Weekly Update – 27th August

As the summer holidays draw to a close, we think about the new beginnings that lie ahead. Young people return to school – some to a new school but certainly to a new class and fresh studies.  Some will be preparing to start university or college.  Others will be or have recently started work.  Families take up their routines again.

New beginnings can be both exciting and daunting. The Gospel reading this week (Matthew 16.13-20) envisages a new beginning in the sense that the disciples enter a new relationship with Jesus.  This new relationship is centred on their fresh insight that Jesus is the Messiah.  Peter’s confidence through discerning Jesus as the Messiah becomes the foundation of his faith.  Jesus gives Peter his new name, Peter the Rock.  The rock on which Jesus builds his church.    The confidence and conviction based on this God-given insight will be foundation on which Peter and the other disciples will in future go out to continue with Jesus’ mission to build new communities of faith in God.

The seed for this new relationship was Jesus asking the disciples firstly “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” and then “Who do you say that I am?”  The first question to the disciples is looking outward to what other people around them are saying.  But the second question is asking the disciples to look inwards and to discern, with confidence, what God is saying to each of them and not be influenced by other people around them.

In a similar way in Romans 12.2 Paul reminds us “not to be conformed to the world” – looking outwards to what other people are saying – but “be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may discern what is the will of God” – looking inwards and being confident in what God is saying to us.

This is particularly relevant as we discern our future direction as a community of faith here in our parish and express this through the Parish Profile.   Three key themes have emerged from the drafting of the vision from the “What3Words” contributions, discussions and prayerful reflection on what God is saying to us at this time:

Our vision is to be a “welcoming church” that is “open and available for all within our community” and to create more opportunities for young people to be active within our congregation.

Our vision is to create more opportunities for conversations about faith and God, leading to a deeper sense of discipleship and confident witness among our members.

Our church is not only a wonderful place of worship but also a gift that we can share with the community.

Going back to thinking of new beginnings, in particular of those returning to new schools or going on to university or new jobs, there might be apprehension as they journey through this time of change.  We pray with confidence that God will guide them and all who support them: family, friends, teachers, advisers and mentors.