Magazine leader - September 2013

From the Vicar

At the start of September I shall be away on retreat. This is something encouraged by the diocese and a regular part of the rhythm of the ministry of many clergy. Just as Jesus went off into the mountains to pray, so many Christians take time out to be still, to reflect and to pray. I shall be going back to St Beuno’s in North Wales. This is a spirituality centre run by the Jesuits. People of many different denominations (and even different faiths) go there to take part in individually guided retreats. The centre of the worshipping life of the community is not the Daily Office, but the Eucharist. Each day I will have a meeting with my guide, who will suggest passages of scripture to use over the next 24 hours. Scripture is prayed-through, rather than just read. In prayer, each retreatant enters into the scene portrayed in the passage of scripture and seeks to encounter God in that moment. The Jesuits were founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in 1541. At various times in history they have been held in deep suspicion, particularly in post-Reformation England, when belonging to the Jesuits was punishable by death. Yet they brought a deeply scripturally based spiritualty to the life of the Church, with a strong emphasis on the transformation that flows from encountering God in prayer. Now, for the first time, we have a Pope who is a Jesuit. For me, going on retreat is an essential part of my spiritual journey and is always a time of renewal and spiritual growth.

September will be a month with a number of special events. There will be a Family Service on Sunday 8th September, which will pick up themes from our recent Holiday Club. I will be on retreat, but Jane will be presiding at that service. On Saturday 21st September there is a special musical event entitled ’Not Just on Sundays’, which has been written by Graham Stanfield. Graham sang as a chorister at the coronation of our Queen. In recent years he was in charge of ‘classical music’ at the Lighthouse. This piece of music is being performed twice (once here at St John’s) and the singers are a mixture of professionals from the Midlands and some local singers being gathered together by John Christopher. Please do come and enjoy this evening. Tickets will be sold on the door.

We were taken aback at how many full music copies of the new red hymnbook were ordered by individuals earlier in the year. Clearly we have a lot of enthusiastic singers at St John’s. A number of people have asked if we might form an occasional choir. As John Christopher is already gathering singers for the 21st, I have invited him to do the same for Sunday 29th September, when a small choir will sing a short anthem during communion. We have opened this up to anyone in the congregation who wants to come along and sing. This is very much a one-off event. We have no plans to form an ongoing choir with singers from outside the congregation. However, as a congregation we will reflect on the experience and ask whether there might be a small group of people from within the congregation who would like to get together to sing something once in a while.

Saturday 28th September is an important day for us as we are holding a ‘Home & Away’ day at St John’s, which will provide us with the chance to celebrate what we have as a church community and think about what our priorities are for the future - as we challenge ourselves to grow in the Lord. Invitations are going out to everyone in the congregation to attend. Even the best laid plans go astray, so if you don’t appear to have an invitation, please ask for one on Sunday. The day will be around the theme – Gathered to Worship … Challenged to grow … Called to Witness. It will start at 10am and end at 3pm. There will be a shared lunch. Please do come.

Finally, on Sunday 29th September we will have Bishop Nicholas with us. He will preside and preach at our 10am service. There is nothing special happening in the service (like a confirmation) except the joy of gathering around the Lord’s Table in worship and praise accompanied by our Diocesan Bishop. There will be a chance to talk to him over coffee after the service.

Nigel LLoyd

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