Revd Gary's Pastoral Letter November 2021
Listed Under: Vicars Blog
November is primarily a month for memory – for remembering. In our nation and community, we honour the dead in war on Remembrance Sunday (14th November 2021). This year, our Church Remembrance Services resume after the lockdown affected the annual gatherings so respected across our villages last year. Each church will have a service:
Madresfield 10.45am (led by Peter Buchannan)
Powick 10.45am* (with children’s remembrance activities, churchyard trail, supported by the Lord’s Alive team after the service)
Callow End 3.00pm*. (* with Royal British Legion participation)
Additionally, there will be a short act of commemoration on Armistice Day at the Callow End War Memorial, just before 11am on the 11th November 2021.
This year, the churchyards at both Powick and Madresfield will be bedecked by poppies created by our preschool nurseries - a poignant reminder that our youngest in our community can also and rightly remember those that gave their lives for us too. Thank you Madresfield and Worcester Early Years Centres for helping with this “field of remembrance”.
On All Souls Day will be marked by three services on Sunday 31st October but the need to remember so many people that have been lost to our villages over the pandemic so far will continue to impact on us for a long time to come. These services give us an opportunity to remember the departed: those that have died but whose memories we treasure and cherish. As Christians, we must remember and celebrate All Saints Day, recalling the lives of Christians everywhere that furthered the faith for us all.
As we remember, we strengthen our memory because it is important to look back and acknowledge the past as something vital and influential. What has the pandemic taught us about community? As many resume their lives or work, there are still people lonely out there, still virally anxious. Where are the volunteers that were out a plenty in the early months of the pandemic – running errands, knocking on doors, making phone calls? Shouldn’t we be continuing with that?
Under the banner CATCH*, I hope that your churches can galvanise support for those experiencing hardship - not just brought on by the pandemic, maybe people were worrying or anxious or challenged before the virus struck. I want you, to cast your net over the other side of the boat (John 21:6) and let’s gather in those people that we should be remembering or helping. Let’s CATCH them. More about that soon but if you have any ideas or want to help, or know of anyone that needs help, call the Vicarage. CATCH will stand for Churches Acting to Combat Hardship (*) - and will be the rallying call for our foodbank collections, support for other charitable causes and crucially other pastoral help for those in our village communities that are experiencing other forms of hardship. To be honest, I cannot do this without your help and support. We may be able to help everyone, but we will try. We may be able to sign post on to others/organisations that may be better equipped. This is a ministry that we should all engage with. A little bit of your time may go a long way to help others. They will thank you and remember you for that.
If memory is important, so is hope. Hope is looking forward with confidence. As we get adjusted to the new normality, it is vital to step up our hope, whatever the outcome. This hope for the future is in fact part of our trust in the God who holds everything in the palms of his hands – who says that we are to have confidence that all will be well in the end. Nothing can defeat the good purposes of God, as the Old Testament prophets proclaimed, just as the worst that the world could do to Jesus in killing him could not prevent God raising him from the dead.
As we remember those in need, or those whose impact and memories we treasure, let us look forward with hope too. And this month ends with Advent - as we longingly and with hope look forward to the coming of Christ at Christmas with our atmospheric service planned for Madresfield at 4pm on the 28th November with an Advent reflection planned for each Thursday night (see advert elsewhere in this magazine).
I want is to ensure that memory and hope are the twin pillars of our community life and also of our individual lives; and we value them by trusting in the God who is a continuing source of life and joy.