The Stilton Group offer Pastoral Services at each of our Churches
We are all on a journey through life. One of the presuppositions on which the Church of England's Pastoral Services are based is that we do not travel alone. Where is God in relation to that journey? He is both the starting point and the ending point, the Alpha and the Omega. Not only that but, as the Psalmist says, in all our rushing around between the beginning and the end, he is there too.
An accompanied journey, with questions
So the journey we take is an accompanied one. God is with us every step of the way. Sometimes the realization of that presence is conveyed to us through the presence of God's people on the journey. As on a medieval pilgrimage, different people on the road have different backgrounds and a variety of family relationships. They engage in different occupations and have varied functions in relation to others on the journey. Not all are travelling at the same speed. Some spend their time specifically helping others along and ministering to them; some imagine their own burdens are too great for them to be able to help others.
The short service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child may be used on a wide variety of occasions, both private and public, as part of the journey towards baptism. It is at such key moments in people's lives that they are often prompted to ask serious questions and even to turn to God. Here there is also provision for those who accompany others on the journey, as words are given for supporting friends, standing alongside the parents welcoming a new member of the family.
The Marriage Service, unlike Baptism and Funeral Services, is not for everyone, though here again the Church is present on the journey, surrounding the couple with love, providing preparation and promising - for the first time in a Church of England service - support and prayer.
As grieving is a process marked by different stages, we believe that one helpful contribution the Church can make pastorally is to have a series of services and resources in which some of these different stages can be recognized, spoken of in advance or recapitulated.
The pastoral task of the Christian Church, all the people of God, ministers and laity, is to provide company on the journey, towards baptism, marriage, welcoming children and at death itself. This is the kind of company, using these and other resources, which, in revealing the love of Christ, will draw people to put their faith in him and to serve him in the fellowship of his Church until they come to their eternal home in the company of all the saints.