Faith & Worship

Dear friends,

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation… (Psalm95.1)

This year as a Diocese we shall be celebrating with joy our centenary. Throughout the year there will be special events and services marking this very special time. I’m not quite sure if as a Diocese we shall be receiving a card from the Queen to mark our 100th birthday, but what we are promised is a time that individually and together we can once more rediscover, across all of our communities, the joy of the Gospel.

This year will also of course be the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and again there will be important acts of remembrance to mark this significant anniversary.  In the light of this i was asked recently how can we as a Church both celebrate and remember such events in the same year? Well, I said in reply, we just need to take a moment and reflect further on Psalm 95 where it goes on later to say;

In his hand are the depths of the earth… For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. (Psalm 95.4,7)

All of humanity, in its most glorious of moments as well as in its darkest, throughout the ages, is held by God. God was present on the battlefield in the moments when many thousands upon thousands lost their lives on the front line, just as God has been present in the many thousands upon thousands of people’s lives who have been joyfully baptised across our Diocese over the past one hundred years.

So even in the midst of our troubled world, with all of its economic uncertainties, continued social injustices and prejudices, we are continually called by God to hear him in our lives;

O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts… (psalm 95 7,8)

Those who are getting to know me a little bit in Ranmoor are realising, I think, that one aspect of my character is that I enjoy smiling and also enjoy seeing other people smiling as well. I of course know there are times to be serious, but even when we go through sad and difficult times individually and together as a Church family, together as a community, as a country and wider ,as a world, the joy of the Gospel is present. That is because this joy is not just reflected in laughter and celebration, it is also reflected in the arm around our neighbour’s shoulder, in the care and compassion and empathy we show to those in need. The joy of the Gospel can also be found in trying to bring an end to social injustice and prejudice.

So in this year of celebration and remembrance I pray that as a Church family and community we once more find ways to rediscover the Joy of the Gospel, individually as well as collectively, in our lives together.

Love

Revd Neil