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Earlier this week I celebrated my birthday. It wasn’t an especially significant one, but the completion of another year of my life inevitably gave rise to some personal reflection on the passage of time.
I have reached the age when my consciousness of how things have changed over my lifetime is becoming ever more acute: the gradual disappearance of red telephone boxes from our streetscapes; the inexorable increase in the use of coloured clothing by cricketers; the marked decrease in the integrity and seriousness of many of our elected politicians. I rarely give voice to my thoughts on such matters. This is partly because I do not want to acquire a reputation for being a grumpy old man; it’s also because my understanding of the Christian faith compels me to embrace change even if (perhaps especially if) it makes me feel uncomfortable. I think of the rich ruler in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 18.18-25) who was overcome with sadness at the prospect of changing his whole lifestyle to the extent of giving all he had to the poor; I think of St Peter, in John’s account of the events on the night before Jesus died, unable fully to comprehend the magnitude of the change he was about to experience on Good Friday: ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now?’ (John 13. 37); and I think of the immense difficulty the early Christian community had in accepting that their former persecutor, Paul, had encountered and accepted Christ: ‘(the disciples) were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple’ (Acts 9.26).
We are having to embrace change in our cathedral community too. In Catch-Up this week you will learn about the imminent closure of the Cathedral Kitchen. For some fifteen years the Kitchen has been a place of welcome and hospitality. Now, as you will read below, the brute forces of market economics have defeated us. But neither the closure of the Kitchen, nor the changes this will bring, are marks of failure. Rather, they are part of a wider pattern of events through which we are called to discern the new ways in which the Spirit is prompting us to fulfil our vision to be a place that is safe and welcoming, life-giving and inspiring. ‘I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive it?’ says God to the prophet Isaiah. As we give thanks for all that the Kitchen’s staff and volunteers have contributed to our mission over the last decade and a half, may we look forward with confidence to the new things that will spring forth through God’s grace, and with a willingness to embrace the change that will be necessary. For all that has been: thanks; for all that shall be: yes!
With love and prayers,
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