Circuit Webteam: June 2019
Whilst I have one more Plan to make (for the start of my successor's ministry, the Revd John Hellyer, whom I commend to you!), this will probably be my last pastoral letter. Needless to say, my time as Superintendent of the Circuit has flown! Yet I recall that my first letter referred to RS Thomas' poem 'The Bright Field', about letting God's presence catch us in the moment (as Moses' eye was caught by the burning bush), for God encounters us in the here and now, even if our heads and hearts are often in the past or future.
There is always the danger of living in the past, and as I cast my eye back over six years there is inevitable regret over what has not been done, especially when failing the Ordination injunction to "Let no one suffer hurt through your neglect"; and regret that the time is coming to say 'good bye': I shall miss you, and your continuing journeys. Tennyson's words (from his poem 'Ulysses') also resonate: "much have I seen and known and honour'd of them all": it has been a privilege to journey this while in your company, as together we have sought to join in God's mission, care for the flock, and serve the communities of Gloucestershire.
Tennyson goes on to recognise that "all experience is an arch wherethro' gleams that untraveled world": into our experiences and journeys the future ineluctably beckons; the next chapter calls us all. I will be thinking of and praying for you, for the Circuit and its churches and our ecumenical and community partners, and for the people of Gloucestershire, in God's unfolding plan for you in this part of the world, even as I turn to the people of Cumbria and all that awaits there. As we turn to the next stage, RS Thomas reminds us that in the turning aside to glimpse God's presence in the bright field or wherever it might be revealed, those glimpses also point to "the eternity that awaits" us, enabling us to have confidence in God's future, and thus in our own.
Yet even as we let go of what has been, let us not rush on too quickly, for still it is in each moment that Christ comes amongst us, as on the Emmaus Road, or in the locked room, or in the rush of Pentecost. In Brimscombe and Bishop's Cleeve, in Fairford and the Forest, in Tewkesbury and Tetbury, in Winchcombe and Wotton, and in all the places in between, God is faithfully waiting and wanting to encounter you once more, and to do so again and again, to never leave or forsake you, but to tend to your needs and to your worries, to fill you with joy and blessing, and to help you continue to be God's people in the relationships, roles and places that God has set and called you, until his Kingdom comes.
I am always thanking God for you. I thank him for his grace given to you in Christ Jesus. ... It is God himself who called you to share in the life of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and God keeps faith.
1 Corinthians, 1 vv. 4 & 9 (REB)
God Bless you, now and always,
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