Letter to parishioners, 12 March 2022

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

In recent days several people have asked me the same question: What is the world coming to? The situation in Ukraine has engendered a whole kaleidoscope of emotional responses. Those who experienced the horrors of world war eighty years ago struggle to believe that one man seems to be dragging us all down the same path. Those who do not share the memories of international conflict on such a scale are also fearful as one egocentric bully commits acts of unspeakable inhumanity to further his own political ends. Even our children are worried in case their fathers and brothers are asked to join with those men we see on our televisions being made to stay and fight. Then, as if the war in Ukraine was not enough for us to contend with, we are hearing reports of rising numbers in Covid infections and talk of a new strain of the virus. Without considering the financial situation which is reducing our effective incomes considerably, do we not all want to join in asking that question: What is the world coming to?

In this week’s gospel reading (Luke 13.31-35) Jesus speaks of prophets and the cruel fate they suffered at the hands of those who felt threatened by God’s plan for humanity. Throughout the Old Testament we read of prophets being persecuted, rejected and killed. We know, as we journey through Lent, that the ultimate prophet, Jesus himself, will come to suffer the same fate. However, we also know that we are called to take on the same mantle and to take the living word of God into our divided and troubled world.

We are all called to be prophets … every one of us. That does not mean that we are called to stand on street corners shouting and waving bibles, although that may be the calling of some of course! Rather, we are all called to live and share the word of God. We are all called to bear the light of Christ as we love and serve in his name. In these challenging times this may seem like something that belongs on our ‘to do’ lists, rather than at the top of our list of daily tasks. But … it is only through living out a prophetic faith that this world will stand a chance of becoming the place we so desperately hope it might become.

In the last week many have responded to our appeal for cash donations to support the victims of the horrors we see in Ukraine. I hope that in the coming days others will take that same self-sacrificial step. However, the problems in this world cannot be solved by the giving of our loose change. The crises we are living through in 2022 need those financial donations and something more … they also need us all to pray and to love and to serve. As we strive to create a better corner of the world where we live and work we will be throwing a stone into a great ocean. As we cast that stone of prophecy into the troubled waters of daily life ripples will move outwards and the lives of others will be improved. Those ripples of Christian love will not be hindered by the cruelty of dictators. Instead they will turn into a great tsunami of God’s joy and love and peace.

I pray that we might all find the courage to step out and support those whose daily lives are filled with the horror of warfare by living the prophetic life that may well mean self-sacrifice, but that will also bring about God’s will for the humanity he created in his own image.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen