Church of England Diocese of Oxford Summertown

A Special Kind of Welcome, a recorded Eucharist for the 3rd Sunday of Trininty

Gavin Knight, the Vicar, writes:

Whenever we start gathering back in church, we need to make sure that people's needs are understood, that we protect volunteers and church workers but that we also create an environment of beauty and simplicity. We don't want to be governed by the latest IT trickery or distracted by protocols and directives. The business of welcoming well needs careful consideration and I would be delighted to hear your views about coming back to church. What might it mean to you? What are your cares and concerns? What have you missed and what are you looking forward to the most?

At the heart of all of this is the Sacrament. Many of you have had to deny yourselves the presence of Christ and the rhythm of life that flows from taking part in the eucharistic feast. God welcomes us not only in the sacraments of the Church but in the sacrament of life. My hope is that we have all had time and space to consider the beauty of creation and the amazing virtues of human kindness, compassion and solidarity.

All of these virtues are required as we formulate a welcome programme to start church again in this time of pandemic and change. I have included this, slightly irreverent but reflective piece on a different type of welcome. The themes of justice and inclusivity run through it and describes a community that desires growth of the soul and the charism of seeing God in others. I thought I would share it with you:

WELCOME

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich or dirt poor. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our priest who can't carry a note in a bucket. You're welcome here if you're "just browsing," just woke up or just got out of jail. We don't care if you're more Catholic than the Pope, or haven't been in church since little Joey's Baptism.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you're having problems or you're down in the dumps or if you don't like "organized religion," we've been there too.

If you blew all your offering money at the bookies, you're welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don't work, can't spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts ... and you! 

The preacher is the Revd. Professor William Whyte.