Church of England Diocese of Chester Great Budworth

From the Vicar July 2021

1 Jul 2021, 11:45 p.m.

From the Vicar

As some of you may know I edit the magazine of the English Clergy Association, “Parson & <span style="font-size: 1rem;">Parish”, and last year was able to get the Bishop of London (and Patron of the Association) </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Recovery </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">Group, to write a piece for the magazine. It was a short but very interesting piece, entitled </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">“Reflections on the Coronavirus”, and Bp Sarah began with a wonderful verse from the </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">Prophet Isaiah: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland.”</span>

Quite apart from Isaiah, Bp Sarah could easily have had in her mind passages from either <span style="font-size: 1rem;">Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians or Mark’s Gospel – those concerning a new creation </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">and the mustard seed. Paul’s language is quite sublime: “So, if anyone is in Christ there is a </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">new creation: everything old has passed away; everything has become new” and Jesus’ </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">imagery of scattering seed and the almost invisible growth leading to the eventual harvest, </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">as well as the paradox of the mustard seed, is equally evocative and profound.</span>

Those images of the seed growing quietly in the ground, and of the smallest seed growing <span style="font-size: 1rem;">eventually into one of the largest shrubs are, I think, very appropriate for us at the moment, </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">as we struggle to make sense of what’s going on around us, not only in the wider world but </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">in the Church of God. How do we recover from Covid-19 and all its effects? How do we carry </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">on? How do we try and grow after such an experience? Can we?</span>

These, and many other questions, are of course being addressed by Churches of all <span style="font-size: 1rem;">denominations up and down the country, as we are doing here in Great Budworth, and the </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">Bishop of London’s article to which I referred earlier was very positive and encouraging for </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">the future, whatever it may hold in store for us. Bishop Sarah finished with piece with these </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">words: “Above all, I am convinced that we have seen the Spirit moving among us, doing new </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">things. Whatever the future holds, the Lord has been opening up his way in the wilderness </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">and calling forth streams in our wasteland.” Comforting and reassuring words indeed, but </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">also encouraging and challenging.</span>

A recent research project by the University of York “Churches, Covid-19 and Communities”, <span style="font-size: 1rem;">of which I have only seen some highlights, seems to indicate a very real degree of interest in </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">and connectivity with the Church and its work, especially among non-church going people, </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">in different ways but all related to spiritual well being in some way. I will be looking at the </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">whole report much more carefully (when I’ve got a spare hour or three!) but the work that </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">is being done in this Parish, for example, by Christina and Jenny in relation to innovative </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">pastoral outreach and of course online worship and ministry is very exciting and really </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">encouraging. And these “new things” that are fast becoming part and parcel of our “mixed </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">economy” of worship and pastoral care and evangelism were on the agenda of the June </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">Diocesan Synod (which took place via zoom, with over 100 participants from across the </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">Diocese), and will undoubtedly feature in the coming months in PCC and Deanery meetings </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">and as our two new Suffragan Bishops come among us. With Bishop Mark we will all be </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">thinking about and discussing what the future holds for all of us in the Diocese, and in our </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">own Parishes.</span>

“See, everything is becoming new.....” to paraphrase St Paul slightly – and it is clear that <span style="font-size: 1rem;">there are exciting times ahead of us all. We want those mustard seeds to put forth their </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">large branches, and the seeds that have been sown in so many new and different ways to be </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">growing and for there to be many nests for the children of God!</span>

The Revd Alec Brown.