September 2019

Even though I am in my mid-forties I still get a little shiver as I see those “Back to School” adverts on the television. Can there be anything worse? What a sign that the summer is over, the nights are drawing in, there’s a nip in the air. Back to school? No thanks!
I wonder if you can remember that nervous feeling of the first day of term—particularly if you were in a new class, or even worse, a new school. Perhaps you moved as a child and had that terrifying moment of being the only person in the school who knew no one? If so, I hope you found a friend quickly!
These things carry on, of course, in different ways into adulthood. The new job, the new club, moving to a new town. All bring upheaval and the moment of being new in a world that looks so comfortable and settled with itself you wonder how on earth you’ll fit in.
Going to a new church is no different. Or at least it generally isn’t different, even though it should be. Going to a new church is one of the things that, for most people, turns out to be just like that first day at school. Everyone else looks so comfortable. They know which seat is theirs and how everything works, they know everyone else (it seems), and it is easy to feel invisible in their eyes.
I wonder if that is how our church can look as well? Have you noticed any newcomers recently, and if you have done have you spoken to them? I have spotted a few new people recently, and sad to say after church they have stayed for coffee—but been left to their own devices. It can’t feel very nice to be marooned in the centre of a group of people all chattering away to each other but ignoring you! It must be like the first day of school all over again.
There is a lovely phrase in the prayer book that talks about being in church. “It is,” says the prayer book, “our duty and our joy.” One of the reasons the early church was such a success was because the early Christians couldn’t resist sharing their joy at being part of this new thing, the church. That doesn’t mean we all have to become bible-bashers, but it would be wonderful if we were all so happy to be at Holy Trinity, and so delighted to see someone new that we couldn’t resist going up to them to say “Hello!”
Now some people don’t want to be smothered in affection, but surely it is better to take the chance? It is our duty and our joy to welcome those who come to join our worship. If you feel nervous about talking to new people why not just say hello, introduce them to someone else and then wander off? It’s what the Rector does!
Why not practise by talking to people you see in church but don’t really know? Try sitting in a different place next to someone new. I hope that we’ll never see someone new, who has had the courage to come to church and stay for coffee, standing on their own whilst everyone else is talking around them. That’s part of the duty and the joy of being a Christian whatever the time of year.

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The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Holy Trinity, Prestwood is a registered charity, no. 1129233.

Holy Trinity, Prestwood is an Inclusive Church. We are part of the Church of England.
We are in the Oxford diocese and the Wendover Deanery.

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