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Rob’s Message – April/May 2017


Dear Friends,


This has to be one of the most difficult letters I have had to write for the Benefact. In our thought meanderings it seems to me that we expect things to go on forever, just as they have always been, and we forget all the changes and chances that have occurred in our lives thus far. It is a shock when we come face to face with the inevitable, especially when it is ‘forced’ upon us by circumstances beyond our control. I feel a little like that at the moment when contemplating my decision to retire from full-time ministry; not wanting to – but realising that circumstances dictate it. The past fifteen (well, nearly) years have been some of the happiest in my life. It has been a great joy and privilege to be your priest during that time. From the first welcome we received way back in October 2002, when we arrived from Zimbabwe with just our suitcases in our hands, to find the Vicarage kitted out for us with every essential, to the present, when we have received such encouragement and help in a difficult situation. Your love and support have been constant and most wonderful and I thank you all from the very bottom of my heart.


And so 31st May is ‘D’ Day. It is fast approaching and there is much to do between now and then, not least the preparation and the welcome of our Risen Lord on Easter morning. The Resurrection of Jesus, witnessed first by Mary Magdalene outside the Tomb as she stands mourning her loss, is of the utmost importance for us all. Mary is able to go to the disciples and tell them with great conviction, “I HAVE SEEN THE LORD”, and so set in train a series of events which over the past two thousand or so years have proclaimed God’s great gift of life, life after death – life in all its fullness through Jesus our Risen Lord. Our Heavenly Father calls us to be ‘Resurrection People’, to live our lives in that hope which says that despite the changes and chances of this life this is not all there is. The Easter acclamation is a great shout of joy and hope: “ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN!” to which we respond “HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!”


We have been running a Lent Course over the past few weeks using Archbishop Justin Welby’s book ‘Dethroning Mammon’ (Mammon being a biblical collective word which Jesus uses to describe worldliness, greed, materialism… “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon – Matthew 6:24 RSV). Not the easiest of studies as the Archbishop reminds us of a way of living which, as you can see, goes very much against our human nature. Our human nature dictates an economy of ‘scarcity’ which says ‘accumulate, there isn’t enough to go round’ as opposed to a way of living which says in God’s economy of ‘generosity’ there is more than enough (relationship versus ‘things’); Justin gives us a timely and important reminder of the state of affairs in our troubled world and a way to combat it.


As I look around the Vicarage it is obvious that we have adhered to an economy of scarcity! There is just so much ‘stuff’. As many of you know we are moving to Wem, to a house very much smaller than the Vicarage and most of that ‘stuff’ will have to go, certainly if there is to be room to welcome visitors. We are very glad that we will be remaining in the vicinity – Shropshire has become home, not so much because of its uncluttered beauty but because of your hospitality. Our door, I hope, will always be open, too.


Pat and I wish you all a very happy and blessed Easter. May the Risen Lord fill you with joy and hope, bring healing and wholeness and delight in family and friends. God bless and keep you now and always.





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