Clergy Letter - 

by The Rev'd Graham Smith

*********************************************************************************

The Future…

In our sophisticated ‘e-driven’ world it is amazing how superstition persists.   Astrology, is quite popular - even sceptics sneak a look at the horoscopes in newspapers. For centuries humans have sought knowledge of the future.  There is, for instance, the crystal ball, favoured in fairgrounds and the ancient art of haruspication - trying to discover the future by poking about in animal entrails - the kind of thing that caused Caesar to ‘beware the Ides of March’. In the past the craze for fortune-telling got so popular the Church tried to ban it, so why the interest in future-gazing? I think there are two main reasons for it.

First, we experience a fundamental uncertainty and anxiety as we face the future. Who knows what might befall us? Our present happiness or contentment is a very slender thread that can be broken in an instant. A tiny vessel bursts in the brain of someone we love, and the thread is broken. 

A driver drinks one too many and a life we adore is destroyed, and the thread is broken. Someone we thought to be steadfast turns from us and changes joy into misery, and the thread is broken. These things happen every day. So we are faced with anxiets as we gaze towards the future. If we are not careful, the uncertainty leads to morbid anxiety, destroying our ability to enjoy the present. The future often feels like a threat.

Along with this anxiety about the future goes a real need to look forward with hope. We all need something to look forward to, some joy ahead, some promised fulfilment. There is something in us that causes us to look ahead. 

Think of the amount of time we spend planning. We endlessly look forward: to Christmas, to the holidays, to our next job, a new vicar. In the language of the cinema, we are all eager for forthcoming attractions or future presentations. This amounts to two very special needs in human nature: we want to be free from threat; and we want something to look forward to. So the future tantalises us. It is promise and threat. What will it bring? Will it be the oil of gladness or the ashes of mourning, the garland of praise or the spirit of heaviness?

An approaching New Year calls us to look forward to the future in hope, not to waste our energies in anxious imaginings, but to base our confidence in the future, not on dreaming but on hopeful and purposive acting. Faith warns us that, uncertain as the future is, it does unfold from our own present. 

May your future be full of hope and certainty in Christ rather than uncertainty and threat in blind superstition.

                                                     Your friend and neighbour Graham

****************************************************************************

A  VACANCY PRAYER 

Father God

During this vacancy,

guard and grow the people of this benefice as we serve you together

in this period without an incumbent.


Lord Jesus, teacher and friend

We know that you have plans for us

and that these plans are good.

We ask now that you will help us to share responsibility,

grow in faith, love one another, care for those in need,

reach out to others, and welcome newcomers.


Holy Spirit, gentle guide,

Please inspire those who are seeking the right person for us,

and those who are seeking the right place for their ministry,

That together we may discover your way for the future

and see your kingdom grow.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen