The South Wight Benefice
Colossians 3:15 (MSG) 15 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. As you read this, it is hard for me to realise that I have now been here for three months, settling in, meeting as many of you as I can and learning about the island. Both Jill and I thank you for making this transition to the island as “painless” as possible. Well Easter has been and only just gone, and I do hope you were able to join with us in one of our services during the Easter season, the clocks have changed and I do hope you are getting used to the change and we continue to look forward. As we seek to move forward, joining together in worship and learning, working as a united benefice when we can, I have been heartened about the response to our recent Lent course, using the booklet from Archbishop Justin, “Watch& Pray”, following it in our homes and many of us meeting weekly to discuss what we had been reading. I am currently working to create a benefice website, to raise the awareness of us, that we can use to promote both the benefice and each Church, our events and services as we go forward. But what of the future? This summer, we have been given the opportunity to have a presence at the Chale show to promote ourselves as a benefice. We also have a very special event happening in August in the Peace Garden to remember several Canadian sailors who died just off the coast and we are hoping for a lot of media coverage, SWAY have been asked to lead a youth service in Niton. More about all of these as things become firmed up, but please do support them. I do feel that we need to “shout” about ourselves, to let the community know that we are here, but more importantly as the bible verse says, we need to keep in tune with each other and not be going off and doing our own thing. God bless Rob
The South Wight Benefice
Signs of hope How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a land that we feel is still strange to us? Part of our task is to recognise signs of hope, outcrops of the Kingdom, to recognise works of the Spirit even where God’s name is not named. We can waste so much energy assuming everyone is against us, and in reacting defensively. Whoever is not against us is for us. This may be the time to form spontaneous coalitions between those who care passionately about the same cause, even if they are different from us. Together we can achieve so much more. The above was part of my daily meditations for one day in May, and I feel that the question asked at the beginning is a question we all need to ask ourselves. Ten years ago, the Bishop of Leicester sent me to India for a period to experience Christianity as a minority religion. This question was extremely relevant then. But it is still important, national surveys have shown, and we here have experienced a decline in attendance, but does this mean that there is a reduction in those wanting to experience God. No, it doesn’t. People still want to ask questions and we need to be ready to answer them. We need to recognise the signs of hope that are going on all around us. The involvement of children at the Easter clay event, the number of visitors we had on Easter Sunday in all of our services, the visit to St. John’s by the children from school, the fact we have been given a stall to promote ourselves at the Chale show in August and the high profile event at St. Lawrence in August. Many people in churches all across the country, are very insular and defensive, very resistant to any changes. I do appreciate that we here in South Wight are going through a time of change, seeking to find new patterns and styles of services that encourage people to join with us, seeking to find ways of reaching out to the community, seeking ways to encourage people to feel welcome in our churches. Hope is something as important to us as water is to a fish, as vital as electricity is to a light bulb, as essential as air is to a jumbo jet. Hope is that basic to life. So how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a land that we feel is still strange to us? I would love to hear your ideas. Rob