As I write, this has been the hottest February day on record, although I can remember a few warm February days in 1969, sat in St James’s park in the Horsefair, eating lunch with a work colleague, in out shirtsleeves, watching the young ladies walk by in summer dresses. I leave that observation there! Now back to reality the garden is beginning to look good with a variety of spring flowers in full bloom, i.e., daffodils, primroses, snowdrops, and crocuses. The birds are very active and noisy as are our local foxes and cats in our newly dug borders.
As some of you are aware it has been a tough few months regarding family health issues and there has been a lot of angst and prayer. As Christians we try to live in hope and this coming spring has reminded me of nature’s promises and hopes for renewed growth. As we enter the season of Lent, we reflect on the coming pain, anguish and loneliness of Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem and crucifixion. It is through the pain of the crucifixion that new hope has been given to us through the Resurrection and the promise of God’s Kingdom here and in the life to come. We will, through our worship and other events, join him on that journey and share his story. Lent is not all about giving up chocolate, cake and booze, although it helps to join in some form of fasting and personal sacrifice, but it’s more about taking stock and reflecting where we are with our faith and beliefs and trying to build up or indeed rebuild our spiritual lives. This can be achieved through joining one of our Lent courses, personal Bible study, prayer and silent times.
There are many issues in life that can occupy our minds and sometimes these issues can overwhelm us and become for us the focus of our lives, which makes us angry, stressed, cynical, depressed and indeed faithless. However, if we can hold onto the fact that no matter how difficult or conversely joyful our lives can be, God is there.
Finally, it has been agreed with Beverley, immediately after Easter I will embark on a three-month sabbatical, withdrawing from all leadership and liturgical responsibilities apart from a couple of weddings already agreed.
Also, on 16 March I will be professed into the Third Order of Franciscans, which will take place at 10:30 at Christ Church, and it would be nice for anyone interested to come along for the service and some light refreshments in the Church hall afterwards.
I end with a prayer by Francis, when he was still uncertain as to what God was calling him to do.