Letter from the Vicarage - January 2016
NEW YEAR BLESSINGS FROM THE VICARAGE
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life… and I’m feelin’
It’s a new day, it’s a new month, it’s a New Year…how are you feeling? Fine? Or are you struggling…?
I ask this because globally it was a difficult end to 2015 what with all the floods in Cumbria and all the violent problems in the Middle East causing the refugee situation, not to mention all the fear and grief the terrorist attacks caused. So to pick ourselves up and start a New Year with any confidence may take tremendous effort this year – sometimes we need a nudge, a reminder or a sign to help us get going.
Some of you may have noticed a new addition, or to be correct, a restored adornment to St Mary’s Church tower – a beautiful working weathervane with a golden cockerel exuberantly crowing in the new day. In the 18th and 19th centuries St Mary’s Church tower had a weathervane with a cockerel. When it broke – I think possibly after a storm – the cockerel was lost but the weathervane kept going until the late 20th century (it got so rusted up that Dennis Shepheard used to kick it to get it going!) but it was never restored – until now.
In the Bible, the cockerel is, of course, reminiscent of Simon Peter's denial of Jesus three times before he was crucified (Matthew 26:34, 69-75; Luke 22:34, 54-62; Mark 14:30, 66-72). When John Cooksley (its designer and maker) came to a special service of blessing of the weathervane before it was erected, he particularly explained about the difference between his design of the cockerel and the one that caused the guilt Peter felt when the cockerel crowed. John’s cockerel was about a ‘new dawn, a new day, and a new life!’ No less than a call to wake up and be thankful for the day and for life itself!’
It is particularly poignant for a church to have a cockerel because Easter Day when Christ rose from the dead was a day of new dawning for the world. It was the day when humanity realised God was not only real - a real and living presence to believe in - but also that God had truly come to be with us and to live among us, and to die that we might learn and develop in God's Love and Life, and become a new creation... and by His rising on Easter morning, His ascension and incredible pouring out of the Holy Spirit we can know the joy of Eternal Life - not only at the end of life - but actually 'in' this life! This is a game-changer because it means we can change - and change in this life NOW!
God's Love can change our poor attitudes, change our hard hearts to flesh from stone (Ezekiel 36:26) and therefore change how we are and what we do. What a wake-up call! We can stop hurting each other and the world...and we can stop being victims. We can actively work for peace and healing, but we first need to wake up and realise that the gift of life that God has given us is so very precious, and that we need to stop putting a hex on God’s creation! It is only humanity that is causing the destruction so we need to develop and get through our aggressively egotistic ambitions and our addictive craving for power and control, and work for peace and justice. But we cannot do this on our own. We need a Greater Power than humanity and we need to be shown the way so that we might become a new creation too.
Jesus Christ was the conduit of God's Love - the Way, the Truth and the Life. The arrow on the weather vane points in all directions as the wind and weather moves it. The weather is very changeable - but God's Love and Life is the Eternal Constant of all creation and is what keeps us steady...and this gives us hope, and hope gives us the energy and endurance to work for the good of all creation.
In this time of global unrest with all problems with climate change, terrorism, violence and knee jerk reactions (which tend to escalate the problems rather than solve them) - not to mention the refugee situation as well as all the anxiety, fear, anger and bewilderment which are rife in the world at present; may we look to God for guidance and know that God's arrow points to love, to peace, to loving our neighbours, to reconciliation and to Life.
God said "I lay before you life and death- choose Life!"(Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
May we not deny Jesus Christ as Peter did, but acknowledge that God came within Him to bring a New Dawning to the world. This New Year may we all (as we look upon the shining cockerel on the church tower) wake up, learn, evolve and become peaceable people in God's Love. Peace starts at home and then flows out to our neighbours.
I do pray, almost as a New Year resolution, that you together with, and as, your church here, may become a beacon of love and peace – and I do pray especially for those who inflict violence and death upon others – that they may wake up out of their brainwashing, be utterly changed, repent and ask forgiveness for the hurt they have caused. It takes a lot to change brainwashed minds but it is possible when the majority of humanity is working for peace, and with education and learning. And may we remember that we can also be brainwashed, frail, opinionated, gullible and angry and even violent at times, and also ask for the grace of Jesus who said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do..."
With love and blessings,