Rector’s Letter – July
Luxborough Church hosted the now annual End of Lambing Service and Supper this year on Thursday 6th June. The evening started with a gathering in the Church, to share poems, songs and reflections on lambing, Exmoor, and the wider rural, agricultural life. This year the subject matter extended to gardening – to seedlings and the potting shed in particular, so to the beginnings of gardening rather than the end!
Contributors choose their own readings, poems, etc., and one or two contributors again read a piece they had written themselves from their own first-hand experience. It is always interesting to hear what people have chosen or written and it creates an experience which is as diverse and creative as the people who have gathered. In the past the church has been associated with trying to conform to an ideal of life, impossible to achieve in reality, leading to a sense of failure and judgement. The gathering for the End of Lambing and other gatherings held in Luxborough Church offer something different. There is no pressure to conform and every encouragement to bring something of personal significance to share in a generous and encouraging context.
Churches often fail to communicate their essential mission of love and encouragement to find fulfilment in life successfully, in a way that is relevant to current local cultures in a diverse and changing world. My experience of the gatherings in Luxborough suggest to me that the Church today can be a place which offers resources to a diverse group of contemporary people on their spiritual journey, gathered around the mystery, looking for a coherent thread in among the fragments. listening for echoes of the still, small voice in the plurality of authentic readings and voices.
The gatherings offer a space for individuals of all faiths and none to come as they are, to help build an experience of mutual encouragement, to reflect on meaning and purpose of life. The gatherings require more work, however they allow us to shape things in a more flexible way than traditional formal services. They allow us to listen to each other and share in this moment in which we find ourselves. In the church season of Trinity, which runs throughout the summer and into the autumn, we have the inspiration that at the heart of our faith is the image of God as three in one, as essentially plural yet also unified, speaking of love and also listening and sharing, drawing us into love in all that we are and bring.
St Irenaeus said that the glory of God is a human being fully alive. This could be the motto of our Exmoor churches and our hope and prayer for each other.
All the best, David Weir