John Goodridge’s Reflection -
I have been watching the new series of, Who do you think you are, which I always find interesting and reminds me of how lucky I have been to be part of a known family, loved and care for, which in turn follows through to our own children and grandchildren. I have read this week an article about child survivors of the Holocaust, children who had been separated from their parents at a very young age, thus having no knowledge of their past in terms of parentage and family history. This also applies to many children, who have been orphaned or taken away from their parents for whatever reason and this raises the question, “How can we make sense of our lives, when we do not know where we come from?.
I was a single child, my father dying when I was nine and then living with my mother and grandparents. Both my grandparents died within a couple of years of me moving in with them, which was another traumatic event in my life. However, with the love, strength and determination of my mother, we both came through these tragic events. When I married Pat, I became part of much bigger family, Pat had three siblings, and now we have family of our own, I can truly say, I am now part of one big family. Also, I belong to an even greater family, the Christian Community, not just in Hanham but much wider, with my previous parish families and now the Franciscans. I would also include our close friends, who to all intents and purposes are part of our family. Many we have known from when our children were at Christ Church School, when we participated in PTA events.
This week we welcome Steve Dyson and his family to join our family and I know they will be made more than welcome, and we will all share in this exiting time together. How many of you joined in the Zoom presentation of Steve’s licensing? When we join a new church family it can be quite strange and even scary because we are facing the unknown. How will I fit in? Have I made the right choice, and will there be someone who will resent my arrival? Will this church or will I live up to expectations? I expect throughout our lives, we have all felt like that, when starting a new school, college, job, church, football club, and especially if we are coming in at a level of authority or leadership.
I can remember when I arrived at St Michael’s and the first time I had to preach, being the new boy on the block, I was quite nervous and I did not sleep much the night before. However, with prayer and the strength of the Holy Spirit, as I made my way to the lectern, I know I was given strength and can remember a sense of inner peace. I was quickly accepted by a very friendly community, just as well, because soon afterwards the Vicar left and as usual, I was left on my own. Not quite true because I had the strength of the Holy Spirit and the support of my wife and church family. There were also six other church families involved in the Bristol East Partnership, with whom I had to get to know. It was not easy?
I have always felt sorry for those I have met in my life, who have no family or very little contact with their families, due to unresolved conflicts. They appeared lost and so much alone, not even a ‘phone call or birthday card. Many lived on their own, most of whom had no faith, so they were completely isolated. To me that would have been a living hell.
I always remember my Grandfather telling me his little story about a friend whom he thought was across the street. Bearing in mind my Grandfather was Irish. He said, “ I saw him and he saw me, I smiled at him and he smiled at me, I waived at him and he waived at me, we crossed the road, each as friends, but when we got close, we realized it was neither of us.”
A prayer for our families and friends
Father, from whom every family receives its true name
I pray for all members of my family
For those who are growing up,
That they may increase in wisdom and love;
For those facing changes,
That they meet them with hope;
For those who are weak and ill,
That they may find healing and strength,
For those with heavy burdens,
That they may carry them lightly,
For those who are old and frail,
That they may grow in faith.