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July's pastoral letter

 

Dear Friends,

The vision statement of our Barrow and Wolds Group of churches begins with the words, “Jesus said; I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10) As I write this letter, we are beginning to emerge from the Covid restrictions, and eagerly awaiting news of the next step of the government’s roadmap. What is already apparent is that we are seeing new signs of the abundance of life that Jesus has in mind for us. We are reawakening the abundant life that is experienced in meeting with friends and seeing family again, in sharing in worship together in person, in being able to hug the ones we love and have missed or being able to go away for a few days of relaxation and refreshment.

When Jesus offers us abundant life, he isn’t speaking in materialistic terms, he is speaking about the quality of our lives and the way we live them. We experience abundance in the play, laughter and exuberant activity of children, in the enthusiastic energy and skill of sport, in music and art that lifts our whole being, in the joy of creation, whether that be majestic mountains or the smallest plants coming into bloom, or even in the simple act of sharing tea and cake with good friends.

As we seek to build the Kingdom of God in our villages, we too are called to bring abundance of life. Bishop Kieran of Killaloe writes “To bring the fullness of life to each person, in particular the weakest, was the mission that Jesus handed on to the disciples and which in turn is handed on to us. We are called to live the present moment as a gift and to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God that Jesus established.” During the latter part of June and July we are welcoming a series of guest preachers to speak on different areas of inclusion in the church, focussing on gender, ethnicity, economic power, sexuality, disability and mental health. Each will challenge us to think about how we ensure that those who are so often marginalised or maligned experience abundance of life within our churches and community and how we live out that mission from Jesus.

At the same time, we are facing significant financial challenges and planning for radical change in the way we structure our ministry, buildings and finances across our diocese. The “Shaped by God Together” process is considering how we can best respond to these challenges and how we will work together and be structured in the future so that as a diocese we may experience the abundant life that God calls us to. This will mean planning how we as a group of churches respond with abundant generosity both financially and creatively sharing in the work of mission and ministry. The Bishop of Leicester is calling us to be “a humbler, simpler and bolder church”, but still one which shares the abundance of life that Jesus brings both within the church and throughout our world.

Much is changing and we are seeing the signs of new life and growth in our churches, communities, country, and further afield. The abundant life that Jesus came to bring is there for us all, and we share in the responsibility to bring that abundant life to all around us as we build the Kingdom of God together. So, my question for you - How are you seeing new signs of abundant life, and how will you share that abundance with others?

With every blessing,

Rev’d Clive