I am writing this two or three days late so that I can include some details of the two visits we have had this week from the Bishop of Hertford, Bishop Michael. He led our worship and preached on Sunday. In his sermon he asked us to imagine what life would be like if the Ascension had never occurred, so Jesus would not have returned to be with his Father but had stayed around. The bishop suggested that, if that had been the case, very few people would have had a personal relationship with Jesus. Whereas his ascension meant that God sent the Holy Spirit to us and through that spirit all of us have the opportunity of a personal relationship with Jesus. The bishop returned on Wednesday for the afternoon and evening. He visited Preston School, both churches, had tea at Hello Out There and spent time with a good number of church members. It was a good time and we are fortunate that he was able to be with us. There are after all nearly 250 parishes in Hertfordshire.
As in 2017, we have been joining in Thy Kingdom Come in this parish. There have been a number of special services in both churches between Ascension Day and Pentecost when we have been praying for ourselves and others that our faith may be deepened. These have gone well so far and I am looking forward to being at St Alban’s Abbey on Saturday for the culmination of this period of prayer in a special service of Celebration. The Archbishop of Canterbury will be speaking alongside the Revd Haley Young, a Baptist minister in this diocese and Soul Survivor, Watford will be leading the worship. And all of us there will be praying that our own faith may deepen and that more people will be drawn to a personal relationship with Jesus. I know that there will be feedback about this service in the July magazine.
As I mentioned last month the 2018 In Loving Memory service for the whole parish takes place at All Saints’ at 3pm on Sunday 24 June, followed by refreshments. In Loving Memory is a special service of hymns, prayers and short readings with the opportunity to light candles in memory of ‘those we love but see no longer’. If you and other family members wish to attend and would like the name of your loved one read out during the service please let us know by email. Personal invitations are being sent to the families we know where there has been a death in the last three years, but the service is, of course, open to everyone. Do get in touch if you want to know more.
Two young people from this parish were confirmed at the Abbey on Saturday last week by Bishop Alan and they received communion at St Martin’s for the first time the following day when Bishop Michael was taking the service.
Our Wednesday afternoon group resumes on 6 June and our theme for these five weekly sessions is: Women of the Bible as Role-models. Our first session will be devoted to Ruth. Come along at 2pm for an hour of talk and discussion followed by tea and biscuits. Please contact me, Dawn or Meta for details of where the meetings will take place.
And some personal news: as some of you already know I will be leaving the parish at the end of September this year. I have been in Preston and Whitwell for over eight years and I am very sad to be saying Goodbye to you all, but I am nearly nine years older than when I arrived and I know that I now need to take things at a slightly gentler pace.
With my prayers and good wishes to you all