September 2018

There’s an infectious sense of new beginnings at the start of September, even if we don’t have children or grandchildren of school age, most of us can remember the thrill and anticipation of a new academic year or starting at a new school. The shops in town are stocked with clothes and accessories for learning and we know that a change in the pace of life is coming as the school holidays draw to a close for many.

Our family has already had the privilege of a new start in this parish since we moved in a few months ago. We’re so grateful to everyone from the town who has given us such a great welcome. Lots of things are new to us here and we’re enjoying learning fresh things each day.

Living close to the Jewish retreat centre on Church Walks means that we’re daily amongst people who have the courage and distinctiveness to wear special clothing as a sign of their faith. It may sometimes be controversial, but I think it’s wonderful to see people wearing signs of their devotion. Just as school children wear the uniform of their school, so our Jewish neighbours (just like our Sikh and Muslim friends) remind us of the value of communicating loyalty to a relationship with God through outward signs of faith.

At the beginning of a new school year, there’s an opportunity for all of us to make a new start in some way and witness to our commitment. Of course, growing in faith takes practice and often involves failure. Sometimes we need to completely change the way that we think or behave: I remember as a child struggling with maths and wanting new equipment every September. There were expensive maths sets you could buy in tins with a ruler, a protractor, set-squares and a compass. I used to think that if only I had these then somehow maths would be easier! It took years for me to learn that it was more important to work to understand the subject than to have the coolest accessories (and I’m not sure I ever really understood what a set-square was for.)

This summer our church community has already embraced new things. In addition to many great activities, one particular joy of the past month has been the daily pilgrim prayer at St Tudno’s. Thanks to a whole variety of people who volunteered to lead this there’s been a regular fresh heartbeat of prayer that has engaged many and been a wonderful source of hope and encouragement.

The practice of prayer is a great place to start if we are keen to renew our faith. Edith Stein – the German Jewish philosopher who converted to Christianity and who died in Auschwitz – spoke about this, recognising the wisdom of being gentle with ourselves as we try to learn new things. She recommended that each day “…when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been and how much you planned that has gone undone and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and trust it to Him.”

I look forward to continuing the learning journey in your company.

Yours in Christ


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