On Sunday 6th June we enter into what the lectionary rather unimaginatively calls ‘Ordinary Time.’ We have traced the story of Jesus through the hopes and promises of Advent, the coming of our saviour at Christmas, His manifestation at Epiphany, and followed Jesus on the way to the Cross and Resurrection through Lent, Holy week and Easter. We have waited and prayed with the apostles for the out pouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and then, after Trinity Sunday, we enter ‘Ordinary Time!’
It seems to me though in 2021 things returning to the ordinary is something that most of us long and pray for. To be able to meet family and friends, to go on holiday, to go out to the cinema or the theatre, to be able to sing again in Church on Sundays. We have so missed all of these ‘ordinary’ things that we know that when they are returned to us we will never take them for granted again!
At our recent Annual General Meeting I said in my address that returning to ordinary life will not be easy. I believe that our work as a Church for the next year or so will be all about rebuilding.
I used the image of ‘Up, In and Out’ or ‘God, ourselves and our neighbours.’
Firstly, we will need to rebuild our worship. At St Mary’s we try to combine Charismatic worship using more modern worship songs and prayer ministry with a sacramental focus. The celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart of our worship and we rejoice in more traditional hymns led by the choir. To sustain this into the future we are seeking to recruit a musical director who will work with our musicians to develop that aspect of worship.
We will continue to have one morning service per month where we aim to be less formal in our worship and hope to attract more visitors to our beautiful Church.
Secondly, we need to focus on our fellowship and support for one another. We will need to strengthen our pastoral care team, recruiting new lay pastors to it. Focusing on our younger people we will need to re-start the Sunday Club. Prayer ministry is an important way of helping one another, again we will be looking for new members of the Prayer Ministry team for Sunday mornings. We hope to re-start the monthly Prayer Breakfasts in the summer. In all of this we will need a full complement of leaders - we currently have two vacancies for Church Warden - please pray that we will be able to fill these vacancies in the next few months.
Look out for new opportunities to meet together for prayer, study and worship which will be starting in the coming year.
As the Church of Christ in Ecclesfield we are called not only to love God and to love each other; we are also called to love our neighbours. One very practical way that we can do this is through the Coffee Shop on Tuesdays and Fridays. I have already had people from the local community asking if the Coffee Shop will re-open after lockdown. I believe that it will be very important as we come out of the pandemic. I hope that we can build on the past and open up to our neighbours again.
Once we are out of Covid restrictions there will be the process of rebuilding our links with and relationships to the different groups in our community. St Mary’s is a parish Church - it is here for all who live locally.
The work of re-building will begin after the 21st June, but the planning, thinking and most importantly praying that is the foundation of our work as a Church has already begun.
We do not know what St Mary’s will look like after 21st June - who will return, which new people will join our fellowship, and who will have gotten out of the habit of regular worship. We will all be 18 months older than when the first lockdown began, and we will all be much more tired. So please pray. Pray that the right people will come forward to further the work and mission of St Mary’s, pray that God the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us to fulfil Christ’s calling in our generation.