Tom's Christmas Letter 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters of All Saints
Yes, another Christmas letter for you to read over your mince pies… please forgive me!
As we draw to the close of 2018 I thought it would be good to reflect on what the Lord has been doing amongst us and our community over the last twelve months.
As always in God’s family, there’s been much to give thanks for and some sadness along the way. We’ve said goodbye to a few friends who’ve moved away or gone on to glory. We’ve welcomed new friends into the family, and seen some clear answers to prayer.
In September we began our trial of moving our Sunday morning services to the hall. I’m not going to say much about that here as in January we’ll give everyone the chance to feedback on how that’s been, and how we feel God is calling us forward. One of the things I’ve been so grateful for is a number of comments along these lines: ‘Trying the hall wasn’t my preference and I love All Saints building, but I can see how it has been of benefit to us.’ I think that has long been a hallmark of All Saints, and whatever we decide to do next, I hope and pray that spirit of grace and generosity will continue to grow. I am so grateful to everyone for sticking together; I know it hasn’t always been easy, I know it’s had its challenges, but we’ve also had some great opportunities!
As a church we have grown quite rapidly over the last two years, and it’s exciting to have more people, more diversity, more gifts within All Saints. There’s no doubt that growth brings change though, and I appreciate that is probably felt most by those who’ve been in the church for some time. My hope for All Saints remains the same - that we would be a close-knit family helping one another to know, love and follow Jesus and inviting others to do the same.
I believe All Saints has a calling as a healing and prayerful church, with worship, teaching and outreach that puts the focus on Jesus; through his Spirit and trusting his Word. As we grow, we can continue to do that, even if we have to learn from a few bumps along the way. I think that part of our collective calling is to keep the heart of what makes All Saints a special fellowship, whilst welcoming and sharing with those God is calling to join us. We won’t always get it right, but the Lord can give us (and clergy in particular) the grace to acknowledge mistakes and to celebrate all he is doing amongst us.
In the new year, we’re going to do another series of open vicarages. Can I encourage you to come along to one or more of them if you can as it would be lovely for us to get to know one another better. I also hope that homegroups offer a way to get to know a few people well and I encourage groups to have joint socials as a way to also share with others. We also have lovely smaller groups that meet in All Saints on Monday (knit and natter, but knitting not compulsory!), Wednesday for quiet communion and Friday for coffee and delicious pastries. Then there’s monthly and occasional get togethers, the Create craft group and other opportunities to share in fellowship. They’re all opportunities to get to know others in a slightly smaller group than Sunday mornings.
This year we’ve had two baptisms and one reaffirmation of baptism vows, and in the new year the christening of a family who’ve joined us in 2018, and a group of people getting confirmed. The stories are varied, but the shared faith in Jesus is a joy to see. Messy Church has been growing and allowing us to welcome and share the good news with many local families. My prayer for the new year is that some of these families will increasingly connect with the life of the church and come to know, love and follow Jesus too.
There’s been plenty of other things going on as well and we’ll try and round them up in time for the annual report just before Easter.
Our focus next year is in line with the Diocese’ ‘Year of Vocation’ and is recognising everyone’s call to follow Jesus, each in our own way. Some are natural evangelists, some are gifted at hospitality, some are quietly loving and supporting people around them. Everyone is important to God, and I hope that we’ll all see how God can use us, according to the way he’s (re)made and gifted us. That’s why we’re starting the year with Jonah and Esther - each with a unique call, and a unique response to that call!
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour. It really is a pleasure to have got to know you all even better over the last year. As ever, if you would like to chat about anything - challenges, opportunities or anything else - please call or email and we can arrange to meet, chat and pray over coffee*
God bless, see you soon, and thank you,
* Other drinks are available. (Apparently)