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  • Chris Williams

Pastoral Letter - 7 October 2022

Dear Friends,

What if it is true, all this God malarkey: the fact that some energy of love wanted to share the experience of existing and projected its force and created all that we see: on the earth, in the sky, in the sea? What if we really are created in the image, with the imprint of God within us, as a piece of music, as any work of art, evokes something of its maker in some way? What if a part of you, a part of me is part of that force of generosity that wanted to share the experience of living? What if deep within us all there is a nugget of God, which we can either allow to grow, or else suppress with stuff about ourselves?

And what if it is also true that Jesus, a human being, as human as you or me, was also God and spoke with the authority, authenticity, potency of God? What if His stories about the generosity of God, the unconditional love of God, are true? What if He was also right that God can see into our souls and knows the blemishes within which are caused by putting self first, withholding love, withholding forgiveness, calculating life simply to suit, to serve ourselves? And what if He still, instead of condemning us, has compassion on us, and reaches out with love?

And what if we can really speak with Him in prayer: share the questions we wrestle with, the fears which torment, the memories which haunt, the doubts that prevent us from living as confidently as we might, the scars which still smart within our souls? What if we really can share the naked truth about ourselves with Him and know that He really does understand, accepts, forgives, sets aside, that we might start again? And what if, what if, it’s not merely a case of whether we believe in God, but rather, extraordinarily, a case of God believing in us? Believing in our potential for doing good, showing love, making a difference?

And what if, in meeting Him in such an immense yet intimate a way, could change us? Having communed with Him, we can then live with Him, at our motivating heart? Allowing Him to guide us into choosing the right paths, saying the right things, knowing who to contact and when to offer reassurance, prompting, encouragement?

I just wonder if such a God exists and if He does, whether we can really meet with Him? This weekend marks a twin celebration in the Christian Calendar, I think entirely co-incidentally. Churches like ours are invited to celebrate the Dedication of their house of prayer on the first Sunday of October, giving thanks in our case, for this edifice of hope, this sanctuary of the spirit, this creative and recreative centre at the heart of our community. This weekend we also celebrate the life of the little man of Assisi, S. Francis, to whom God spoke those words which resonate down the centuries and sound in this space today: "REBUILD MY CHURCH". We have just reordered St Mary’s Twickenham, so don’t worry, I am not suggesting that we knock it all down and start all over again. But rebuild what God really wants this church, any church, every church, to be: a place where He reveals Himself to us more clearly, in the scriptures and in the sacraments and in the gift of one another whom we are called to love and invited to allow ourselves to be loved by.

You see, S. Francis was simply a man who was prepared to be stripped of everything except his essential dependence upon God. S. Francis was a man who truly met with God and allowed God to know him utterly. And Francis was a man who became excited by God: excited in such a way that he saw the living God in cobwebs pearled with dew drops in early morning sunlight, in the eyes of a new born lamb, in the singing of birds, in the outstretched hands of the poor. He saw God in His creation and loved and served God in His creation. His whole life was an act of thanksgiving for the overwhelming gift of existing. And that energy, that zeal, that excitement which he became ignited and inspired by, attracts and compels us still: to love creation and not just use it; to value every scrap and not to waste it; to cherish every sunrise and not just turn our backs on it; to serve God in the lives of the broken, the marginalised, the unlovely. Because Francis saw that nugget of God, that spark of the Spirit, in everyone and everything of our Creator’s making.

So, as we give thanks for the Dedication of St Mary’s Twickenham, let us rededicate ourselves to being ignited and inspired by the same Spirit who animated Francis. Let us truly allow God to meet with the unvarnished truth of who we are. For if it is true, as we dare to believe it is, that God exists and God is love, generosity, compassion and forgiveness, then let us allow ourselves to know Him more and more and more and allow Him to encounter us ever more deeply. That having met with Him, we may be made ever more like Him and live as creatively as we can. That in being transformed, in His strength, we can play our part in transforming the world. In Jesus’ name AMEN.


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