The September Pastoral Letter from the Rector
It seems impossible to believe that already I and the family have been with you for three months. No doubt it has seemed a little strange for you as you get used to the ‘funny’ ways of a new priest and indeed they have been a fairly steep learning curve for me also. But I do want to say how good it is to be here, and I hope you feel the same way.
It is often the way of God that he calls us into uncharted waters, that he calls us to respond to him in faith and that then we are richly rewarded.
I remember when having some lessons in sailing a long time ago how the instructor took great care guiding me through the waters so that I returned safely to the beach from which we had launched out. The group which I was with also had use of some sail boards which you had to paddle. Somehow I seemed to spend more time in the water than I did on the board. These two pictures, one of safety in the hands of a good instructor and one of repeatedly floundering, reminded me of a picture painted by a Florentine artist of the Church, The Ark of Salvation.
The ship in the picture was lifted just above the waves by angels who were blowing their trumpets, the sea beneath was calm, but all around the waters were whipped up in a fury, full of drowning heretics and sinners. On the deck of the ship sat the bishops of the church with their arms folded and eyes closed in a spirit of profound recollection. They were surrounded by their clergy. The faithful people of God peeped out from their portholes down below. The sails were limp and the rudder raised out of the sea.
I wonder if this isn’t actually a picture of how many people see the church? Lost in an unreality, drifting aimlessly about on the sea of the world, three feet above everyone else, content in their own small world!
What we need to do is to call all hands on deck. To launch out into the uncharted waters of the Twenty-first century where the tides and currents change rapidly and unpredictably. With Jesus Christ at the helm we shall sail the course that he intends.
This may well leave a few feeling a little seasick, the ship itself will creak and grown, no doubt it will even leak a little, at times it may even seem as if it is about to break up. But if we are all prepared to pull together, if those who were content to simply live their lives below decks contemplating the fate of the heretics and the clergy and bishops open their eyes then we can begin to work the ship properly, picking up the lost, the heretics and sinners, from the sea, as we sail to our destiny.
We must be aware of the many people who surround us who know nothing of the love of God through Jesus Christ in their lives. The opportunity is ours to place the rudder in the waters, open the sails and show them that God is important for them as he fills our lives with the wind of the Spirit. Let us not be a cruise ship, with just a few people doing all the work, but rather let us be more like a navy frigate where everyone has their own important role to play.
Your friend and priest