Letter for November

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee
All things are passing;
God never changeth;

Teresa of Avila    (1515-1582).

Since my return from my extended leave in the summer I have been reflecting on these words from St Teresa of Avila. They appear in mid-day prayer from the Northumbria Community which we use sometimes when we pray together with the Baptists. I have been thinking about the changes which have gone on recently in our Benefice. I returned to find that three members of our Ministry Team were leaving this autumn, and two of our organists! That’s quite a lot of change in a short space of time. Also, others have announced that they would like to step down from their responsibilities because of changes in circumstances. On top of that, on my first day at my desk, I had a phone call from the Funeral Directors with requests for three funerals – two of which I conducted within a week!  It feels like quite a lot of loss to cope with.

The month of November invites us to deal with remembering, giving thanks for those we have lost, whether loved ones who have died, or people who gave their lives in war and conflict. We are invited to remember and give thanks and pray for peace and reconciliation. When we suffer loss of any kind it is hard to deal with. It feels as though everything is changing; what we took for granted has gone and our world looks and feels very different. We have to renegotiate our lives to be without them.

As regards those who have stepped back from responsibilities, it makes us think that we should never take people for granted; that we are all only passing through, and that it is God in whom we should put our complete trust. While other people move on and circumstances change, God remains the same. As the Psalmist writes: The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge. (Psalm 18:2).  When it feels like everything around us is changing, we can be sure that our God remains the same, that he is always there, ready to give us strength, courage and help.

Also, when some people on whom we have relied heavily step back from responsibilities, it means that others can step forward and try new things. We have seen this happening already, and we would really like to encourage anyone who sees a gap in our church life to step forward and offer to fill it. Please don’t wait to be asked! You may be surprised at how God will guide and equip you to fulfil what he has called us to do! So let us have courage in God who never changes, who supplies all our needs and is our ever-present rock in times of trouble.

Rebecca Harris


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