Chiltern Area Remembers & Celebrates…..

I agree with Alex Haley (Roots) that “when we lose access to the past, forgotten or repressed, the present becomes confused, the future disorienting”. The Chiltern Area Committee of the Thames North Synod may have had this in mind when they gathered on Saturday November 10th at Amersham Free Church to mark 40 years since 1972 in the life of the United Reformed Church and ministry in the area.

Through a well thought out and crafted service we were feasted to delightful and lively singing, appropriate readings, prayers, stories and memories from 1972 woven throughout the order of service and the conversations afterwards around a generously-spread table. The stories and memories included a contribution from Betty Fisher (with congregational antecedents) on the journey towards formation of the United Reformed Church who was present at that service of inauguration, a humorous and insightful  “take” on the early journey from a former Presbyterian (David Eldridge) and a reflection on being part of the United Reformed Church by a former Anglican now a minister of the United Reformed Church (Kate Yates).

What the stories highlighted is a journey towards a larger vision where all had to be “mutually inconvenienced” towards the larger story of growing in patterns of discipleship of faith and faithfulness for God’s future. Drawing on these stories and memories, I reflected on how we have been sustained by a generous God. And though there were times when we may have wandered away from our calling we have never forgotten the invitation to discover it again – to recommit our lives a new, exciting and adventurous journey, allowing the compassion and grace, goodness and peace of Jesus to define our living.

What stands out in this service of celebration and the table-conversations that followed (as all the others I have shared in) is the sense of hope. We have never been alone. We are not alone. And the stories shared underscore that even in the midst of despair, anxieties, loss of nerve we are able to embrace the promise that our reality will be transformed into God’s new world, once we are able to move out of the way.

“Cheshire Puss,” Alice began, “would you please tell me which way I go from here?” “That depends on where you want to get to,” said the cat.

Well, we know where we have to get to and what we need to do! And we are not alone.

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