Winter 2018 Pastoral Letter from the Superintendent

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advent, candles, church

Dear All,

I heard in the last few days of a situation that presented a special set of needs, and it called for someone to go and serve. No one — it seemed — could be found, and time was spent in prayer and reflection. Out of that, the particular gift that was required for the situation was identified, and an individual who potentially possessed it. For the individual, it would mean moving to a new part of the world and learning a new language. It would involve extensive and potentially costly commitments. A tentative enquiry was made; the individual and their family said "yes". Those of us who heard this, were, unsurprisingly, profoundly moved.

As people who seek to be followers of Christ, we know that sometimes this might or does mean that we are taken to places where we might not wish to go, be it geographically; or using or developing our particular gifts; or coming alongside particular people; or in the understanding of our personalities and growing in grace; or in the other ways that can at times be costly. So often, of course, we react with hesitation, caution, even resistance, at being 'told', reminded, or encouraged to respond to God's general and specific calls to us.

Yet when we witness or hear of others responding in loving service; or of going and not counting the cost; or of graciously changing, letting go, adjusting and beginning anew; we are moved, and perhaps encouraged and enabled once more to change in ourselves, or 'to go', or to become or do whatever is required, despite the cost. It becomes possible once more for us to be rooted in and filled with God's compassion for all that might be needed, beneath and beyond our too often surface desires, distractions and preoccupations; for we become rooted again in the God who did not count the cost, but who, knowing that something new was needed and seeing what was needed, became incarnate amongst us in the person of Jesus Christ; Jesus, who went where he may not have wished to go, and stretched out his arms to hold and lift us all.

So we seek to root ourselves once more in God's presence, compassion and sacrifice this coming Advent and Christmas, as we remind ourselves that God holds us in all the darkness, waiting and preparation (preparation of all that needs to be done and become), and as we seek to allow God's Spirit to dwell within and between us so that we ourselves may live out God's incarnation, being, going and doing whatever is required to witness and embody the longing that God has to hold all people through the darkness into new beginnings, not just of a New Year but in all ways.

First, this weekend as the Plan is published, we remember this year in particular the cost for those who one hundred years ago went where they would not have chosen, caught up in the folly of humankind and in the evil of warfare, in a sacrifice of life, limb, and loved ones. As we remember them and their sacrifice, and all who presently live in conflict and in all forms of darkness, we trust ourselves to the God who seeks to hold and lift us out of darkness; and thus we hear again the call for each one of us to trust also to God's ways, and therefore to go, or to change, or to respond, in whatever way God may require, that we and all may share more fully in the light, life and peace that God desires for us all.

May God bless us and all,

James

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