Vicar’s letter: A firm anchor of hope
The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer composed these words for the new year in 1945. At the time he was in prison and facing an uncertain future. He would soon be condemned to death and executed by hanging in Flossenburg concentration camp on 9 April 1945, two weeks before the camp inmates were freed by the US army. Bonhoeffer left a lasting testimony to his Christian faith with his final words: “This is not the end, but for me, the beginning of life.” The words of his prayer remind us of the power of Christian hope, and anchor us firmly in the everyday world, where we encounter both small disappointments and catastrophes. Disappointments in our health, or exam results, or job prospects occur alongside overwhelming horrors and threats of terrorism. In all such situations, Bonhoeffer’s prayer contains words to encourage and sustain us. Evil days may bring burdens to us personally, or to our society; they could bring unexpected challenges and terrifying disasters; yet we may have the confidence to cherish God’s presence with us, night and morning, in good times and bad. Bonhoeffer sought to bring his theological insights to bear on the grim world around him, where a civilised and Christian nation had come under the control of a government producing evil as policy. His prayer reflects both his hope in God and his recognition of pain and wickedness in the world. As Christians we are often tormented by contrast in our lives between the assurance of God’s rule and the tragedies and confusion that surround us. Both these aspects of life come together as we meet in prayer at the foot of the cross, and Bonhoeffer’s words most eloquently place both in the context of God’s love for us.
Prayer for the New Year: By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered, And confidently waiting, come what may, We know that God is with us night and morning, And never fails to greet us each new day. Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented, Still evil days bring burdens hard to bear; O give our frightened souls the sure salvation For which, O Lord, you taught us to prepare. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45)
In 2015 never forget that God is with us night and morning. Blessings Ian (Rev Canon Ian Greenhalgh
New Year Resolution: Mine is to pray more for our parishes and churches, our new diocese, the church and indeed the world. I invite you to join with me on the first Wednesday of every month following Holy Communion (held in Austwick Church at 10.30 am) when we will meet at the vicarage for coffee at around 11.15 am and have a time of prayer together, aiming to finish around noon. Prayer does make a difference – come and join me.
Confirmation I have booked Bishop James to not only re-dedicate Clapham Church after all the building work on 12 April at10.30 am, but also to conduct a confirmation service. I already have some candidates so please let me know if you would like to be confirmed or consider confirmation as the next step in your journey in faith.