Human life is often compared to a journey. Various large and small decisions are seen as taking a particular path or travelling down a different road. Many have found it helpful to speak of the Christian life in these terms too, as, for example, in the popular hymn ‘One more step along the world I go’.
Since June I have, for the first time in my life as an ordained person, been the Incumbent of two parishes. One unanticipated result of this is that I will be celebrating Harvest Festival twice this year. This weekend I will celebrate Harvest at St Mary’s (and I’m grateful for Fr Alan Moses for presiding and preaching at St Nick’s this weekend while I’m there) and next weekend I will do so at St Nick’s.
Twenty years ago this weekend the world changed. Many, perhaps most, readers of this column will remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they first became aware of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC on 11th September 2001. Doubtless we will all be sharing some of those memories in our conversations this weekend.
For me, however, the memory that has stuck even harder is that of flying into Charleston, South Carolina the following January. As the aeroplane – or is it an airplane when it’s over US soil? – began its descent and the ground became visible through the cabin windows, an impromptu chorus of ‘America the Beautiful’ began.
Last week I wrote a little about the way the future is beginning to take shape. I want to share a little bit more on that subject today, and in particular on how the wider context of our Diocese and Deanery need to be taken into account.
The end of August, when shops begin to advertise ‘Back to School’ specials, carries some extra weight this year. Many are hoping that ‘back to school’ might mean ‘back to normal’. Others are fearing exactly that.
In our church life, as Covid precautions are gradually wound down, this raises many questions. What will be our pattern of worship? Will we be able to offer refreshments? Will our various groups and committees be able to resume their activities?
The image that I’ve used in this weekend’s e-Church is one that I’ve found myself returning to over and over again since the first lockdown. It is an ancient and simple wall painting of a woman kneeling and reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. It depicts the scene described in the gospel reading for this morning, the story of a woman healed of an illness of many years’ duration.