Sermon for Sunday 3 October 2021
I’d like this morning, rather than preaching a sermon on our readings, to speak if I may about two projects we are hoping to launch this autumn. For them to succeed we are going to need a large number of volunteers. I’m appealing this morning for help asking you to consider whether you might be able to assist with this.
The two projects are these. First, reintroducing a second daily Mass in the evening of each day from Monday to Friday. Second, opening our church up again each afternoon so that people can visit All Saints’ for prayer and reflection.
To take first the extra Mass each day. You may not be aware of it, but we have undergone a noticeable increase in the number of people who attend the daily Mass at All Saints’. We now regularly get between 10-20 people at the 12 noon Mass. I’ve looked at the registers and this is often substantially more than we regularly got over the three daily Masses we had before COVID.
As we reintroduce an evening Mass, what we need is this. We need three or four people each day who will undertake as part of their Christian discipleship to attend one evening Mass each week so that we are guaranteed of having people present in these first few months as we grow our evening congregation. I’ve been impressed by the numbers of people who have already volunteered but we could use a few more.
The point of the evening Mass is to enable office workers, or those who are frequently in town in the evening to make coming to the Eucharist part of their weekly pattern. We are going to experiment with having a Mass at 6.15 pm and see if that is convenient. Please volunteer if you can and help us by offering to come one evening a week to a celebration of the Mass.
The other project we are hoping to get going is opening our church up in the afternoons.
I think the days are gone of being able to leave All Saints’ open unattended the whole day long. The new requirements of keeping our church COVID secure mean it can’t be left unattended. We also have electronic recording equipment in church now which needs to be kept safe in a way we didn’t before the pandemic. I am also keen that we should regulate better how the church is used by homeless people so that everyone feels welcome and safe.
All these things mean we need a group of people who can act as church welcomers to staff the church when it is open. I am aware this sort of volunteering is probably more likely to be possible for retired people or those who work flexibly.
Could you spare some time each week to come and do a 2 hour slot manning the church in the afternoons? To be honest, this is the area where we need substantially more volunteers if we’re to fulfil our aim of having the church open every afternoon.
The reason these projects are important is that they represent an attempt to change the way in which we think about how people interact with our church building when they visit it.
If we are to allow God to use All Saints’ to touch and change people, it perhaps makes better sense to shift our thinking. We need to see our church less as a historic building, or architectural asset or a cultural artefact, and more as a place of encounter with the living God.
I hope that when visitors enter our church we are able to speak first not about the bricks and mortar, but about the REASON the church is there…and that reason is God.
Our building is made for the worship of God. It is nothing without that activity. It has a character which is completely different from any other sort of building or human construction. It points beyond itself to the creator of heaven and earth and exists for no other reason than to give glory to him.
That means this church is one of the most potent evangelistic tools we have to reach out to the world in which we live and speak about the love of God.
I hope that when people visit All Saints’ they will find a place where it is easy to pray and feel that God is present. I hope they find people on duty here to welcome them who can speak convincingly and warmly about their faith in Jesus Christ. I hope All Saints’ becomes once more a trusted safe space for those who need it, and an island of peace and ark of calm for those who feel harassed and threatened.
If you have not managed to sign up to help us staff our church and sustain a second Mass, I urge you to think about doing so. There are lists at the back of church that you can sign up on. It will make a huge difference to how we reach out to the world that God loves, and a simple but effective way for our parish to draw closer to the Christ whom we love and worship.
Fr Peter Anthony