Dear friends across the Parish,
Last month I wrote to you about having a personal relationship with God through Jesus, an experience of the heart as well as of the mind and prayed that Lent would have been a time of spiritual blessings for you. Now that we have celebrated Easter, and continue to do so, we have the chance to receive further such spiritual blessings as we explore how Jesus’ resurrection touches us as individuals and as a Christian community.
Bishop Peter has set out a vision for our diocese for the next three years to help us grow closer to God and to each other (whether we are church members or not). The Diocesan Vision is
‘Anointed and rooted in God, we work together for Renewal, which will be visible in faithfulness and Generosity’.
Over the coming months we will explore what that vision might mean for us and our parish but for this month I offer some thoughts upon ‘vision’ itself.
*Firstly, Jesus’ resurrection was a visibly attested event, those going to the empty tomb, and later other disciples and followers of Jesus, actually saw him. Jesus showed Thomas his wounds, journeyed along a road whilst explaining the scriptures and eat fish on the beach with his closest friends. He was a visible and physical presence.
*Secondly, Jesus said that people who follow him must be salt and light to the world i.e. the lives of Christians must be visibly embody Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 5:13-16). Our actions as much as our words and attitudes must reflect our faith.
*Thirdly, Jesus instructed the Disciples that they should tell as many people as possible about him,
‘Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.’ (Matthew 28:19 & 20a) Jesus’ had a clear vision that his work would continue and grow beyond a small group of people in a tiny country; a vision that the whole world would know the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not as cultural customs of church-going but through sincere faith that supports and changes lives.
It is the second and third examples of ‘vision’ that we are involved with as a Christian fellowship. We continually strive to live out Jesus’ teaching as fully as possible so people might see Jesus through us. This is an enormous task and privilege, to think that when people see us they might glimpse Jesus too in what we say or do. This in turn may influence how they react to the Gospel message, are they encouraged and enthused to know more, or ‘turned off’ and turn away from Jesus….
Jesus has placed great trust and ambition in us to make him known in the world today, therefore, I leave you with this prayer,
Kindle in our hearts, O God,
The flame of that love which never ceases,
That it may burn in us, giving light to others.
May we shine for ever in your temple,
Set on fire with your eternal light,
Even your Son Jesus Christ,
Our Saviour and our Redeemer. Amen.
Every blessing and all good wishes, Canon Janice