A last letter!
Letters used to be such an important thing in life. Before the age of instant communications, putting pen to paper had the importance of bringing important news, assurances of being not forgotten and if it comes in a brown envelope, probably a bill!
Letters can be filled with emotion, come with promises of love or a visit soon. Sometimes they have a story to tell and can throw light on bits of life you have missed but wanted to be part of.
Letters can stand on the mantle piece and be a sign of the sender. They can be read quickly or opened later to be savoured.
Almost always, the letter comes hoping for a response. A reply. And the beauty of this old world was there seemed to be time to do so. You could stop and think, take your time, weigh your thoughts and then compose the perfect reply.
Letter writing was an art and, even as a poor correspondent, I think it still should be.
Writing a pastoral letter to the parish and friends of the church is definitely a privilege, even when the need for a new one seemed to arrive much more quickly than the thoughts to fill it. I wonder if that is how they have read? It is hard too, writing to a “hidden” audience. It always helps to have a face in mind, so I hope these last editions haven’t felt like they talked to somebody else!
Having sent letters out to our magazines for over 5 years, I have tried to be faithful correspondent keeping you in touch with life here in the Turton Moorland Team. I hope too they have echoed something of the love and mercy and goodness of God to us all, in and out of this place.
So often, the work of a parish priest is with those we don’t always (or often) see in church. You all belong here too. Have an interest and a past that links you to the stones and life of our church. I hope that my letters from “home” have given you a sense of belonging and of being in touch with this part of God’s family.
With the arrival of this New Year, I will be preparing to celebrate my last Communion service. I have already pictured taking off my vestments for the last time and with them to “lay down” my office of priest. It would seem strange if it didn’t feel right for us, Viv and I. We are both looking forward to a retirement that offers a bit more time to be gentle with each other and for me to put myself right with God. I hope you will wish us luck…
I do not know who will write to you next time, but I am confident that someone will step forward. Prompted by God. Until they do, this comes with love and prayers as our Turton Moorland Team of churches set off on the journey to find a new Team Rector.
Steve and Viv.
Stephen D Parsons
Turton Moorland Team Ministry