Vicar's Letter August 2017


Dear Friends,


Just after this magazine comes out we will be welcoming Steve Harrison as Team Rector of the Stroudwater Team, with its 15 parishes including Stonehouse. Getting organised for the service has been hard work and many people have been working hard to make sure everything goes smoothly. Have we done enough? I guess that's a question all of us are likely to ask ourselves at all sorts of points in life. And it's always tempting to find something else to do – so that we can say afterwards, we did all we could. That is precisely what we should not do! That thought comes from the underlying assumption that everything depends on me or on us. Much more accurate is the conviction that God is in control! Yes, He takes our work when we offer it to him and uses it to the best advantage, but we need to stay dependent on Him. What I need to do as that service approaches is not to find more jobs to do, but to pray. What Steve needs is not so much the welcome that we can offer, though of course we will enjoy giving him that, but our prayers. Thank you for your prayers as we have come to this moment of the making of an appointment followed by this welcome. Don't stop now!


What exactly do we pray for, and what answer(s) do we expect? We pray for the well-being of the Church in this place but are we ready for God's answer to come through us? Are we ready to change so that others can prosper? Or do we pray that things will work out as we want, without us being hurt or ever being changed at all? Is it easy to pray?  Or do we in fact engage in a real struggle between our will and the will of God. I fear all of us sometimes say, “your will be done” without realising what it could mean. Don't expect misery, but be ready for the challenge to change the way we do things, the challenge to involve different people in your business, the challenge to be part of God's work, rather than trying to persuade Him to do things your way. Expect Him to give comfort to the disturbed, and to disturb those of us who are comfortable.


I hope all us of feel some excitement at the thought of working out what all of that means in practice here. If that isn't mixed with a little fear, it may be that we have failed to grasp what God is doing. God is a God of Surprises, not of routine, not in fact, of tradition. Much of the New Testament was written from a prison cell, hardly the place where you'd expect to encounter the word of God. As he dictates his letters, Paul makes it very clear that he does not know what the future holds. But he does know that God holds that future and that it will be good. So, he says, pray for me that a door may be opened for the telling of Good News. As far as I am aware neither Steve nor I are in danger of finishing up in prison. But the prayer for which we ask should surely be the same, that doors will be open for us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

And, by the way, make that prayer for yourselves too!


Charles Minchin