I thank God through Jesus for every one of you. That's first. People everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith, and every time I hear them, I thank him. And God whom I so love to worship and serve by spreading the good news of his Son – The Message! – knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God's gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before me eyes! But don't think I'm not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have so much to give me as I do to you. (Romans 1:8-12, The Message)
These words, from Paul's letter to the church in Rome, echo in our own spirits as we come towards our Diocesan Thanksgiving and Ordination on Saturday 23 November.
The longing is real. The thanksgiving is real.
We all come together because we have so much to give each other. Every single one of us: something to give, something to receive. Each one of us is a channel of God's blessing. We come together to increase that flow of blessing amongst us.
The people of God have always responded to the call to gather together to feast and celebrate. We hear and respond to this same call next week. We gather to celebrate the grace and works of God amongst us, in little things and big things. We come as a whole family to honour and say amen to the beautiful self-offering gift of our ordinands as they lay their lives down afresh. They make audacious promises. We, likewise, hear and commit to being the bearers of God's message of good news. And together we all turn our eyes upon Jesus and remember God's powerful grace that when we were still far off God met us in his Son and brought us home; dying and living he declared God's love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory. Our thanksgiving together is a taste of that glory; when we get to hear and see how each other has tasted and seen the goodness of God. Together we say thanks be to God!
Let us not be naive, the principalities and powers that rebel against God are always at work to keep the people of God apart and separated. Let us not be deceived, for though we are many, we are one body.
Come and give. Come and Receive.
In longing and thanksgiving,
+Justin and +Eleanor