A letter from the Vicarage – Rev’d Andy Stand

Last month in my letter for this magazine, I wrote about the need for a change to my daily routines brought about by the fact that my wife Chris has started a new job. I was reflecting upon the importance of a settled rhythm to the daily routine. I think it is probably equally important to have a similar, settled pattern to our weekly routines, including having a regular day of rest; this is of course part of what lies behind the fourth of the ten commandments that God gave to Moses: the command to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. It is also I think beneficial at regular intervals to have longer periods of rest and recreation: you might even think about going away for a retreat in order to further your relationship with God.

This magazine of course is the July/August edition, which will mean that for many of us the holiday season is upon us once again. Children and young people will be completing another year of schooling and education, and then will, I trust, enjoy their long summer holiday from school.

As many of you will know, Chris, James and I frequently holiday up in the Lake District; and we do so usually with the refrain: “You don’t go to the Lakes for the weather!”
I wonder how many of you saw the programmes on the BBC a number of years ago now, all about  our Great British weather, I recall I found some of it quite fascinating and some of the explanations of our weather patterns here in the UK quite enlightening.

How do you respond to such explanations? Do they in some respects help to reduce the role and involvement of God in our world? Some of you may well say that as we can explain our weather patterns by the use of science, and scientific observation we have no need for God. That is certainly a point of view.

But it won’t surprise you to hear that it is not one that I share.

While we may be able (to a certain extent) to explain our weather patterns, (and in fairness the weather forecasters do seem to do a much better job than we often give them credit for), we are unable (at the moment) to alter our weather – other than for the worse (if climate change is to be believed). And so as we see some of the photographs of the weather around the country, and are reminded of the power of the weather (there was a picture in the paper recently of somewhere that was hit by lightning a number of times in just one storm, with pictures of the lightning in different places in the one skyline), we have to just acknowledge that it is beyond our control.

On many occasions, we can do no more than allow it to bring us up short, and to acknowledge its great power and beauty. Many of us would want to credit such power and beauty to wonderful and beneficent creator. Other’s may dispute that, and point to the suffering elsewhere in the world. How can a wonderful and beneficent creator allow that kind of suffering?

I can’t answer that, but I do think we make a mistake if we believe that a loving God, has to be a “cute and cuddly” God.

One of the things that our varied weather patterns often show us, is the awesomeness and majesty of its power and might. In many ways I believe the weather shows us a great deal of the nature and character of God. While I very much believe that God is a God of love, and full of grace, I also believe he is a God of justice and compassion, and power and strength and might, a God to be worshipped with a sense of reverence and awe, as well as with love and joy.

I hope you have a very happy summer and may God bless you all.

Every blessing

Revd. Andy Stand

St. Philip & St. James Parish Church Whittington, Worcs. WR5 2RQ