Clergy Letter for February 2020
I don’t know how many of you remember the dairy in Uttoxeter; after all it did close 35 years ago, but it was as a fresh-faced school leaver that I started my working career there in 1973. Amongst all the other memories I have of being a lab assistant (investigating the properties of milk) I clearly remember being invited to join the company pension scheme pretty much as soon as I had crossed the threshold. Well, of course, I agreed and when I saw that my then retirement date would be 2020 it seemed to be something out of science fiction, it was so far into the future that it would never come. For me 2020 was the year that would never happen! But it has, it is already here and under way.
The trouble now is that, if I’m not careful, I will keep thinking back to those earlier times with that wonderful gift ‘nostalgia’; a gift that allows us to look back with fondness and a desire to return to all those great times we experienced and how we felt as younger people. When life was simpler, less complicated, all together happier, and we wish it were so today. That’s how it can seem, but life was just as complex, full of ups and downs, every bit as challenging (albeit different challenges) and always social & moral issues to navigate.
Yes, we can learn from the past but we cannot live in it, neither can we expect time to stand still. Look how quickly Christmas had all but disappeared by the 27th of December. And it’s not only in our secular lives that we are confronted by these emotions, which do influence our views on life today, but also within the context of our faith and its expression in our lives and within church.
Within this Uttoxeter Area, we celebrate our differences and similarities, our strengths and opportunities, the contexts in which we each minister and, hopefully, support one another through challenging times and change. Having recently completed the ‘Statistics for Mission’ I realise how easy it would be to become puzzled or even cynical as to why there is a need for such information; yet there is one section that looks at mission in local context and, for me, that brought into sharp focus what much of our calling is about.
When I left school I had a sense of one stage of my life finishing with the rest full of excitement and hope – maybe because schooling had helped to prepare me. As we approach the season of Lent, perhaps we could use this as a time of preparation, of seeking forgiveness for the accrued cynicisms and bitterness acquired over the years, and of letting go all those nostalgic things which are not helpful in forwarding mission.
May the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen our unity, and open our hearts and minds to the possibilities God has for this Area.