Easter Letter - I make all things new

All Saints - April 2005

Well, I never expected to be asked to write the parish letter. As Humpty Dumpty says, “There’s glory for you!”

In the Revelation to John the risen Jesus says, “behold, I make all things new”. This makes a good starting point for an Easter letter and reflects our movement into new paths of ministry and mission to the city of Nottingham.

Jesus says, “I make” - this has nothing to do with human initiative or strategies for change and it is constantly happening; “I am making and I continue to make”. All things are made new, not just some things or things we might find acceptable. Things are made “new” not in the senses used by advertisers, promoters, or politicians. This newness is not about improvement, or progress, or reform, or their close political cousin, liberalism. The whole of everything and everybody is involved and all is made new not merely better. Jesus asks us to behold this, it cannot be true unless we appropriate it, discerning it, and living it.

St. Paul says that for any in Christ there is new creation (II Corinthians 5:17). Knowing this, believing this, is not enough - it has to make a difference in our living or our faith becomes an earnest religious game.

In describing his own life, and the coming of God’s kingdom, that so preoccupied him, Jesus used wonderfully organic images - seeds, trees, figs, fish, harvests and so on. Whatever shape we are led to for ministry to our city it must have this organic nature, growing rather than developing, husbanded not reformed or improved according to our priorities.

Already the risen Jesus moves among our churches, seeing, assessing, knowing, our strengths and weaknesses and passing judgement (Rev. 2 and 3). Satisfaction is the surest way to rejection (3:14ff) and even the best must hold fast (3:11). All promises can be lost if we lose hold of truth in return for efficiency, or effectiveness in mission.

Where do we start?

We have to start from here. We are called to be the ministry of the Church of England to the City of Nottingham, we cannot escape this. It’s no use hankering after a para-church or a meta-church. Similarly, with our city. I started with the risen Jesus in Revelation 21 - just before this is the vision of a city needing no church because of his presence. It is unlikely that Nottingham will ever be the new Jerusalem but it is where we are and God does not ever seem to start anywhere else.

Well, disjointed and clumsy though it is, that is a little of how I see it: for now anyway.

From all the clergy and ministers, a happy, holy and peaceful Easter.

Clarence Rickards

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Last revised 1st April 2005