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St Andrew’s • Cheam

News from St Andrew’s

Craig’s June message

Craig Bowman
Revd Craig Bowman

As I write this the government has just announced that the planned further easing of restrictions in mid-May in England will go ahead, allowing for bigger groups to meet outdoors and smaller mixed groups indoors. This means that, at this time, there is still the expectation that on 21st June the next step will be taken and there will be further easing, with the possibility that all restrictions will be lifted. However, we cannot be certain that will happen and it is possible that there will still be limits on how we meet and what we can do, so we can only plan for what is currently being suggested. We are, therefore, expecting to return to a more familiar pattern of worship and church life from the end of June. You can read more about this on page 5 of this magazine.

We have been on an incredible journey over the past year and a bit. Much of it has been inconvenient, some of it has been scary and some of it bewildering. Many of us have recognised that we have to let some things go (at least for a while), we have learnt to do familiar things in new ways and discovered or rediscovered other interests. When I joined you as your minister a year and a half ago I could never have imagined what was to come and, although I expected returning to local church ministry to bring challenges, I could not have planned for this journey!

Although this past year has been extreme I actually think all of life is a journey on which we can never be completely certain what we will face and even where we will end up. This month Louise and I celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary and, like most, if not all couples, the years have been a journey filled with surprises, challenges, blessings and discoveries. I’m not sure how many couples enter into married life with a carefully formulated plan for the years ahead, which may include how many children they are going to have and when, when there are going to be house moves, job changes and ultimately retirement. If they do then I suspect the number of couples for whom that plan works out is minuscule.

As human beings we live our lives adapting. We interact with a world that is not always predictable and we live our lives among people and in community with those who are unpredictable and changeable. It can be frustrating and there are those for whom an absence of order is so difficult, but we have to recognise that we are some of those who are unpredictable and changeable. Our Christian journey is similarly unpredictable and cannot be mapped out in advance. I love the short sketches produced by the Iona Community several years ago that imagined conversations between Jesus and Peter, entitled ‘Eh… Jesus… Yes, Peter?’ One of them visits Jesus’ call to Peter with the disciple asking all sorts of questions about the future: Where are we going? Who will we meet? What will I need? At the conclusion Peter is just asked to bring himself. There are no promises, no guarantees just implied uncertainty.

This is the journey we are on. It is a journey not a target – making our way through life, adapting to the challenges we face, coping with unpredictability and changes as we journey onward, learning more about ourselves and our purpose, knowing that we have a companion on our journey. That companion is more faithful than the most loving partner, more tolerant than the closest friend, more reliable than we think ourselves to be. That companion is the one who calls us.

At the beginning of our lockdown over a year ago I offered a pattern for daily prayer and suggested daily Bible readings. It was a way of seeking to maintain a sense of community meeting with God whilst we were unable to meet together. I don’t know how many people found this pattern useful and used it for any length of time. The last cycle of readings finished at the end of May and I am not offering any more. As we continue to leave behind restrictions I would like us all to think about how we can now rebuild our community in the days ahead.

Craig Bowman

The Revd Craig Bowman is minister of St Andrew’s Cheam and Wallington United Reformed Churches

Posted on 1 Jun 2021