Sign-up for free e-newsletter

Viewpoint from Revd James Stewart for 28th February 2014

The Revd James Stewart
Curate Great Yarmouth Team Ministry
The Minster
At the beginning of February I swapped my work in the Parish of Great Yarmouth for a five week placement at the Church of Christ and St Stephen on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City. My time here began with an ice storm – freezing rain on a big scale – followed by several big snow storms. Of course, Central Park is beautiful in the snow, but the puddles of sludge and the walls of snow on the sidewalks (pavements) are slightly less attractive. Just off Broadway, the Parish serves a gathered congregation of come together to worship God in the beauty of the Anglican tradition but with a keen eye on social justice and outreach into the community.

A key part of the parish’s daily work is their Brown Bag Program
Dove right. This initiative distributes food to homeless and marginalised people in this neighbourhood every weekday, whether it is a holiday or not, whatever the weather. I can definitely testify to that. Each bag contains a nutritious meal, with fruit, drinks and often a delicious pastry, which the local bakeries donate. We have had great fun debating the pronunciation of the word ‘scone’! And the great thing is that the whole church family is involved: in donating some of the food, fundraising, children packing up the bags and those who brave the weather to greet our visitors and hand out the bags.  My experience here will help us all in the Parish of Great Yarmouth as we begin a project this Spring to provide a hot three course meal twice a week at the Minster Mission in Admiralty Road. More news as it unfolds.

Shortly our journey through Lent will begin. Once more we are offered the opportunity for penitence and reflection, as we travel towards the cross and the yearly remembrance of Christ’s death and passion. But in some traditions the church follows readings on the Sunday before Lent which recall the moment when Jesus went up on the mountain and was transfigured – his face shining like the sun. Transfiguration is the appearance of God’s glory in the midst of our journeys to the cross. Out of the darkness of all that happens to humanity God sends his transfiguring presence, so that we might all receive his love and shine as lights in the darkness, and through that be transformed. God’s transfiguring presence is always with us. Sometimes it is just a little harder to find. As one of the homeless people here said, as he collected his Brown Bag Lunch, ‘The sun always shines. It’s just we don’t always see it!’