Message from Bishop Rachel, 27 February 2024

Published: Tuesday February 27, 2024

Bishop RachelThroughout the gospels we are repeatedly confronted with Jesus Christ’s encounters with individuals and with groups of people. Often, we get a glimpse of an individual’s story and the way they view life from the context in which they are embedded, and we see Jesus engage with who they are. Our reactions probably range from disturbance through to curiosity and delight.

On the first Sunday in Lent, it was a great joy and privilege to baptise and confirm a number of young people and adults in two services in different parts of the diocese. Each of the individuals had a story of coming to faith in Christ or growing in faith. In the case of three men, it was through direct engagement with the Church in adulthood and personal invitation to explore faith in a small group. For one person, care and conversation at a time of bereavement and a family funeral had begun the journey. In the story of one of the young people, a Christian Headteacher at their primary school had been key to their faith journey as had the opportunity to be involved in organising collective worship. For two sisters it had been the importance of the faith of a grandparent.

In every story there had been a significant individual who had come alongside the person and authentically lived the love and hope of Jesus Christ, but had also been willing to speak of it, and with invitation to explore further, and always in relationship and engagement with the person’s own story. I am aware that it is something we too easily shy away from, perhaps even thinking we are being more respectful and caring in holding back from words. Yet I am increasingly struck by how keen people are to share with me the things they are passionate about in life, whether it be recounting a recent sporting event, or the discovery of a good book or a TV programme or similar; yet how reluctant we can be to share the good news of Christ in our lives in places of both delight and pain.

Towards the end of May, we will be living a weekend of evangelism across the Diocese (24–26 May). The Archbishop of Canterbury will be part of this and will be engaging with some events in different contexts which build on existing relationships and further encourage people to inhabit our vision of LIFE Together with ever greater confidence, as we live and name the transforming love and hope of Jesus Christ amid people’s personal stories, including ours.

The hope is also that many worshipping communities will consider if there is some way a further step might be taken that weekend to speak of the love and hope of Jesus Christ in a place of relationship. There are a few members of the College of Evangelists coming to be with us that weekend, and some of these have already been connected with worshipping communities who have requested an evangelist with a particular interest or sphere of knowledge. Please do contact the Revd Canon Dr Sandra Millar if you would also like to explore this in your context.

The weekend will close with a diocesan Eucharist in the Cathedral on Sunday afternoon at 3pm which will be the opportunity for the diocesan family of all ages to gather around our Archbishop (please note that the Archbishop’s other events that weekend are not there for that purpose). More details will be given in due course.

As we journey through Lent, may we immerse ourselves in prayer as we live with expectant hearts for people of all ages and backgrounds to encounter Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lent preface to the Eucharistic prayer includes the words:

‘..that through a pilgrimage of prayer and discipline we may grow in grace
and learn to be your people once again.
Through fasting, prayer and acts of service, you bring us back to your generous heart.
Through study of your holy word you open our eyes to your presence in the world
and free our hands to welcome others into the radiant splendour of your love.’

May it be so as we live and speak of Christ this Lent amid the unfolding of our own stories and those of the people around us.

With my thanks and prayers as ever,

Bishop Rachel's signature

One thought on “Message from Bishop Rachel, 27 February 2024

  1. How do I take part. Would be happy to speak about how Jesus has changed my life. @,Wendy Roberts.

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