Magazine Leader - May 2013

May 2013

From the Vicar

The season of Easter lasts right through until the Feast of Pentecost, which this year falls on Sunday 19th May. It is the great Christian season of exuberant joy as we celebrate Jesus Christ risen from the dead. If Easter Day celebrates the event of Easter, the journey through the following Sundays reminds us that the living Christ comes to different people in different ways, but always it is a transforming experience that leaves those who receive it in a new place. What is broken is restored and where there was sadness there is now deep joy. As part of that journey we come to Ascension Day on Thursday 9th May. We will celebrate this with our usual evening Eucharist at 8.00pm, to which you are all most welcome. Ascension is an aspect of Easter. Those first disciples found Jesus to be alive in a new way. Death had seemed like the end, but now it could be seen as the gateway into something more glorious. As the disciples took in all of this, they came to see Jesus, not only as risen from the grave, but now as Lord. It was as they realised the truth of the resurrection that they could give their lives to the living Christ as ‘Lord of their lives’ and, in doing so, they found themselves to be filled with the Spirit of Christ. Ascension is the point in Easter when we especially celebrate Jesus as Lord, but it also marks a period of ten days in which we give ourselves to prayer, that we might be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit. I invite you to join with me in this time of prayer, that our churches may be places where the Spirit is found and we may be communities through which the Spirit flows out to touch and heal a broken world.

In all of this there is a strong note of healing. The core of the Christian vision is that God reaches out to restore a wounded creation and he does this by taking on human flesh and coming both to live with us and to suffer and die for us. Restoration and healing is the purpose of God and it is the reason why Jesus died on a cross. So it is that the ministry of healing is central to the life of the church. Praying for each other, and expressing the healing hands of Christ by laying hands on one another, should be a natural part of the rhythm of our shared live together. We should live in the belief and the expectation that God does heal. Yet we must beware of the simplistic idea that the right kind of praying will necessary cures our infirmities. Real Christian healing is about finding integration, wholeness and new life at the very core of our being. That is God’s gift to us. That is salvation. It is about the restoration of life in the here-and-now moment of this present time. It brings a dimension of life that transcends our troubles and sets us in a place that will never be destroyed by death.

It is my intention to encourage and develop the ministry of healing here at St John's. It is not something new here, for it is a ministry that has been very much part of the life of St John’s before I came here. Yet it has taken time for me to settle in and to have the kind of conversations which have identified what you are used to and who might be involved in this ministry. From June onwards, there will be some specific teaching about healing, through sermons, we will reinstate the laying on of hands once a month at the Wednesday service and we will also see how this ministry can be a regular part of our worshipping life on Sundays. At times in my own life, receiving the laying on of hands has been a profoundly healing experience and it is that transformation of being that I both seek to preach and to express through the ministry we share. I will appreciate your prayers as we seek to further grow this ministry and I will be grateful to any comments or suggestions as to how this ministry can best be expressed in the worshipping life of our church.

Nigel Lloyd

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