One of things expected of us, as parish clergy, is us being available to our parishioners. In the 21st century church this is increasingly difficult to achieve, but hopefully, it remains a cornerstone of the way that Anglicans minister. It is worth noting that being available is not sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring or the doorbell to be pressed. Being available is as much about making ourselves available to others.
Making ourselves available can occur in many and varied ways. For me, in recent days, this has included taking the Sacrament of Holy Communion to the housebound. This is a joy and privilege that I discovered in my Deacon's year and has remained a vitally important part of the ministry I exercise.
Earlier this week, as I walked to my car parked outside one of our church buildings to make a Home Communion visit, I encountered a family. We got talking - they were staying in the area on holiday - but that day a much-loved family member's funeral was taking place in the north of Scotland. Their pre-arranged holiday meant that they couldn't attend, and so were delighted to discover the church building open.
They had already been inside to think, to remember and to pray. They hadn't discovered where they could light a candle in the Lady Chapel - a beacon of hope, love and light in the midst of their grief and a prayer to the God of Compassion in their sorrow.
I showed them where they could do this, and they lit and candle and prayed for them and those gathered at the funeral many miles away, and for the repose of the soul of their loved one. This gentle act reduced them to tears.
They were effusive in their thanks that I had just been there and able to pray with them, and that the building was open to hold time and space.
As we parted ways they assured me that they would come back if staying in the area. In so many ways that doesn't matter. What matters is that the church was available to them; a space in which they knew they could come and be and hold their loved one in the Love of the One who loves us all.