As I pen this month’s letter to you, we have just marked the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. I watched the national service of commemoration from Westminster Abbey, the eve-of-war remarks of the then Foreign Secretary Edward Grey that “the lamps are going out all over Europe”, do indeed seem poignant. The high point of the service was the extinguishing of lights in the Abbey. Yet through the burning in the darkness of a single Paschal Candle we were reminded of the hope that Christ brings to our lives. This candle will burn at the Abbey for just over four years, the length of the war. The service concluded with the hope filled words of St John chapter 1 “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
In our own lives, faith can burn brightly, or at difficult moments only seem to smoulder, fears inward and outward can overwhelm us. Bishop Dan Herzog, from our link Diocese of Albany, when serving as rector of an inner city Albany parish, put these words on his church notice board: “This is a hospital for sinners; not a museum for saints.” What a great description of what it means to be a Church! A place of hope.
We, in Donaghadee Parish, are now embarking on a year of mission in 2015; two events will help us prepare for this. Firstly, I hope as many people as possible will join in one hundred days of Bible study through the Essential Jesus Challenge produced by Scripture Union. What is it?
‘Essential Jesus’ guides you to 100 carefully selected Bible excerpts from both Old and New Testaments along with short, engagingly- written notes to help you reflect on who Jesus is and why that’s important for you today.
Essential Jesus is for you:
* If you simply want to grasp the ‘big picture’ of who Jesus is.
* If you want guidance about how to respond to him in your daily life.
* If you want to hear from God himself and find intimacy with him.
The launch will be Sunday 7th September at 10.30am. As we begin this period of shared daily study, we will also have time to meet together for shared reflection on the texts. The Sunday notices sheet will give the details.
Secondly, I want to encourage us to be a people of prayer. In the Autumn the church will be open for daily private prayer (see Sunday notices sheet for timings) and a short service from our prayer book will enable us to worship corporately.
In Christ we find hope in our darkness. God never gives up on us! Please join us in worship of our hope-giving God.
Your friend and Rector
IAN R GAMBLE