On Sunday 1st June, Bishop David will be with us to launch our Mission Action Plan (MAP), the document which will provide a guide to some of what we, as a congregation, will be doing in the next few years. The plan, drawn up by the Mission Planning Group with the help of diocesan facilitators and approved by the Vestry, is based on input from the congregation, made at meetings in the latter part of 2013. It’s intention is to assist us in the work of mission that we are called to do: that ‘loving and serving the Lord’ as the Dismissal in the 1982 Scottish Liturgy puts it.

The MAP will be a work in progress: it may well change and develop as time goes on, as we engage with the wider community in which our community of faith is set. There will be regular opportunities for review. Some of the suggestions made over the course of the process have already begun to appear: in the area of communication for example, with an expanded service sheet and a reordered website.

The two Marks of Mission chosen at the last congregation meeting are 3 (Lifelong Christian nurture) and 8 (Serving the community). Read the update, with a preview of what our MAP contains. In the area of Christian Nurture, the beginning of Lent saw two visiting preachers, each of whom gave an illustrated talk in the hall after the 10am Solemn Eucharist. The Dean of Durham, The Very Michael Sadgrove, spoke about photography and showed many beautiful photographs, some from his recently-published book, Landscapes of Faith. Read the Dean’s sermon.

The following week, The Very Reverend Richard Giles, formerly Dean of Philadelphia, spoke about the use of liturgical space, about using church buildings imaginatively. Both in his sermon (read his sermon notes) and in his talk afterwards, he challenged us to reflect on the use of the church building as a whole, and in particular to make greater use of the font. So, as an experiment this year during the Sundays after Easter, we will be replacing the Confession and Absolution with the penitential rite of the Asperges (or sprinkling), beginning at the font.

Professor David Brown has written this about the Asperges: ‘From the earliest days of the Church, Easter was the primary season for baptism. As a way of recalling the water that brings new life in Christ, the practice then arose, especially in the Sundays after Easter, of sprinkling (or asperging) the congregation to remind us of our baptism, with the asperging replacing formal confession and absolution because it is through baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection that new life is brought to us.’

This Easter we celebrate three baptisms at All Saints: brothers, John and Sam Brewer, and baby Mason Gadsden (Effie Keracher’s seventeenth great-grandchild). Away in Liverpool, another baptism is taking place on Easter morning: Luke, son of Robert Blackwood (former Rector’s Warden) and his wife, Judith, is being baptised in St John’s, Tuebrook.

Much new life to celebrate this Eastertide and new beginnings to work on in the months to come.

With every blessing

Fr Jonathan