Pastoral Care

Communion by Alan Shotter
Pastoral care is shared between our minister and a number of pastoral visitors. Each pastoral visitor cares for and prays for a small number of people. This way they can help the Ministers to respond quickly to anyone needing support. The Ministers have their own programme of pastoral priorities and their own methods of giving support. The Ministers and Pastoral Visitors meet twice a year to update and share particular concerns. Each week with our Notices we publish ‘Prayer Points’ that draw attention to individuals, and local, national and international concerns that need specific prayer. There is also a ‘Prayer Chain’ of church people who will pray for specific emergency situations when the need arises. We also commend the prayer space on the Methodist website www.methodist.org.uk We also try to keep in touch with one another through the pages of 'The Clanger', the church’s magazine.

Pastoral Letter

 
Dear All
Autumn has arrived and the trees are beginning to lose their leaves; nights are getting longer and for some there is a sigh of relief as the day for turning the heating on has finally arrived (1st October in many households). Many churches will have celebrated Harvest Festivals where we recognise and give thanks to God for the rich abundance of God’s provision to us.
Jesus celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles (also called the Festival of the Ingathering) which was one of their harvest festivals. Pilgrims would make their way to Jerusalem singing Psalms of thanksgiving; it was an extremely joyful occasion.
Two of the themes of the Tabernacles are water and light and John describes how Jesus used these two symbols and gave them special meanings (John 7 – 9). Every day of the festival the priest would parade to the proof of Siloam where he would collect a pitcher of water and pour it onto the altar whilst praying for rain; on the seventh day this was repeated seven times. Included in the readings during the festival was the passage from Exodus which reminded them that when the People of Israel were in the wilderness God told Moses to strike the rock and water gushed out.
John tells us that on this day Jesus shouted in a loud voice: “if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7: 37).  He explains that Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit which would be showered on the disciples at another festival – Pentecost.  At a time when the pilgrims were remembering their need for life-giving water and God’s provision Jesus sought to make people aware of their spiritual need for the Holy Spirit.
For the first seven days of the festival they lit seventy-foot candlesticks in one of the temple courtyards, shedding light across every courtyard in Jerusalem and beyond and pilgrims danced and played musical instruments. On the eighth day the candlesticks were not lit because it was understood to be a very solemn day. It must have felt very dark indeed after all that light. It is believed by some that it is at that moment that Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of light”.
Light was understood to be a symbol of God’s presence; the People of Israel were led through the wilderness by a ‘glory cloud’ which gave light during the night. Jesus, the Light of the World shines in the darkness of this world and calls us to do the same
Just as water and light are essential for our physical wellbeing so God provides us with the Holy Spirit and the Light of his presence. I encourage you to take time to pause and reflect on his promises, to become aware of your spiritual thirst for God and to trust in his promise that he will provide for both your physical and spiritual needs.
Your friend and minister          Denise