Associate Rector's Letter for September
Well it’s that time of year again when all the retail outlets are bedecked with “Back to School” stationery, uniforms, holdalls, pencil cases and anything else that might be deemed essential to the successful launch of a new academic year. We didn’t exactly have a barbeque summer as we were promised (unless you like your BBQs to take place under a sturdy water-and-wind proof shelter) but I’m sure with the usual resourcefulness, people managed to enjoy some kind of a break anyway.
I like the expression that the French use for this time of year: la rentrÉe - the returning.
It carries with it the sense that even though time away is much needed; that a change of scenery and ensuing larks can do us all good - there’s nothing quite like coming back to the normal warp and woof of everyday life with its familiar routines and regular patterns. That’s where foundations are laid, characters formed, relationships strengthened.
At the parish church we’ve been in a state of flux for almost ten months now since waving farewell to John and Christa in January and going through the whole process of appointing a new rector to steer the ship through the next chapter. And so the welcome announcement of Julian and Jackie’s arrival will mark the start of a new season for us: one that we can look forward to and prepare for both prayerfully and practically.
If we think of nature, seasons are necessary for life to begin, grow and develop. And if we stay too long in any one season we won’t progress as we should. It’s just that the transitions between them can be tricky to handle though; the April showers, when you don’t know whether it’s winter or spring. The Indian summers, when the sun just can’t quite bear to disappear off the scene altogether and returns to make a final flourish. We just like to know where we are! That’s the ideal scenario.
God understands our appreciation of seasons. He is a God of order, not chaos. In Bible times, there was almost no higher sign of blessing than having planted trees and bushes, having faithfully tended them, and then seeing the fruit being brought forth just when it should be, ready for people to enjoy. Everything in its time; everything as it should be.
It’s not always like that, of course. More often than not, everything is NOT as it should be - far from it. And what happens then - do we hibernate? Down tools and wait out the winter? Not if the seed of faith is deep-rooted in our hearts, we don’t. We trust the one who created heaven and earth and who made all things and who declared them to be ‘good’. We hang on to the one who loved us enough to die for us. And we plod on in faith, trusting the one who brings light from darkness, life from death.
And so in the rentrÉe of 2017, I leave you with some words from St Paul to his young apprentice, Timothy:
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction.
With love and prayers,