Pastoral Letter April 2016

Dear Friends,

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,

Nor shall the flame scorch you. – Isaiah 43:2

As a struggling teenager, I would head out to school with a heavy heart. There are so many things to worry about at school, especially if you hate Maths, are not very good at P.E., and also fearful of being bullied! Occasionally, my Mum would call out brightly, as I went, ‘go out, and slay some dragons!’

I certainly didn’t feel much like the ‘Patron Saint’ of England when heading off through South London. In case you’re wondering, I thought that the month containing St George’s Day would be a good one to share the photo I took of the famous sculpture in Bethlehem! But I digress.

Life is hard, isn’t it? There seem to be ‘dragons’ everywhere for many of us. Great concerns about health, studies, family, friends, work, money, our society, our safety … the list goes on and on. We are find ourselves under varying levels of stress. Some of us cope relatively well, others of us struggle greatly and are prone to depression and anxiety. Some of us will also discover that whilst once we coped well with the demands of life, now perhaps the same things we formerly breezed through exhaust us, fill us with dread, or perhaps utterly defeat us.

Here’s what I want to say to everyone: We have to fight life’s battles, we can’t opt out. But we have someone with us — and He IS a real dragon–slayer! He says to each one of us ‘I will be with you’. Isaiah’s imagery is apt. We feel like we’re drowning in deep water. We feel the heat of the fire and it seems certain that we are going to be burned! Left to ourselves, we would be drowned, burned, beaten, and ultimately, eternally lost. But we are not left to ourselves and we have a great and glorious Saviour, Jesus Christ. He is fully God and fully man. He once was fully dead. But we know that ‘He is risen’ and hence, fully alive. In Him is life, and He is life. He lives in and of Himself, and He lives in His people by the work of the Holy Spirit, and by the same blessed Dove His people live in Him. Brothers and sisters, He has not saved us in order to leave us ‘helpless until Heaven’. He says ‘I will be with you’, and He will be. Prove it.

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