From the Rectory

Walk where Jesus walked.

Some of you have visited the Holy Land before, indeed please read a piece below which was written about just such a trip. In September 2019 St John’s is joining with a parish in rural Hampshire to walk where Jesus walked, and I encourage you to book a place on our faith-enhancing, spiritually-inspirational pilgrimage.

We will visit a variety of destinations including Bethlehem, Galilee, and Jerusalem. Standing where it is believed Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, where he fed the 5,000, and where he was born brought a richness, an understanding, and a light to my faith which was transformative. I would love that for this congregation: forms are available in St John’s Centre Office.

As I write I have just met with Colin Foard (the master craftsman who made our lectern) to plan a new prayer wall which will be located on the back of the pew in the Prayer Area. We have decided to model it on the ‘Wailing Wall’ in Jerusalem. This wall is a focal point for prayer in Jerusalem, as people write prayers to God and slip them into the cracks in the wall. We will have the opportunity to ‘post’ prayers into and pin prayers onto our prayer wall. I hope it will enhance the large variety of ways in which St John’s encourages prayer.

This month can be a difficult month for so many; the bereaved, the lonely, those with low income, victims of domestic abuse and some suffering mental health issues. There is a service for those suffering at this time; it began in America and was called Blue Christmas. It has been renamed ‘Longest Night’ in the UK, and the words are simple and beautiful, showing that the gift of the Christ child is just as much for those who are suffering and in pain, as for those who are full of jingle bells and rolling in tinsel.

My request to our community here at St John’s, is that as we gather together with our friends and family, please also look out for those neighbours who are left out, or feeling lonely, and who find this time a particularly difficult one. The joy of the Christ child, when shared with both the excited and excitable, and with the lonely and sad, will be enriched for us all, and we will enable God’s Kingdom here in Merrow for all, not just those for whom life is going well.

As a colleague said recently, there is a yearning in the world for a greater meaning in life right now, and we believe we have the answer to that search: the hope which the Christ Child brings. Pilgrimage, Prayer Wall and Loneliness at Christmas, what links them all? God’s longing to be closer to us, and as Richard, Bishop of Chichester famously said – Dear God, we pray that we may see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day. We can all endorse that this Christmastime.

With love,