Vicar's Letter

VERSE OF 2017:

 

“Christ in you, the hope of glory!”

 

Colossians 1:27b (New International Version)

 

Dear Friends,

 

In this month, when we think about those who have given their lives in war, the two minutes silence is a familiar act of remembrance. We can use the silence to reflect on those who have suffered in war or on what it means to work for a peaceful world. Or do we end up thinking about lunch or panic that we haven’t switched our phone off?

 

Victor Frankl, a victim of Auschwitz, suggested that the most intolerable of all human conditions is not imprisonment or hunger, but lack of meaning. The two minutes’ silence enables us to connect with Jesus’ message, which offers true meaning to our lives and world. He spoke of giving ourselves in love for each other and the world, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44). He also demonstrated such love in sacrificing His own life, ‘Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13). In observing the silence, let’s use it to reflect on this sacrificial love, as we remember all those who have experienced pain and conflict – or who are doing so now.

 

Of course, we should be serious about silence and stillness in the whole of our lives, not just for two minutes at an act of Remembrance. Jesus made a habit of withdrawing to experience silence. ‘The seeking out of solitary places was a regular practice for Jesus. So it should be for us.’ (Richard Foster). Actually, we have a two or three minutes’ silence in the majority of our evening services, and always when it is Evening Praise.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the evening’s message, but also to wait upon the living Holy Spirit of God, who delights in speaking to us as much as he delights in listening to us, and who has promised to lead us and guide us – sometimes through words of prophecy. Several of the Biblical authors recommend us to ‘wait upon the Lord’, and I have a feeling that those who regularly wait on God are often amongst the best at working for him, too.

 

As the life of a busy parish goes on, there are often opportunities to try ourselves out in new areas of Christian service. Put it another way, there are often tasks that can’t be done without at least one more volunteer! The aim should always be to be guided by the Holy Spirit, bearing in mind such things as: what you are good at, what in your heart you really care about (and these things do change as our lives go on), and, yes, what major unfilled needs you perceive around you. Most of us don’t need to be reminded to also bear in mind how much time or energy we have to spare! But the fact that serving God sometimes takes us beyond what our own natural resources can manage, is a good thing, as it obliges us to do what he most wants us to do – namely, to rely on him and his resources instead.

 

Alongside our needs for crèche and Sunday Club helpers, and people to man the church in the week, there is one impending vacancy I would like to highlight.

 

We are one of only a few parishes in our whole Diocese that have two Church schools – did you know? – and we rightly value them very much and care about them. They are a vital part of the Church’s mission to our nation, not only to maintain knowledge of the Christian faith but also to promote the ‘common good’ for everyone’s sake. It was lovely to have both our new Headteachers with us in church at the end of September, showing the value they place upon the school-church relationship. On a school’s governing body, the chief responsibility for keeping the school’s Christian ethos on the agenda rests upon the Foundation Governors, who are appointed by the PCC. One very able foundation governor at Rownhams School, Jen Ball, steps down in February, and she would dearly like to step down knowing who will succeed her and having helped that person to be ready for the task.  It’s a four-year appointment, though you can go on longer; it’s typically about 6-8 hours’ work a month; it wants someone who is willing to ‘drop in’ enough to get a sense of how things are going (including getting feedback from children!). Abilities in an area such as finance, HR, or buildings would be very welcomed too. Please would anyone interested speak either to Jen or to myself. And can we all promise to pray that this need gets met.

 

In conclusion can I just say ‘Never Smile at a Crocodile!’ and direct those who don’t know why I say that to page 8 of our online edition of the magazine.  Saturday 18th November: our annual great entertainment in a great venue in a great cause.  Please come – it won’t eat you!

Yours truly,

Julian