April 2021 – Minister’s Letter

April 2021 Dear Friends, This is the longest time I have ever spent without participating in Holy Communion since the day I held my hands up at the communion rail. The minister gave me the bread, but the local preacher stuck with tradition and I didn’t receive the wine! I’m glad that today we encourage children and parents to make the decision together, just as we encourage everyone to draw close to God in the intimacy of Holy Communion. Not that long after that, I spent a gap year in France. The local Catholic parish priest was (understandably!) not keen on the presence of a Protestant mission team attending Mass. Well, we attended but could not participate. I found that restriction very difficult, as I really wanted to feel part of a church community as well as the mission team. The priest’s decision to withhold Holy Communion meant I felt isolated during a challenging year. The rules were clear though- I was not Catholic, so I could not participate. What about if the rules are not so clear and you don’t know if you will be allowed to participate? We say our churches are open and welcoming, but so much is unwritten, unsaid and presumed. For a time I was one of just a few white people in a black majority church, and I was welcomed – but is the reverse always true? I’ve been one of a few straight people at parties, and I was welcomed – but could it be that being a gay member of our churches feels like being a barely tolerated guest at a party, and not a welcome part of all that happens? I’m sure at Castle Street when we say everyone is welcome, we mean it and make every effort for that to feel true as well. I hope that we keep working so that our welcoming words and our actions match up. In the coming months we are planning a ‘soft’ return to in-person church services, including Holy Communion. I know that not everyone feels ready to return to church yet and not everyone feels comfortable with sharing in Holy Communion yet. That’s ok and if you choose not to participate, I know that doesn’t mean that you do not want to be part of the community nor draw close to God. In these next few months, we have to move at the speed at which we feel comfortable and allow each other time and space to do likewise. When we do finally all meet for worship, there will be a place for everyone at God’s table. Yours in Christ, Alison
This entry was posted in Castle View, Minister's Letter, Notices.