Clergy Letter - 

by The Rev'd Adrian Leak

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    LENT: A TIME FOR SELF-ASSESSMENT

We need to change. I need to change. You, who are reading this, need to change. Not at the superficial level of manners, attitude or opinion; not how we do things or behave, but how we see ourselves. How we esteem our lives.

Esteem comes from the Latin meaning copper. To esteem was to calculate a thing’s value in money: how much was it worth in the market? Jesus spoke about sparrows being sold at five for two pennies, and yet, he assures us, not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God. Here are two scales of estimation: the cash value at the market stall and the true, intrinsic and permanent value of a sparrow in the eyes of God. We may consider ourselves worth more than a treefull of sparrows, but even our own self-assessment does not amount to much in the world’s market place. Our Lord assures us, however, that you and I are infinitely precious in the estimation of our heavenly Father. 

Jean Vanier, the Canadian theologian and founder of L’Arche, an international organisation which runs communities for people with serious disabilities, wrote of a chilling encounter he had with a man convicted of multiple murders. Vanier wrote ‘He was like a block of ice; vibrations of hate seemed to flow from him….

I remember a terrible feeling of unease I experienced as I stood in his presence. Yet I could almost read his history. Around his heart he must have built up layers and layers of barriers to protect himself. He had been unwanted as a child, emotionally and physically abused. If he had always been treated as a thing to be used or controlled and never as a person, how could he trust anyone? How could he trust himself? How could he change?’ Low self-esteem makes sinners of us all. Only love can break through our barriers.

Zacchaeus, the dishonest tax-collector – his story is in Luke 19: 1-10 - was trapped in his world of fraud. Years of dishonesty and public scorn had driven him to hide behind his barricade. He climbed into a sycamore tree from which to observe the miracle-worker of Galilee – to see, but not be seen. But he was rumbled. ‘Zacchaeus’, said Jesus, ‘Hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ Love spoke the word, and Zacchaeus was set free. Liberated, he could now begin to change. 

You and I are called by Christ to change. Not to change our routines, but to change how we see ourselves, how we esteem ourselves. We are worth so much. None of us and none of this world’s rogues and villains is less than infinitely precious in the sight of God. Lent is a time for self-assessment, a time to open our eyes and see exactly who we are: beloved children of our heavenly Father. 

Accept that, and everything else begins to make sense.

Adrian

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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