We all know that certain sadnesses in life are inevitable. Having been a Vicar for over twenty years I’ve spent considerable amounts of time listening to and being as helpful as possible when faced with other people’s bereavement. I imagined this would prepare me for my own loss when the time came, but quite surprisingly I felt very unprepared when my father passed away at the end of September. Although ill over several years, his death has literally shaken the foundations of my life. Thank you for your kind wishes, cards and the many prayers said for my family over the past weeks.
Remembering is a vital part of moving forward even if you’re not sure whether you have moved forward. Of course, not all loss is personal but sometimes shared. Remembrance Sunday is a vital moment in our national and local life. It reminds us of our brave past, of the many young and older men and women who faced what we can hardly imagine, to protect what is normal life for us now. Given the rapidly changing world we live in and the declining sense of community in many ‘local’ places, coming together as a community to remember and stand alongside one another is more vital than ever. Please come if you can to one of our Remembrance Services on Sunday 8th November, to join with the many who will be remembering.This is not a test of whether you believe in God or not, but rather whether we believe in the power of our community at this time.
Of course, facing that question of believing in God is shaped by all sorts of personal experience and thoughts. I am grateful that God is able to manage the complexity of our many lives and speak to each of us in very different ways. To the rich man, Jesus challenged him to let go of his wealth because it stood in the way; to the tax collector named Zacchaeus, Jesus went to his house despite the disapproval of everyone around him, and his life was changed. What about you? Have you experienced such a moment? My Dad never went to church in his lifetime. He never really engaged with the fact that I was a Vicar so you can imagine my surprise when he told me he believed in God four weeks before he died. “I believe”, he said, “but I haven’t been a follower”. “Will you pray for me?” he asked. My Dad was a strong and sometimes stubborn man, who wouldn’t put his trust in God unless he believed in what he was doing. It was time for my dad to trust in God through Jesus. Perhaps it’s time for you also?
Alan Comfort, Rector