Wednesday, 12 February 2020

A sense of loss - but more…

The “Parish Registers” page at the end of each Magazine is always a cause for me to reflect. This month’s records the two Baptisms at which I officiated yesterday - a big occasion with much joy, and people drawn and brought together from all over the country. It’s the same when we have weddings to include - and I’ve been involved in three sets of wedding arrangements in just the last week, each with their different stories.

But of course there are also the funerals - and looking back over the last two months we recognise the reality of loss and the pain of bereavement, particularly acute in the loss of members of our congregation. It’s something I feel ever more. We record the deaths of three regular members of our congregation: Elsie Carr, Dorothy Dover and Kath Burdon. But the longer I live here the more I know of the lives of still more beyond our congregation - and of their loved ones. What can I say? - I find myself asking. But I know that whatever it is, my cause for gratitude in the friendship I have found in particular people tells me something yet more about the place they have in the hearts of those who treasure them.

Lived-out faith is what strikes me about so much of my encounter with people in the face of death. How can I make sense of grief? - and I find myself knowing increasingly its reality. The answer is so often in the way in which individuals dear to me have borne their illness and recognised their mortality while being deepened in their faith and love. More than that, it’s in their loved ones, family and friends who accompany them on the way.

“Reasons to be thankful…” It’s gratitude which I can recognise as having a sustaining power for me. The faith, love and friendship of those about me. It’s all a massive privilege for me in my ministry and priesthood - and I don’t use that term lightly.

In our world today there are so many causes for complaint, so much invective. Yes, there are many ways in which we might feel let down, wrongs which need to be righted, justice which must be served. But can we start by thinking of those reasons to be thankful? And people    MJ

Read this month's Parish Magazine (February 2020)

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