Newsletter (January 2017)

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Newsletter for January 2017 from Settle Vicarage

Dear Friends - Happy New Year 2017!

I have looked back to the start of 2016 at what I wrote then, and find that I could nearly write the same things gain. I don't suppose you will remember if you ever read that letter, but it was about our need, whatever our natural tendencies, to trust God for our future. It isn't easy, especially when our prayers seem to be falling on deaf ears. I come to the secular New Year with the same message as for the start of the Church Year as Advent began. As the Americans would put it 'Wake up and smell the coffee'.
We are being challenged to be Church in a different way from our recently remembered historical inheritance. In a year that has seen major world-wide political upheavals, conflicts with no obvious prospect of peaceful resolution, and an increase in poverty levels in our apparently affluent western society, as well as major humanitarian disasters abroad, it is not easy to be positive about the present, never mind the future.

So what do we do, and what should we do, when faced with these negative prospects which we cannot control?
In the face of overload, a paralysis can set in that doesn't achieve even what is possible. When prayers seem not to be answered, prayer is abandoned. Scarce resources are kept rather than shared, regardless of the needs of others. Blame sets in, making it feel that something has been done when a culprit is at least found and (apparently better still) punished.
All these are not productive, but they are natural, human responses, and I freely confess that I sometimes let them, especially the first one, rule my own behaviour. But let us not imagine this is new. These responses were there throughout the record of God's engagement with humanity in the Old Testament, and they were at work in the Palestine of 2000 years ago when Jesus was born, grew up, ministered, was betrayed, died, lived, ascended and bequeathed the Holy Spirit to his followers, founding the Church and ushering in the Kingdom of God.

Has it made a difference? What do you honestly think? As Ghandi famously said, Christianity has not been tried and failed, it has never been tried.
Therefore, I ask:  Will you come with me as we try to live as the people of God, walk untried paths, sailing uncharted seas? We have to find new ways of working, but most of all, we have to find ways of loving generously, not in our own strength, but in the strength of the God whose nature is love.                                                 

Love from Hilary


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