PASTORAL LETTER FROM REV PHIL GRIFFIN SEPTEMBER 2021

My brothers and sisters,

I am often struck, when time and circumstances permit, by the constant tension between the transient and the permanent. Reading that opening sentence back to myself it sounds very pretentious and philosophical! Allow me explain myself. There has been a lot of newness for my family and I over the last couple of months: a new home in a new county, a new posting in new circumstances, a new school for the girls, new churches for us to bed down into, new friends being made… The list goes on. And of course, this is not something that we are alone in experiencing. As I write, Boris Johnson has just announced his new cabinet, looking to lead the country into new ways of life as covid slowly tapers off (God willing). Couples getting married have the newness of experiencing life living together; bereaved families adjust to the newness of life without a loved one.

But in the midst of the newness – sometimes lost in it, sometimes highlighted because of it – there is a constancy going on. I come as your minister to support churches who have been ministering to their communities throughout lockdown and stretching back generations. School children come and go, but the teachers by and large remain a consistent presence. Cabinet ministers pass through, but the mechanisms of government keep turning regardless. And throughout the big life events that sometimes feel as though time is (or should be) standing still, life continues as normal all around. It can sometimes feel like a relay race, where the spectators are a constant presence, but each time the batons pass by the stands, they are in somebody else’s hands.

As I ponder these things, I ask myself, “What does God have to say about this?” (It’s a good thing for any of us to ask about any circumstance, and it pretty much sums up my job description to ask that, so…). For a start, God chose to reveal Himself as the great I AM – the Author of time, forever present, and aware of the end of all things from the very beginning. And the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is a constant – the constant – anchor throughout the ages and throughout our lives. God is not going to change depending on which way the wind is blowing. He will always love His creation, hate sin because it breaks our relationship with Him, rejoice and show mercy and forgiveness to anyone who confesses and turns from their sin, and call us deeper into that relationship of love and grace with Himself. But God, too, lives with the tension of the eternal and the passing. He is the One Who does new things, interacts and intervenes in the life of His people, and walks the stumbling, bumbling journey of life with His creation. He is the One Who chose to enter the constraints of time and space, and Who picked up all the bumps and bruises that we get (and then some). It is heartening to me that the One Who could literally make time stand still chose to live our life, one moment at a time, so that the invitation to eternity could be expended to each of us. As we walk through life together in the coming months and years, let us be mindful of the God Who walks beside us, drawing us into the future He sets before us, and calling us to lives fit for eternity with Him.

May He Who began a good work in you carry it on to completion, until the day of Christ Jesus.

With every blessing,

Phil

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