One of the delights of these last few weeks has been to begin, slowly and cautiously to meet again with others in person, sharing worship, discussion, but perhaps most importantly simply building and renewing relationship, having conversations about how it has been, how we are, how those closest to us are. We have comforted one another in loss and encouraged each other as we seek to shape how we will live now. It has been refreshing and renewing and surprisingly beautiful. Perhaps that should not be surprising, after all one the things we are called to do as Christians is to rejoice in the beauty of the Church, and the Church is the body of Christ, with all of its different members, connected to and serving the communities in which we are placed, witnessing to the love of God in Jesus Christ.
The beauty of the Church is seen in the relationships we share with God, in Jesus Christ, with each other and all among who we live, something made visible each time we celebrate the Eucharist together. This is why these weeks have been beautiful. I have met with some of our Bishops Visitors who build up the family of our Church Schools, with Readers connecting church and community, preaching, teaching, caring, with licenced clergy working in parishes and chaplaincies and fresh expressions, with teachers educating our children for life in its fullness, with our retired clergy who give so much, with Pastoral Assistants, Youth Ministers, with lay leaders and all who serve in communities across the diocese, and the list could go on. A glorious diversity of people, lay and ordained, who make up the body of Christ who have caused my heart to sing. But this is not all, I have met with those engaged in a reading project supporting and encouraging children in some of our more deprived communities, and with children delighting in reading, with leaders in our statutory and voluntary sectors, in education, childcare, local government and more and this too has made my heart sing as I have seen the commitment that underlies their work to build up community and I have been deeply encouraged here also.
These are challenging times, the pandemic is by no means over, many are tired and there is much to do to shape our future as a Church and as a society, but I have been reminded that we are not alone, it does not depend just on me, or on you, but we build our Church and community together.
As we look to what Bishop Rachel and I hope will be for all of us a different and renewing rhythm of life in these coming weeks, I have been reminded to be thankful and to place my trust and confidence in God.
For thus says the Lord God… In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength. Isaiah 30: 15