Some of those changes are really welcome. I’m thrilled that after two years of preparation, a group of six ‘ordinands’ (trainee vicars) have moved to the area and are sharing with me in ministry in All Hallows Church and in Lady Bay. They’ve all received a warm welcome and are really pleased to be here.
Some of those changes introduce more uncertainty about the future. The Church of England ordination training college that I work for, St John’s College in Bramcote, is now entering a period of significant change as we look to develop more sustainable patterns of training for the future.
Much as we may dislike it – because it’s rarely painless – change is inevitable in life. In the sixth century BC, Heraclitus, the great Greek philosopher of change put it very neatly when he said that we never step into the same river twice. Everything flows. Nothing stands still.
In all the changing scenes and seasons of our life, we look for the anchors that might hold us firm – family, friends and, perhaps for some, faith. The Bible speaks of a God who is the same, yesterday, today and forever. But the message of Christmas is that the eternal God steps into the flowing river of our human experience and shares birth, growth, life and death with us.
In the manger in Bethlehem, we encounter a great mystery, the eternal, unchanging God, present to us, as one of us, breathing, growing, learning, changing.
Finally we face the truth that we ourselves also are a flowing river. We do not stand still. We change. In the gaze of the Christmas child, though, we meet the One whose love is the one constant, unchanging, fixed point in the Universe. If we share that recognition, we can trust that whatever change may come, we are not lost and we are not alone.
Have a blessed Christmas. Mark.
image © Wong Mei Teng