As I write this letter, I am feeling slightly tired after just returning home from our much anticipated Parish Weekend. Wow – what a weekend!
This was the first parish weekend St. Anne’s had organised for a good number of years. We took a huge step of faith over 12 months ago when we booked Cloverley Hall in its entirety, hoping that we would be able to fill it. And fill it we did! Eventually taking 48 Adults and 36.
Bishop Cyril was our guest speaker for the weekend. At first a few people were a little anxious as to what to expect, but from the first session on Friday night, when after only 1 hour, he was able to recall everyone’s name, it was clear that Bishop Cyril was going to be able to communicate with everyone on every level.
The theme for the weekend was prayer and alongside the Bishops 3 talks, there was opportunity throughout the weekend to use the designated prayer room to try all kinds of different ways of praying. Bishop Cyril encouraged us all to ‘Trust in the hidden work of God and the slow work of God’ which is within each of us. To be aware, that in the waiting for God, we are being formed by him. Prayer is simple and we shouldn’t overcomplicate it with too many words. Prayer is all about a closeness and a friendship with God, its as much to do with silence and listening as it is to do with words. We were reminded that throughout Scripture, when anyone has an encounter with the Angels, the words ‘Do not be afraid’ are common place. We needn’t be afraid when we come into God’s presence in prayer, and its in that place, that God invites us into territory that we’ve never been before and that is the wonder and the greatness of it all.
Throughout the weekend, there was plenty of free time to enjoy the beautiful grounds and comfortable house.
Copious games of tennis were played, footballs were being kicked and children enjoying the woods and the play area. On the Saturday afternoon the swimming pool proved to be a great hit with both adults and children taking the plunge – literally!!
And then after another beautiful dinner it was time for the Saturday entertainment/comedy event. What a line up of talent was on display! From Irish dancing, singing nuns to a ‘full scale Cinderella pantomime!! The laughter could be heard for miles around! Later in the evening we were invited to take part in a wonderful time of informal worship where it was so evident that people were being touched by God’s presence among us.
Sunday saw the final talk from Bishop Cyril before a very informal service of communion and feedback from the young people. We listened as they recounted all the things they had been doing in their group times. So many brilliant ideas and activities to help them engage in prayer. (We must express a huge thank you to Phil, Joanna and Joseph Marshall from Burscough, who came especially to run the children’s groups).
It’s safe to say the weekend was a huge success on so many levels. There was the opportunity to go deeper on our spiritual journey, to engage in worship and to develop our prayer life. But there was also the opportunity to make new friends, to talk to people that time normally doesn’t allow. Above all there was the opportunity to get to know other members of the Church family and as such deepen our friendship and our fellowship. I know this won’t be the last you’ll hear about the Parish weekend as those who went will continue to talk about it for a long time to come. And I pray that this will be a seed that continues to grow and flourish in the months and years to come.
If this letter has whet your appetite – GOOD NEWS – we have booked to go again, Friday 15th September – Sunday 17th September 2017. – put the dates in your diary now!