This morning the fields around Isfield are rejoicing. During the night, hours of soft rain has penetrated the parched ground – and the gardens respond ‘Alleluiah’! It brings alive the many Bible messages that use the picture of water to express people’s hope in God: ‘the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom with joy and singing’ (Is.35:1). Meanwhile we are planning Summer events and of course hoping for sunshine. Last year the Pet Service in St. Margaret’s churchyard was plagued by low cloud and a biting north wind; let’s hope for some warmth on June 5th this year. This service should really have the title ‘Blessing of the animals’ because its remit is much wider than pets as we regularly welcome horses and include a prayer for the farm animals across the parish. And we have had some very strange pets; last year I seem to remember blessing some woodlice. Often this is the best-attended service of the year and reminds me that our mission must include the intimate concerns of home and family if we are to make any real connection with the un-churched of all ages.
Later in the summer, we hold an annual social evening for the Friends of St. Margaret’s Church (July 23rd). Again this includes many folk who are not regular worshippers but are concerned that the church and ministry in the village should continue. We have set up the Friends in such a way that, unlike many charities, we do not badger people every few weeks with yet another appeal. Members are assured that we will only ask for a contribution once a year, and there is no minimum (or maximum) subscription. Apart from the annual social to say ‘Thank you’ for their gift, there is also a Newsletter giving details of recent work on the church and plans which the P.C.C. may have for the coming year. At present we have about 55 households who are involved, so around 90 people – quite a social gathering if they all come. Certainly without their help, we would be struggling a lot harder to make ends meet.
So my special thanks to any Friends who may be reading this and very best wishes to St. Michael’s as they set up their own similar scheme this year.