a message from Revd Teena Twelves.
Psalm 23 is probably, after the Lord’s Prayer, one of the best loved bits of the Bible. Thanks to Howard Goodall’s theme song to ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, it’s known by many who have never set foot in a church or opened the good book. This wonderful Psalm is set in our Lectionary for this Sunday and encompasses three key Christian messages – faith, hope and love.
It feels that people have perhaps never had more need for faith: faith in the enduring possibilities of life, and resilience in the face of significant obstacles. We, the body of Christ in Ashford, must live out our faith and present this positive outlook, our assurance that with Christ alongside us life is good: if we trust in God we shall want for nothing, and shall lie down in green pastures.
Such an attitude of resilient optimism is of course founded on hope. Hope is difficult to describe, but obvious when you come across it. It’s a sense that there’s always the opportunity for something good to come out of any situation – that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death there is no need to fear evil, for God will be there alongside us, and work his purposes out. Hope is believing that within any darkness, a light – the light – will come to shine. The mindset of hope that we need to cultivate and share with those around us should be infectious and contagious, drawing all who come near into its light.
And lastly, love. We know Christians don’t have the monopoly on love, but we believe that all human love is an overflowing of God’s love for us. Wherever we find that love, we will glimpse God. People around us need to catch those glimpses, to be reassured that whatever they are dealing with in life, love continues, as God continues, for all eternity.
As I’ve taken up my new role here, I’ve been visiting the churches across the parish to see the work that we and our ecumenical partners are doing to support those who struggle to make ends meet and those who need additional support, whether practically, emotionally or financially. And my heart has been singing with joy, as I’ve witnessed the wonderful work happening in Christ’s name in this town.
But let us not be complacent: there is still much that the Good Shepherd calls us to do. So let us find the lost sheep that still need to hear his loving voice, and reach out to them with faith, hope and love