My Dear Friends
It's almost exactly a year since my first Sunday at Waltham St Lawrence, and Harsha and I attended the last of the 2016 Church Teas that very afternoon, at which of course we knew almost no one. How lovely to attend the same event a couple of Sundays ago and see so many friendly and familiar faces. On this 'anniversary' we would like to thank the whole village community for their welcome, and say how blessed we feel to be here among you.
I also remember that on that first Sunday I asked for your help in keeping me and my reading glasses in the same place! And yes, people have been good about that too, though on the 'belt and braces' principle I have also bought a couple of cheapo pairs in a certain well-known discount store and placed them in strategic places.
I'm one of those people who hate losing things. By nature I'm (moderately) organised and tidy, and generally I reckon that's a good thing, but it means I get really bothered when something isn't where I know it should be, even if I have no immediate need of it.
Parents with small children (and those with older ones too!) know there is often a good reason why something has gone missing, though the question "Who's borrowed my…?" may often meet either with silence or with protestations of innocence from all sides. It happened quite a lot when our children lived at home. Sometimes, I confess, it was my own fault - it was I who had mislaid the item in a hurry - and when I realised this I tried to have the decency to apologise to those wrongly accused.
Other people have a worse problem - because their lost property is mobile! I do feel for those pet owners who stick notices on trees asking us to look out for their missing cats and dogs. Hamsters, gerbils and the like have also been known to make their escape by gnawing through their bars - well, rodents are the professionals after all! And if in the end you do get a replacement pet, it doesn't stop you minding about the first one, does it?
Of course the worst kind of loss is the loss of a person - a child lost in a shopping centre, a teenager who leaves home suddenly, a marriage partner who walks out, and the loss of bereavement which we all suffer at some stage. This 'people loss' is the only kind that God experiences, and I'm reminded by Jesus that God cares about it far more than any of us do. His story of the one missing sheep out of a hundred, and above all the story of the lost son (both in Luke chapter 15), tell us that God is constantly looking for us so that we may be re-united with him as our Father, our Lord and our Friend. Has he found you yet, or are you hiding from him?
There is to be a slight change to our monthly service pattern from September.
On the third Sunday of each month after St Lawrence Café there will be a shorter and simpler service at 10.30 am, without Holy Communion. I hope this will appeal to those who come to the breakfast but don't make it to church afterwards, and to those whose attitude to Christianity at present is 'interested' and 'exploratory' rather than committed; such people, very understandably, may not feel comfortable about taking part in sacramental worship. There will be music (with the choir), a Bible reading, prayers, and a sermon. I am expecting this service to last no more than 50 minutes, probably less. Even if you don't come to church at the moment, do give this new format a try. September 17 is the first date.
Your sincere friend and Vicar,