Sister Sue - May 2016

posted 29 May 2016, 23:18 by Richard Jones   [ updated 29 May 2016, 23:18 ]

Dear Friends


“The road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began. And far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow if I can”

J. R. Tolkien in his epic works about Middle Earth placed these words in the mouths of his two hero Hobbits, Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. I have always thought that they express something of Tolkien’s understanding of his deep Christian faith as his tale about the adventures of the Hobbits are enclosed within a journeying motif.  On the one hand the physical journey of the characters as they play their individual parts, and on the other,  the greater journey of the tale itself which stretches from the beginning of time and on into the unknowable future.  Journeys and pilgrimages have long been ways in which Christians describe their understanding of their discipleship in remembrance of Jesus’ words to the fishermen – “Follow me!”

The faith pilgrimage can take many forms. Sometimes it can mean an inward spiritual pilgrimage; then again it can be a way of describing our living out of our faith throughout the ordinary daily round; and sometimes it can mean an actual physical journey for a limited time or to a new calling elsewhere. However we interpret it is a significant part of the Christian understanding that there is a good deal more to life and being a Christian than appears on the surface. Listening and obeying the words of Jesus “Follow me!” is a truly life, and heart, changing experience.

Over the past three years we have all been on the journey of our own individual pilgrimages and our corporate pilgrimage together as a United Benefice. As with all journeys there have been times when we have moved along smoothly and there have been times when the journey has been unsettling and challenging. That journey continues. As the United Benefice enters into a new stage of the journey it is important that the challenges of being God’s church in this place and being faithful witnesses of the Gospel be faced and necessary changes made in order that Jesus command to “make disciples of all nations…” be fulfilled.

The silver lining of being ill over these last weeks has meant I have had the opportunity to ponder on my own pilgrimage and have come to realise that for me that means an actual as well as spiritual journey. That has not been an easy decision to make and will mean some drastic changes as we believe that we as a Religious Community are being called to lay down paid employment and live by faith in order to develop a new ministry and open a small house of prayer where people can come for times of quiet space, prayer, or short retreats. We would greatly value your prayers for this project which will be based in the village of Tunstall situated just north of Lancaster and about 4 miles from Kirby Lonsdale. We would be more than delighted to welcome you to St. Joseph’s House at any time.

As the United Benefice steps out into the new phase in your pilgrimage together there will be changes, small and large, exciting and unsettling, welcome and unwelcome. And it will be important that all these changes are grounded in prayer and openness to God’s prompting. After all it is God’s church and God’s mission and God’s plan for the future. When I came to serve as your Vicar I strongly believed that this was God’s calling – and I have never doubted that belief. My time here has been shorter than I first envisioned but I am glad that I followed the call and am truly grateful for all the love and friendship I have experienced here and I shall continue to hold you in my thoughts and prayers.

“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.” [Isaiah 48, 17].


With every blessing for the future pilgrimage

Sister Sue.