I remember attending morning worship at an Episcopal (Anglican) Parish Church in Scotland a few years ago with my brother-in-law. There was a splendid sermon by a retired (woman) priest of diminutive size, on ‘Blessed are the pure in heart’. It engaged me from beginning to end and left interesting leads for my thoughts to pursue.
As at S. Michael’s, everyone was invited to share in refreshments afterwards. Apart from a brief exchange at the serving counter, as to what we wished to drink, no one approached us or made any attempt to speak to us. The congregation had clearly gone into their familiar clusters and were having an enjoyable catching-up time. We—seemingly the only visitors in the hall—were ignored! No one showed the least bit of interest in us. It was a strangely isolating experience after sharing together in the liturgy. I would like to believe that this never happens at S. Michael’s.
I’m very aware that visitors and those entering S. Michael’s for the first time will join us for worship for many different reasons. For example, some will hope to be embraced by a community, even if only for a short time while they are on holiday, others will want to remain in their own space, comfortable only with passing contact. There will be those who are weighing up our congregation to see if this is where they want to become involved, others will be seeking God’s strength and guidance for issues with which they are wrestling.
For those of us firmly entrenched in this parish, it means we have to reach out in greeting while always remaining sensitive, so that we avoid leaving anyone with the feeling they are being cornered! This is a responsibility we all share. We can never predetermine where any approach might lead although we may well find ourselves surprised at the outcome. Often what we describe as ‘chance encounters’ can turn out to be far more than we expect.
These thoughts were taken further for me at the beginning of the week, when we remembered (in our Church Calendar) Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who had been canonised the day before. I read at Mass from one of her meditations: “I think the greatest suffering is being lonely… I have come more and more to realise that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.” Within the congregation, as well as with those we meet wherever we go, we can always try to ensure that no one is left feeling alone and unwanted.
Thanks be to God.
Canon Craufurd Murray
- Patronal Festival: the Feast of S. Michael and All Angels will be celebrated on Thursday 29 September with a Festival Mass at 7:00 pm. Following the Mass, all are invited to share in a light supper in the parish hall. Parishioners are requested to bring a plate of finger food to share, something that doesn’t require heating. This may be dropped off in the hall prior to the Mass. We look forward to seeing you all there.
- Preparations for Michaelmas:
- Donations for flowers to Jill Woodside or Louise.
- Working bee for brass cleaning etc on Saturday 24 September from 10:00 am.
- Parishioners with medical or first aid qualifications: please speak to Michael Graveston.
- Cecilian Singers: Spring Cadenza, today 3:00 pm, Harewood Rd Methodist Church. Guest artist Angus Simmons. Details Elisabeth Alberts (358 1155).
- Parish Trust: Wednesday 5:15 pm.
- Luke’s Spirituality Centre—Voices of Aotearoa: Hymn writer Colin Gibson on music and spirituality. Wednesday 6:00 pm at Mary Potter Community Centre, $10. Presentation to Colin of Hon RSCM Award by Paul Ellis, President RSCM NZ.
- Bible Study Group meets 19 September 7:15 pm. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
- Reverse Greed: first of four seminars 6 October 5:30 pm at Knox Centre. See poster.
- Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
- Student Christian Movement Aotearoa seeks Chairperson, volunteer position. Details from the parish office.
- Sales Table: Sundays in the hall. Helpers needed, speak to Anne Ladd (981 5012).
- Marmalade available on the sales table. Empty jars to the box in lounge please.
- Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in lounge.
- Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Jill Woodside.
- Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts.
Purging Carbon, dollar by dollar
Open seminar organised by S. Michael and All Angels Climate Action Group
Tomorrow 7:00 pm in the church
Introduction by Bishop Victoria, on our obligation to be good guardians of the Earth
Speaker Rod Oram on climate change, money and a sustainable economy
Followed by light supper in the parish lounge