Pastoral Letter Wednesday 17th June:

My Dear Friends,

Many people have been driven into the arms of God by grim and traumatic experiences; and God never turns such needy and desperate souls away. Often its when the storms of life threaten to swamp and overwhelm us that “Lips cry ‘God be Merciful!’ - that ne’er cried ‘God be Praised!’”

Jesus himself pointed out that the soundness of a building is never discovered on a calm and sunny afternoon. Its only when the rains descend, and the floods rise, and the winds blow - that the difference between a house built on sand, and one built on rock - becomes apparent.

There are few lives that aren't touched, sooner or later, by sorrow and darkness. And when these tests and challenges of life appear - we quickly discover our own inadequacy and vulnerability. It is when we feel bruised and battered by life that great and profound questions press in upon us. Is there a meaning to life? ls there a God who cares? Is there a life after death? Its when these questions begin to really matter that we find relevance and comfort in Christ's words of hope and promise. ''Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.”

“Come unto me.” Fortunately, of course, life is not ALL a matter of trauma and crisis. For most of us - most of the time - life is just ordinary. Sometimes it's the very ordinariness of it all that wears us down. The steady, dull, ongoing daily routine of sameness and worry and frustration and irritation. I've known folk who could face and handle the BIG crises unflinchingly - but who go to pieces over the trivialities! Often by the end of the week it is the wear and tear of it all that leaves us all played out and exhausted.

It is, therefore, not only in our spectacular moments of crisis that we need to turn to God. Our worship and contact and relationship should be a regular, ongoing opportunity for refreshment and renewal in the face of life’s grinding wear and tear. Worship provides a very precious opportunity. A time to take stock and recharge our batteries. A time to reflect on the Past, and prepare for the Future. Worship makes a little space or opening in our lives through which we can reach out beyond what is material and temporal and physical - and catch a little glimpse of things that are spiritual and eternal.

When people are unwilling to honour and worship and respect the God who is Almighty and Eternal life loses all meaning, purpose and cohesion. It is through Worship that we break through our material, physical, concrete, time-obsessed existence - and become aware that there is something more - something above and beyond and outwith the merely mundane and superficial.

Worship enables us to get things into Perspective; and helps us set and reset our Priorities. Worship reminds us to give God a central and important place in our Thinking.

Terrible things happen in our world - and there is no denying that. But in our worship we confidently assert and proclaim that the whole story has not yet been told. The God we worship is the God of Creation and Resurrection. The God in whom we trust is the God of love and power and goodness and wholesomeness. Worship is a positive celebration of hope and joy in the face of darkness and evil. And in the face of this world's suffering - we read our bibles and say our prayers - knowing that God hears and cares and acts.

Liz joins me in sending our love to you all,