Over the past couple of months, the Rectory letterbox has rattled a lot more than it usually does as the charities we support have sent out their annual reports and statements, their review of the past year, and invites to their Annual General Meeting. Now firstly I must admit that the eco part of me wants to sign up to ‘go paperless’, but then the practical side says I’d never open all the attachments and if I did, I’d print them off to read anyway! And then the slightly nostalgic part of me that misses physical letters and cards thinks that anything through the door holds the possibility of being exciting, in a way an email never can! But I digress.
At the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) last Wednesday The Valley Parish also looked back over the past year, with the production of our own Annual Report (soon to be available on the website) and reports from the Churchwardens, the Children’s Team, the Safeguarding Officer and the Treasurer, to name but a few. It also gave me the opportunity to thank the oh so many people who have contributed in so many ways to the life and worship of the Parish in the past year. But looking back also gives us the starting point to look forward, taking with us the knowledge we have gained, and the insights we have received.
I’ve said before that I keep a journal, and in fact have done so, to a greater or lesser extent, since I was about 20. Looking back over what is almost 40+ years of my life (where did that time go!) can be an exciting, but also a sobering experience. Sometimes it makes me cringe, sometimes it makes me sad, and other times it makes me smile and lifts my spirits. But what I do find mostly, is that looking back helps me put the here and now, and the future, into perspective. It helps me face new challenges and opportunities with the help of experiences from the past. My life now is very different to what it was in the 80s, 90’s and the early part of this century, but how I dealt with the challenges, how I faced the possibilities, and the difficulties, can help to inform how I face today, and enables me to learn from my mistakes (I hope) and also to celebrate my, and our, successes.
The Bible, especially the Gospels and the New Testament, can also help us to put things into perspective. It reminds us that we are not the first, nor the last, people to experience the highs and lows of life. It reminds us that the 21st Century may be very different from the 1st Century, but we are not the first generations to experience floods, droughts, and wars. It reminds us that we are not the first generations to experience times of feasts and times of famine. It also reminds us that we should celebrate all that we have, and give thanks for it, and that it is only by working together, by helping each other, and by loving our neighbour, wherever they are, that we can face, and overcome, all that life throws at us. It also reminds us that we are not facing life’s challenges alone.
Last Sunday we celebrated the Ascension, Jesus’ last physical appearance on earth before he returned to His Father in Heaven. In Matthew’s Gospel we are not given any details of the Ascension, but we are given the Great Commission, to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28: 19), and then Jesus gives his disciples, us, the assurance and reassurance we need to carry out that commission, and to face all that life throws at us ‘remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28: 20)
Looking back, learning from, but not living in, the past, and then looking to the future, is what an annual report and an annual review is all about, and it is something that maybe we should all do, personally, on a more regular basis. But when, if, we do, we can do so confident in the love and the presence of The Lord, now and forever.
‘remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
Holy Communion for Pentecost
St Andrew’s West Dean
St Andrew’s West Dean
Rev Sarah Manouch
07468 854864 email@example.com
Please note that I am part-time. My principal working days are Friday and Saturday as well as Sunday. I am not available on a Thursday