I’m writing this letter on the day that it was announced that Clare and I would be moving to Canterbury in the summer for me to become Rector of St Martin’s and St Paul’s in Canterbury, with my last service in Sevenoaks on July 16th.
The prospect of moving is a very mixed thing. On one hand there is the excitement of a different challenge and a new situation. St Martin’s is the oldest Parish church in the English speaking world and has a huge historical significance as the cradle of Kentish Christianity through St Augustine’s baptism of the pagan King Ethelbert.
On the other hand there is the sense of leaving behind the many friends I have made in St Luke’s and in Sevenoaks, where we have been very happy for the last ten years and where life is good and where there is more to do. There is too the uncertainty about settling into a new parish and what the people will really be like.
For you reading this letter there may be mixed emotions as well on hearing the news- wishing us well in a new place but wondering what the future will be for St Luke’s and who will come next in the life of the church.
Life is often uncertain and subject to change- many people find that difficult to cope with or adapt to. As Christians we look for a message of hope out of unsettling times, that God is there with us.
As we approach Holy Week and Easter we see the despair of Good Friday and the hope of Easter Day- the scattered disciples and the joyous encounters with the risen Christ that bring them together once more, the cross and the empty tomb.
That sequence is one that we are often aware of in our lives. That while the death and resurrection of Jesus is unique and life changing for all who follow, there are echoes of that in our experience- of things ending and unexpectedly beginning again, of uncertainty and then new certainties.
Easter Day was the reminder that Good Friday was not the last word- salvation came through a grim reality and new dawning. Our trust in God and his love leads us to be open to change and transformation, that our anxieties and uncertainties may hold us back but our openness to God and his purposes will lead us into new possibilities.
May the risen lord dawn in your hearts and may we travel with him in all that lies ahead.