We have had a wonderful Easter at St. Paul’s, culminating in a moving and joyful service on Easter Morning which started with fizzy drinks and the chance to admire the decorated Easter trees and the Easter garden, and progressed through acclamations of the Risen Lord accompanied by bells, maracas and tambourines and on into the pilgrimage of the heart which is the Eucharistic journey. This year we made the ancient connection between Easter and baptism through the renewal of our baptismal promises.
In Holy Week we concluded our meditations on the theme of reconciliation, discovering again the importance of prayer, community and vulnerability as the soil from which our ministry of peacemaking and reconciliation grows. We went on pilgrimage to Southwell Minster to see the sculptures which depict the passion of Christ, and saw and touched and wondered at the vulnerability of God, the source of all true reconciliation.
It struck me forcibly that many amongst us are vulnerable in all sorts of ways, and that whilst we have been very busy these past two years moving forward with our plans for change, including plans to develop the capacity of our buildings for mission, it is very important to ensure that our pastoral support for those who are ill, frail or isolated needs to be strengthened.
For this reason I am forming a small group of people to help me plan for and implement a more regular system of parish visiting and Home Communions. For many years we have been very fortunate to have had the benefit of Joan Mottershead’s pastoral ministry in support of the vicar, and Joan has indicated she would like to continue that role.
However with a much more part-time vicar than in previous years, there are inevitable gaps and some people are hesitant to ask for support from the vicar when he seems to be at full stretch. I would like to affirm now therefore that despite all the busy plans and projects, I place a high priority on the wellbeing of members of the church. On my return from holiday I will be putting in place arrangements to ensure that I and my pastoral team are available to make home visits for whatever reason – to share Communion, to listen, to encourage, to comfort, to pray or simply to chat.
The message to the parish is a simple one – no one is too busy to provide you with support or company. You will be able to leave a message or speak to someone on the team and arrangements will be made for me or a member of the team to visit. This is an expression of us as church in its widest sense – not just as people who gather together once or twice a week, but as people who support and love each other in vulnerability.