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Life is always lived forwards, but often learned backwards.

That was certainly the experience of the first followers of the risen Lord Jesus. From the other side of the cross and empty tomb they were able to look back on their experiences of the past three years with fresh understanding. At the time Jesus’ teaching had seemed obscure or even offensive. Now it fitted into place as part of God’s plan. At the time Jesus’ actions were impressive, but now they saw those deeds as signs pointing towards His great acts of rescue on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Perhaps you have your own moments of looking back, noticing how in the apparent random-ness of everyday life God has been at work to make you more like Jesus. As Monica and I look back to our past in this Diocese we are thankful to God for the people who nurtured us as a newly-married couple, as first-time parents and as we discerned how God might be calling us into
ministry.

So it is indeed a blessing to be with you again as your fellow-servant in Christ and Diocesan Bishop. Monica and I are very thankful for your prayers and messages of encouragement in the lead up to the service of consecration and installation on
April 6 and for the chance to connect with many of you, albeit fleetingly, on the day itself. We look forward to further conversations as we hear your stories and rejoice in God’s gracious work in your lives and the lives of the communities you serve.

I am particularly appreciative of the wise and sacrificial ministry of Bishop Trevor Edwards as Diocesan Administrator since Bishop Stuart laid up his staff just over a year ago and am delighted to be working with him and other members of the senior leadership team as colleagues in the gospel. Bev Forbes, Trevor  Ament and the rest of the crew at Diocesan HQ have made me feel very welcome and are patiently responding to the questions I do ask as well as graciously hinting at the questions I haven’t thought to ask!

From time to time people have asked me for prayer points. There are three that are on my heart, for us individually and as a Diocese. First, please pray that we would see what matters to God. Ask God to make us aware of the needs around us so that we might be good and compassionate neighbours. Second, please pray that we would hear what matters to God. May our ears be open to the questions people are asking about faith, so that we might gently and graciously point them to the Lord Jesus. Third, please pray that we might feel what matters to God. My desire is that like the disciples on the Emmaus Road in Luke 24, we might have our hearts burn within us as we encounter Jesus through His word and spirit.

I look forward to sharing more about these prayers in the months ahead, and to looking back to the surprising ways in which God chooses to answer them!