From the Rector - August 2018

Dear Friends,

You may have noticed I have been growing a beard; it started as an ‘Advent beard’ but I embraced a challenge to grow it long by two Children at Semley School (much to Anna’s disdain... although she assured me she got used to it!). It was ultimately a bit of fun, but it also reminded me that some challenges are sought, and some are thrust upon us. Some are welcome and others we would prefer not to face.

I reminded the children of this in an assembly just before cutting my facial locks off in front of them (to the noise of pleasing gasps!)

Generally, in Western society we are money rich and time poor. That is as true for the church as it is for the rest of society. As Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us, there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.

Each and every one of us are subject to times and changes over which we have little or no control.We all change; how we look changes; we grow older. When we are young we grow taller and many of us as we grow into our later mature years have started to become smaller. We can spend huge sums of money in an attempt to prevent or disguise these changes, but the plain and simple fact is that we and the world we live in, is constantly changing.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon explains how we can understand time and the times. It is a beautiful passage that I often read at funerals. Why? Not because (as some think) it’s a depressing passage because it stresses the power of God and the helplessness of man, but because this passage is an extraordinarily beautiful summary of the optimistic view of the Christian life.

We cannot control time - we cannot control the seasons - no matter what our skills, efforts or riches. So, they say, this is a counsel of despair. It would be, if it were teaching that everything is futile. But this is not the case.

There are times and seasons.There are rhythms. and there is a rhythm to life. We instinctively know this and our life demonstrates it. We all have our biorhythms. One of the problems with modern life is that we like to think we can change these - that we can live 24/7 lives, 365 days a year - with all our gadgets and artificial stimulants enabling us to overcome the natural rhythms and times. But ignoring the rhythms and seasons never works. It only results in burnout.

The 14 couplets in this Ecclesiastes poem cover every range of human activity; the two most momentous events in our life - birth and death, creative and destructive activities, human emotions, friendship and hatred, possessions and our resolutions concerning them...

I take great comfort from the fact that our times are in God’s hands. It is not fate. And that there is a time for everything. You may be going through a hard time right now, but that will change.

You may be going through a spiritual springtime - it will turn to summer and perhaps to winter, before it turns to spring and summer again.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born. and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war; and a time of peace.