Looking ahead in hope

We are collectively hoping for better times. We are hoping that 2021 will be the year we see the coronavirus brought under control, we are hoping for times when we can meet friends and family again and hug them, without anxiety that we might do them harm. These are our hopes and our prayers for our local communities, our nation and for the world.

The pandemic has brought major changes to the way we live, day to day, not least in the way we communicate. Only a few among us had heard of ‘Zoom’ and ‘Teams’ this time last year. Had we taken quite so many walks before and had we shared so many brief exchanges of good will with friends and strangers? Too much of what the pandemic has brought into our lives has been sad and fearful. But maybe we might hope to hang on to some of the good things — more awareness of our neighbours and how they are getting on, more awareness of the evils of poverty and discrimination, more awareness of the blessing of diversity. We might hope to hang on to more gratitude for those who serve in health, caring and teaching professions, in retail and hospitality and the arts, in delivering our post and clearing our streets, in painstakingly researching disease treatment, prevention and cure. We hope and pray that as this year progresses we may embrace and develop good change.

The church has faced and will face change too. For long periods our church buildings have been closed and we have moved online, with worship and bible study and even some children’s and youth events online. We also long to gather again, as soon as we safely may, in real time and place. Yet many have found the church’s online presence a blessing; so doubtless we will find ways to continue online, even as and when we meet once more in person.

Other changes are coming to the BART churches this year. I will be retiring after Easter and that too will be an impetus for change, for new leadership, new initiatives and, in good time, a new Rector.

My nearly 10 years here have been very special, sharing mission in the church in these communities with some wonderful people, trying new things, making mistakes, learning, seeing people come new to faith in Jesus, sharing special times, baptisms, weddings, funerals, celebrating and growing together in worship and in our shared experience of God’s love. There will never really be a way to say thank you to you all. What I can do is to thank God for you all and to pray for his continued blessing amongst you as you take on the new opportunities that 2021 and beyond will bring here in BART.

This is not goodbye, just advance notice.... I am still around for a while longer yet.

Blessings in Christ