Magazine Leader - Jan 2013

From the Vicar

Another New Year brings the possibility a sense of wonder at what 2013 will bring. There may be some great opportunities before us, but also great challenges. Perhaps there is a bit of us that hopes for no change at all, but life is seldom like that. As Christians we need to live in the belief that our future is held in the hands of God and that, whatever the year brings, God will speak to us and will lead us ever onwards to a place where we both have to let go of all we treasure in this world, so that we can embrace a glory that is our eternal home. Each of us is on such a journey and we must all change if we are to grow into the transformation that is God’s gift to us.

Whatever we would hope for, 2013 is likely to be a year of significance for us as a Church. First of all our Bishop has challenged us to talk together about what our church is like and how we see the future. He has called this process ‘Let us Talk’. It is a lovely title. We are not called to win arguments, but simply to talk together about what our hopes and aspirations are and what we think our priorities are as a parish. All this comes at a very helpful point in the life of our parish, with me starting my ministry as your new Vicar. I want to know what makes St John’s tick, what you all value about our shared life and how you would like to see things develop. Please do invite me to come round for a chat, or else email me or write to me with your thoughts and ideas. We need to respond to the bishop by April, but at the same time it will be a good exercise in identifying our priorities for the next five years. I hope we might have two meetings, one for the PCC and the other for the whole congregation, at which we can set such priorities together.

Two other major issues will certainly dominate the life of the wider church over this coming year and these are the questions about the ordination of women as bishops and same-sex marriage. This is not the time or the place for me to argue these cases either way, but we do need to talk about them. The Church of England needs to move speedily to ordain women as bishops, but it raises the issue of how we not only care for one another, but actually cherish and support each other, especially those who have different views to our own. The same is true with the debate about same-sex marriage. It is now clear that such marriages will not take place within Church of England churches, at least not in the near future, but how we welcome and cherish others, regardless of such things as colour, class, sexual orientation or gender, is a mark of how we live out our Christian witness in the world. A church which seeks to build its life on hatred, or on fear, is a church which has certainly lost the plot. None of us has come out well from the recent abortive debate over women bishops. We must pray for our bishops as they seek to lead us through the coming months. We must also talk together in a way that honours and listens to those with a different point of view. Openness to the Spirit does not mean trying to win the argument that God is on our side, but rather living with the possibility that perhaps, through listening to others, God will lead us to a new and deeper understanding of where he is calling us to go.

I wish you all a very happy New Year

Nigel


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