At the time of writing I am feeling delighted that our party this last weekend was such a success. I set out, as we planned the party that, given last year was so much about fundraising and at times was hard work it would be great to start the year on a very different footing. A parish party would give an opportunity to come with no other aim but to enjoy ourselves and help us grow together as community. I was especially delighted that people from different parts of our church family: our different congregations through the week our Space4 project and friends from Easington Lane church came together to party! I felt so pleased that so many people felt very welcome at our church event.
It moved me to think at a time when we are reflecting as society on our relationship with others after we have left the European Union. I think we pride ourselves at St Michael and All Angels for being a welcoming and inclusive church – I think that has been the case in our past and in our present. On the whole, I think that to be the case but we should not rest on our laurels. In a recent sermon, Judith shared with us the words of welcome from Coventry Cathedral. I have borrowed and slightly tweaked these below and I commend them for reflection asking what offering such a welcome might mean for us?
‘We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, questioning, well-heeled or down at heel. We especially welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers.
We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself. You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing,’ just woken up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury or haven’t been to church since Christmas ten years ago.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit mums, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, are down in the dumps or don’t like ‘organised religion.’ (We’re not that keen on it either!)
We offer a welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or are here because granny is visiting and wanted to come to the Church.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throat as kids or got lost on the broadway and wound up here by mistake. We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters… and you!’
With my prayers and very best wishes.