January 2011

posted 3 Jan 2011, 09:56 by Richard Jones   [ updated 3 Jan 2011, 10:03 ]
The Vicar writes . . .

I BELIEVE that the Church is moving into some very exciting times. Sometimes it’s going to be difficult and even quite trying, but I also believe that we need to have courage and to trust that God will lead us by his Spirit.

To anyone who takes an interest in church affairs it must be fairly obvious that we’re entering the ‘age of the laity’ in the church. I think that God has had enough of a clerically dominated church, and there are signs that he has begun the process of giving the church back to the people.

It’s not going to be easy. Probably the biggest obstacle is that many bishops and clergy (and lay people too) won’t be at all keen to give up all their status and authority. But even when that’s overcome there’s still the problem that far too few people among the laity are properly trained, or prepared, or willing to take on the increasing responsibility which will be theirs in the not-too-distant future.

The place of lay people in the church is, I believe, so central to its mission that God has already begun the change by arranging a drying-up of vocations to the priesthood so that whether we like it or not the church is going to be given back to its people.

Now I’m not suggesting that this is going to happen overnight. It’s a long and difficult road, and there will be many obstacles and barriers to overcome. But I am convinced that it’s necessary and that God has already begun to move in that direction.

The trouble is that it will be made even more difficult if the all too necessary changes are seen as ‘concessions’ and ‘defeats’ and are made grudgingly.

The institutionalised church, whether Anglican or Roman is already well on the way to becoming totally irrelevant to the lives of the majority of people. We are stubborn and insensitive as a church and people have lost interest in us.

The only realistic way that we can grow into the future is to accept that nothing is ever going to be the same. It can’t continue to be just like it was ‘when I was younger’. Life’s not like that. We’ve just moved into 2011 and no matter how hard we try, we cannot go back to Christmas 2010 no matter how good it was and no matter how much we enjoyed it.

Last year, along with the rest of the past, is gone and yearning for its return is a bit like walking backwards.

The whole of our life is a series of ‘letting-go’. Nothing remains static. Only God is constant and people are always in a state of change and evolution.

Our religious life is a gift from God and because of that it will never be taken away from us. The Bible records a whole series of changes, in relationships, with each other, with God. We change our understanding of things as we grow older. Friends come, and friends go. Life moves on. Only God’s love for us remains constant.

2011 is going to see a great many changes for all of us. Most of them we don’t know about yet. One thing we do know though is that it simply will not be an identical year to the one just past. For some of us 2011 will be wonderful while for others it will be a horrible year. By 2012, new people will have arrived at St. Mary’s, and sadly some old friends may no longer be with us. But whatever the outcome, if we remain in God’s love, the end result will be worth all the trauma and upheaval.

It always is with God.

Happy New Year! And may God’s blessing be with you all