Add tasks to create hope
A tourist visiting Italy came across a construction site. What are you doing? the tourist asked the three stonemasons.
Im cutting the stone, answered the first.
Im cutting stone for 1,000 lire a day, the second said.
Im helping to build a cathedral, said the third.
I like this anecdote because it speaks to me of the importance of vision. The third stonemason was able to life his eyes above the daily routine of his work to envisage the final result. His contribution was a part of something much bigger and together all of those involved in the project would produce something tremendous and beautiful a cathedral dedicated to the Glory of God.
I was reminded of this when I read recently that the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona is finally due to be finished in 2026. The first stone was laid in 1882 and its architect, Antoni Gaudi died in 1926 and is buried in the crypt. His vision has been caught by others who have continued his work and taken his ideas forward.
For vision to be successful it has to be shared by others. That is why a good Mission Action Plan needs to evolve out of a Parish Away Day where all have had the opportunity to contribute their ideas and suggestions.
Our Nation at this time is lacking in a clear shared vision. Consequently people want to go in their own direction and are critical and ungenerous about other possibilities. We have to be honest and say that wherever we are in the continuing BREXIT saga, our Nation has been torn into shreds and it will take time before we have a sense of being reunited.
As a Church we have a role to play in serving our communities by bringing people together to share their vision for the future and to help identify common threads. For example, as a grandfather I want my grandchildren to grow up safely, have a roof over their heads, food on their plates and an education that will enable them to do what they want to later in life. Surely, this unites me with all other grandparents?
Once shared vision is established there needs to be discussion as to how this vision can be turned into a reality. A vision without a task is a dream. A task without vision is drudgery. But the two together are the hope of the world. We need to think and pray about the specific roles that we can play in this process. Perhaps too many of us are content to cut the stone rather than build the cathedral.
This is going to be a long process but a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step and I would encourage every worshipping congregation in our Diocese to pray about the contribution that you are going to make in this process of reconciliation.
We are working on a shared vision for our Diocese to guide us during the coming decade. This Direction of Travel is a work in progress and there is much consultation, reflection and prayer still to happen but it is already exciting and offers all sorts of possibilities.
As Ann and I move on to the next phase of our ministry, we are thrilled that we are leaving a Diocese that is in such good heart and positive about future growth. We are less thrilled at leaving so many wonderful friends but are really grateful for the privilege of being able to be part of the journey and can only thank you for your love, support and prayers.
May God bless you as your vision enables you to build not a cathedral but Gods Kingdom!
Rt Revd Geoff Annas,
Bishop of Stafford