Vicar's letter

Dear Friends,

Like many of you and people all over the UK, on the evening of Saturday 11th September, I was glued to the TV cheering on Emma Raducanu in the final of the US Open.

The very fact that she was in the final at all was astonishing and the stuff of fairy tales if not Hollywood films.  We all know the story.  At the incredibly young age of 18, she wowed us this summer at Wimbledon before having to retire from the tournament.  She went away, took her time, and then had to qualify for the US Open.  After doing so, she proceeded to win the whole thing – the first qualifier ever to do so – and without dropping a set.  

I am not one to get overly dramatic when watching sport, but even I was on the very edge of my seat at different points during the final and punched the air in delight when she won.  Within minutes of her victory, before she had even been presented with her trophy, people were speculating about her future and what would come next.  ‘She is going to be a superstar’; ‘She is going to earn hundreds of millions of pounds’; ‘She is an advertiser’s dream.’  As soon as she arrived back in the UK, yet more questions for her to field: ‘What’s next?’  ‘What are you going to spend your winnings on?’  ‘Do you think you can do it again at the next Grand Slam?’  Yet her answers to many of these questions was delightfully laid-back but also contained a lesson for all of us – she was not going to rush quickly into anything; she wanted to take some time to absorb all that had happened; she would take each day of her next tournament at a time.  In other words, she wasn’t going to be rushed or jumped into doing anything too quickly. 

It is very easy in our world to rush.  Quick responses, quick replies, quick decisions are demanded from us because modern communication technology now allows it.  Taking your time with anything is not particularly easy and yet sometimes slowing down, absorbing what has happened and avoiding the temptation to look too far ahead is what we need and can be crucial to our general well-being.

We see this time and time again in the life of Jesus.  As his ministry developed, as more people followed him and demanded his immediate response, his response to their need was balanced with time away from the crowds and sometimes the disciples.  After the feeding of the five thousand when the crowds had seen for themselves what Jesus could do for them we are told that they ‘were about to come and take him by force to make him king’ so ‘he withdrew again to the mountain by himself’ (John 6:15).  He was their superstar, their great hope, they wanted to see all of his promise fulfilled there and then.  Jesus stopped, no doubt prayed and slowed it all down – he knew his mission, but he needed time to fulfill it.

The events of the last 18 months have in many ways demanded of many a quick response and in a remarkably short space of time – we think of those who developed the vaccines; those who had to set up new rules and regulations when all was very unclear; those who had to shift their entire working life from the office to home.  All the more reason then, to stop, to pray – if that is what you do – and give ourselves time to absorb all that has been and to know that whatever happens next – God, through Christ, is right there with us, every step of the way.

With every blessing,