Skip to content. | Skip to menu. |

Through the years. (July 24)

Photo of Minister, Reverend Neil Thorogood. Dear Friends

I have now arrived at being 60. Amongst the cards was one which left little room to doubt just how much has changed since I was a boy. Its highlights included the following gentle reminders:

‘When you were a kid, a mobile was something that hung over a baby’s cot, social networking meant chatting in a pub, fast food meant beans on toast, a mouse was something that ate cheese and lived in a hole, you had to get up to change the channel on the wooden television set (and there were only three channels)!’

Change, and the pace of change, is the constant of our lives. Some of you with just a few years more than me will be able to go to other memories. The arrival of the first television set in your home maybe? Wars and their aftermath. Assassinations of world leaders and leading figures. The Beatles. The highs and lows of history and the arrival of new inventions and innovations, changes in culture signalled by what folk wore or what words came into vogue or ceased to be spoken will be some of the hooks upon which we hang our own personal stories.

Then there will be the much more personal. People we have known. Jobs we have done. Places we went to school or lived. Holidays. Anniversaries. Farewells. Loves and friendships. Losses and bereavements. It is a thread across the days and decades set with the moments, strung like pearls, from the day of our birth until today.

It is amazing to take stock of the changes. It can be terrifying to think of some of them. Other changes will be delights. We will look back and appreciate blessings that generations before us could hardly dream of. And what of the future? What might tomorrow bring, let alone 2025? Where will we be as the years roll onwards?

Maybe one thing a bigger birthday does is invite a little bit of pondering; a recognition of time passing and what that means and a reflection upon the journey taken thus far.

So it is that this particular letter to you all comes with my thankfulness. I think of the remarkable road we have taken since first I heard about our two congregations and the vacancy in the new pastorate you were creating. I see, upon searching on my laptop, that I wrote a letter to your vacancy committee to introduce myself and ask if you might wish to consider me dated 12th June 2019. A lot has happened in the five years since! I do not need to remind you of it all here. But I imagine none of us saw things playing out as they have. There will have been anguish and loss the likes of which we never thought possible. I hope there will also have been joy and delight we never thought to taste so fully. I am so glad that the journey has brought us here and that we now travel together.

When we reflect upon the nature of God, we tend to get to the unimaginably big. God as the one beyond time and space. God as the one who cannot be contained or limited by any constructs we dream up. God lost in mystery and deeply unknown. God beyond our imagining and greater than any of our theology. Yet, we need to balance all such thoughts with equally stunning and far smaller things.

God has chosen to come as close to us as our own breathing. God numbers the hairs on our heads (easier for him to do that in my case than once upon a time). God formed us and was with us in the womb. The Incarnation has God become one of us, living something around 33 years in a little bit of a long dead empire. Again and again, as we ponder the story of our life, we are glimpsing something of the God who has been with us in every moment of it all.

I remain utterly convinced that my own story has the shape it has because of the love of God at work. Sometimes I have turned my back upon that love. Sometimes I have truly doubted it and hurled my anger and hurt in God’s direction. Sometimes I hate the mystery and want more certainty. Yet, in spite of all my fickle faithfulness, the constant remains. For 60 years God has known me through and through; loved me, judged me, forgiven me, picked me up, directed me, called me, guided me, taught me. Much of that God has done through the lived example and wise words of others. Much of that, these past five years, God has done through you.

Thank you.

Yours in Christ