The West Swindon and Lydiard Tregoze Church Partnership played host to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the morning of Saturday 13 September.
The morning started with a Swindon Churches Together ecumenical prayer breakfastin Lydiard House with ecumenical ministers from across Swindon, following which he officially launched the start of Heritage Open Days.
The Archbishop was then given a short tour of St Marys Lydiard Tregoze, one of four churches within the partnership. Archbishop Justindescribed St Marys as rather unique, and was heard to say, I would be too distracted to preach here - there is too much to look at!
Archbishop Justin then declared the start of the annual Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust Ride and Stride event with a blessing and the sound of an air horn.
Rev Capt Clive Deverell,Vicar ofWest Swindon and Lydiard Tregoze Church Partnership, reflects, "The impact of his visit is that wenow feel muchmore confident in building on the diocesan initiative of 10,000 Voices, which we are using toencourage people to 'share and tell' their faith stories.
"Lots of conversations have taken place since but we wanted the visit's lasting impact to be felt by young people, so with our tickets for the Sunday morning Eucharist at Bristol Cathedral we sent two teenagers. One of them, 17-year-old Hannah Green, wrote an article for our partnership newsletter this October, which shows the impact of Justin's time with us in enabling both young and old to reflect on what he said and then have the confidence to share something of their own faith."
Thisis what Hannah Green said in her article:
During the Archbishop of Canterburys visit to the Diocese of Bristol, Peter Richardson and I went to Bristol Cathedral for a Eucharist service. It was a really great experience; it seemed both new and familiar at the same time, with familiar hymns, readings and prayers, yet a different setting.
"The service was lovely; it was great to be in such a large congregation all worshipping the same brilliant God. The singing was powerful and the choir sounded like angels. Hearing hundreds of voices saying the creed, our common beliefs, together was great too.
"It was Holy Cross Day, so of course, the Archbishops sermon was about the cross. He began by saying how ludicrous it would seem 2,000years ago that people were using the cross, a device of torture reserved for the worst of criminals, as a symbol of faith and love. People wouldve thought the early Christians were crazy.
"One of the readings was Philippians 2:6-11, which talks about how Jesus, in humility, became human and lived entirely to serve us humans and his father. The Archbishop highlighted that to take up your cross means to live entirely for other people, to be humble, to serve others and follow God like Jesus did.
"He also mentioned a tapestry in Coventry Cathedral that shows a small man between Jesus feet, the scars of His sacrifice either side of the man. As Jesus became human, he knows exactly what its like to be human and have human struggles. So where is He in our suffering? Where is He in our sadness and struggles, whether thats with family life, jobs or illness? Standing right next to us, walking alongside us and carrying us when things are tough. Being a Christian doesnt make everything easy, but all things are bearable when you have the king of the universe walking beside you!