Rector's Letter, July 2000.

 My dear friends,

 How could I not talk about my experience of freefall parachuting in this month's magazine?  After all going skydiving isn't exactly an every day occurrence in the life of a 41-year-old Vicar is it!

 For those of us attending the British Army's freefall parachuting course, it was a stressful 2 weeks.  Hanging around waiting to step out of a perfectly serviceable aeroplane from a mile above the ground is guaranteed to give you sweaty palms - particularly when you've just packed your own parachute for the first time.  Now there's a lesson in faith!

 Each time you go out the door you're on your own.  No instructor can remind you what to do next.  If you get into problems in an unstable tumble or your parachute fails to open you have only seconds to react.  The ground is rushing towards you at 120 mph.  At the moment you pull your ripcord you may only be 7 seconds from impact.  This is not an occasion to be hesitant or indecisive!

 Why does the Army spend so much time and money on frightening its members?  Because it wants it's men and women to be capable of acting decisively, even if people's lives are at stake - when the line between life and death is a very thin one.

 In the normal course of things, our lives are insulated from such "dangerous" moments.  We're surrounded by air bags & ABS, burglar alarms & CCTV.  The trouble is that we may be lulled into a false sense of security - fooled into thinking that life doesn't contain any life or death decisions anymore.  Consequently, faith and belief have been reduced to just a series of rather interesting intellectual opinions.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Faith is nothing less than a life-or-death decision.

 The Apostle John put it starkly and simply: "Whoever has the Son of God has life, whoever does not have the Son does not have life".  Our destiny lies in our own hands...  Thankfully, most of us have longer than 7 seconds left to make our decision!

             Jeff Cuttell.

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