Team Rector's Letter January 2020                      The Rectory, Church Lane

07466 858 975                                                Leonard Stanley, GL10 3NP

January 2020


I am writing this while still in sunny South Africa – well, that’s the perception isn’t it? In reality we have had a lot of rain, more overcast days than not, there has been flooding not too far from us, a tornado about 50 miles away and at the moment the weather bureau has predicted ‘threat to life’ level rain. School children have been sent home and people are being urged to stay off the roads tonight and tomorrow.

A couple of friends and I were chatting about the perceptions people overseas have of South Africa; from lions roaming the streets to ‘you can’t come from South Africa, you’re white’. My favourite is people talking about visiting ‘Africa’ when it covers the same surface area as the USA, China, India, Japan, Eastern Europe and most of Western Europe.

Perceptions are powerful because in the absence of facts our perceptions are our reality, and at times our perceptions trump reality, yes I did go there.

While our perceptions can often be funny or quaint it’s when they give us a sense of entitlement or superiority over others that they become dangerous. Sexism and racism and other ‘-isms’ are all rooted in a false perception of other people’s qualities or intrinsic value. Jesus put perception breaking into action and encouraged others to look beyond their perceptions to really see the person before them.

I have found in my ministry that one of the biggest blockages people have to living in freedom and joy is the perceptions they have of themselves. One of the powerful things God does when we open our hearts to Him is to recalibrate our self-perception. He calls us to see ourselves first as loved, that we are created with intention, that we are secure in our relationship with Him, that we are infinitely valued. It’s when we line up the perception we have of ourselves with God’s perception of us that great things start happening. 

The unfortunate reality is that living in this broken world, being in relationship with broken people (and we are all broken to some extent) can distort the picture we have of ourselves. I am all too often saddened by how often we look down on ourselves, how often we see our flaws in high-definition wide screen, and yet our attributes we see like a badly tuned black and white screen.

Perceptions are dangerous part-truths we accept as fact. Let’s be people who are living into the truth of God’s love for us, that we would refocus our picture of ourselves to see ourselves as God does and know freedom and joy in our lives.

This is a new year, full of possibility. Who knows what lies ahead of us, who knows what this year offers us. Let’s live the good, the bad and the ugly of this year as people secure in God’s love and grace, yielding more deeply to Him and finding new depths of His love for us.


Rev Steve Harrison

(Rector Stroudwater Team)