Pastoral Letter from the Rector
Since moving to Uckfield on the 24th May Gill and I have been discovering the area. We both like walking and were worried that, having lived at the foot of the Downs we would have to get in the car before being able to get out into the countryside. How wrong we were! Of course one of the joys of walking is trying to work out the various landmarks as you go, and even if you have been that way before you will always see something new. The thought struck me that this is also so often the case with a familiar and well loved passage in the scriptures. That suddenly something catches our attention for the first time, something we had not noticed before and it comes to life in a new way for us. Its significance charged with fresh discovery, and we begin to appreciate it for what it is and enter into the mystery of its truth.
I’ve always been aware of Jesus particular relationship with his Father, how it lay at the very heart of his life, and yet it was only recently that I realised the importance and significance, the truth of this essential relationship for us. There is a part of our life which is necessarily alone. A part of our lives which cannot be fully shared with anyone, be they lover, spouse or friend. For there is a part of our life which is for God alone. And it is this part of our lives which sometimes frightens us, for it forces us to be true to truth, honest about ourselves, stripped of our security, naked, vulnerable, alone. So we fill it with chatter, false endeavours, superficial noise and un-truth, not because we want these things in themselves, but because they protect us from the great unknown, the great space, the great silence which is God.
Jesus walked into the depth of that space, into the depth of this silence to embrace the great unknown, the vulnerability which lies at the very heart of life, the uncertainty which lies at the heart of each of us. And there, where we fear the painful strike of loneliness, he found himself embraced into the depth of his Father’s love. Here, where we most fear loss, despair, aloneness, he found himself caught up in a life beyond himself - a life which filled him with new life, a life which became his very life.
And the truth of truths is that instead of spending our lives madly trying to love God, we find that God is longing to love us, for he is ‘in love’ with each and every one of us, never wanting to let us go, wanting to enjoy our closeness forever. And this ‘love affair’ with God is what filled and freed Jesus’ life. This deep sharing of his life with his Father became the source of all for him. He poured himself into his Father even as his Father poured himself into his Son. This is at the heart of true prayer - this mutual outpouring and life-offering. This is the heart of life, for life is for praying and prayer is for loving. Prayer is relationship, identity, belonging. Prayer is where we discover who we are and who God is. Prayer is when we explore what it is to be alive.
Most of us would admit that our prayer lives are rather shallow, but that is not the point. For God’s love and his desire to communicate his life with us is what matters, and we are called simply to be open to this and celebrate it in out lives.
Our prayer may be weak, but his love is strong. Open your hearts to this central relationship of your life, this relationship which is more life giving and important than with lover, spouse or friend. God is your Father, just as surely as he was Jesus’ Father. You belong with him, your lives will never know richness or fullness without him, and he waits humbly and eagerly for each one of us to come to him and say to him, ‘Yes Lord - I do want to live my life in relationship with you. I do want to know the richness and fullness of life you have created me to enjoy. Bless me Lord with the power of your love and, come Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit - Now!’
Your friend and priest