Vicar's Letter

 

VERSE OF 2018:

 

 “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city”

Jeremiah 29:7 (New International Version)

 

Dear Friends,

 

Following the Annual Parochial Church Meeting a few days ago, please remember to pray for, and encourage, whoever responded to God’s call to serve as a Churchwarden or a PCC member and was elected.  Whoever they are, they are among God’s precious gifts to us all.  We owe huge gratitude to Sue and David Newbitt for all their immense contribution to our churches over many years, and we will miss them very much and pray for their new life in the Forest of Dean, which may already have begun.

 

Our next Healing Ministry service is on the 6th – and for the first time ever, it’s at St Boniface.  Do consider coming.  And do interpret ‘healing’ in the broadest sense. What you need from God may be peace of mind about something, or assurance of his forgiveness, or guidance in place of confusion, or just strength to keep on going.  And do feel free while you’re there, to look at the Vestry works, which have begun at last and have revealed some unexpected sights.

 

We hope and pray to have a different kind of Church presence at the May Fair (Monday 7th), but as some readers may be there mostly as ‘spectators’, I won’t say anything here to spoil possible surprises.  Only to get you interested, I hope!

 

And so we come to the great days from Ascension (10th) to Pentecost (20th).

 

Ascension – Jesus Christ, who bore all our sins and conquered death for us all, now reigns as King, praying for us constantly to the heavenly Father and “seated at God’s right hand” until at last “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess He is Lord”.  You can find all our service times in Twin Spires and online.

 

Pentecost – Jesus, as he promised, pours out the Holy Spirit on His people, giving new birth and new faith, gifts for mission and ministry, power to rise from failure and grow in everyday holiness, and assurance of forgiveness and final hope. 

 

As for some years now, the UK’s churches are uniting in this period to pray “Thy Kingdom Come” and many exciting prayer and mission events are happening, including in our Romsey Deanery.  We are doing a special Messy Church on the 11th (one year on from our first one!), actually at St John’s for the one time.  We tried to get a Men’s Supper, with speaker, for that same weekend, but it became clear this would work better on 21st September (please put this in your diaries, chaps, and think who to invite to Wellow Golf Club for good food, good beer and some thoughts on Science and Faith from our own Graham Swinerd). 

 

Then please pray for our Post-Baptism Tea on Pentecost Sunday afternoon.  I am so grateful to our PCC’s Wider Community group for organising this still very new venture, seeking to re-establish and strengthen that link which those families had with the church, albeit briefly in some cases.  Please do mention this tea to anyone you may know locally who had a christening here in recent years. 

 

“Thy Kingdom Come” culminates in a great inter-church Celebration service at Winchester Cathedral on the evening of Pentecost.  I have heard very good things about this, and am excited to have got a ticket for the first time. They’re free, but booking is essential as so many want to come!  What a wonderful problem to have.  It’s easy to book online, but if you can’t do that, please ask, and I or someone will cheerfully do it for you.

 

Trinity Sunday, too, falls in May this year (27th). It is one of my favourite Sundays, which if anecdotes be true makes me a rather unusual vicar. But I love how it supports so much of what we as Christians want to affirm about the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  I love the fact that “Thousands of the ablest minds of the centuries have pondered this problem and no man has been able to explain it; who then invented it?  What man can invent, man can explain: what man cannot explain, man cannot have invented.  It must be a revelation.” (GH Lang) And I love that the MORE the one true God reveals himself, the more of a mystery He turns out to be.  Besides, this does happen to be the Name all of us were baptised into… 

 

Have a wonderful May.

Julian

 

P.S. ‘Boring but important’: new Data Protection laws come into force on the 25th. All organisations have new responsibilities to only hold people’s personal data with their clear consent (and generally for limited time), and to guard that data more carefully from third parties.  All who have ever had their data misused will know what a good thing this is.  Thank you to all here who are working on this, and to all who have supplied us with good advice, from their day jobs!