No Doom or Gloom!

St Michael’s Vicarage,
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

Christmas may now seem a distant memory – but I want to share with you some good news.

In less than twenty-four hours between our Christingle service, Midnight Mass and the 8.00am and 9.30am Communion services on Christmas Day, almost 600 people crossed the threshold of St. Michael’s and thus ensured that Christ was part of their Christmas celebrations. Add to this our parish Carol Service and St. Michael’s School Carols and well over 1,000 people joined in recognising the life-changing significance of the child who ‘came down to earth from heaven’.

Looking back over records from previous years shows that Christmas 2016 saw more worshippers in St. Michael’s than for well over a decade.

I share this information with you, not because I want us to feel smug or self-satisfied but, rather, to counter-balance the notion which the media seems determined to convey – that all is doom and gloom in the church and that we now have little or no relevance in today’s secular society.

There is, I would argue, great cause for celebration and so I ask you all to give thanks to God that the people of this town still recognise a need for Christ in their lives. And, as we pilgrimage through 2017, this ‘boost’ should also give those of us who worship week by week confidence in all the things that we do at St. Michael’s to further the Kingdom in terms of worship, study, fellowship and outreach.

Lest you should be one of those people who are inclined to be taken in by the negativity of the press and the television, let me remind you that, on a ‘normal’ Sunday, around 160 people are to be found at worship in St. Michael’s; a recent Advent Study Group found 25 folks happy to give up their Monday mornings and eager to learn more about the scriptures; the course which Julia is currently leading on Bishop John Pritchard’s book ‘Something More’ is giving opportunity to consider the relevance of our faith in the simple day to day business of getting on with our lives; Mini Michaels continues to flourish beyond our wildest expectations and St. Michael’s Messy Church is now well-established and providing a real sense of fellowship for parents with young children.

Let me remind you also that we continue to have, as a priority, the welfare of those who need our prayerful and financial support and who work at the ‘sharp end’ of society not only locally but nationally and internationally. And so we continue to help where we see great need – most recently with our raising of awareness of what happens and our fundraising for the Gallery Youth Project and Alnwick Community Centre near home and, further afield, with our special and long-term relationship with the people of Spitak in Armenia.

I could go on – but won’t! The above is just a ‘flavour’ of the good things – of God’s work – which, as a praying and worshipping community, we are able to do through the power of the Holy Spirit who is daily at work in our midst.

So, my plea is that you will not succumb to doom and gloom but that you will take heart from everything that God enables us to do in his strength, in his name and to his glory.

With every blessing,

Paul

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