Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

From time to time I find myself listening to and trying to help family members who have fallen out with each other and are no longer speaking. Following a recent example of this I suddenly realised that there was something in my own family that needed attention. I haven’t thought about this for years but I am finding myself compelled to try and solve it. Many years ago, when I was a child, one of my uncles fell out with my father and his brothers to the extent that they ceased all contact. I have no idea what happened and although my parents tried to resolve the situation they never could. My uncle and aunt died still at odds with the family. That in itself I find very sad. The legacy of that division, however, is that I have two cousins whom I have never known. I learned recently that one of them is a Methodist minister and that got me thinking about contacting them by some means. Maybe I can find out what happened but that is not the point of the contact; I want to get to know them and have two cousins in my life again.

What was it, I wonder, that divided our family? Very often in my conversations with those who find themselves in similar situations, no-one can remember either what caused the falling out or why the falling out became such a big issue. The longer the gap between the rift and the resolution, the harder it is to resolve.

It occurred to me that if my cousin is a Methodist minister, then we have something in common; something that unites us. I wonder how many more things we have in common. I have a good reason, therefore, to get in contact and find out. So, my thought process goes on; in every case where there is a falling out how many more things might we find that unite us than divide us? I suspect that in every case there is more that unites than divides and yet the wounds that cause the division seem to dominate. Whenever there is a falling out it is really important, as soon as possible, to focus on the positive aspect of what binds us together even if we end up agreeing to disagree about one issue.

On the bigger stage of neighbours, community and our world, I often find myself perplexed by the small divisions that dominate whole communities and societies; informing policy making and influencing direction of travel for those communities and nations. Sadly, many of these divisions exist at leadership level rather than at grass roots level.

Jesus often challenged the human tendency to give air to the fire of anything that might destroy relationships and presented challenging but effective solutions. In the Gospel of Luke Ch 6 He says, “But I tell you who hear me: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.” The key words in this verse are; ‘love’ and ‘bless’. How is it possible to love or bless those who have hurt us? Blessing grows from love and the choice to love is the choice to change things. Whilst praying a blessing on someone who has hurt you may not change them, it will certainly change you and it is entirely possible that, if it changes you, it may change them through you! I have seen it happen often.

Every blessing
Stephen
07943014277 email: vicar.sb54rev@gmail.com (day off Tuesday)

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