Another month has come and gone and we now approach autumn. In many ways early autumn is a lovely time of year – that time of mists and mellow fruitfulness! – but of course it also points us to short days, long nights and eventually winter. The schools are back for the new year and it is lovely to hear the full sound of children on the playground again after the long period in which only a few children were present. We keep our schools, pupils and teachers very much in our prayers as they get going again, not least that everyone keeps safe.
It is good that since my last letter, Hyndburn has been released from the extra restrictions. There are still cases occurring locally, though, so it remains essential that we all continue to follow the guidance.
Attendance at church services has gradually been increasing and in recent weeks All Saints’ has been at or near ‘capacity’ for the number of separate individuals or households who can safely be in church together. The time has come to very gradually increase the number of services so that those who wish can come to worship in church and yet remain safe.
At Altham worship will continue to be weekly at 9:30, with all-age worship on the second Sunday of each month.
At All Saints’ we will continue to have a Communion service at 11am each Sunday. For now we are still unable to sing together, but gradually the pre-recorded music will be replaced by live music with small numbers of the choir or worship group singing. We have been very well supported by the recordings that Chris and family have made throughout lockdown, but it will be lovely to have some live music-making going on in church.
Wednesday Communion at 10am will also return from this coming Wednesday 9th September.
And on the second Sunday of each month there will be a family service at 2pm – this will last half an hour and is aimed at those with children. Pre-booking is essential for this service via this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/family-praise-tickets-118443861779
Now that autumn is here and the nights are drawing in, it might be the perfect time to take part in something new. I’d like to invite you to join with others in taking part in the Bible Course. Sessions will take place via Zoom on Thursday evenings beginning on 24th September at 7:30pm. There will be a total of 8 sessions with a break over half term. Each week will include two videos to watch, a time of discussion and a time for personal reflection. In between each session there will be a reading to read each day. The course is fun, interesting and doesn’t assume prior knowledge. It will help anyone get a better overview of the bible and get used to reading its different parts and working out what it means for us today. Please just let me know if you’ll be joining so that I can make sure you get a handbook. Sometime next year, when things are hopefully back to a greater degree of normality, we will offer this as a face to face course for those who can’t, or would rather not, do this online.
This month sees Peter Dillon begin his training and formation for ordained ministry (three years part-time) – congratulations Peter on being called to this by God’s church. As was the case when Lesley was training, Peter will remain in our benefice for most of the time but will be off on other placements from time to time. As you will expect, he will have an increasing role ‘up front’. I know that you will give him your support and your prayers at this special time. And please remember Revd Jane, who is settled very well at Whalley, Sabden and Pendleton. Restrictions mean that we can’t attend her ordination to the priesthood at Michaelmas, but we keep her in prayers at such a special moment in her life.
Looking ahead, it may be helpful to know that harvest festival will be on 11th October. I hope we’ll be able to make a bumper collection of food for our local food bank, and a generous financial response to the bishop’s harvest appeal. We’ll make sure there is an opportunity for any not coming to church services to drop off either kind of gifts. More details in next month’s letter. And if you can help with items sooner than that they are always appreciated and can be dropped off at the Baptist Church on Sparth Road.
The long-delayed 2020 Annual Meetings will also take place during October. All Saints’ will be held on Tuesday 13th October at 7:30pm. Altham St James’ will be held on Sunday 18th at 9:30am.
This week I led worship with the new Year 7 pupils at St Christopher’s and introduced them to the school prayer – which is a very famous prayer written by St Ignatius of Loyala. You probably know it. I asked them to think about it before inviting them to join in saying the words as they ask a lot of us. I commend them to you as we leave the summer and head into an uncertain autumn. Words of commitment to Christ in this and every season of life.
Teach us, good Lord,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will. Amen.
God bless you and keep safe.
Yours in Christ