Church regathered and moved forward in mission. Look at how far we have come. Look at the fruits of the Spirit’s work. Who would have believed it back in May? The people of God across this whole diocese are amazing – but God is more wonderful and amazing still. 

Watching over ourselves

As we look ahead together and pray for the Spirit’s renewing work, one of our first priorities will need to be taking sufficient time and space ourselves to recover from the effects of the pandemic on our own lives and on our families.

A more contemplative church

One of the lessons of the pandemic has been the return to the essentials of pastoral ministry for all of us, and these will be needed in the months to come. We do not want the church to become over busy in the next six months but to build back slowly, one step at a time, carefully and prayerfully. Key to this will be taking time to listen.

The church which regathers will not be the same church: so much has happened in our common life. We simply do not know much of what God has been doing in the church and in wider society: discovering what has been happening and the key priorities which emerge will take time. Each of us as bishops is looking forward to being out and about again and reconnecting with parishes and deaneries in person in the coming months. It will be easy to be overwhelmed by all that is expected – we can help each other here by listening and encouragement and support.

A world in crisis

Finally, we are all mindful that whilst the situation continues to improve in the United Kingdom, the COVID pandemic rages still in much of the world, including two of our own link dioceses in Nandyal in India and Kimberley and Kuruman in South Africa. They need our prayers, and we will need to continue both to give generously ourselves to relief and vaccination programmes overseas and to encourage generosity by the governments of the world, so that all can be made safe in the coming months.

And finally…

Thank you for all that you continue to give. It is greatly appreciated. As a diocese, we will be very careful in what we ask in the coming months as together we regather the people of God with humility, gentleness and love. We look forward to reconnecting in person in the coming months.” 

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