Welcome to the month of May in the Claydons, Calvert, Calvert Green, Sandhill and Verney Junction.
In his journal about the meaning of life, Fennel Hudson shared: “May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel most alive”. This 2013 journal was a heartfelt and entertaining account of one man’s search for an old-fashioned and peaceful rural life. Our desire to feel most alive in north Buckinghamshire however remains elusive in the midst of challenges around us.
We’re subjected to road, rail and house building construction projects daily. We’re facing inflationary and tax pressures impacting food, energy bills, fuel expenses and our mental health. We’re moved by images and stories of Ukrainians and other refugees in war conflicts and atrocities.
The Apostle Paul in the 1st chapter of 1st Corinthians cited the following words: “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace”. And Victor Hugo once said, “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and have patience for the small ones. Go to sleep in peace. God is awake”.
Grace is God’s free gift of salvation given to us in Christ. Receiving it brings us peace. In a world of noise, confusion, and relentless pressures, people long for peace. In fact, the desire to sleep in peace! Many give up the search, thinking it is impossible to find. But true peace of heart and mind is available to us through faith in Christ because it starts internally to impact others externally. Secondly, peace builds trust in God in matters beyond our control and when military means and other responses have their limits. More importantly, peace creates a space for self-reflection coming out of last month’s Easter season. We find ourselves wrestling with our condition, personal circumstances and mental health unable to resolve them. We therefore need to find a way to manage this wrestling! Acknowledgement of our condition though allows to us to experience peace in a noisy world over daily distractions and anxieties. We can still have Fennel Hudson’s old-fashioned peaceful rural space because of what is within us, and that’s where God’s restorative project begins because of the ransom settled.
The 1st chapter of 1st Peter cites: “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.”
A missionary, when travelling on a plane, was given a card with his meal. On the card was written, “What do you think of our meals?” He wrote: “Too good for a ransomed sinner”. When the flight attendant picked up the card and read it, she smiled and asked him what he meant. He told her that this was the way he looked at everything – not just a meal. He saw everything in the light of being a ransomed sinner. We are all ransomed sinners starting with me.
We, ransomed sinners, constantly question whether we take things – for granted or with gratitude? I always choose the latter. I am thankful for the ransomed gift. I am thankful for the gift of each new day. I am grateful that God is working daily for my betterment. I am grateful that every stumbling block faced turns into a stepping stone. These examples might be an alternative reality to yours. But I believe that, as ransomed sinners, our reality becomes tangible as we bring Jesus alongside all of life’s problems through prayers and worship to increasingly see them from His point of view. Only then, will our responses, yearnings for peace and appreciation of life, families, community, friends and faith change one will at a time.
Currently, we empathise with families across the Parish in desperate circumstances following notable increases in residents’ messages received for help since last month. It is heart breaking.
As ransomed sinners, we stay grounded in our faith in order to collectively respond as a church community with kindness, hospitality and prayers to resident needs in our Parish. I hope through the words of the 13th chapter of Hebrews, we are encouraged to find our peaceful rural life from within our hearts here in the Claydons (or elsewhere from where you are reading this reflection): “For God said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
Stay blessed with love.
Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray
Parish of the Claydons