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View from the Manse

Dear Friends,

March finds us living through Lent. Yes, there are some possible highlights: Mothering Sunday, and saints' days for David and Patrick. High points such as these seem all the more important during a
pandemic and the lockdown we are currently in. It is important that we still have things to look forward to and celebrate, albeit in a different way this year.

When the usual things we'd like to do are no longer possible, we work hard to find acceptable alternatives. If we find ourselves more isolated than usual, to what do we turn? I'm reminded of a hymn that I used to sing quite often when I was a member of the Boy's Brigade.

The chorus says:

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love!

As followers of Jesus in these uncertain times, we have an opportunity to hold onto that anchor all the more firmly. So what does that look like for me and you? What does it mean to hold onto the eternal truths that God is a rock that cannot be moved, and to which we are anchored?

You can of course push every illustration too far, but in this hymn we are told that life will not always be easy or straightforward. Nevertheless there is something greater that will take us through: the love of God. Growing up in Ringwood, we would often visit coastal towns like Poole and sometimes see the huge anchor chains, if not the anchors themselves, on which the boats
relied. This served to make the hymn become that bit more real in my understanding of the depth and security there was to be found in God.

For many years now Lent has been a period where people have chosen to take something on or try something new rather than think about giving something up. This Lent, it strikes me that we have an opportunity, perhaps like never before, to explore what it means to live 'grounded firm and
deep in the Saviour's love'. We know that we belong to God, so this Lent, how do we live secure in that knowledge and free to float safely, no matter what the weather throws at us?

Perhaps this Lent we can rediscover the strength of God's love for us. Perhaps we can be so filled by it that by Easter Day we will feel empowered to share that glorious news: that Jesus Christ is alive and working in our midst, and that the strength of connection to God is available to everyone the world over. With everyone attached, the Rock of God will not be moved.

May we all know the strength of God's love for us this Lent.
Every blessing
Ian

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Appleford Drive
Abingdon
OX14 2AQ

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