Rotherham Deanery Pilgrimage Report

Rotherham Deanery Pilgrimage to Bolton Abbey Priory and Skipton – by Thelma Maguire

On Saturday 6 July we set off in pouring rain, but arrived at Bolton Abbey Priory on Lord Devonshire’s Estate two hours later in glorious sunshine.

For over 800 years people have come to the Priory to worship God: some to thank, praise and glorify Him; others asking Him for help, even pleading with prayers and penitence. The order who lived in the Priory were the Austin Canons, or the Black Canons. They tried to follow the example of Jesus by helping and caring for the community and travellers.

The 11am Communion service was led by Peter Hughes, Rector of St Albans, Wickersley, assisted by Neil Bowler, House for Duty Priest in the Silverwood Mission Partnership, with Andrew Rose leading the prayers.

The theme was “The Wine of the Kingdom”: Matthew 9 v 14-17. “No one pours new wine into old wineskins.” No, they pour new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved. Jesus is referring to the making of wine and the new wine has to be poured into new skins. The tradition was to pour the newly fermenting wine into new goat skins where the wine would expand and continue to ferment and the skins would stretch with the volume of the wine. Jesus was illustrating the importance of renewing religious structures and emphasising that He brings us a newness of life that cannot be confined to old forms.

Peter’s father had taken up wine-making; unfortunately he didn’t secure the flagon tightly, causing the wine to explode loudly! He explained that Jesus came to bring newness of life to us all, but this cannot be constrained in the old law – that is, the goat skins. However, new life in new skins brings us Grace and makes us new when we receive the Holy Spirit and become more like Jesus. Jesus will change us. He will renew us in our hearts and faith.

Peter referred to the problems facing Sheffield Diocese where many churches are without a vicar and we face reduction in numbers of stipendiary incumbents. The diocese needs to lead the way of change within our own structure. New groups of disciples will meet not necessarily in churches but in houses, cafés, community centres.

All were in agreement that both service and setting were among the best we have celebrated on or Pilgrimages, and we look forward to the next one.

After the service the coach took us to the historic town of Skipton for a really enjoyable afternoon.