CLERGY TEAM

   

Rector  


The Revd.

Matthew J Hughes

01689 856931

 jmath@btinternet.com

Associate Rector   


The Revd.
Stephen Broadie
 07722 428553
revstephenbroadie@
gmail.com

Assistant Priest  


The Revd.

Bill Mullenger

020 8462 9624
wsmullenger@
idnetfreemail.co.uk

 

January Leader: 

Our experiences in 2020 have made us all reluctant about making any kind of prediction for the year ahead. Who could have predicted in January 2020 how that year would turn out? On the 2nd January 2020 our new Prime Minister, barely 6 months into his first term of office, made the following announcement on Twitter: ‘This is going to be a fantastic year for Britain’. None of us, however, could blame the Prime Minister for not predicting the future. None of us had any idea in January 2020 how that year would turn out.

In November of last year, at one of the online ‘Morning Prayer’ meetings, we came across a verse in Isaiah that formed part of the set lectionary readings for that day. ‘Forget the former things,’ announces the prophet. ‘Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’ (Isaiah 43:19). At our online meeting that day, we discussed how these verses were written to give hope to a people in exile, to a people in a desperate situation. The ‘wilderness’ and the ‘wasteland’ are places that outwardly seem to have lost all hope, and that offer no visible encouragement. However, God promises that out of these various situations he will provide ‘a way,’ and supernatural provision in the form of ‘streams.’ When we look at the statistics of our current national situation, the word ‘wilderness’ may strike a chord. However, I believe that the encouragement from this Isaiah passage is to see how God might be providing a way for us, and might be giving us those streams of nourishment or ongoing provision in the midst of our circumstances.

As a church, as we moved towards an increase in online communication in 2020 through regular emails, and a regularly updated Facebook page and website, we found ourselves interacting with new people, or re-establishing old connections. In the months when church was allowed to open up again, we found some of these new people now coming along to our ‘in-person’ services. The pandemic has undoubtedly had a catastrophic effect on millions of lives and on our national economy. We have been aware of loss and grief in our own community, and also on the very real financial impact on us as a church, when many of our usual hall-hiring activities have had to stop. However, in the midst of this ‘wasteland’ we are also aware of the ‘streams’ that God has provided, of the ways he has encouraged us as a community. Perhaps on a national level, the government approval of a vaccine towards the end of 2020 also provided a glimpse of a ‘way’ out of this situation.

Personally, I will not attempt to make any kind of prediction for the year 2021. I honestly have no idea what the next twelve months hold for us. However, my prayer is that these words of Isaiah will give us some encouragement to look for a ‘way’, and for ‘streams’, even when we seem to be faced with a wilderness. We follow a Saviour who took the ‘way’ of the cross, embracing the deepest levels of human suffering and yet in that moment providing a way for each of us to know God. The cross, resurrection and ascension are followed in the New Testament by the ‘pouring out’ at Pentecost in Acts 2, as the newly formed church receives the refreshing water of the Holy Spirit which will sustain them through every wilderness and wasteland they may cross.

My prayer is therefore that in 2021, as Isaiah goes on to say in verse 20 of the same chapter, God would provide for each of us ‘water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’ (Isaiah 41:20).

Stephen Broadie