The great Arthur Ashe, legendary tennis player and first African American to be recruited by the US Davis Cup Tennis Team is credited as saying “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” Ashe was sustained throughout his life by a Christian faith.

As our beloved Vicar leaves for new pastures, we begin a new journey together.

It is natural perhaps as we take our first steps to feel a little uncertain as to where that journey will lead us, but together I am sure that we can travel side by side as brothers and sisters supporting one another. As Ashe suggests we do not need to become fixated on the destination but rather take heart that the journeying itself will through God’s grace reveal to us new hitherto unknown insights of faith.

As we emerge from the “darkness” of Lent and Good Friday into the sunlight of Easter, the Great Fifty Days of Eastertide sustain the joy in the celebration of the gloriously risen Christ; thus, our journey together begins in, and is founded upon emerging into new light and profound hope.

On New Year, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a German pastor who bravely opposed the Nazi government, wrote a poem in prison. It’s quite a longish poem but here are a few verses which reflect upon the fact that whilst there may be good things ahead, there may also be bad things, but we place our trust in God and in the light that He shines on us. Bonhoeffer writes,

“Should it be ours to drain the cup of grieving even to the dregs of pain, at thy command, we will not falter, thankfully receiving all that is given by thy loving hand. But should it be thy will once more to release us to life’s enjoyment and its good sunshine, that which we’ve learned from sorrow shall increase us, and all our life be dedicate as thine. Today, let candles shed their radiant greeting; lo, on our darkness are they not thy light leading us, haply, to our longed-for meeting? Thou canst illumine even our darkest night.”

So, as we begin our new journey in hope, we pray that the light of Christ may shine to illuminate our way and that in journeying we remain above all else alive to God’s love.