Message from Bishop Rachel

Published: Tuesday March 2, 2021

In this past week I have particularly noticed the lengthening days and the change in birdsong, and that sense of spring emerging was certainly helped by the weekend’s sunshine. Yet we still have some way to go to emerge into a new season regarding the ending of lockdown and the lifting of restrictions due to the viral pandemic.

In your own contexts you will no doubt be wondering exactly what it will look like for you, families, communities and beyond, as we live the road map which the government has laid out for us. And as we all tentatively pencil things into the diary and think about the future,  we know we can only live it one step at a time even as we lift our eyes to the horizon.

Once again, be assured that as we walk the road map, Bishop Robert and I, along with the archdeacons and the staff team, will keep you informed of any significant changes along the way.

It is indeed important that we lift our eyes as we ponder what the future might look like, what we have learned, and what we hope to live differently, yet all held with provisionality as we simply take the next step, firmly and with hope, even amid pain, loss, and weariness.

I have been reminded of this as Guy and I have undertaken local walks recently. I have needed to keep glancing downwards so as to navigate water, mud, and unseen tree roots as I place my feet securely, and yet we have needed to keep looking up to discern the path to take, and there have been frequent glances at the map, sometimes amid weariness, whilst also taking time to notice the small things around us – the buds appearing,  the bird song in overhead branches, the smell of freshly mown grass, as well as the plastic bottle lying in the hedgerow or the graffiti on the wall.

When Jesus Christ was on earth, he urged his disciples to notice, to look, to listen, and to hear and see deeply as they lived the present. They were to notice not only their brokenness but also their beauty as well as that of the flowers of the field and the birds of the air. They were to recognise God’s care and not to be anxious in the present (Matthew 6:25-34). Yet at the same time they were to keep on lifting their eyes to see the big picture of the Kingdom of God and to join in with its coming. It all requires a noticing as well as a taking of the next small step, and all lived with prayer.

So, in these days of Lent I want to encourage us to enter into a deep and prayerful noticing as we take the next step – a noticing not only of what is going on within us and around us as spring emerges, but also to learn more deeply that way of living in which we keep on taking the next step of the present moment while keeping the future in our sights, rooted in prayer.

Often the noticing of the small things is the most enlightening, and the steps which lead to the greatest discovery are the small ones.

In all of this please do go on sharing your stories of things which have emerged from the soil of LIFE, as together we look back and notice what God has been doing and we continue to keep our eyes on shaping the future to the sights and sounds of the kingdom of God.

Finally, thank you to all those who are responding to our partnership with Christian Aid. The multiple small acts of giving are adding up to something significant and life-giving for brothers and sisters across the world as we ensure we notice and respond to our own vaccinations with thanksgiving.

This comes with gratitude and continued prayer for the small steps we are taking together in the present as we continue to look up and pray ‘your kingdom come on earth as in heaven’.

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