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Bread, wine and walking boots

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The First Communion couldn’t happen quite as had been originally planned, and because we are within a multi-parish benefice, we decided to combine my first communion service in conjunction with the Norwich Churches’ Trust sponsored bike ride, which we would normally do as a walked pilgrimage around the benefice in any case. This was also a very special occasion for each parish as it was also the first communion service in each church since lockdown.

On Saturday 12 September at 8 am, with rucksacks packed for the day with everything from blister plasters and lunch to wafers, water, wine, cassock and stole and accompanied by the Rector Mark McCaghrey and his wife Fiona, we set off from The New Rectory, Hockering on our pilgrimage around the benefice.

The itinerary for the day was to Head to All Saints East Tuddenham, All Saints Welborne and then to St Peter’s Yaxham for a Holy Communion service in each church. The walking and presiding at my first Communions set me reflecting on just how much of Jesus’ own ministry was spent walking around Galilee and breaking bread with friends along the way.

After a good night’s sleep, we began again on Sunday. Mark and Fiona walking from Mattishall to Hockering and myself walking from The Rectory to St Michael’s Hockering. As I walked, alone, the mile from my house to the church, I was reminded that our walk with the Lord is sometimes in the company of others but also there are times when it is just about walking alone in the presence of God.

After the first communion of the day with St Michael’s congregation, we stepped out once again into the sunshine and were joined by some close friends of mine who have supported me through my journey to the priesthood and this day provided some encouragement as we headed for St Mary’s, North Tuddenham. This unique building was a wonderful setting for my fifth Holy Communion service of the weekend.

Then it was onward once more, along the way joined by two others from Mattishall who accompanied us along the road to St Peter’s Mattishall Burgh; no longer used regularly for worship, but where we prayed together before going our separate ways. Once more I found myself reflecting on those God sends into our lives who come alongside us for a short time and bless us and then they, or we, move on.

The final destination All Saints, Mattishall; the place where I had been ordained Priest only weeks before. Here I found myself presiding at the Lord’s table and reflecting on the gentle and yet determined way that God had pursued me to this point, equipping me with all that was needed for each step and season of the journey.

In each service along the road, Mark reflected on the passage of scripture he had chosen for the weekend, Luke 24:13-35 where walking and breaking of bread inspired hope to come out of despair, closed eyes to be opened an openness to change and a willingness to grow as disciples of Christ.

The joy of walking and the privilege of presiding at all six of churches within our benefice was a real blessing. Thank you to those who shared this experience with me and to those who sponsored me, not sure yet how much we have raised as money is still coming in.