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Vicar’s Message – Feb and March 2019

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What a wonderful array of Christmas celebrations we have enjoyed in
recent weeks. From Astley’s choir-led carol service to Hadnall’s crowded
and colourful crib service following the churchyard carolling and all
the lovely school and nursery events in church, from the joyful singing
of the unexpectedly full all-age church on Christmas morning at
Grinshill to Clive’s school nativity in church and lots lots more, it
has all shown how much strength and team spirit the village communities
of our benefice have.

Now a few weeks on sitting at the study desk looking out up the sunny
blue sky while cars whizz busily past on the main road, reflections
bubble up of how much we wish to carry that Christmas spirit into our
new year. It is already a joy and privilege beginning to get to know
the characters of the different villages and beginning to learn about
the gifts and challenges each faces. Listening out for how God is
working and looking for his presence in the people and places of our
communities is a deep (and slightly scary!) act of discernment. As with
all journeys of understanding, there will be times when one can admire
the view from lofty vantage points, times when one has to tread
carefully in the twilight, times when its wise to pause and consult the
map afresh, times to realise one has stepped off the path into the
occasional muddy puddle and step back again, times to stop and drink
with friends enjoying the fellowship before setting out again refreshed.
John Bunyan put it best in his timeless Pilgrim’s Progress and each of
our communities is on a journey as much as we as individuals are.

One of the foundational events of our Christian heritage is recorded in
Genesis 12 “The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your
kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I
will make of you a great nation. And I will bless you, and make your
name great, so that you will be a blessing”. Because Abram trusted God
and put faith before fear in his relationship with God, he grew to
become the Abraham who could be used by God to share his loving care
with his people. It has been lovely to hear from some members of the
benefice fellowship group at Hadnall how much their faith in God’s
guidance has grown in their journey in recent years. It has been equally
invigorating to see how the simple faithful initiative of opening the
church for coffee mornings has led to fresh unexpected opportunities for
welcome and deep encounter. Let us pray that our New Year may continue
to bring such opportunities for growth in faith in God’s purposes and
his ways of showing his love in our parishes as we journey on together.
Yours in Christ’s service.
Paul

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