I’d firstly like to thank you all for your welcome and support over the last few months and for your messages and prayers for my ordination in October. It has certainly been a strange time, especially trying to settle somewhere new and learn about the pattern of life and worship in the parishes. The phrase heard most frequently is ‘How we normally do things’ or ‘before COVID’. Of course this alludes to a time and normality that I only know through those of you that share it with me. It reminds me how we often anchor our present uncertainty within the assured experience that the past offers us, and in the hope of what might be to come.
Indeed, this pattern is somewhat intrinsic to the life of faith. As we read through our bibles, we find a history of people making quite bad decisions, that deny themselves the fullness of flourishing that God desires for us all. Yet we also encounter God’s interactions within that, we find that he pursues, welcomes, forgives and gives of himself for us, we find a God that loves for love of loving. To read scripture, is to remember both human nature and divine nature, and to find both reconciled as we encounter Christ in the Gospels. As we do so, we find that to ‘remember’ gives us an understanding of the past, it puts the present in context and it gives us hope for the future, all with a fuller biblical focus that allows us a greater glimpse of the flourishing God offers, the depth of His grace and the fullness of His love.
For many reasons, the month of November is a time of remembrance. It is a time that we remember the sacrifice of the many for the few, of lives lost in the quest for, and preservation of, our liberty and freedom. It is a time to pause, to reflect, to give thanks, to remember and to hopefully prize peace more ardently.
However, it starts with All saints Day, a time to remember the community of saints. Those that have walked the journey of faith before us, leaving the paths once trodden as guides for us to follow, and a wealth of memories, writings and thoughts in their wake to offer us encouragement along the way. Later in the month we celebrate Christ the King, a time to remember and to celebrate the majesty of Jesus, a time to crown him with every good thing due his name. The end of the month marks the beginning of Advent, as we remember once more, and perhaps more pertinently this year, that hope is not found in the absence of anxiety and uncertainty, but in the birth of a baby, a saviour and a king, and as we prepare for him the be born in our hearts again. Until then, may this month be a time for us all to remember, to remember the fallen, to remember all that God has done, all that Jesus is, and all that means for us. May that draw us all into a deeper understanding of the past, a fuller context for the present and may we be so filled with hope for the future, that it bursts forth as we share it with others.
With much love and prayers this November,
Revd Matt Grove
Curate of Christ Church Portsdown and St John’s Purbrook