Vicar's Letter

 

VERSE OF 2018:

 

“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city”

Jeremiah 29:7 (New International Version)

 

Dear Friends,

 

For very many of those we know, another school year draws to an end.  With two church schools in our parish, and some wonderful links between school and church, parts of July can be every bit as busy in my diary as Christmas!  Do pray for the end-of-year events, especially those involving Leavers (nothing to do with Brexit!) who are moving up to secondary school.  A number of lovely volunteers work hard with Activity Days at church for these children – may these events be a real blessing to our community, and a sign of God’s love.

 

One of the things I do with the local schools is to contribute a Bible verse for their weekly newsletters, linking into the current Collective Worship theme.  I hope that a wide range of people read the verses and get a growing sense of the Bible’s wisdom and abiding relevance.  Having recently put together a selection of verses around the general theme of ‘Change’, I thought I would share them here.  The ‘changes and chances of this life’ happen to every one of us, and there are things which we all need reminding of.  Some of them are so self-explanatory that I haven’t said much about them.  We begin with a little Trinitarianism:

 

  • Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love goes on for ever! (Psalm 136:1 and elsewhere)

God’s love is constant.  This verse is a refrain in more than one of the Psalms.  And how would God’s love not be everlasting, since God IS love, and has proved it for ever in the self-sacrifice of Christ?

 

  • Jesus says “I am with you always, to the very end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus’ presence with his people is constant.  Literally, “I am with you all-the-days”, absolutely anywhere, thanks to Ascension and Pentecost.

 

  • The Lord says: “I will teach you the way you should go; I will instruct you and advise you.” (Psalm 32:8 )

The Holy Spirit’s desire to lead and guide us is constant.

We often find it difficult to listen, hear and follow, but the Bible encourages us to make this one of the key elements of being ‘practising’ Christians!

  • Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers. (Proverbs 18:24)

The relationships that really matter won’t easily be lost – come wind, come weather.  Let us thank God for those people whose love and sharing of life is as close to a ‘constant’ as this changeable world affords, and let us work to keep our friendships in good repair.

 

  • There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Change is normal in God’s world.  The writer refers to the seemingly endless round of ‘a time for this, a time for that’ as a ‘burden’ God has laid on us.  God, he says, ‘has made everything beautiful in its time’, whilst enabling us humans to sense, and yearn for, that which is truly permanent.  We may sometimes feel that Ecclesiastes offers more questions than answers, but still, it tells this present world like it is, and we, who have firmer grounds for ultimate hope, ought to be just as realistic about change.

 

  • Always be joyful, pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

God’s constancy invites us to make a constant response – of prayer, praise and thanksgiving – even when we don’t feel like it, and praise becomes something of a ‘sacrifice of praise’.  The fact that these loving responses to God’s unchanging love are always appropriate forms an invisible thread that runs through all our experiences, good and bad.

 

  • And finally – to you and the people you care about and are praying for during this summer season – The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

 

Yours truly,

Julian

 

P.S. Times change, and so must we and our churches, but how lovely that ancient beauties need not be forgotten.  The Evening Service on Sunday 29th July (6.30) will be Choral Evensong at St Boniface Church , to which we hope many of you will be drawn, by love or by curiosity!  We are grateful to the Southampton Deanery Choir, joined by members of our Wedding Choir and others, for what promises to be a treat.