Bishop Mark's Letter to the Diocese for August/September


"It's exciting - but why do we do it!?"

As I write this, the house is in chaos… we are off on a holiday we have been planning for ages to fit in with the long break that the children get post-exams. You know how it is, with piles of things you must remember to pack, lists of things to go through the wash, more lists of jobs that need to be done, and a ticking clock that makes you wonder how you are going to fit everything in… It’s exciting, but you do sometimes wonder if everything is going to happen. Sometimes, I confess, with so much to do before I go away, I also wonder: ‘Why do we do it?’

I was talking about this the other day and heard myself saying that one of the things we do when we do special things as friends or family is ‘create the memories’ that matter so much in life… and this set me pondering. It would be easy, if it were taken out of context, for this idea to be backward looking; as if all that mattered was what had been. Healthy family life is not like that, though. Shared joy, and even shared trouble, becomes shared family narrative, family teasing, family humour, and shared banter, which becomes part of family identity and in turn shapes the future of family life.

This same dynamic is true of the church. Our shared past, and the way we remember it, shapes our approach our shared future… and more than that, we shape tomorrow’s past by the way we act today…

…and here are two vital challenges to me. Firstly, what are we planning to do with today, and secondly, do we actually share it as church or do we experience it as individuals? Are we a community of the faithful, or a coalition of believers? Are we a family or a crowd? Is church a home or a boarding-house? And if we are a community and a family, what memories are we creating and nurturing for the church? How will our today shape the tomorrow we will share with others?

And let’s not shut God out of this discussion. These kinds of ‘good memories’ spring up as we spend time together as the whole community, and for us as Church, Christ is at the very centre of our life. Indeed, He is our life. Holiday is as much about creating space to be together as it is about planning what we do.

By the time you read this, the chaos in my house today will seem more than worth it… and that’s true for the things that are really important. We might be busy, but we make time for the things that matter.

What memories do you want to create as church in your community? Making the space for them might be hard work, but it will be more than worth it.

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