01 May Looking Forward – May 2016
We are looking forward to settling into Walton-on-Thames. We have packed up our lives in Woking and said goodbye to friends and familiar places. We are now looking forward to discovering new places and making new friends. We will have to find our way around the town, get to know where everything is, meet people, find out where the good coffee shops are and search out the best places to go for walks. As we embark on this adventure in Walton, there are two words that come to mind: faith and hope. We have faith that this is the place God has led us to and that we are the people God wants as your new Vicars. We have hope that God is doing and will continue to do amazing things among the people and in the town of Walton.
We love the Easter season: apart from eating chocolate, it is a great time to reflect afresh on the greatest story of all time – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we ponder, two words come to mind: faith and hope. Jesus’ disciples were convinced that he was dead, but they needed faith to believe that he was alive again. Thomas is renowned for doubting, but actually there were others who, on the day of his ascension, doubted Jesus, even after he had appeared to about 500 people. It required faith for them and it requires faith for us. In fact, anything we can’t see requires faith. If we already have something, we don’t need faith to believe it. On the other hand, it requires faith to believe God is there when we can neither see him nor feel him.
Faith is the gap between reality and what we hope for. Hope is all around us. At this time of year, as the little plants grow bigger each day, there is the hope of flowers and fruit to come. Spring is a time of hope. And there are all sorts of hopes in our lives: hope for a better job, or a job at all; hope for release from an illness or condition; hope for freedom from something that holds us captive, or from our regrets. Faith is the gap into which we invite God; we invite God and see what he will do. Faith is a creative place to be. It is a place we come to when we have exhausted our own resources and can only depend on God. It is not necessarily comfortable, but a creative place to be.
Finance can be an area in which we want to be self-sufficient and in control. But a lack in this area, as in any other, can be the gap into which God wants to come. At the church, there has recently been a Gift week. Yes, there are financial needs for the future, but this was more than a plea for money, it was a time of opportunity, to step out in faith and trust in God for the future. Praying and giving in this case was like saying “I’m in!”. Like a pledge to say we trust in God for this whole next stage of the journey together. Faith is the gap into which we invite God and see what he will do. We can apply this to many areas of our lives. Faith is the gap between reality and where we hope to be.
That hope is not just a vain hope, because what the disciples failed to grasp at first was that, since Jesus had risen from the dead, the way was opened for all people to experience life everlasting with God. This is real hope. A follower of Jesus, writing to the Hebrews, said, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”. If we have something, we don’t need to have faith for it!
We are stepping out in faith as we come to Walton, leaving the familiar, and coming to a new place. We have stepped out in faith before, when we went to South Africa as missionaries with our young children. God has been faithful to us in the past and we have faith for the future. As we come as new vicars to Walton, we have hope: hope that God will do beautiful things here and hope of being a part of that. It has been said, “Hope is the music of tomorrow; faith is to dance to that music today!”. We are excited about this next phase in the life of St Mary’s and St John’s. It’s a time to step out in faith, trusting God for the next stage of the journey. Let’s step out in faith and hope together. We are looking forward to it!
Cathy and Jonny