I was reading the June edition of the Bradford Diocesan News and Bishop Nick’s letter entitled ‘The Winds of Change’ seemed the perfect letter for our July newsletter:
So, Pentecost is past, the wind is blowing, summer has arrived, and we only have to wait another two months for the start of the new football season.
But, there is nothing nice and neat about all this. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit blew like a disturbing wind and no one could control what God was doing. And, in case we’re tempted to romanticise what happened to the friends of Jesus following that first Pentecost, the accounts in the Acts of the Apostles show a community of radical newness and one that began to fall apart (because of dodgy doings with money) at the same time. As usual, the Bible narrative doesn’t spare us the hard truth; it tells the whole rough story of real people learning to live with God, each other and themselves.
I am writing this at a time our diocese faces an uncertain future. We learned in May that the Archbishop of York has referred to the General Synod in July the proposals by the Dioceses Commission – for the dissolution of the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield and the creation of a single new Diocese of Leeds (also to be known as West Yorkshire & the Dales). The debate will be had, the Church of England will decide whether or not it wants to shape change for the future or not.
For some people this is an exciting time; for others, it is a threatening time. Some face change with realism and enthusiasm; others wish it would simply go away: we are happy as we are and would just like life to carry on comfortably. Both responses are entirely understandable and both need to be taken seriously. But the decision should be based on vision and not fear, realism and not mere enthusiasm. We shall see. However, whatever the outcome, we shall need to discern the leading of God’s disturbing Spirit who leads us into life…..and only closes down avenues in order to open up new possibilities.
So much for the church. Yet, the church exists not for the sake of the church, but for the sake of God’s world. However, we shape our organisation, we must be grasped by a vision of our primary vocation: to show to the world around us the face and voice and touch of the Jesus we read about in the Gospels. It sounds simple.
But, what does it mean as the welfare cuts kick in? Or as pressure on the rural economy bites? Or as the trials of men involved in predatory sex grooming begin and we support the Asian and Muslim communities as they address these matters with commendable courage?
The church can be confident in God. We do not need to hide behind images of perfection or pretend neatness. Open to face the truth about ourselves and our world, we can share with our neighbours the love of a God who has no illusions about us, yet still poured himself out for us.
Whatever else changes for us, this primary vocation will not.
Blessings to you all
Younger members of the church organised a very successful ‘Pampered Chef’ Evening’ at the beginning of June. Held in the Parish Hall, demonstrator Christine Gemmell prepared a selection of delicious snacks that were cooked then sampled by the audience. It was a friendly, sociable evening attracting a different audience. With the proceeds of the raffle and sale of Pampered Chef items £240 was raised to be divided between the Parish Hall and the Church.
AUSTWICK STREET MARKET
Although the weather was poor this year, the day was thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended. Thank you to everyone for their support.