Letter from the Vicar
For the last two years we have been facing up to our mortality, shielding and protecting ourselves as best as possible from the Covid variants seeking to get beyond our natural defences to do their worst with our health. The journey has been uncertain and mortality has felt frightening and left us feeling incredibly vulnerable.
Now with vaccines, other medical interventions and the lifting of the legal regulations we can dare to begin to look into the future with greater confidence and to make plans. The feeling of vulnerability doesn’t quite go away though, especially if we have lost loved ones due to, or during the Covid Pandemic. It makes us think and to evaluate life and how we live it and what are the important things that should demand out time and attention.
Awareness of each other has been an important feature of our care for one another during the last couple of years and acts of kindness and generosity have been appreciated and ensured for some that they are lifted from despair, fear and loneliness. As groups and activities look to start up again we reflect that some of those who volunteered and served are two years older or will not be there. This offers opportunity for others to step in and bring new ideas and energy, which are to be welcomed if we are to build on the legacy of what has been, and not to let things wither or disappear.
Many groups and community interests are suffering though from a shortage of leadership and people to commit to something more than a one off. It is perfectly understandable that people feel pressure on their time and are afraid to make commitments and with the pressures on household budgets, this might become more acute as the demand to work longer hours or make up shortages in the budget create more pressure.
Community cohesion, vibrancy of life and creating a real sense of belonging, opportunity and gathering needs people’s talent, vision, insight and commitment to make it happen consistently, if things are not to close, reduce or never get off the ground. As Vicar I have been excited by signs of new life for some community groups and activities as people have come forward to take on a role or replace those who have done their bit and need to stop. Others, including the local church are struggling as the numbers to make something viable and realise the opportunities are just not there. We pray, imagine, adapt and hope as we keep going, rather than despair and lose faith or hope.
On Ash Wednesday Christians face their mortality again. By tradition part of the liturgical observance is the moment ash is received on the forehead in the sign of the cross with the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” They are sobering words that remind us that without God we are nothing and even though at the end of life we will return to the dust of the earth, but the wearing of ashes is an external sign of repentance and communicates a desire to follow more closely God’s way of love and forgiveness that leads to the hope and promise of eternal life.
Ash Wednesday is the doorway into the six week journey of Lent- a time for reflection, taking stock, re-prioritising and asking God to help us change, improve, develop and appreciate people and ourselves more. It isn’t about feeling guilty, but a time of joyful simplicity seeking to renew our relationships with God, one another and the whole of creation. It isn’t about giving things up or taking things on in order to prove something, but coming before God in love to find his love.