Vicar’s Weekly Letter

THE BENEFICE OF AMPLEFORTH WITH OSWALDKIRK
GILLING EAST AND STONEGRAVE

Thomas the Apostle, Friday 3rd July, 2020

Dear Friends,

                                                            My Lord and My God!

            We celebrate St Thomas the Apostle in the Church today. When we think of Thomas we often first think ‘doubting Thomas’, for he had said to the disciples on Easter eve that he himself would not believe Jesus was risen until he saw him and touched his wounds himself. So, yes, it is true that Thomas doubted Christ’s resurrection at first, but there’s more to this disciple. Thomas gives us the clearest testimony of belief in Jesus as the Son of God – as God himself – in his words ‘my lord, and my God!’, which is the Christian prayer of all time. Thomas also showed great courage and was prepared to die with Jesus, encouraging the other disciples in this too. Jesus wanted to go to Bethany to see Lazarus, a place which would inevitably bring him close to his keen enemies, and Thomas was immediately willing to follow and go with him, even to death. In Thomas, we can see a journey of discipleship that includes doubt and conviction, and through it all, God’s grace was a work in him bringing Jesus to him all the way. Thomas went on to preach Jesus and the Kingdom beyond the Roman Empire, to India, and there are several churches named after him there. Reflecting on Thomas’ journey as a disciple, can encourage us in ours. I wonder if you recognise anything of Thomas in your own journey of faith and discipleship…

            Public worship is now possible in churches, as long as a number of rules are followed – many which we are now used to: hand washing/sanitizer, social distancing, no communal singing, maximum 30… I am meeting with the Ministry Team for the benefice on Tuesday when we will consider what is possible in our context. Certainly, I am looking that we have a Eucharist at one of the churches for the benefice next Sunday. I will let you know what plans become confirmed. St Hilda’s and Holy Cross continue to open for individual prayer on Wednesdays 10-12 and on Saturdays 2-4. Building works are currently underway at St Oswald’s and is closed until further notice. Even if we do begin have one weekly Sunday celebration of the Eucharist at one church for the benefice, I am aware several of you may be unable to come to church for a service. Ian and I will continue to offer a Service of the Word each Sunday on the benefice website for this time being. My grateful thanks to Ian that he is happy to carry on arranging this. My thanks to all of you who read lessons and lead intercessions on the service on the benefice website.

            Since lockdown, it has been difficult to get us all to gather around the one worship activity together – some prioritise the Radio 4 service, others the benefice website, and some the Facebook, and some a mixture of all of these! This is okay and it’s been wonderful to see and experience such a variety of worship on several platforms. While the current situation continues to mean we will participate in different ways, can I ask please that on Sundays we unite in prayer at 12 noon to read the Collect, Gospel reading and offer intercessions. You might like to include the names on the link sheet.

I will celebrate (and record) the Eucharist this Sunday on behalf of our benefice, as I have been doing, and upload this to our Facebook Page (Ampleforth Benefice) and YouTube channel (Ampleforth Church Group). A Collective Worship video is also made and then made available to St Hilda’s and Hovingham primary schools, as well as being on our YouTube channel. Please see the Link Sheet for details of services offered on the Church of England website and Radio 4. I have been able to make some ‘garden visits’ this week, which has been very special. I bring my own cup and umbrella!

I continue to make calls each week, usually on Thursday and Sunday afternoons. Please let me know if you’d like a call and if you would like me to pray for you by name at the Sunday Eucharist. Please be assured of my daily prayer for you and your families at this time.

Let us also go, that we might die with him

With every blessing, Catherine                                                                                                                                           

Revd Catherine      Vicar of Ampleforth with Oswaldkirk, Gilling East and Stonegrave