Dear fellow Christ Church and Emmanuel members, We are all going through a time of considerable change in our lives.  And change is something we all find difficult to adjust to, let alone respond to.  But we are responding to the changes the vacancy has produced.  It is wonderful to see so many actively responding in whatever way is necessary in order that the life of both Christ Church and Emmanuel should not only continue, but also thrive. We are conscious of the need to go further, much further, and that our churches should become the focus of many people coming to faith and trusting in God.  I wonder if the following may have a resonance in your mind as you read.  There are two questions on my mind at this point in time. 1. How have I become so complacent, so uninspired with my own faith and experience of God that it is so difficult to encourage others to seek both God’s forgiveness and His presence?
2. What can I do to remedy this situation?
But, then I remembered, as a young man in my late teens, struggling at A levels, and finding the emptiness of life lived without a purpose and God’s guiding hand, saying, “there must be more to life than this”.  I started to attend a local church, and eventually over a period of time scripture started to make sense and become clear.  Faith followed. Someone has said that, "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”.   For each of us in this vacancy period, I am going to suggest that we stop and look back personally at what God has done in our lives. Now, in the light of our knowledge of His perfect guidance of our imperfect lives, we have arrived where we are.  God has brought each and every one of us to this point, this time in our lives and we are called to respond to the changes, and more excitingly, respond to the challenges we face.  Our response to question 2. above is of fundamental importance at this time. Let us seek to touch the lives of others with whom we come in contact, for God, through our own experiences.  Let us remind ourselves of what God has done for us individually.  As each of us looks back over the sometimes rocky and difficult pathways of our lives, I suspect they now look very straight roads that we have travelled to where we are.  Our trust in the Living God helps us understand that He has not only created us for His own purpose, but shown us in our personal histories His overruling and leading in our lives.  Wow! How could we forget. The God who created us for Himself, has never let us out of His hands, and will not let us go.  He ensures we live our lives with meaning, with understanding, and with hope.  Perhaps those simple facts are all that someone else needs to know to start their journey with God.  It may be a simple invite to Little Inspirations, Somewhere to go, Fabulous Families, Winter Warmth, the Christmas fayre or the Carol or other Christmas services.  Simple conversations. God allows change as a vehicle for carrying out His purposes.  So, the changes necessary during and after the Vacancy, are merely God’s opportunities for each of us.  Let’s learn to embrace God’s changes!  And especially as we live in 2012.

Richard Flew