Letter from the clergy: July 7, 2021
What do clergy do?
Sometimes we're asked what exactly it is that we do as clergy.....well apart from the practical running of a church… we do a bunch of stuff which might be directly relevant to you! So read on and think about whether there is a way we can walk with you in this season.
There is a prayer by Francis McNutt which I (Liz) use often after praying with people, and this line echoes in my brain almost constantly: “We realize that the sickness and evil we encounter is more than our humanity can bear, so cleanse us of any sadness, negativity or despair that we may have picked up. If our ministry has tempted us to anger, impatience or lust, cleanse us of those temptations and replace them with love, joy and peace.”
The brokenness in this world impacts us all. These last couple of weeks there has been yet another story of sexual abuse, this time in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest - a heartbreaking story.* As pastors who can ourselves say #metoo, these all-too-frequent stories make us want to throw up our hands in despair, but instead a more helpful approach might be to throw ourselves at God’s feet and cry, “how long?”
Perhaps you have a story you have held deep inside you for a long time - perhaps a story of shame or misplaced shame; perhaps you have battled with a long-term addiction or an area of brokenness in your life. We are here to listen. We will hold your story as precious and we will neither condemn nor judge. But we will hope with you and ask God for wisdom and grace. We will stand with you if you are in a vulnerable position and need to ask for justice. We will be with you in the long haul of negotiating your story. Please ask.
Have you asked a member of the pastoral clergy team to pray for you recently? We love to pray for our community in all circumstances.
We delight to pray for you in the joys of life: perhaps a new job, new relationship, new baby, and we’d also love to come and bless your new home (there is a lovely ‘Anglican House Blessing’ we often use).
The opportunity to bear witness to the sorrows of this world with you is one of the most meaningful moments for any clergy person; and so we also want to pray with you when life is tough: when you lose a job, or a pregnancy, or you are anxious, afraid or unwell.
We would love to pray with you when you are discerning a change of relationship, work situation or responding to family pressures and crises.
And sometimes it is helpful to have someone pray with you when you are too tired or sad or confused to pray by yourself.
Every Sunday we have teams at the back of the worship space who will pray with you for all your needs, whether physical, practical, emotional, spiritual… but sometimes it would be helpful to have a slightly longer prayer time with someone. We’d love to sit down with you for an hour to pray through the things on your mind. Ask us.
We are NOT trained counselors, but we are trained to offer spiritual counsel. Spiritual counsel, as opposed to the broader world of counseling, is concerned primarily with your relationship with God. So we can talk to you about things like struggles with prayer, reading the Bible, sin, or discernment. And we can connect you to counselors if an issue is outside our expertise. We can even help to pay for some counselling to get you started if that would be helpful. Ask!
We offer confession and absolution
One of the hidden gems of the BCP2019 is the service 'reconciliation of the penitent’ (p223). We believe that Jesus offers forgiveness to all who turn to him, but sometimes it can be helpful to hear the words of forgiveness spoken over you. Within the Anglican tradition priests are given the authority to offer absolution, which we do every week during the Sunday service; however, talking through a matter where you are seeking a word of comfort as you ask for God’s forgiveness can be so very helpful. Your priests are ready and waiting to be asked!
We help you prepare….
Talk to us as you are thinking and planning for marriage, baptism, end of life preparations, and confirmation. We are happy to talk through all these decisions and point you toward classes and other resources that we have found helpful.
So what do your clergy do? Well, we love you and want to help shepherd you through this Christian life, hoping always to see you come closer to Christ, even as we hope the same for ourselves.
Please ask if we can help you in any way in any season of life.
In other news:
Canopy Chat: week by week every Wednesday at 7.30pm - rich conversation and supportive prayer - join us this week to talk more about Origen and reading scripture.
On Friday July 9 we will discuss 'The Making of Biblical Womanhood' under the canopies @7.30pm. Here's a podcast if you don't have time to read the book before Friday! Come and bring a friend...
Parish meeting: linger after the service this coming Sunday, July 11 for a chance to hear all our 'family news'
Have you been thinking about who you imitate? Tell us the story - write a blog... don't keep it to yourself :)
Liz Gray, Amy Rowe, Katie Hamlin
*Amy, Katie and I all signed or posted this letter of solidarity from some of the clergy of the ACNA. We are so grieved.