We have just returned from a glorious week with our extended family and friends in the Lakes after Holy Week and the Easter Services.
My first Easter in Accrington was an opportunity to incorporate new and old traditions across our two churches, which will very soon be one parish. Highlights for me have been the Lenten journey and seeing the way different people responded to a more imaginative way of approaching the Bible. I was touched to see how God spoke through each one of us.
On Maundy Thursday a group from St John’s joined the regulars for a delicious Agape meal at St Paul’s and on Good Friday they again joined us at St Paul’s for a reflection led by Tony Hindle with music, images and poetry; just lovely. After that we had hot cross buns before joining churches from across Accrington to walk up the Coppice following the stations of the cross where we prayed and sang. I was touched to see a family with their baby that I recently baptised and various friends from Accrington Christians Together. Good Friday culminated with a moving afternoon reflection led by our other licensed lay minister, Patricia Wilkinson at St John’s. This time it was St Paul’s folk who made the journey up the hill to share in this special time.
A highlight for me on Easter Day was to see the resurrection of the St John’s music group and many remarked how much it lifted their spirits. I was grateful that the Logans returned to St Paul’s and Kevin was able to lead St Paul’s in a beautiful Easter Day Holy Communion. Thank God for the faithful witness of both Ann and Kevin Logan in our community.
As I returned home one of our faithful women of prayer, Miriam Wardell, said that when she read the healing of the blind man in John 9 as part of the Lent devotions from the diocese, God had encouraged her pray that we would have eyes of faith to see what He is capable of doing through us, if we will only trust Him.
By the time you read this the two churches will be just about to formally merge into one parish with my institution as vicar of the joined parish at an evening service at St John’s on Sunday May 1st. On the 22nd May we will have our joint Special Parochial Church Meeting to appoint the new joint PCC and this will lead to our deciding how to manage our services going forwards. We have already decided to bring back the café service, but there are other decisions to make and we need eyes of faith to make this happen.
So, I am asking that you would consider taking part with us in the Church of England prayer initiative called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ that runs from Ascension day (26th April) to Pentecost (5th June). We are planning to launch the 10 days of prayer with 24 hours of prayer from 7pm on the 26 to 7pm on 27 April. A prayer team from across both churches will be organising services, distributing prayer material to everyone in our churches and working with our schools to promote prayer.
So why are we praying? I believe God wants us to share the good news in our communities, amongst our friends, our families, our work colleagues. In my experience, prayer is a key tool that God has given us to prepare ourselves and those to whom we are sent to receive this good news message. I often liken prayer to the work of a good gardener who prepares the field carefully for planting in order that when the seed is sown the harvest will be plentiful.
When I look back on our preparation for Easter through the Lenten Journey, the walk of witness up the Coppice on Good Friday, the Easter services and now this time of prayer, I believe God is preparing you to help grow our churches. He is preparing you to be his hands, feet, voice in Accrington to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.
Will you join us?
With my love constant prayers for each one of you,