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Ringing in the changes

Updated: Jan 4

In this month's Pelican, the Rector looks forward to the year ahead:


There is something very attractive about a new year. Put simply, it offers a chance to change, to resolve to live differently, to reform a part of your character or behaviour. Members of the Methodist Church begin the new year with The Covenant Service, an act of worship in which the individual Christian resolves to live a life with God. We have Wesley’s pulpit in our church and it is worthwhile dwelling on his words used at that service as a declaration of Christian faith:


I am no longer my own but yours. Your will, not mine, be done in all things, wherever you may place me, in all that I do and in all that I may endure; when there is work for me and when there is none; when I am troubled and when I am at peace. Your will be done when I am valued and when I am disregarded; when I find fulfilment and when it is lacking; when I have all things, and when I have nothing. I willingly offer all I have and am to serve you, as and where you choose. Glorious and blessèd God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


This is a prayer of abandonment and surrender to God. It is always worth examining our motives and asking ourselves the hard questions, but perhaps this comes most readily at the start of a new year. Are we living as God wills us? Are we living lives worthy of His calling? Wesley’s prayer reminds us that Christian faith is not easy. It never has been. But it is a joyful struggle to reach for something that is just beyond our grasp, although close enough to be known in part.


Perhaps one of the reasons churches struggle to attract and retain new members is because they sell short this complex reality of our faith: slick advertising is often used these days to convey the notion that becoming a Christian is just another good lifestyle choice you can acquire, like changing your diet or going for a run. But such an approach can do more to mask than reveal the bold claim that Christianity makes: to hold the key to life itself. To access that life we have to run the race that Christ himself has set: the way of the cross. This means effort and diligence. Effort in the direction of personal prayer, almsgiving, obedience to God, faithfulness in worship; diligence in attending service, in contrition, humility, and constancy in reading the scriptures. These are the way markers that help us along the path of faith.


We have an exciting year ahead of us at St. Giles. The congregation continues to grow and I hope to begin another confirmation class in the spring. It was wonderful to hear the bells ringing out on Christmas morning this year and we’re going to start a new band of ringers in 2023 to ‘Ring for The King’ and hopefully to turn the bells over a little more often on a Sunday. We also have some good preachers lined up who will help us explore our theme of the year: A Year for The Bible. In June we look forward to welcoming Philip as our curate.


Let me finish by saying how blessed I feel to be among you at St. Giles. It really is a joy to be in this place and I am hugely grateful to all of you for making it such a welcoming place to be. I look forward to walking the path of faith alongside you in 2023.


God bless you and Happy New Year.


Tom


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