The Bishop of Stafford, the Right Revd Gordon Mursell, has used a pastoral letter in February’s Parish Magazines across the Diocese of Lichfield, to consider the consequences of leaving home. The bishop will be retiring to Scotland in June after being warned by doctors that he risks losing his voice completely unless he stops talking too much.
Extract: Lastly, and however hard it is to believe, the best is always yet to come. The next bishop, the next vicar, the next occupant of the house you called “home”, will probably do better than you; and you should rejoice if they do, for what you left behind may have helped to make that happen. And for you or me, leaving home and travelling on with more grey hairs and an aching mix of sadness and deep gratitude, what lies ahead? We don’t know, for the future is not in our control. But God is a nomad too, and walks with us into the unknown. The supreme symbol of leaving home in Scripture is not the closed gate of Eden but the Cross of Good Friday; for there, and in our place, Jesus let go the most precious thing of all - his life - in order to receive it back from the Father on Easter morning in a form even death could not destroy. That’s why, as C.S.Lewis famously said, Christians never say goodbye - only “until we meet again”, in this world or the next. And that’s why, for those willing to take the risk of leaving home, the best is always yet to be.
Part of me wants to say, "It's easy for him to say," as he knows where he is going and, more than likely, has the cash to enjoy it. But, on the other hand, he does remind us of a Christian truth. It's just that I also think that just because we know God redeems doesn't mean we should allow shit to happen to us or accept it quietly when it does. I would like to be there when he delivers this homily to the cleaning staff TEC have just made destitute.
I have posted the full text of this letter on FOOTNOTES.
(Note to Cathy: The bishop isn't really going to deliver this homily to the sacked cleaners. That's just a flight of fancy on my part.)