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Vicar’s Message – June-July 18

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The hallway is full of boxes, the back garden is full of plant cuttings asking for more water, the hedges are calling for a different kind of attention, but at least the email is working again now. Transitions are always a time of unsettlement and often also of promise. It was strange to move from Oxfordshire back to Shropshire during the waiting period between Ascension and Pentecost but perhaps strangely fitting.

At Ascension we think of what happens after Jesus has risen wonderfully and mysteriously from the apparent defeat of the cross, become known again to the women who knew him so well and met with his disciples in a variety of everyday circumstances. After that meeting in which even Thomas has been encouraged to come to terms with that mysterious nature of deeper reality, which was probably as difficult for them to understand fully as it is for us, Jesus is lifted up from them. We can only wonder what the disciples must have felt as a sense of parting and absence once again came to the fore, such difficult emotions for all people to deal with. But Jesus told them, as St John records in chapter 14 of his gospel, to trust him that his presence would not be gone for ever and so they had to, not easy but part of their own life journey. After all, if God could ensure even death was not the end, what might He have planned next.

What comes next is just as unexpected as what has gone before. Jesus makes his presence known ten days later in the coming of the Holy Spirit, that unsettling yet vivifying combination of comforter, encourager and, yes, challenger. Times of transition are never easy, yet if we open ourselves up to it amid the ups and downs we all experience in life, they can become times of unexpected blessing.

So as I sit at the office desk surrounded by boxes thinking about which species of roses will grow best at the front, I wonder what are the particular blessings God has given this community. The physical beauty of the area is clear to see all around in this spring morning sunshine, the sense of fellowship has already become evident at the lovely community celebration for the organ refurbishment at Clive and the regular coffee mornings at Hadnall. Walking in the woods behind Grinshill took me back to childhood rambles there and I hear Astley has open gardens coming up very soon which will be an opportunity to experience some usually private joys. I look forward to sharing and ministering with you all in the years to come as we travel together on our mutual journey through this mysterious and wonderful world God has given us. What a gift.

(Please do feel free to call round at the vicarage to introduce yourself or give Paul a ring for a chat on 07981 345820)

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