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Parish letter

From the Rector

 

Dear All

Happy New Year!

 

            January brings plenty of these greetings and, of course, the annual round of resolutions. If you are anything like me, your New Year resolutions will be broken by the time we reach the feast of the Epiphany on the 6th, but the chance of a new start, of new beginnings is embedded in the church calendar.

            As well as the feast of the Epiphany on the 6th, we also have the naming of Jesus on 1st January and the conversion of perhaps the greatest ever apostle of the Christian faith, St Paul, on the 25th. Saul famously persecuted the early Christian church and looked on with satisfaction during the stoning of Stephen. Then something quite amazing happened. On his way to Damascus Saul had a vision of Christ that stopped him, literally, in his tracks. He realised that this Jesus whom he was persecuting was in fact the Messiah he had longed for.

            The rest of his life was one of hard work - striving for the kingdom of God. I don’t know if he was ever despondent about the future when he was going through one of his many tribulations, but from his letters that we now have in our scriptures it appears that he always came back to that fundamental trust in God.

            That sense of trust in the eventual victory of goodness in God is sometimes reflected in a phrase, made famous by Dr King, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It was certainly an inspiration to Dr King, and it continues to bring hope to people the present day.

            If there is any problem with the phrase it perhaps lies in the possibility that it might lead to inaction - if justice is coming then I don’t need to do anything. This is (quite evidently) not how Dr King thought of it. What he saw demanded his action.

            In the church we seem to be on the same slow arc. There is much that has improved (we were a century or so late on women’s ordination), but there is still much more that needs to come. Whether in the church or society at large, we know that we are not at the end of this journey yet. However, what we see should not drive us to despondency, but to greater, more insistent action.         

            Perhaps we might add one more resolution to the list, to do all we can to move ourselves, our communities, our churches and the world a little further along the arc, a little closer to the justice that is its end. After all, “thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.” is no simple petition, but a call to service.

Every blessing for a peaceful and busy 2019!

 

John

 

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