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From the Curate - June 2021

29/05/2021

Hi everyone, I’m Ashley. Some of you will have met me, others have not yet had the pleasure. I am the curate for Alrewas, Fradley and Wychnor. Those of you who have met me will know that I live my life in perpetual confusion and total surprise that I am called to any form of ministry! So, with this in mind you may have some idea of what life for me as been like during this pandemic.
 
When we first went into lock down, I was a busy hospital Chaplain, trying to hold together the many tensions that were happening at the time, not just amongst the staff, but with relatives and patients. There were many heart-breaking moments, but also times of great joy.

I left my role in chaplaincy to begin my time with all of you in July 2020. Just after I started, we went into another lock down! This was the first time that I had experienced lock down and I must admit I felt a little like the people referred to in Psalm 107. This extract is taken from the Jubilee Bible: They wandered lost in the wilderness, alone out of the way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. They cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distress.
 
Many of us have spent the last year feeling lost and alone, separated from family and friends with time to reflect on our lives and maybe who we feel we no longer have room for in our lives. Those people that drain us and this can be family as well as friends. We had no church building to go to as many were closed to the public. This left some people feeling separated from God and yet it was a stark reminder that God is everywhere and with technology being something we all had to endure, services went online.

With the advent of on-line services and no communion we felt that we were no longer being fed in the traditional way and for some the spiritual communion that was offered did nothing for them. We prayed to the Lord to uphold us and to see us through this plight and he has done this.
Some of us lost loved ones and we were unable to mourn them in the usual way, and weddings could no longer be the big events that they once were. For some this was a relief, and these liminal moments became moments of intimacy, and some felt that the resulting services were more personnel and meaningful.
 
Restrictions are being loosened and we are beginning to get back to a sense of what once was normal, and yet not quite the same. We are a bit like the disciples who had been locked away in the upper room emerging at `Pentecost into a new way of living and being. The basic message is the same, but things will be done slightly differently now Christ had ascended.  This is the same for the church. We have many questions to answer. How long do we continue to provide online worship? Will this be the new norm for those who are not quite ready to return to their church communities? And what does the future of the church look like?

We the collective church, have been given the opportunity to think about how we move forward and how we truly preach a gospel of love to all people not just the regular attenders of Church, who have shown great resilience during these tough times. It is time to have respectful conversations with our colleagues, not just in our three churches but in the wider deanery. To begin to think about the church of the future and what we want it to look like. This pandemic has shown us that we cannot stand still or else we will become irrelevant, and Christ’s message will be lost. He deserves more than this.

There is a thirst out there for something spiritual and nourishing, people want to be fed with, but they are not sure how or what with. There is the opportunity to reach out and feed God’s people with his message, so let’s make Pentecost the rebirth for the church for all and not just those already committed to Christ. I, like you want to be part of a growing church, a church where all are welcome, and no one is turned away. A church where all receive sacramental ministry without judgement, a church that gives the message of LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE to all, a church that is worthy of calling itself part of the kingdom of God on earth.
As we all step back out into a new normal, let us do so with a spring in our step, keeping safety at the heart of our mission and preaching a gospel of love just as the disciples did all those years ago.
                                                 Ashley

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