Dear Church member,
In my last email I mentioned that I would be writing to you about connection. Over the last week or so we have been experiencing frustration with our home internet connection, which we depend on for dozens of daily emails, keeping up to date with the constantly changing Covid situation and regulations, downloading and uploading resources for services and other activities, updating websites and social media, attending virtual meetings of leadership teams, local clergy, charity and school governing boards, etc, running online groups and courses, making funeral and wedding arrangements, and having other pastoral conversations, not to mention school homework/home schooling, virtual Scouting, online grocery shopping, and films/TV if there is any bandwidth left! Many of us are reliant on good internet connections for work and domestic life and relationship, and we are significantly impacted when the connection is weak or fails entirely.
The same is true for our connection with one another and with God. Human beings are made for relationship (to "love God and love one another"), but many things can create blockages in those connections. We feel this especially acutely during this strange time of social distancing and restricted activity. The change of life imposed by the pandemic will be affecting us for some time to come, and we need to adapt in order to maintain those critical connections. I mention below three ways to connect with one another, with God's Church in Harwell and Chilton, and with God himself.
1. Zoom Connect
Small groups are critical for human flourishing and are also brilliant for learning and growing in faith. I can't commend highly enough homegroups - which are a fundamental part of our church life - and many are managing to meet either in person in a socially distanced way or online. Others are not currently able to meet, and many of us are not a member of one of these groups.
We are going to be starting up a number of 'Connect' groups, that will meet weekly for 40 minutes at various times of the week via Zoom for six weeks, to enable us to connect with one another, our local churches, and with God. They will have a short focus on a Bible reading and brief discussion, then a chance to catch up with other members of the group and pray together as appropriate (though there would be no pressure for anyone to pray out loud). I would love for every member of our churches to be part of one of these groups if not already in a homegroup (though you would be welcome to do both!). Please don't be put off by the technology - help will be available! If you are interested in being part of a Connect group between now and Christmas, please click here.
2. Generosity Podcasts
I would like to send out over the coming week (23rd to 30th October) links to a brand new Church of England podcast exploring generosity and giving. Over 8 days we journey through the Bible with a range of different contributors from across the UK, as they bring experiences from their lives that speak of the generosity of God at work in the world today. This podcast could be a great way to give ourselves a bit of space each day to focus on generosity and how we can positively impact the world around us. Each of the eight podcasts is a roughly 10 minute audio recording that can be listened to on a computer, tablet or smartphone, or via Spotify, iTunes, etc. I propose simply to email out daily a link to each talk, but if you wish to opt out of this, please update your email preferences by clicking here.
3. Connecting with the work of St Matthew's Harwell with All Saints' Chilton
The last seven months have created great challenges for us as individuals, communities and in society generally, and also for our churches. Much has needed to change, and whilst many of our regular activities have been paused, much has continued and new things begun. We have new opportunities going forward, and challenges to overcome, not least in our finances, which have been impacted.
Coinciding with this month's Harvest focus on stewardship, I would encourage each of us to review how we are using our God-given time, talents and "treasure", especially in relation to the ministry and mission of Harwell and Chilton Churches in our communities and beyond. I will be writing more about this in coming days and mentioning it in our next online service, but now would like to give notice of a Gift Day on 1st November, which is All Saints' Day - a great occasion to celebrate the rich diversity of individuals and their gifts that make up the Church, and to offer ourselves and our resources to connect with and serve God and one another.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship" Romans 12:1
Do please stay in touch.
Yours, in Christ,
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton