Vicar’s Letter April ’24

Does the future sometimes give you cause for concern I wonder, as we continue to see alarming reports of conflicts, disasters (man-made and natural), flooding, drought, hunger…the list goes on?  Perhaps you are understandably so engrossed in getting through the present with whatever pressing needs and challenges you may be facing that you have little time or energy to consider what lies ahead.

Maybe the past is what you prefer to dwell on.  I often hear the phrase ‘things are not like they used to be!’  I can remember vividly a family friend (now on end-of-life care) who once told me, ‘We had the best years!’ probably referring to the 60’s and 70’s, I imagine.  At least back then, we wouldn’t have been so keenly aware, for example, of the impending environmental disaster facing the world in terms of global warming caused by, as we now know, man’s continued impact on our world – such as deforestation, emissions, pollution and so on.

These feelings were heightened for me this week, firstly by the visit of an investment portfolio manager at a local benevolent charity meeting.  His pessimistic forecasting of future fund performances based on geo-political, financial and economic conditions was all very sobering to hear.

Then, the same week, I received a letter decrying the state of our nation from a Christian broadcaster’s perspective.  This all comes into focus as we consider too that we are nearing both local and national elections here and in many countries abroad.  This means inevitable changes, uncertainty, and the need for altered direction (economic, spiritual, and other), not just in the short term but also in the long term.

Talking Jesus

In case this all seems very pessimistic, I’m glad to report that my heart was lifted somewhat yesterday as I returned from a seminar where the findings of the 2022 public research carried out in the UK called ‘Talking Jesus’ were shared.  For many, myself included, this may just provide some answers to where we need to be going as a church, community and nation.  Being reminded, for example, that yes, there are many folks today who do ‘want to find out more about Jesus Christ and encounter Him for themselves’.   It reminded me of the important and ever-pressing call for the ‘local church to be about reaching our community and our nation with the love and message of Jesus.’

For me, this report gave another reason for true hope in our future together because, yes, I do see and am encouraged by so many ‘wonderful practising Christians (you may just know some of them locally!) already doing so much to share the good news of Jesus with so many.’

Let’s, therefore, keep our eyes on Him, as we are encouraged to do in Hebrews 12:2:

‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…’

In doing this, we can be assured that He has the future and each of us too, if we will let Him! in the palm of His hand.

Peace to one and all.

Rev Charles Burton

Published in the Parish magazines April 2024

Photo of the Garden of Gethsemane from Unsplash

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