Chaplain’s Blog Christmas 2023
I can’t quite believe that 2023 is almost over and 2024 looms ahead full of the promise of…… well uncertainty, turmoil, change and opportunity. How we deal with hose things will depend on our attitude and outlook whether they are personal, church or wider-afield.
Locally, like many of you, we in Redruth will be hoping to appoint and welcome a new Rector and in the Diocese we have the search for a Bishop in the knowledge that whoever is chosen they will not be the right choice for everyone.
In the National Church the discussions around Living in Love and Faith and the ceremonies /prayers used for same sex unions will rumble on and the various pressure groups from GAFCON to the Single Parish movement will be fighting for their causes while the rest of us will be desperately trying to just keep our churches going in times of ever decreasing person-power. Whatever the views and I am avoiding writing about my own here, my hope is that love will be the key factor in all discussions rather than dogma and legality. my further hope is that all engaging in discussions will get to know people who disagree with them and try to see things form their point of view. tough I know, but it is the only way that we can be true disciples… “love one another as I have loved you.”
With the increasing age and decreasing energies of our retired priests, and the growing need for oversight ministers to manage ever larger groups of churches the desire or perceived need for weekly communion services is problematic. But how do you change the mind-set of folks who believe that a diet of weekly communion services has been something that has happened for ever, or at least as long as they can remember. I am not at all sure that Communion by Extension is the answer!
So maybe the church, in its widest sense will have to think more creatively. Here are some thoughts in no particular order of importance and not necessarily my view on things!
- Struggle on regardless
- Allow for communion by extension by wider groups of folk with some sort of training…. Eg church wardens and worship leaders.
- Change the designation of readers to permanent deacons….
- Make readers who go through a local discernment and training process local ordained ministers who can officiate at communion.
- An edict across the board that says one communion service a month is to be the standard – and other services will be made up of traditional Morning or evening prayer, evensong and matins or worship in Fresh Expressions.
- Close a few more churches!
- Join more congregations with the Methodist church
I am sure you can think of more…… which do you think have mileage and which would you throw out without a second thought?
In Redruth, our ministry team is pretty realistic about what can and cant be done and we do not expect a miracle worker for our new rector- we will be supporting them rather than looking for them to rescue us!
Back to Christmas. Christmas Eve With the Children is the manic festive offering at St Andrews – this year led by two young people in year 7 and 8 with support from willing adults! I only hope that social media advertising and tradition bring folks to it because the resources to do the normal leaflet drop were poor. The congregation has suffered a number of illnesses and worse that reduced our volunteer capacity- something, I suspect, is true of most places. But we are people of hope, people of faith and people who live the joy of Christ each day.
So I wish you a merry Christmas with as much peace as you need and enough energy to send you into 2024 with hope and joy. I leave you with a little something to make you think…..
A possibly unsettling / thought-provoking / challenging (depending on your own belief) poem by Kaitlin Hardy Shetler from her book “I hope they sing Christmas carols in hell”
sometimes i wonder
if mary breastfed jesus
if she cried out when he bit her
or if she sobbed when he would not latch
and sometimes i wonder
if this is all too vulgar
to ask in a church
full of men
without milk stains on their shirts
or coconut oil on their breasts
preaching from pulpits off limits to the mother of god
but then i think of feeding jesus
the expulsion of blood
and smell of sweat
the salt of a mother’s tears
onto the soft head of the salt of the earth
and i think
if the vulgarity of birth is not
by men who carry power but not burden
who carry privilege but not labour
who carry authority but not submission
then it should not be preached at all
because the real scandal of the birth of god
lies in the cracked nipples of a
14 year old
and not in the sermons of ministers
who say women
are too delicate