My dear brothers and sisters,
Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
As in all things, the first voice we must listen for is Christ’s. Why? Because He knows. But, so often, His is not the first voice we hear. Others are louder, closer and more intense. Even so, we must ‘tune in’ to the voice of Jesus. This feast of All Saints is given to us as we in the northern hemisphere are moving into the winter. Nature is going to sleep, slowing down, changing its habits, its cloths. It appears to be dying. But notice – there is so much beauty in it! It is different from the beauty of summer, and that is a clue to a mystery, is a door opening to us. It is a servant of the Gospel too. The summer may have gone, but God hasn’t. All Saints. Happy forever! It seems far-fetched. All the jobs done, the list completed. It seems to us impossible. And yet, that is what God the Father wishes for you. That is what Jesus Christ came to tell us, and show us the way. That is what the Holy Spirit puts- within my reach.
This Feast must give us encouragement ….. and we all need plenty of that! Even Jesus needed that. What does encouragement do? It changes something inside us for the better. It is a beautiful thing to watch happen in a person’s life. It makes us not give up. It gives us hope for better times, for ourselves and for others.When I was a child growing up I learnt about the saints but I didn’t really know them. I knew stories about them and some I liked better than others. But I could never, imagine being with them. To be very honest, I don’t think I wanted to be. It was a bit like being told about heaven and I thought I don’t want to spend forever there-it’s like being in church ALL THE TIME! Fun?As I’ve grown older and thought about things more and learnt about what’s important and seen how people live, I’ve come to believe that we don’t need to know much about the details of heaven. Leave that to Jesus. He knows what is needed. He’s prepared a place for you. He’s not trying to keep us out because he knows your taste in music or that you like garlic or you have a weird sense of humor or you go to the wrong school. He wants you in!!
And remember the Good Thief. Imagine being a good thief! He stole a place in heaven right at the end-in the last minute of extra time.
Remember what he said: ‘we’ve done wrong: we know it. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’. Remember what Jesus said: “Today you will be with me in paradise!”
Now we have to do a little risk assessment. The risks are these. We could miss out. 3 main ones.
1. We give up before we’ve even started. We don’t even try. St. Peter nearly did that when he said to Jesus: ‘Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man.’
2. Another risk is that we can’t be bothered. We are too busy with our own plans to fit in with anyone else. That happens a lot.
3. Another risk is to be careless. It’s like having a ticket for a pop concert but we forgot where we put it.
We cannot imagine eternal life, eternal happiness. We don’t have to. We just have to set our hearts on knowing Jesus and staying close to Him. Leave the rest to Him.
Sincerest good wishes and prayer,
Bishop of Lancaster