Annual Church Meeting
Before I say anything else, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks:
- I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have stood for election as Churchwardens, PCC members and Deanery Synod members at St Bartholomew’s and St James’ Churches.
- I would like to express my gratitude for all those who are now standing down after years of selfless service and sacrifice.
Hope in the liberating love of God among us: the Vicar’s address to the Annual Meeting
I would like to thank the whole church for the gracious generosity with which my family and I have been welcomed into Marsden and Slaithwaite. I am 8 months into this 3 year challenge and giving everything I have to see God’s Kingdom grow here in the Colne Valley.
I promise you that I’ll talk about God, I’ll point to Jesus and I’ll fulfil the expectations of a Vicar as best I can. I am 100% the full time Vicar of Marsden, Slaithwaite, and the surrounding community – but within this role I need your help to be flexible where I have to be, to let some things drop that are not helping in God’s mission, and to work with our Sisters and Brothers across our Benefice to reduce the burdens God’s Church carries: especially where there are tasks that could easily be shared. The mission that in front of us is to help God’s Church grow… will this be easy?
Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’Matthew 11:28-30 (NRSV)
Growing in faith.
My aspiration is to support you as you continue to get to know God better. There are no assumptions about the depth of your current faith: merely a hope that like me, you want to understand God more deeply, know God more dearly and to seek God more keenly. I hope this is a journey we can take together.
Increasing our community’s awareness of God’s love
I long to see more people come to know of God’s love and experience the liberation this brings to life: the experience that eternal life begins before we die. There are as many different expressions of Christian faith (and different ways of understanding God’s love) as there are people in our wider community. As we learn what God’s love means to each of us, I hope we will find our own unique and individual ways of sharing our faith with integrity, with joy, and with wisdom. This is not an agenda of converting people, instead it is a case of looking to see what God is doing, and joining in.
I wonder what the Church would look like, if the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, was lived out among us. The freedom Jesus brings is a freedom from fear; what would Church look like if all those who are currently afraid came knocking on the door looking for sanctuary and looking for God’s love? Would we recognise them as an answer to prayer?
It is for this reason that we must take Safeguarding so seriously. We don’t know who God will bring to us, but when people are drawn to Jesus, we must ensure they come into a space that is safe from harm.
We cannot make this happen by our strength, growth will only happen by the grace of God. So all we can do is respond with love when God graciously acts in our villages, again, it is a case of looking to see what God is doing, and joining in.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up earlyPsalm 127: 1-2 (NRSV)
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved
So, I have only one real request of you as a Church: pray. As I pray for you, would you pray for God’s help and for the people around us? Please put into your own words:
- Prayers for growth in the knowledge and love of God
- Prayers for growth in Christian faith within our villages
- Please join me in saying the Lord’s Prayer each day…
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.