Directory: Churches and People

Bishop's letter for September issues of parish magazines

04 August 2017

A letter prepared by the Rt Revd Dr Nicholas Chamberlain (Bishop of Grantham) for consideration for possible publication in September issues of parish magazines...

Dear Friends,

One of the privileges of being involved in public ministry is that I am occasionally invited to help celebrate anniversaries. These can often be of significant events, such as weddings or ordinations. I can remember many a good party for a golden wedding anniversary or the fortieth anniversary of an ordination!

If something has been good, it can be so important to celebrate the anniversary – to say ‘thank you’ to all involved and ‘thank you’ to God for having been part of the occasion itself and the years since.

Just this summer, I had the joy of taking part in the twentieth anniversary celebrations for the admission of girls and women to the choir at St Wulfram’s Church in Grantham. It was a great occasion! 

As 2017 turns towards 2018 I expect that there will be much thought given as to how we might remember the anniversary of the ending of the First World War. We have remembered the outbreak of war, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Jutland, the Battle of Passchendaele. What will be foremost in our thoughts and prayers as we remember the centenary of the armistice?

I mention this now, before 2018 begins, because I have been struck in recent months by the number of events that I have seen that have helpfully provoked reflection about the importance of even quite distant happenings, such as the Battle of Lincoln and the Charter of the Forest, and because we still have time to prepare for November 2018.

There is a difference between the kind of anniversary event that leads us into reflection, and thus towards the future, and the kind of anniversary event that, surely unwittingly, locks us in to nostalgia, and holds us in the past.

The joy of the Christian, both as an individual and as part of a church community, is to shape our lives on, and with, Jesus, so that we proclaim the kingdom that is to come. We do not look back to a past that seems somehow better than the present and the future. We look forward to the future that is coming to be and towards which we have so much to contribute as Christians: ‘because with God, all things are possible’ (Matthew 19.26). 

As autumn begins and 2017 turns to 2018, as negotiations continue about Britain’s future place in the world and in Europe, and as we prepare to remember the end of the First World War, may we look forward confidently, humbly, generously and with faith in God.

With every blessing,

Bishop Nicholas