The long and winding road

Published: 19th October 2020

Bishop Clive peaks in his Pastoral Letter for November 2020?

A keen walker, I have ascended a fair few peaks over the years and am only too familiar with the ‘false summit’; the peak that you are sure is your destination, only to find, as you approach it, that it isn’t the summit at all. There’s a further, usually arduous, stretch to cover before you actually reach the top.

Psychologically, rather like a mirage in the desert, the false summit can be hard to cope with. Especially if you are being battered by wind and rain at the time. But the only thing for it is to dig deep and carry on…

I imagine that many of us had imagined during those relatively restriction free days of July and August when cases of Covid were low and deaths rare, that we had passed through our toughest challenge and were on the descent from our peak of adversity. There was confident talk of life returning to ‘normal’ by Christmas. But now it is clear that we are still slogging uphill, the weather is closing in and we have no idea where the summit is or when we shall get there.

Psychologically, emotionally and spiritually this is tough for us all. It’s only a question of degree as to how much we are struggling. 

As Christians we have rich resources to draw on to sustain and strengthen us. We are part of a much bigger picture and a much longer story. The bigger picture is God’s book of creation, of which we are just a chapter. Much of the natural world is thriving just as we struggle. Less economic activity is good for air and water quality and for the protection of animal habitats and the flourishing of species. Accessing a cleaner, quieter natural world as we venture outdoors to sit, walk, run or cycle is part of God’s provision for us in these times.

The much longer story is revealed through our Scriptures and tradition. We draw particular inspiration from the faith journeys of individuals and nations (in the case of Israel) who had to endure those seasons when God’s purpose was unclear and conditions were adverse. Faith journeys are always long and winding roads, and what the wisdom of our tradition teaches us is that it is precisely at those times when the going is toughest that unexpected blessings occur; food for the journey, manna from heaven. In these times, spiritual attentiveness is key. A posture of openness, hands outstretched to receive whatever blessings the day may bring.

Above all, we bring a conviction that God remains alive and active in this world, sustaining individuals, families and communities through endless manifestations of love and care. And we bring the gift of hope, that in these times God is bringing about a new thing, reshaping ourselves, our church and our world, in line with his sovereign purposes.

+Clive Wulfrun
Bishop of Wolverhampton

Page last updated: Monday 19th October 2020 6:44 AM
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