Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
Therefore, since God in His mercy has given us this ministry, we do not lose heart. (2 Cor 4:1 Berean Bible)
I thank you and I thank God for the opportunity afforded me to spend this week in prayerful Retreat with my “Spirituality in Leadership, Formation Group” and for our time of deep reflection about our lives as ambassadors of reconciliation who as St Paul says, are “hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor 4:9,10)
These words of Paul were not just bumper sticker slogans, but conclusions derived from intense prayer in intense circumstances. In this ever-changing complex world, we are constantly being challenged to adjust and to transform and to adapt, and it can be a gruelling journey. As clergy we do not simply walk this path alone, but as St Paul again says, “death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” (2 Cor 4:12) As spiritual leaders we carry the burdens, the pains and the troubles of the world and especially those entrusted to us, so that the light and love and joy of Jesus may be seen and His grace and His mercy abound, in those to whom we minister.
Therefore, we are called to deep repentance for where we have failed you, the people of God. We make our appeal to God that though we are “jars of clay” ( 2 Cor 4:7), the great truth of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, His great mercy, grace, love, compassion and salvation will be revealed to you and experienced by you, God’s people.
And so we give an account of the Hope that we have, (1 Peter 3:15) a hope that, despite our frailty as a Diocese, despite our weakness as the clergy, despite the pressures of the Pandemic, God’s grace does and will abound in us all, as we seek Him with all our heart and all our soul and all our minds.
We have a priority task at hand and that is to rebuild a leadership at parish level that will strengthen our community. In these uncertain times leadership is a challenging space, but it is also an exciting space. I see us turning a corner (so to speak) in our ministry in the world and I am excited about what the new season will bring.
I am a new creation in Christ, (2 Cor 5:17) and that means that each day and even multiple times during that day I am renewed and transformed and refurbished by the Holy Spirit. I invite you who are too, a “being renewed” creation, to journey with God and to seek the newness that He offers. Leaving behind what was and embracing what is. The Psalmist says “let everything that has breath praise the lord.” Therefore, while you have breath, use it to praise Him, for we are “hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor 4:9,10) and therefore, we live in Hope!
Your fellow pilgrim
Rector St Mary’s Kingsburgh and Church of the Good Shepherd Amanzimtoti.