“I lift my eyes to the hills: From where does my help come?”

“Our help comes from the Lord, who has made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121 v 1)

September 6th will mark exactly a year since I was licensed as Team Rector. Little did I know, or any of us know, what the coming year would bring.

First I would like to say thank you to all who have made me welcome, who have stayed on in roles, who have taken up tasks, who have had to get used to a “new vicar” with “new ideas”, and who have done so with grace and cheerfulness. And a second level of thanks as so many have had to take even more on this past year because of the covid virus outbreak.

We feel “at home” here in Turton and feel very fortunate to live in such a nice house and area. And even more so since we were locked down. We knew the area was attractive and had walked around the reservoirs before, but we had no idea quite how varied, how interesting and how beautiful the area is and how it changes through the seasons. I hope I am getting to know more about the parishes and can help make wise judgements and understand how people are feeling. What is my new home has been home for others for many, many years; we are glad to join the local community and I hope we will contribute to its well-being.

The challenge for the coming year is going to be to make sensible and good plans, knowing that there will be severe limitations – probably extending well into next year; to make plans which are forward-looking and can embrace the changes, rather than desperately trying to reclaim the past. I don’t know what that will look like but I have some ideas of what it might comprise. I wonder how much more will change, whether in disappearing (things we have been used to) or emerging (things we didn’t think about).

And while I hope we will feel even more at home, more rooted and a part of the communities, I also realise that God calls us to hear him when he puts new things in our paths. We are very blessed in our area and we must pray for, and work for justice and the Kingdom for all, whether the needy in Bolton and Blackburn or the challenges of the huge injustices across our world. When I hear the stories from refugees whose life experience is so different, so turbulent I realise how fortunate I am.

As we approach our Annual Meetings for the parishes across the Team, it is a chance to take stock, and a chance to hear how people think, as well as to pray together and to seek wisdom and courage for the future. I hope our church families and our church projects and witness are things we want to be a part of, and I hope they are “attractive” and welcoming to others. May our church doors, actually and metaphorically be wide open, for all to find a welcome and for us to be constantly going in and out. And as Psalm 121 ends, “The Lord is with us in our going out and our coming in”

May God be with us in the coming months and year.

Rev’d Peter Reiss: 4th Sept 2020