Letter to parishioners, 17 June 2022

Friday, 17 June 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

Much has happened over the last couple of weeks – events that have kept me from writing my weekly letter to you all. My last letter was written as we were preparing to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, a unique moment in our history. We were also preparing to celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost, our annual commemoration of the coming of God’s great gift of the Holy Spirit to humanity, and another unique moment in our history. Sadly, in the minds of many, the very secular partying associated with the Jubilee overshadowed the considerably more important time of Pentecost.

Alongside the national celebrations and spiritual remembrances many within the Diocese of Lincoln have continued to work hard to find the path that will lead Christ’s Church in this part of the world into a more secure future, a future in which the mission and ministry of Christ might flourish. For more than two years work has been going on to undo the damage done by the unprecedented stagnation that has brought the Church of England to its present time of crisis. Our parish system was first formulated in the Saxon period, and our system of decision making and planning often feels as though it is just as ancient. Harsh realities are having to be confronted, and that is going to call upon us all to pause, listen and hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit as we move forward into different times.

In the world of education we often hear about the challenges that confront teachers and administrators. We rarely hear of decisions being made with the focus being centred on the pupils alone. In the Church we often hear about the challenges that confront those who feel they ‘know’ all about how the spiritual life should be compartmentalized and organized. We rarely hear of decisions and plans being centred on the will of God alone.

In our gospel reading this week (Luke 8:26-29) we will hear of Jesus cleansing the man possessed by many demons. Towards the end of this reading from Luke’s gospel we will hear these words: Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. If we are not careful we will find ourselves in the company of those who asked Jesus to leave them.

Jesus came to the country of the Gerasenes and brought new hope, new joy, and great love. He sent the army of demons into a herd of pigs that rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. Rather than rejoicing at the clean slate that Jesus had given them, the people of that country asked him to leave because the ‘change’ he brought with him was too much for them to bear. They were just like those who value our church buildings and our church committees as being more important than the mission and ministry of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

In our gospel reading we will hear that Jesus did not resist those who rejected them. Instead, he got into the boat and went away. Let us pray that we might not find ourselves aligned with the people of the Gerasenes. Rather, let us pray that we might find new resolve and courage as we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and go forward in faith – forward into the bright new world that God has prepared for us all.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen