A small globe. Look, he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows; a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many people
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.
The Coming by RS Thomas 1913-2000
I love this poem by the Welsh poet and priest RS Thomas. It speaks of the coming of Christ that we have been celebrating in this Christmas season. But it speaks too of the suffering of our world, the hunger of so many people, the pillage of the earth itself. It speaks of crucifixion. Jesus dos not turn away: ‘Let me go there’, he said.
As 2022 begins we are well aware of the challenges of our times. As the Church of England we seek to become ‘Simpler, Humbler and Bolder’ in all we do. Climate change demands that we live more simply, more humbly with the earth. It demands that we are bolder with the way we use what power and influence each of may have to make this world a better place. If we have savings, pensions and investments for example, are they invested in ways that help the planet, or the opposite? Can you find out? Is your church an Eco Church? (ecochurch.arocha.org.uk) We hope we can become an Eco Diocese this year!
It’s a good time to reconsider our giving too. How can we be a generous people for the good of God’s world? The bible encourages us to tithe, offering 10% of our income to God. Many give 5% to the church, and 5% to other charities, but it is for each person to decide before God what is right for them. What I do know is that financial giving is a spiritual matter, and that money is often the ‘sacrament of seriousness’ as someone used to put it. January is always a good time to review our giving, and how serious we really are about using what we have been given for good and for God.
Finally, thank you for all you do to keep prayer and hope alive in your church and parish. These are such challenging times, but on my recent twelve-day Pilgrimage of Prayer and Hope I was able to pray with people in well over 100 churches in every deanery of the Diocese. It has been such a blessing and encouragement to me to feel the depth of prayer and hope in parishes, to experience the kindness and welcome of its people in church after church.
On your journey with God in 2022, may you know his love always, and perhaps join with me in the Pilgrims’ Prayer:
we are a thirsty people in a dry and weary land.
Strike our stony hearts afresh,
restore your springs of life within us.
Renew us by your Holy Spirit.
Let streams of living water
flow through all your Church for the healing of the nations,
for the blessing of the earth
and to the glory of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rt Revd Martin Gorick
Bishop of Dudley