Tuesday, 1 October 2013

October.....

Harvest, Praying for Peace, and Dedication Festivals.
 
Every Sunday we give thanks for Creation and Redemption, to the God who made us, and calls us to life through the Resurrection of Christ. Sunday is a time for God’s Creation, and each Sunday is, or should be, a unique and special day for Christians. It is on this day above all that the Christian Community is called to gather at the Altar, to share again the Bible stories that tell us about God, to pray for the needs of the world, to greet one another with the Kiss of Peace, and to break bread, knowing that in the sacrament of the Eucharist, God is present with us. Each and every Sunday is a unique gift, a day when we remember and give thanks. It is a particularly focussed response to that act of Thanksgiving for creation, that forms the particular backdrop to this month of October, centering on our celebration of the Harvest at the beginning of the month. In many parts of the world, it is Christians who are leading the concern for our planet, its future and its sustainability, and so we pray particularly for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change. We remember the need to provide food to sustain human life, and a sense of a proper humility before God as Source of all things, together with gratitude for his goodness, and responsibility in stewarding the resources of the earth.
 
Please join with the prayers of many folk of goodwill around the world for Peace, during the Week of Prayer for World Peace, from Sundays 13th-20th October. Perhaps you might like to use this prayer, even commit it to memory, as one of those prayers it is good to be able to turn to regularly,

O God, Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe,
through Christ the Prince of Peace  Amen. 

On Sunday 27th October, both of our Churches keep their Dedication Festivals. We give thanks for the faithful witness and efforts of those who have gone before us in establishing, beautifying and maintaining our Buildings as signs of the living Gospel, remembering that these Houses of the Church are places where the sacraments are celebrated, and the Gospel proclaimed, as we are God’s people, his Church, called to serve him in Christ. We know only too well the responsibilities of maintaining our Church fabric, and the priority we continue to place on meeting all our financial needs. Much work, and a lot of money, has gone into our Church fabrics of course over recent years. On the Festival of Dedication we pause to take stock, and remember just why our Buildings are so important for us, and how we can use them for the Gospel. On this Feast, indeed on every Sunday, we have the opportunity to allow God to renew us in his service, to renew our dedication that our buildings will be signs and access points of the gospel of Christ, and to renew our determination to continue to minister and witness to our Parishes of Elland, despite the increasing indifference, and sometimes outright hostility we face.

And how do we do all that? Well, there is a complex answer, and a rather simpler one. The complex one first of all, is that by the time you are reading this, we will have begun in earnest the process of discerning and preparing our new Parish Transformational Plans. Four years ago, our existing plan was presented in our Cathedral, alongside those of the Parishes of the Diocese, on All Saints Day 2009. We made a commitment there to continue to work on what we felt God was calling us to, and now, with the United Benefice in place, it is good to have the opportunity to thoroughly, and prayerfully, consider the next stages. 

The simpler answer quite simply underlines everything  - through prayer.

             Lord God Almighty, Guide us to Thy Will,
             Steadfast our minds towards Thy Will,
             Teach us to do Thy Will,
             that we may inwardly love Thee before all things with a pure mind.
             For thou art our Maker and Redeemer, Our help, Our Comfort,
             Our Trust, Our Hope. Amen.

 (A Prayer of King Alfred the Great, commemorated on 26th October.)