Ephesians 4:1-3 – New Revised Standard Version Paul writes: ‘I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’
I want to say thank you. Firstly thank you for being patient. It was September 1st last year that Emma, Martha and I first came to meet with people here and it became clear to both us and them that God wanted us to up sticks from Newark with Coddington and move to join you on your journey with God here. For various reasons getting to the point of my licencing service has been drawn out and perhaps the waiting has at times seemed tedious – is he ever going to get here!
Secondly thank you for your welcome, your kindness, your generosity and your love. When we arrived at the Vicarage a fortnight ago we were overwhelmed to find a lovely bunch of flowers and a stack of food supplies that has kept us going – and is still keeping us going. Thank you too to those who have been involved in preparing the Vicarage for our arrival – those who came in to clean and decorate and thanks to Vic for co-ordinating and open up for carpet fitters and others.
There are so many other thank you’s I need give but I hope to do these personally as I get to meet with you over time. But I do want to say thank you to you all. I don’t pretend to have a full understanding of the recent history of St James and St Johns, but from the little I have learned so far I know there has been a need for people to stand up and to take on things, to be there for one another. If you like to live the lives ‘worthy of the calling to which you have been called ... bearing one another in love’ and from what I have heard and read I know this has been happening and through God’s good grace you have more than survived your time during the vacancy.
But now we are here what does the future hold? I don’t know for certain. But I do know this, we can go forward trusting in the promises of God. That he will always be with us and that his love for us is unending. Even when we cannot see clearly the path ahead, when the darkness may seem to be around, the light of Jesus Christ is still shining brightly and can never be extinguished.
I also know that whatever the future holds it will mean change because God is a God of change. ‘Behold I am making all things new.’ Rev 21:5. There are things about God himself that do not change, his steadfastness, his love, his grace and his determination to bring about his Kingdom in all its fullness. But he does this through the power of the Spirit by redemption, renewal and reconciliation and these are words of change. And the Spirit is at work at every level, in our lives as individuals, in our life as the church family, in the community we are part of and the wider world too. Jesus said of the Spirit ‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.’ John 3:8.
There are no limits to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this may seem unsettling, even frightening sometimes. But it is our job to discern what God is up to in this place, what his mission is, his will and direction for us as a church. With wisdom and understanding, going deeper into God, with help from others when we need it we will go ‘low and slow’ and while we do this we will make ‘every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’
As I have already said I will be meeting individually with everyone who is willing to meet with me in the coming year, I ask again for your patience. Please bear with me as getting to listen to everyone will take time. May God’s Kingdom come in us and in this place.
Grace and Peace to you all