Rachel’s Letter – January 2016
I always find writing the ‘New Year’ parish letter difficult. Inevitably, it involves a ‘looking back’ over where we’ve travelled from and an anticipation of where the New Year will go. It’s a chance to think about fresh beginnings but is also shadowed by reflection on the previous year’s (occasional) triumphs and unavoidable challenges. It can be a melancholic process in which one asks, ‘Where did the year go?’ It can also be a hopeful one, full of the longing for
‘a better year this year’.
For St Nick’s, 2015 was a busy, challenging, but very rewarding year. We said goodbye to dear friends and we welcomed some new people to our small fellowship. Finally, we began our long-awaited and planned repair works. Slowly, we are moving along, but it will be few months before the work will be complete. We’ve also had all sorts of fun and exciting events from choir concerts, fairs and a full-blown West-End style musical, The Tree of War.
There is, ultimately, one basis for all we do: God. Without the Spirit of God we might as well be social workers, or part of the National Trust, or even theatre impressarios! We must be a located community, unpretentious about our willingness to serve both need and offer new ways of being church. However, without prayer, all of that activity is mere clanging cymbal.
The God who calls us into life is both changeless and, yet, utterly located in our midst. This simple truth is one reason why we should not be afraid (as the hymn has it) ‘in all the changing scenes of life.’ I know that can be very hard to believe, but it is at the heart of our faith. Our lives are short; in the mind of the infinite they are barely a heartbeat. And yet…they are utterly precious and valuable. Christ gives his life that we may live. God offers himself to us, for us. God makes a gift of himself to us and that freely offered gift may set us free.
The New Year will undoubtedly be full of both challenges and extraordinary opportunities. However, I trust we shall attempt to face whatever the year sends with confidence. God never says that life will be easy. He promises only to be with us till the end of the age. If that sounds too high faluting then can I encourage each of us to attempt to be alert to the movement of God’s grace in the details.
Ours is a troubled and troubling world, but it is also extraordinarily beautifully and heartbreakingly wonderful. God waits with us in the dark and walks alongside us in the light. May you have a blessed and peaceful New Year.