ASSOCIATE RECTOR'S LETTER for February
Already this year has a strange feel to it, you might say. Changes in leadership and direction; established institutions on the brink of fragmenting and an underlying sense of unease - where will we all end up?
And that’s just Bury Football Club.
We here at Bury Parish Church are facing an uncertain year after having enjoyed a long, loving and wide-reaching ministry under the Rector. But new frontiers bring with them not just challenges, but opportunities. Not just apprehension, but anticipation.
And it’s in pivotal moments like these that I like to turn to... Tim Peake. Apologies to anyone who heard my evensong talk on 22nd of January but I am currently slightly obsessed with the British Astronaut’s book of photos taken during his 6-month stint on the International Space Station and the lessons that we can learn about God and his love for us from it. And it’s all the more significant to think about these things whilst Christmas wonder still resonates in our consciousness.
The photos in Tim’s book show the beauty, diversity, splendour - just the sheer jaw-dropping wonder - of the planet we call home. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth... God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good.” (Genesis 1.1, 31)
From that distance, it’s virtually impossible to see any sign of human habitation. Amazing ice formations, intricate sand dune designs, dazzling blue rivers - how easy it is to love our planet from way up there!
How easy it could have been for God to watch the world he created from there - to admire his handiwork and to leave the ones he had made to be in relationship with himself to their own devices, unseen and uncared for. They were the ones who’d turned away, after all.
Tim Peake, for all his amazing experiences, was always thinking about the people he loved on earth and longing for the time when he would be with them again.
And God the Father knew he could not be apart from the people he had made and whom he loved and whom he would do anything for. Hence the birth of our Lord Jesus at Christmas: the enfleshing of God so he could live among us in a way that we could relate to and respond to - negatively or positively.
God is with us in the mess and marvel of our lives. He is with us in the brokenness and building of our relationships. He is with us in the apprehension and anticipation of our future.
It’s great to have those pictures that give us a different perspective on our situations. But how much greater to know that the one who knows the end from the beginning is right with us in ours and can transform it - and us - beyond recognition.
And so, in true rectorish fashion, I conclude with a hymn:
How good is the God we adore,
Our faithful unchangeable friend;
His love is as great as His power,
And knows neither measure nor end.
’Tis Jesus the first and the last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home,
We’ll praise Him for all that is past,
And trust Him for all that’s to come.
Joseph Hart (1712-1768)