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October 2011
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vicar Sure Start?
By The Revd David Burgess

For me, everything starts in the autumn.

I’ve known this from a very young age. The pattern of the school year became instilled at around four and a half. The school year became the university year, which became a job where I worked with and cared for other people’s schoolchildren, which continued into theological college, which moved into our own children starting school, and which has carried on ever since – even now, two of our three are starting upon new ventures in education.

I wrote an article on a similar theme several years ago and wrote at the time, “In six or seven years we might start realising, like everybody else, that the year actually begins in January!” Eight years on, I still don’t think I do!
Having said that, the Church is no exception; the liturgical year works out very similarly to the educational one – a threefold division of Christmas, Easter and the rest (“which Sunday after Trinity is it, Vicar...?”). Similarly, things pick up after quiet, lengthy summer breaks, and new initiatives are planned.

I’m thinking, though, more seriously, of other new starts...
…of the Church, and the Anglican Church in particular, trying to take a step back and regroup after a very difficult few years. A recent Deanery meeting with Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, reminded us that the cultural and societal goals of our community have shifted drastically and that we badly need to catch up to avoid losing what (seemingly) little relevance we still have.
…of a political establishment and media which are going to have to look long and hard at the real nature of truth, integrity and honest communication (I wrote an almost identical sentence in the earlier article I mentioned above – expenses scandals and phone hacking now, intelligence and the David Kelly affair then).
...of those across our Parishes who are facing the coming months having lost a loved one, or for whom life is progressing further in infirmity, illness, loneliness, distress or (increasingly) poverty.
…of more positive and happier new starts as well - those experiencing the delights of parenthood or grandparenthood for the first time; those embarking on new careers, or looking forward to educational milestones; those who have set off along the road of married life.
God is in the midst of life, however complex or bewildering it may seem. Whichever way we turn in our lives, he’s there to guide, support and encourage us – if we let him.

Are you in the middle of something new? If it’s an excitement or a challenge, why not let God be a part of it? If it’s something that’s really testing you, affecting you at a very deep level, and you’re not sure whether you’re going to get through it – trust him; let him be there with you as well.

One day, I’ll write something like this in January instead of in autumn; but this will have to do while my life is still in ‘school-term’ mode. May your new start – whatever it is – know the presence of God at its centre, and may you walk with Him as you continue.

We were grateful to receive a cheque for £200 from Walker Films, a studio in West London, for the work of the church. The company had been filming on the green at the very beginning of September. The donation had been kindly authorised and arranged by Mrs. Stewart-Liberty, to whom we also offer our sincere thanks.

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