Courier June–July 2019

A Newsletter for the Communities of the Western Downland

Change is in the air
From climate change to regime change and on to new technological landscapes, it seems that tectonic plates are shifting. What seemed relatively constant is changing rapidly and almost beyond recognition. National and cultural identity, sexual and gender identity, the way we communicate and transact with one another, the way we live together are all in flux. Ways of interacting in place for hundreds, even thousands of years, are now in question, or under severe strain. The Church is not immune.
Locally as congregations we’re exploring fresh ways to structure some of the organisation which supports our life together. At a national level the Church of England has had to engage – shamefully almost against its will – with change driven by revelations of institutional abuse and, equally grievous, the covering up of such abuse. How could we have fallen so far short of the standard to which we’re called? It’s almost beyond me, except that I’m painfully aware that, in other ways, I too fall short of God’s standard, and am slow to confront the need for change. Change can be uncomfortable, because we have to set aside deeply ingrained habits and step into the provisional; not knowing where our destination lies, or if we’ll get there.
Change doesn’t, of itself, guarantee a better world and it isn’t always for the better; it presents us with new challenges and sometimes new dilemmas. Yet Christians are obligated to embrace change. The Greek word ‘metanoia’, often used in the Bible, translates as ‘repent’ (a word little used outside the arena of faith these days). It literally means to change direction and turn onto a new path. Whether as a national Church we have the capacity to repent of our misdeeds remains to be seen, just as whether as a society we can repent of poor choices (both old and new) relating to our use of the earth’s resources and our treatment of one another, remains to be seen. Because repentance is about far more than words. Practical action is required, if we’re to reach the godly potential woven into the essence of our humanity and so fulfil God’s requirement to care for creation and one another.
Rev’d Les Player, Rector