The lost son had taken his share of his father’s property - his inheritance - and squandered it. With nothing left, he headed back home ready to throw himself on the mercy of his father...
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him ... they began to celebrate.”
Luke 15:20, 24
In Jesus’ famous story about the prodigal son he paints a picture of the welcome God extends to all of us. It is a powerful picture. It is a picture of homecoming, welcome, celebration and acceptance. We might have wandered far away, lost, broken, hurt or proud, or we might be just around the corner. Wherever we are we can be sure that our Father is there and “has stretched out his arms in merciful blessing, never forcing himself on anyone, but always waiting; never letting his arms drop down in despair, but always hoping that his children will return so that he can speak words of love to them" (Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, p.96).
Our hope at St Swithin’s is that all who come will find this true welcome because this is a place of invitation; an invitation to meet God through one another and through the Spirit in Worship, Word, and Prayer: an invitation to know one another and to be known.
It is also a place of rest; a home ‘in waiting’ for travellers from near or far, whatever the journey they have made and whatever baggage they bring. Acceptance lies at the heart of all that we seek to do and all that we seek to be. Flourishing in the acceptance, forgiveness and approval of a loving Father, we embrace the diversity of God’s people. We trust in the Spirit that each member of the body will be free to be all that they are and so free to do all that God has in store for them. We celebrate as each person comes, one by one by one. This is how we grow.
St Swithin’s is also a place where we find life in all its fullness. God came and dwelt among us. As we gather and hear God’s word and open our hearts in worship, God reaches out to us and makes sense of our world. He connects the now of our lives to his eternity. There is hope, peace, beauty and meaning. Here, in this Gospel Community, we find our identity. Each of us can say ‘I am complete in Christ’ and each of us can know we are part of the new humanity of God, expressed as we join with others as part of a believing community.
We rejoice, too, that our community is part of the broader community of the Anglican Church. Together we keep company with the many pilgrims who have made their journey of faith in the Anglican Community in which we are rooted. As such, we come under the care of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, as part of the Diocese of Bath and Wells.
We pray that we show and you know that you are welcome and received expectantly and joyfully into this community. We look forward to meeting you.