Waiting

BeckyWe are in a season of waiting and preparation, but this year for me has a special relevance, Lent is 40 days within a greater period of 12 months of preparation, my engagement.

For the Christian church Lent is a period of preparation before we enter the season of Holy week, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We give up things in memory of Jesus privations and waiting in the wilderness and we prepare ourselves to welcome the risen Lord.

For the relatives who have been following the news of the Air crash in Europe, this week has been the bitterest wait for news. The families have been preparing themselves for the worst.

For the Diocese of Gloucester the period since last November has been full of waiting for news of our next Bishop.  Even now that we know the name of the next Bishop, there will still be a period of preparation for her arrival.

For the Cathedral, the current period is one of consultation and preparation for the coming Pilgrim project.  The task for the Pilgrim team is to form the shape of the Cathedral and its mission for the next hundred years.

For me, my engagement has been sprinkled with preparations for the coming wedding. It is easy to focus on the right dress, the correct groom’s outfit, the refreshments and all the other accompaniments, but for us the most important part is the next and the lasting part, our married life together.

Rebecca Shorter, Trust and Pastoral Officer

Better to give than to receive

mattThirty years and over £1 billion later, Comic Relief embodies the British public’s sense of charitable giving. This year was no different, with more than £78 million raised (at the time of writing), all of which will go to helping thousands of projects both in the UK and worldwide.

With such big numbers being the highlight of such events, it’s important to remember that charitable giving is more than just generous donations. Comic Relief, like so many other charities, relies on volunteers, staff and project leaders who donate their time, knowledge and experience to put the donations to good work. Charitable giving doesn’t always have a pound sign attached to it.

In our Diocese and all across the Church of England, the work of volunteers is an integral part of our Ministry. We’d like to say thank you for the work that you do, the gifts that you bring to your Church and the support, financial, spiritual and physical, which you donate regularly.

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving” – Albert Einstein

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” – Jesus in Acts 20:35

Matthew Brunt, Diocesan Management Accountant

The Good Mother

Richard MitchellI have a confession; Mothering Sunday is way off being my favourite Sunday.

On any Sunday there are a lot of expectations around in congregations about how worship of God will be and how fellowship in church will meet our needs. On Mothering Sunday the whole thing is ramped up to the ‘nth degree.

Mothers’ Day (have you tried looking for a card with Mothering Sunday on it?) is one of the few Sundays when church and society coincide on a day of emotive family feeling.

Mothering, by mothers and fathers and anyone who exercises those human qualities of care, nurture and compassion, is worthy of celebration. Our attention rightly turns to those who have significantly mothered us.

It’s just that there is a massive flux of feeling that swirls around on this day. Mothers who feel they’re lacking as role models. Feelings of regret and guilt about neglected relationships in families. Mothers who were terrific but set standards we just can’t live up to. Mothers who’ve died before we could really say thank-you. Mothers who’ve lost children and need to have their grief validated.

And the church adds to the big theme with its own sense of the mothering of the Church as one that aims to provide all that we need in faith’s journey.

Great, but, tough to live up to and encompass all on one Sunday. What can we do?

In Emma Percy’s book, ‘What clergy do: even when it looks like nothing’, she arrives at the conclusion that all we can be is ‘good enough’.

So, let’s ease off on all those big expectations and just be ‘good enough’, whether we’re mothers, fathers, the Church, or anyone who does their best to love and care.

Revd Canon Richard Mitchell, Vicar of Shurdington, Badgeworth and Witcombe with Bentham

Not just talking but listening

Peter CheesmanTelephone by Michel Quoist is not a novel, but a short pithy prayer. It ends: “Forgive me, Lord, for we were connected, and now we are cut off.” The phone call was one-sided. There was no communication. We also know that it’s possible for two people to have a conversation – but neither listens to the other. And so misunderstanding arises and often from misunderstanding comes conflict. It can be one factor in a failed relationship. For me, it is typical of ‘debates’ on television or radio. I’m not worried if there are no TV debates for the coming elections. They may reveal skills in debating or memory but they rarely help us to truly understand the issues.

This is not taking sides or an attack on politicians. Not listening is a very human trait.

Many times we don’t understand because we don’t listen. What we don’t understand we often fear. Or worse, we fear the people we don’t understand.

Think for a moment of the people or things you fear. Is it because “now we are cut off” and don’t communicate?

It’s a very corny saying that we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally. The alternative, this Lent, may be to the find the prayer* and pray it with meaning!

* Prayers of Life by Michel Quoist

Revd Peter Cheesman; Civil Protection Advisor to Gloucester Churches Together & Gloucester Diocese