Revd Mark’s Christmas thoughts….

Dear Friends

As I write, Lady Bay is reeling from the closure of what looked like a highly success­ful business at the heart of our community. Though Spoke and Co had only been open for a year, the bike shop/cafe had become an integral part of the life of Lady Bay. Much like the Poppy and the Lady Bay, as well as Bread and Butterflies, Spoke and Co became a real source of life and community in our locality. It was a vibrant place

for people to meet up and just bump into each other. I often arranged to meet people there because I knew there was a good chance I’d bump into someone else. It was a

great hub for networking. Judging from the comments on a Lady Bay focused page on social media, it is a loss that the community will grieve, as much as it is devastating for Tim and Rosie, the owners that the community had taken into their hearts. We pray for them and their family.

This situation might give us cause to pause and reflect on the lives of our churches in both parishes here too. Spoke and Co was, of course, located in what had been the Lady Bay Methodist Church: a church that had closed. The Christian presence in both our parishes has been longstanding – nearly 120 years for All Hallows’ and nearer 900 at St Edmund’s – but neither longevity nor apparent success can guarantee that anything will last forever. There is a sense in the conversation around Spoke and Co that people are asking: how can we replace what we’ve lost? Will the same questions be asked if either of our churches cannot remain open and active? The buildings will most likely go on in some way, but what future is there for the fragile Christian com­munities that make their homes in those buildings?

These are questions for us who are members of these churches but they are also ques­tions for the wider community, as well as for Christians living in Lady Bay who make their spiritual home elsewhere. Is it important to the residents of Holme Pierrepont and Lady Bay that there is an active Christian community here? What purpose does that community serve? How can that presence be sustained and even thrive? Like I Spoke and Co every day, those churches will be bustling and full at some of the services over Christmas. That in itself is no guarantee that the church can continue to be there.

Of course, I’ve made no mention yet of God in all this. As we think about the Christmas story we meet God – full of life, yes – but also fragile, vulnerable and weak. Per­haps in the seasons of Advent and Christmas, as we prepare for and then celebrate God with us, we can be inspired to see our vulnerability as a gift, rather than a flaw. Perhaps like the infant Christ we too will need to depend on others for our survival, security, and growth. And like Christ in that very vulnerability, we can witness to the love of God in our community.

Have a blessed Christmas