Magazine Articles

Dear Friends

“In Thanksgiving for Family Life”. This was the inscription on a pair of candlesticks, which were on the altar at St Michael’s until they disappeared when the church was burgled a couple of years ago. 

I wonder what was meant by family life?  Is the family the place where you can really be yourself, be accepted just as you are, or where we are there for each other, in the knowledge there will be a warm touch; and is it a situation where young and old mix, get on with each other, and are mutually supportive, loving and encouraging……. What would you say? 

I have a fantastic family: a considerably older brother and sister who have always “looked out for me”, two lovely daughters and their smashing husbands, four grandchildren, and loads of cousins.  My younger daughter and her family are staying with us this week; the first time for a year because they live a long distance away and lead busy lives. In fact we don’t have any close family living nearer than 2hrs car journey.   Neither have we had any “older generation” around for a long time: I had lost my Dad and my Mum by the time I was 40.  Phil has been similarly “care-less” with his parents as his Dad died when he was only 25 and his Mum and sister when he was about 45.  Nevertheless at our last “do” there was a representative of every decade of life from 1st up to the 9th.  It is lovely when families consist of people of all ages.

For many people this is not the way life is today:  families are separated by distances (sometimes great distances), or families are split by jealousy, by disagreements, and by indifference.  Sometimes they are very small indeed; just two or three distant members.  Often our families are full of spaces, leaving only empty chairs, faded photos and mementos.  At the beginning of November, St Michael’s Church is holding a Remembering Service at which we are encouraging people to bring photographs and mementos of those who have gone before us to meet with God.

Churches are in a unique position to be family.  Over the years St Michael’s has become part of our family life: the “St Michael’s” family is perhaps more of a family since Neil and Marg arrived.  I hope that you feel the same.  This is in accordance with the bible: as Jesus said, when challenged as to who his family were, he replied “whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister”. This broadens out our understanding of family. If we want St Michael’s to be a closer family there are things we still need to improve: perhaps by ensuring that disagreements are quickly sorted, or that we invite more young people, taking especial care of baptism families; that our welcome is always warm but not overwhelming, and that Neil and I are made aware of those in especial need.  

I pray that St Michael’s family continues to grow in number, and in our love and understanding of one another.  

With Blessings

Helen

'Church is not something you go to, it's a Family you belong to.'