Clergy Letter July 2017

Dear friends,

As I write it’s still less than a year since this country voted to leave the European Union; it’s less than 6 months since Donald Trump took office; it’s less than a week since the general election resulted in a hung parliament. Thus, ‘Wasn’t expecting that’ might be the recurring response to these events and there is therefore little doubt that we live in uncertain and challenging times, especially as we don’t really know how things will work out. Then throw into the mix the terrible terrorist attacks that we have endured in recent times, and then add in a big dollop of economic uncertainty coupled with ongoing austerity then things might appear pretty bleak. So what should our response be as Christians?

In the 1st instance, it should be to remember that God is in charge. The Psalmist knew this, saying,

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
(Psalm 46 vv 1-3)

Therefore we do not need to panic, we do not need to be afraid, we do not need to be consumed by worry. Rather we need to turn to God and put our trust afresh in Him; we need to hear His advice found later in the Psalm, namely to, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’

Once we have thus refocused ourselves on God and his sovereignty, our next level of response should be to pray for our nation and its leaders. I speak to myself here just as much as to anyone else because it’s all too easy to criticise, to find fault, to tear down. As followers of Jesus we should respond differently, bringing before Him all those who have the burden of high office, whatever political persuasion they happen to be – and perhaps we should especially be praying for those involved in the Brexit talks, because theirs is an onerous task indeed. We read in Provers 11:11, ‘Through the blessings of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.’ Let us work and pray to exalt the ‘city’ in which God has placed us.

Then finally let us remember that when the people of Israel were carried into exile in Babylon they were told through the prophet Jeremiah that they were to make the most of the unwelcome and unexpected situation they found themselves in. ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’ (Jeremiah 29:5-7). We might not like the situation that we find ourselves in in this country, but it is where we are called to live out lives that are for the glory of God and for the good of our fellow human beings. And so, for example, when it comes to our Summer Fair on 8th July (special thanks to the social committee for organising this), we must not see this as a money-making exercise but rather an opportunity to bless and enrich our community.

So in summary, let’s remember God is in charge, let’s pray for our nation, and let’s work to make a positive difference – if we can do these three things, then I believe we will be embodying our calling – to be a ‘good news people’ pointing people, by who we are and what we do, to our ‘Good news God’, praying that they too might, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalm 34:8) so that they might say when they encounter Him, ‘Wasn’t expecting that!’.

Every blessing

Simon