Vicar's letter

Dear Friends,

It has been a great joy to see public worship return to St Lawrence Church after such a long absence.  As I write, we have had two services back – one in the church and one outside. 

Worship outside is nothing new to the congregation.  Although we couldn’t do it this year, we are used to our Ascension Day Service being on Old Sarum!  Yet to worship together in the churchyard looking towards St Lawrence, reaffirmed several things to me.  Firstly, just how blessed the whole village is to have such a beautiful church and grounds.  As churches across the country adapt to new ways of worshipping, a number of them simply do not have the grounds in which to have services outside – how lucky we are.  Secondly, it reminded me that St Lawrence is there for all – whether we worship there, visit, just stroll around the churchyard or are passing by, it is the church of the whole community and all are welcome.  Thirdly, worship outside reminds us of the world that is around us in ways that worship in the church cannot do.  Cars driving past, people walking by, hearing birds in the trees and sheep in the field – all life, all creation actually became part of our worship and prayers as it always should be. 

We will of course have a chance to celebrate the life of St Lawrence at our Patronal Service on Sunday 9 August at 10am.  This is always a special occasion for us, but this year it feels even more so.  Not only are we having this service on the day before St Lawrence’s Day (it has for many years been in July), but I hope it will give all of us a chance to give thanks for the on-going life of our church.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused quite the debate in the Church about the place of our church buildings, particularly as we have just been through a period of time when they were locked to all.  Yet, what people can so easily forget is what I have outlined above.  Church buildings are not just places of worship for Christians.  They are community centres, places where we gather for concerts, talks, and where we leave our foodbank collections to help the wider community.  They are places of interest for historians and those researching family history, for so often it is our historic churches that hold the collective memory of a village or town.  They are places for life’s celebrations for all - welcoming new parents with a baby for baptism, or a wedding couple walking out of the church into the world to begin an entirely new journey together.  They are places which hold and comfort us when we gather to say farewell to a loved one or friend, as we commit them to God’s eternal care.  They are places for the local school to gather together and mark out those rites of passage for our children – the beginning of a school year, the end of a school year when some leave and all of the festivals in between.  But most importantly, they are places where hopefully - in normal times – you will find the door always open.  For in being open to the worshipper, the passer by, the visitor, the historian, the person who wants a moment of quiet and the local school, the message is clear.  For it is the message that God, through Christ, gives to all: ‘You are, and always will be, welcome.’        

With every blessing,