From the Rector: April 2017

Is going to church a necessary requirement to being a Christian? When I was a young man, I read the Diary of Edward Wilson. You may know Edward Wilson was the Doctor, Naturalist and Artist on Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1912. He was one of the five who reached the pole but tragically died on the way back. His body was later discovered and his diary was found with him. Throughout the expedition, and when he knew he was going to die, he had written a diary showing a wonderfully deep Christian belief, which he had kept secret even from his closest companions. It was a personal relationship just between Jesus and himself. It had a profound effect on me and I envied his relationship with Jesus.
Quite obviously, he could not attend church while on the expedition, which lasted from 1910 – 1912. No helicopters in those days to whisk you to the British Antarctic Base! He also managed to keep his faith personal in a situation where he must have shared almost everything else. Is this something we should all aim to achieve?
The answer is yes and no. Yes, we all need that personal relationship with Jesus, but no, we cannot all become explorers or hermits and shut ourselves away from the world. Yes, we do all need to find space in our busy lives to develop a relationship with Jesus, but we also need the support of a Christian community and that can only come from church. Yes, we do all need a basis for our Christian belief by reading and understanding the bible; but if we don’t share our beliefs with others, especially from outside the church, then Christianity will die out.
A few weeks back I attended a course run by Bishop Martin. It was about “Communion by Extension” which is a new service in the Church of England – approved by the General Synod in 2001 – as a form of Public Worship. It is intended as a way for congregations to have an opportunity to take communion when a priest is not available. This may be because there is a shortage of priests, or if a priest becomes ill, or in the case of rural parishes where one priest can cover several parishes.
There will be times in the near future and during the vacancy in the Upper Alde Benefice when there will be no ordained priest present or available. It has been agreed in four of the churches in the Benefice that we have “Communion by Extension” These are Badingham, Bruisyard, Rendham & Sweffling. The ministers authorized by the Bishop are Prof. John Tesh, Mr Rupert Wallis, Mr Charles Seely and Mrs Carol Bostock-Smith.
There are three elements of the Holy Communion Service a non-ordained minister may not undertake. There should be no Offertory, (but a plate for gift offerings can be placed at the back of the church.) no consecration of the bread and wine and no breaking of the priest’s wafer (which signifies the breaking of Jesus’ body on the cross). There are also recommended procedures. The minister distributing the communion should be at the consecration of the bread and wine and bring it to the church, (or take it from the tabernacle or ambry.) It is then placed on the altar in “God’s keeping”. If brought from another church the congregation should be told where the consecration took place as a way of “joining in communion” with that worshipping community celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection. This communion is not visible, but because I tell you about it then it becomes real. Likewise, our communion with Jesus at his “last supper” with his disciples is not visible, but by sharing in the communion bread and wine, it becomes real to us.
After Easter, we continue with the joy of the resurrection. To celebrate the event of two thousand years ago that so clearly demonstrated to Jesus’ followers what God is really capable of. To think what it may have been like to be with the disciples on that day bursts through the walls of our human imagination to remind us of the immeasurable nature and power of God our creator.
So it is right that our church will be filled with symbols of life; flowers, light, and joyous singing. As we move into May which brings in the promise of the first fruits of summer we will join with the saints and angels to celebrate this gift, this sign, and the divine promise of hope eternal.
My thirst for joyful music and hymns, the scent of flowers in the church and the sight of candles brightly burning in great numbers has been sharpened and anticipated by their absence in Lent not to mention my enhanced taste for chocolate and cake and hope for small foil wrapped pleasures.
I wish you all, every joy in the years to come, as this is my last newsletter to you.
You have all been wonderfully supportive and it has been a very great privilege to have been with you over these last 18 years.
Christ is Risen!
Every Blessing,
Jonathan