Rector's Letter - May 2002
My Dear Friends,
A while back Her Majesty the Queen described the preceding twelve months as an annus horribilis, Latin for ‘horrible year’. Two very public royal divorces, an unseemly Parliamentary squabble over the cost of the civil list and a fire at Windsor Castle were the main contributors.
I’m half-tempted to say that in parts our last year has had something of the horribilis about it. We seem to have had a quite unprecedented level of ill health amongst the most active members of our congregation - people who are right at the heartbeat of our Church. We have lost Neville Simpson and Lily Barber amongst others. I thought Lily was indestructible! But of course none of us is, not even me. I learnt that on Thursday 10th January at exactly 1.15 pm at the bottom of a ski slope in Andorra. That accident, which broke my back just three months ago, has also cast its own personal shadow over the last year.
But let me speak of the silver lining as well as the cloud.
In the years to come, when I recollect the time spent flat on my back, I won’t be thinking of the physical discomfort of the injury, nor any psychological pressure I put myself under to get back to work. No, I will be thinking of the way people said ‘Don’t worry - you just get yourself right’. I’ll be thinking think about the good wishes and the cards and the phone calls, and the way people stepped up and led services in my place. I will remember the Church truly being the Church.
Biblically the Church is known as the Body of Christ. When I broke my back they said I didn’t need a plaster cast because my rib cage as the skeleton and muscles around the broken bones, were resilient and rigid enough to keep the injured vertebrae stable until the broken bones mended themselves. That’s what happens in the Body of Christ too. We hold together and over time healing comes. You are the Body of Christ. You are the firm sinews and bones around those people going through their ‘horrible’ times.
At the time of Her Majesty the Queen’s annus horribilis, things had never looked more bleak for the Monarchy. Many prophets of doom said it was all over. But here we are in Golden Jubilee year, last week’s polls have never shown more support for the Royal Family in recent times especially amongst the young, and when we buried the Queen Mum a whole nation grieved for a Granny.
Like Her Majesty, we have our anni horribiles, but we have anni beati too, ‘blessed years’. Perhaps in the future we will look back to these times and they won’t seem quite so horrible, maybe they will even seem blessed, because our recollections will be of the love and support we received. The body changes and grows and heals and recovers, and the Body of Christ will too.
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