Friday, 20 July 2018

Magazine Article for July/Aug 2018


Dear Friends,

As this is our special two-month edition of the parish magazine, it will be my last contribution as Rector of Morecambe Parish Church. Many of you will now know that I have been appointed as Vicar of St Nicholas’, Beverley and Training Adviser to the Archdeaconry of the East Riding. My final Sunday here will be July 29, and my induction service at Beverley is on 30 August at 7-30pm.

As I explained in my sermon on Pentecost Sunday and also on my blog, I knew that after Debbie died, it would not be wise to make any big decisions for at least a year, if not two. It was important to be here to come to terms with what had happened with people who shared my sense of loss. As we got into 2018, however, I began to feel that my time here was drawing to a close. Around that time some possibilities for new posts came up, and to cut a long story short the Beverley post offered me a new start, and a job with some new aspects to it, which I look forward to engaging with.

I was asked if my new church was Beverley Minster - it isn’t. The Minster is in the centre of the town and is the size of a cathedral. There is also St Mary’s, to the north of the market place. St Nicholas’ parish covers the most of the town on the east side of the railway line. It is a smaller congregation than MPC, and has very different challenges in terms of making connections with the community (there is no church school, for example). But there is a core of very committed people who I’m looking forward to getting to know and working with. They are also short of musicians, so I may be playing more in services!

In theory half of my working time is parish and half to the training role. The latter will include arranging training events and courses for church members, people in specific roles, as well for clergy as part of their ongoing development. There are also opportunities to help deliver some of the courses at the York school of ministry, which will certainly stretch my little brain! Keeping the two in balance will be a challenge, but I have done “dual-role” before in Coventry, so I know the pitfalls.

I’ll say more about leaving here later, but for now I just want to thank you all for your fellowship, prayers and support. The last 9 years contained some very challenging times, as well as some wonderful moments of celebration and joy. Thank you for sharing that with me and the other Peatpeople.

Morecambe is a great place, and this community has character and resilience. As I said at Pentecost, I trust that God has already provided this church with what it needs for the vacancy, and that new opportunities and possibilities will come in this next chapter for you, as well as for me.

With all good wishes

Mike

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Magazine Article for June 2018


Dear Friends,

From time to time I get asked what the different seasonal colours use in church and on the vestments of clergy mean. It’s like so many things in church life. We take it for granted that things that are familiar for us are obvious to everyone, when in fact they’re asking what is going on and why.

Every now and then, it’s a good exercise to think about what church must be like for someone who has no previous knowledge or experience of it. For example, at some of our baptism preparation sessions, I show a short Youtube clip of the old Cadbury’s Smash advert with the plastic aliens laughing at the primitive earth people peeling and cooking potatoes.


Then I pose these questions: What would the aliens make of a baptism, and how might we explain baptism to them? (Best answers on a postcard to…)

You might prefer to think about some of the technical churchy language some of us can find ourselves using. For example, can we all identify an aumbry, a ciborium, a chasuble, or even a vestibule? Some church people, when talking about a communion service refer to the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, so we’re speaking Latin even though our services are in English. And then we refer to the Eucharist, which contains the Kyrie Eleison, and all of a sudden we’re talking in Greek. No wonder newcomers can be confused.

In the middle of June, we’re being asked nationally in the Church of England to regard June 17th as a Sunday to invite people to come to a church service. That’s great – and I hope you do. But moments like that are a reminder to us all that to be truly welcoming to newcomers, we need to go further than just a friendly smile at the door. We also need to be befrienders, interpreters, and go the extra mile to ensure that people are enabled to participate as freely and as fully as possible in every aspect of our church’s life. Otherwise if we confuse people with words like legilium*, they might be making their escape through the narthex**, never to return to share in our koinonia***.

With all good wishes

Mike

* a legilium is a folding lectern or bookstand, often used by priests for the first part of a service, before being packed away

** the narthex of a church is a lobby area at the west end of a church building.

*** koinonia is the Greek word for fellowship, sharing or participation.





Monday, 21 May 2018

Magazine Article for May 2018


Dear Friends,

There are lots of things that are difficult about prayer. We struggle over finding time, finding words, finding motivation, or even wondering whether anyone is really listening. And I know from many conversations over the years that people often give up altogether, rather than have a try and feel they have failed. And a result, there is always a lurking sense of guilt about it.

In fact, we all struggle with prayer (yes – even clergy!) and the life stories of many of the great saints include their wrestling with precisely this issue. That’s why it’s important to use all the resources and help that are available for praying. There are lots of different ways to find a way into prayer again. The traditional methods of using silence or a prayer book will suit some, while others may prefer to be more creative and pray as they go for a walk, or paint, or do something else spontaneous or visual. You can even pray with technology, using websites or podcasts.

However, we’re all being challenged by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to use the period from Ascension Day to Pentecost (10-20 May) to set aside some time to pray as part of their “Thy Kingdom Come” initiative. The focus is to pray for refreshing of God’s Holy Spirit as we approach Pentecost Sunday, and to pray for others to come to faith, and to reflect on how we might be part of helping someone to do that.

Here at MPC, we’re going to be opening church every morning at 9am for an hour, from 10-20 May, so that people can use the building to pray, and there will be a short (15 mins) form of morning prayer said every day at 9-30am, which everyone is welcome to join in. It’s only a small contribution in some ways, but the mystery about prayer is that sometimes the simplest and briefest of prayers can make all the difference in the world. Do join us.

Mike