This morning started with heavy frost and the sort of beautiful blue skies that Winter often provides as I climbed out of bed and made my way to a new place of worship for an 'early' Book of Common Prayer (BCP) Communion. The morning may have been cold but the welcome, and the building, were warm - and that's always a blessing!
Today's service was a straightforward BCP service in which we reflected upon The Presentation and Jesus coming into contact with Simeon and Anna. The people alongside me were keen to make sure I had what I needed to get through the service and as I was about to leave the altar rail a hand grabbed me to let me know that we stayed where we were until everyone was communicated.
When the service was done I had a quick look around the building (and having been pointed to 'something of interest' I paid an interesting tomb a bit of a visit before mooching for a few minutes before heading for the door, only to find myself engaged with by one of the people who'd been at the service and offered tea and toast!
What made this nice was that I got to chat to people, and the local dogcollar too, and learnt much about the building and the changes, glimpses of the ministry and the 'messy church' like children's work to be engaged with the following week (please pray for those running it and those who might come to St Hilda's). The pews in the place had gone and they'd installed effective heating and the warmth of the place bore testimony to that - But the sacred space that this building is and the rubbing shoulders with saints past was made special by rubbing shoulders with those present.
I can honestly say that this has to be one of the best church visits I have made for ages.
The building was welcoming and obviously cared for,
The liturgy was straightforward and thoughtfully presented without deviating or distracting us from the particular form that is BCP.
The Church made real in the living stones alongside me was engaged and welcoming - the offer of tea and toast was earnest and hard to pass up as the person asking me, having ascertained that I was merely passing though, didn't walk away as they realised I was a scalp but persevered as if they valued the fact that I was family.
So I stayed for tea and toast and engaged in making koinonia a reality - and am sure that the next time I'm in that place I'll be visiting again. And until I do thee will be prayers offered up for the work of the Church in that building that doors would be opened and lives changed by its ministry, history and the work of the people there. A real bleeding and great start to my day.
And the day continued to be just as good - a new addition to the family engaged with, and the in-laws looking good, and the new family unit being everything one could pray for - Lord, bless them and surround them with your love and your presence. Sadly though time was such that before it got going the road to Tamworth beckoned and we had to depart.
Lord for our families, for new life (and for old life too) I can but thank you. Keep us united and help us to see the strength and value that each one of us bring to, and the importance that thee is in, family.
Thank you for the places of worship, and the welcome, warmth, and family that is to be found within their walls - bless the family of St Hilda's and strengthen their arms that the battle might be won in that place.
Thank you for my own places of worship - help us to look to You and stay authentic, tolerant, selfless and open-handed. Help us to not see the fault in others but to see the feet of clay that impede us in our journey through this life, and thus enlightened, bless those who might otherwise be cursed by our own folly.
I pray for the day ahead and the opportunities a new week will bring - help us to do nothing in our own strength and to pray, consider, and obediently go forward - in Your name and for Your namesake.
Bless our families, biological, ecclesial, and gathered by means odd and otherwise and make us a blessing in them also.
For the bread today, the forgiveness and the presence of you love I give you thanks and looking expectantly to another day, bless you for all You are to me, and in me.
Jesus, I thank You for the cross and the ability to proclaim that You are risen indeed!