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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 5

5 February, 2017

The St Peter's 2016-18 Mission Action Plan (MAP) focuses on seven ministry areas, through which we are seeking to "Grow in God's Love" as a parish: Catholic Evangelism, Pastoral Care, Children and Youth, Anglo-Catholicism, Faith Development, Social Justice and Stewardship. Over coming weeks the Vicar's Musings will reflect on each of these in turn.

Pastoral Care is a cornerstone of mission and ministry at St Peter's. It matters how we behave towards to one another: putting into practice our compassion for the sick and those in need; genuinely welcoming the newcomer and the stranger; exercising Christian virtue in the way we relate to one another, even our enemies. We cannot expect to grow in God's love, individually or as a church, if we do not walk the talk: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).

In seeking to address this MAP priority, the Parish Council (PC) is starting the year on retreat, and we have invited others in parish leadership to join us. On Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February twenty of the St Peter's PC, clergy, staff and volunteer leaders will be meeting at the Community of the Holy Name in Cheltenham to reflect on the theme "Forgiveness and Kindness" from contemplative, philosophical and theological perspectives. I will be leading the Quiet Day on Friday, and then on the Saturday there will be three sessions led by John Hendry, Bp Graeme Rutherford and Dr Cecilia Francis.

We have not yet put together a program on this theme for the wider parish (I wanted to work first with the parish leaders) but my hope is that the leadership retreat will give rise to sermons, workshops, study groups and lectures on this theme of "Forgiveness and Kindness." For those who would like to start thinking and praying on the topic, there are two study texts that have been recommended for background reading:

  • Martha C. Nussbaum, Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice (Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • Desmond & Mpho Tutu, The Book of Forgiving: the Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World (Harper Collins, 2014)

Carol O'Connor, our Bookroom Manager, has copies if you are interested. So please pray for those going on the leadership retreat this month, and reflect on this important component of Pastoral Care in your own life and in the life of the parish. As St Paul wrote to the early Church, I would encourage each one of us to: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster



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