Spring 2017 Pastoral Letter from the Superintendent

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Dear Friends,

This Plan begins on Ash Wednesday, 1st March 2017, a day of repentance and humility that is the beginning of Lent, a period of reflection, of 'giving up and giving away', to make space for God and others. It leads us to the remembrance of Christ's suffering and death, of his standing with all who struggle and suffer, so that sin, oppression and death might be ended, so that instead all may have life, made known in Easter Resurrection. In the weeks of the Easter Season that follow, we recognise how in confusion and in faith the disciples discovered that Christ's way, a willingness to stand with those who suffer and are oppressed, is the way that leads to life; in turn, we are invited to discover this again for ourselves. The period of this Plan ends with the glory of the Ascension, the prelude to God's continued sharing of love and life, power and presence with us, through the Pentecost gift of the Holy Spirit, that leads us into the rest of the year and the rest of life.

All the ideas above, and the period of time through which we are about to travel, are familiar to us. Yet each year we are invited to live through this period afresh. We are invited to think through what repentance and humility mean for us; what it means to travel Christ's way; what it means to live faithfully through Holy Week, to stand at the foot of the cross, tending to those who suffer and to those whose lives are in jeopardy; what it means to endure the waiting, to prepare and go to the tomb, to discover again what it means to be people of resurrection and crucifixion; what it means to learn again, or for the first time, all that it means to be people with our eyes fixed on the glory of God, yet willing to live for sisters and brothers beside us?

As a Circuit, we also come to a critical time of reflection, of discovering again what it means to be God's crucified, risen people, not just for ourselves, but for the people of Gloucestershire and the wider world. At Tewkesbury, on the 12th March, the Circuit Assembly will be invited to agree the Circuit's future Vision and Strategy for Mission, which has emerged from the consultations and reflections of the last twelve months. Potentially these are exciting times in which we are living and moving, when the framework, emphases and ideas that have emerged may help to shape and release our churches and Circuit to join more fully in God's mission in this part of the world. Thus, may I invite you to pray for this process and our decisions; to attend if you can on the 12th March, or at the subsequent Assembly on the 14th May when some additional consequent details will also be discussed, so as to enable us to move forward, not just as a Circuit and as churches, but as individuals, ever more willing and ready to learn and respond to what it means to participate in and live out God's life and mission.

May God be with us, through Lent and Easter; may God bless you, and may God bless the communities in which we live and serve.

Revd Dr James Tebbutt

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