Parish Letter – September 2022

It’s the little things that count – whether it’s in the Christian life or the wonderful excitement of the England team winning the Euro 22 championships in front of over 87,000 people at Wembley…

Now we might think that a great sporting occasion like that glorious Sunday evening has nothing to do with our daily lives and our experience of trying to follow Jesus.  But actually, there are some points in common we do well to think about.

Think about the way the team encouraged one another throughout the match – celebrating each catch the ‘keeper made, each good block or tackle, every good pass or shot, not just the goals…

Think about the way Chloe Kelly, who scored the winning goal, waited, along with the players around her, until the referee confirmed that the goal would definitely count before she ran down the pitch in celebration…

And think about the way that at that celebration, and at the final whistle, every player, even the ones who’d been subbed off, or who’d never made it onto the field of play at all during the game or the tournament, hugged each other with joy and embraced the coach, who’d made so many hard choices and decisions along the way to the final…

What can we learn from this in our everyday Christian lives?

Above all, we can learn the habit of celebrating – celebrating the little things, the acts of kindness people do for us, or that we can do for other people.  We can celebrate kindness, thinking about others ahead of our own needs…  When we do that we encourage one another, we give space to hear people’s stories of how God is at work in their lives – and that should always be a cause for celebration.  

The whole point of celebration is that it is something we do together.  When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples, and then the seventy-two, in the Gospel stories, he sent them out to share the message of the good news, to bring hope and healing, and to bless the homes and towns where they were welcomed.

But the bit of those stories we can sometimes miss is how, when they come back to Jesus, they tell him all that God has done, and Jesus celebrates with them!   It’s not just about being sent out – it’s about the celebration when they return!

Sometimes in our Christian lives, we can think that we are always been sent to do things, to share our faith – to live in a world which often rejects or mocks Jesus and people of faith.   We can feel that church is only somewhere we go to say sorry and ask forgiveness when we haven't done or been enough. 

But church isn’t just a building, it’s the people.  And when the people of God meet together with Jesus among them, the Lionesses remind us that’s all about celebrating – celebrating together every amazing thing God has done, even if we haven’t been on the pitch at all!  Because we are all part of God’s plan for saving the world – and we are all part of celebrating the victory of Jesus over sin and death.  And we’re all there because Jesus himself has picked us, each one of us, for his team.

Now that’s something for all of us to celebrate every Sunday!

Revd. Simon Cook

Area Dean of Bolton