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Pastoral Letter

From the Rector - The Reverend Geoffrey Smith

1 August 2019

Anybody who has found themselves having to care for somebody who is suffering a great deal through illness or misfortune will know how distressing it is to be told ‘but you don’t know what it’s like’. There will be times when we won’t be able to fully describe our pain or suffering and will find it inconceivable that the kindly face at the bedside really understands what we’re going through.

There can be a tremendous isolation in suffering which cuts us off from everybody else – ‘nobody really knows or understands and therefore nobody really cares’ - and this negativity will work against any positive help or assistance that’s being offered. But then this is the human condition writ large – that part of the human condition where we find that locked up inside ourselves there is a secret fear that ultimately we are on our own. We all have a private loneliness which can reveal itself in the lives of people whom hitherto we had always judged as being perfectly happy – a great career, wonderful marriage, strong social life – but underneath all this there’s lurking that horrible suspicion that nevertheless we’re on our own.

The church has always described this as being the inevitable consequence of man being separated from God, which we all are. It’s the human condition, separation from God revealing itself in this sense of incompleteness – the feeling that despite all we have there is still something missing and so when things do go wrong then we’ll be on our own because nobody else will be able to really help or understand. It sounds a bit dramatic, I know, but believe me there is a little bit of this isolation in each and every one of us.

But it’s here that our Christian faith becomes apparent because at it’s heart is the belief that we are not on our own because Christ is with us. He is not only with us as the unseen companion along our life’s journey but he also fully understands and appreciates all we’re going through because he has lived a fully human life and experienced human suffering to an intense degree. He is both with God in the highest heavens and with us in the deepest parts of our human predicament; and it’s here that we need to put our trust.

Geoffrey Smith