Pew Points

A letter from the Interim Rector

It's sometimes said that human beings are not as good at endings as beginnings. We like standing on the threshold of things new and full of possibility, not yet familiar and routine, better than we like saying farewell to what we've valued and enjoyed. That's an understandable part of the human condition. Of course, it's never that simple: the excitement of newness might be offset by wanting to feel settled and secure, because 'new' can also be disconcerting, and endings can sometimes be a quiet relief. But the reality is that we don't always get to choose our preferred mixture of endings and beginnings; some are within our control, but often we just have to go with what comes our way.

September is a time of change for many people, both children and adults, and you will not be surprised that I've been pondering beginnings and endings as I retire after almost exactly 36 years of full-time ministry, 28 of them in various roles in the Diocese of Worcester, and the last 18 months with the Worcestershire Severn parishes. While retirement certainly is a particular ending, it's also the transition into another phase of life. As yet, I have little idea of its shape, but I'm looking forward to its fresh possibilities, even amidst the considerable sadness of leaving so much and so many. Honesty compels me to say that I don't recall in great detail much of my training for ministry (although after nearly 40 years perhaps that's permissible!), but one element about the process of moving on, in ministry and in life, has stayed with me because, even then, I knew the truth of it: when people and relationships, with their hopes and concerns, matter to us, then we shall, indeed should, feel keenly the loss of parting. I learnt a different lesson later when moving from my first parish where I had made very good friends I now had to leave behind: bewailing this to a wise mentor she suggested that perhaps I should focus less on the ending and more on rejoicing in the relationships over the years, and see them as gifts that had enriched my life.

I've always tried to cherish and appreciate that sense of 'gift' in the different settings of my ministry. It's also helped me reflect more deeply on what it means to be the Church in any particular place and to think about its 'givenness'. Two abiding biblical images of the Christian community are family and friendship. The first Christians spoke of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ - here were people brought together serendipitously by God and made family by a shared faith, not by individuals picking and choosing their favoured companions. Each person is a gift to the whole community, to be nurtured because they are God's family. In the gospel Jesus, astonishingly, calls his followers not servants but 'friends', and friends of Jesus are surely meant to be friends to each other, to be valued as he values them. To extend those pictures into our own setting is to be reminded that every local church is a gathering of God's family and friends, travelling together in life and in faith, open and welcoming to all. For every church in every place my hope would be always to rejoice in such unlooked-for gifts, enriching the whole community.

As all the Worcestershire Severn churches begin another phase of life this autumn, individually and together, we might recall that as a pilgrim people, Christians are never destined to be totally settled: moving on, spiritually if not practically, always open to new possibilities, is part of who we are. Whatever lies ahead, I wish every community God's grace and blessing and thank you warmly for your enriching of the time we've travelled together.

Sheila Banyard, Interim Rector

Morning Prayer on Wednesdays September

You are warmly invited to join us for Morning Prayer on Wednesdays at 9.15am, a simple service lasting about half an hour. We pray especially for the host parish, as well as for the benefice as a whole. If you would like us to pray for any particular people or situations please let me know and feel free to come along if this would be a helpful time to have a word about anything after the service. Sheila
5th September Ombersley
12th September Hartlebury
19th September Doverdale
26th September none
3rd October Elmley Lovett

Praying the Parish

If you have a particular need or things to be grateful for, please let either of us know:
Rev Canon Dr Sheila Banyard 01905 773134
Jenny Batelen 01905 621294
Angie Randle 01905 620753
or James Homer 01299 851637 [lay reader with pastoral responsibility for 7 Parishes]

Areas for September:
Sunday 2nd September - Haye Lane, Church Lane, Hill Top, Dough Bank
Sunday 9th September - Chestnut Walk, Oldfield Lane, Main Road
Sunday 16th September - Chatley, Woodfield, Hadley and Hunt Green
Sunday 23rd September - farmers and allotment holders