Last Saturday the Parochial Church Council (PCC) spent a happy and productive day together at Lucy Cavendish College. The day was made up of worship and prayer together, studying scripture (2 Corinthians 3-5), talking, listening, debating, eating, and much laughter.
As well as rejoicing in the opportunity to be together in person, we were thinking hard about our vocation, and our vision. Some of you will remember that, pre-Covid, we had set ourselves two questions as a church:
What is God calling us to be?
Therefore, what must we do?
The 2019 PCC had got a long way with those questions, supported by congregational consultations and meetings. Now, we are re-visiting it all, and discerning whether the destination is different, or the same; and, if the latter, which route we take to get there.
One of the over-riding themes which emerged was a desire to grow spiritually. Our curate Jon riffed on the questions above to sum it up like this:
What spiritual sustenance do our people need?
Therefore, what must we provide?
We have some good ideas around this; and many more concerned with our worship, our witness, our building – but undergirding it all is a longing for God. This God is encountered at all times and in all places, but for nearly all of the readers of this letter, Great Saint Mary’s is a ‘thin place’, a touching place where the hem of the robe which filled the temple (Isaiah 6) is spiritually graspable. That has much to do with those who have made prayer valid here in the past, and those who meet here now. We are the Body of Christ. While we were apart, we missed each other so much. Now we can meet and worship together again, the joy is overwhelming (when Devin spoke of the lesser sacrament of coffee after the service last Sunday, he meant it).
So perhaps our first vocation is to rediscover one another in the love of Christ. Many of you are still cautious about coming on Sundays for all sorts of good reasons. I hope that those who do feel able to return will do so – no matter how brilliant our livestreams, it is our gathering together that makes all the difference. As one PCC member pithily puts it, we are now in the business of ‘regathering the gathered’. I suspect that makes me ‘gatherer-in-chief’ – so regard this as my invitation to the regathering that takes place in our beloved church building week by week, day by day. For one thing is certain - God is calling us to be together.