November is a month in which we pause in the church to do some remembering. On the evening of the first Sunday we pause to give thanks for and remember those from our church family who have died in the past year. It’s always a poignant occasion as we welcome families and friends back to the church to remember in this special way and reflect on the people whose lives have touched ours so deeply. We also take the opportunity to reflect on the Christian hope that this life is not the end and upon the difference it makes to us to have a faith perspective when we experience that painful sense of loss.
On the second Sunday in November at our 10am and 11.30am services, we remember those who gave their lives for the freedom of others in 2 world wars and subsequent conflicts since then. We have the opportunity to take part in acts of remembrance and that very act of pausing in silence leads us to reflect on the freedom we enjoy in today’s world and the enormous cost and sacrifice involved in that freedom.
The month of November is also a month when we remember those in our community and further afield who are less fortunate than ourselves. We usually gather in over this month some non-perishable food items that will be used to assemble Christmas hampers in partnership with Christians Against poverty and other local churches in our area. Some will also have been involved in assembling shoeboxes with gifts for children in poorer parts of our world through the organisation Samaritan’s Purse.
In these endeavours and activities we are reminded that the world we live in can be a difficult place. Most of us will have direct experience of this in some of the painful experiences we have been through. We are conscious in recent times of much turmoil and upheaval in terms of the Brexit negotiations, the loss of employment in some big local companies and employers and the struggle it is for many to make ends meet in a time of rising prices and the pressures this can place on individuals and families.
In all of these rememberings it is vital of course to remember that Jesus walks with us in all the changing scenes of life. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us and while His presence may at times seem distant because of the situations we are facing, the church community has a powerful role to play in reminding people that He is there as He said He would be.
As we bring an item of food for a hamper, as we pause to remember at an act of remembrance or if we are unable to do these things and we pause and down tools for a few moments to pray for a friend or fellow parishioner going through hard times, we are doing something vitally important. We are lifting these people and situations and, it may be something directly affecting us and our families, into the presence of God. We’re acknowledging that while the situation is outside our control and maybe too big to resolve in our own strength, we are bringing it to someone bigger than ourselves, to the Lord of the universe.
Maybe our prayer or our gift seems so small beside the
situation and yet if collectively we pause and remember in these ways, much good will come. We are so much more together than the sum of our individual parts.
At the beginning of next month we will have an opportunity to come together on Advent Sunday to remember with thanksgiving the ministry of Reverend Raymond Kettyle amongst us over these past 3 years. We will have much cause to pay tribute to his pastoral care at times of trouble and difficulty, his passion and enthusiasm for sharing the Word of God with us, his willingness to go beyond his comfort zone to share with others and build up the life of God’s kingdom and his endeavours to encourage others on their journey of faith. So as we focus on this idea of remembering please take time in the coming weeks to remember and pray for Raymond as he prepares to take up his appointment as Rector of St. John’s, Lurgan on Tuesday 10th December.
We hope many people will be able to come and offer their support in person at that special service of institution in St. John’s at 8pm as Raymond will be instituted as Rector by the Bishop’s Commissary Archdeacon Roderic West.
Raymond’s last Sunday with us will be Sunday 1st December when he will preach at our morning services. After the Advent Carol service in the evening, we hope to have a reception and presentation for Raymond in the church hall. Do please try to come along and show your support for Raymond as he prepares for a new season in his ministry. Please also continue to pray for our diocese of Down and Dromore as the Electoral College made up of clergy and lay people from our diocese and the Northern Province of Armagh meet together in the coming weeks and months to appoint a new Bishop.
In the midst of all of these rememberings, I am conscious that there may be individual people and families who are feeling isolated and forgotten as they go through difficult things. Please let us know if you would like us to call and pray with you.
We will be endeavouring as we always do at this point in the year to call at each household on our parish lists with details of Advent and Christmas services. If people are out when we call and would like us to rearrange, please let us know a good time.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Pierce (Rector)
Telephone 02890 793822