Dear sisters and brothers,
We have just formally thanked and farewelled Bishop Stuart and his wife Jane after their nine years of faithful leadership in this Diocese. They have moved on to their next assignment in serving God and his people, so we are now officially in a time of transition as we await the election and installation of our next Diocesan bishop.
It is my unexpected privilege to lead and care for this Diocese during this season. In my recent travels and interactions, however, I have detected a level of uncertainty and anxiety, even fear about the future. To misquote Oscar Wilde ‘to lose one bishop may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two bishops looks like carelessness’, but some of our people actually thought it was tantamount to negligence. It was indeed a very unfortunate co-location of resignations, but I think we all need to remember that while God has his mysterious purposes he is also absolutely committed to providentially working all things (even hurtful or disappointing things) for the ultimate good of his people. Of course, in this Easter season, the truth of this precious promise is powerfully exemplified in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
I have recently read two novels which reflect on the effects of bombing in England during the Second World War and they
reminded me of the motto keep calm and carry on. I have actually since discovered it was a poster rarely used at the time, but
if stripped of its very British stiff upper lip assumptions I think it is an apt slogan for us in 2018.
In the first place, if want to keep calm and carry on we will really commit ourselves to prayer in this transition. If we cast all our
anxieties on God he will give us strength to face any challenge. If we present our requests to him we will experience his all-embracing peace and be content to wait expectantly for his answers. I therefore call us all to a sustained season of prayer for our Diocese and not least the present complex work of the Episcopal Election Nominations Committee. In that regard you might regularly use some of the prayer resources it has already devised, which can be found on the Diocesan website, together with other material about its work.
In the second place, if we want to keep calm and carry on we will do what Jesus taught us, namely to keep on seeking first
God’s kingdom and his righteousness. Our primary and daily focus must remain to further the mission of God and live for him
wherever he has put us. Moreover, as we do these things in the power of the Spirit, we have his promise that we will receive not what we want but all the things we need. Just as God has consistently provided for us in the past, we can be confident he will also provide in the present and future.