Dear Friends,

I am writing not long after the bombing in Manchester and just after the London Bridge attack. We are shaken as a nation and find ourselves thinking about the big questions. We stand with those in pain. We encourage one another with defiant words – ‘we will not be bullied into changing our ways’. This helps us to feel better and in St. Margaret’s we have a prayer wall so that people can respond and pray or light a candle.

Perhaps this is a wake-up call. It is time to think about what we believe, what we should do that is right and just. What would Jesus do? What is God saying to us through this? What is my personal responsibility? They are huge questions that take time and a real effort to be honest with ourselves and open to God. So many people point the finger at such evil – this is a large target and not easy to miss.

However, there is bullying, passive aggression, disrespect, manipulation and violence in our society that is not so easy to point at. It is so easy to point it out in others but to look into our hearts and minds is a different matter. Remember Jesus saying ‘Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?’ (Matthew 7:3). We cannot expect our society to change if we do not look to ourselves. We are society – together we make society – we are all responsible for the way things are, but there is hope.

The hope comes in the form of Jesus Christ; Easter is at the heart of this. We can’t take away the consequences of our sin (death) which ruins relationships and in particular our relationship with God. So Jesus came, in spite of what we are and our past. His love was so great he died on the cross to remove the barriers that bring death and then he rose again in a once and for all final victory over death. It didn’t end there of course, after explaining more to his disciples, eating with them and spending time with them it was time to take his throne in heaven. He ascended to his Father, was crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, but he didn’t forget us. He continues to pray for us, hold us in his thoughts and hold us in his wounded hands. He promises us the gift of the Holy Spirit. We receive this wonderful gift of love at our Baptism’s and we have the choice of opening that gift or ignoring it.

This gift is so wonderful, for the Holy Spirit not only assures us of our place in God’s love, and family but it also means that God comes to live in our hearts to empower us to live as Kingdom citizens.  As we learn what that means for each of us, we begin to exhibit the fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The more we produce this fruit the more our society will be transformed.

I know I’m not perfect, I make mistakes but I know that I am one of God’s children loved, valued and honoured by him if not others. He hasn’t finished working with me and sometimes that means some painful realizations but it doesn’t distract from the fact that I can rejoice and be glad in all things. It’s not about being ‘happy’ with everything; it is far deeper than that. It’s about confidence that I am in the Lord’s hands and he only wants the best for me.

What about you? Where are you in this story? Can you genuinely respond positively to the command ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.’? 1Thessalonians 5:16-17

Rev Vicky Fleming
Priest in Charge