Rev. Andrew Dart

Dear Friends,

Change and decay in all around I see; O thou who changest not abide with me!

I sang these familiar words recently at a funeral and they got me thinking.  It is true that we live in ever changing times – who would have thought that one day we would be scanning our own shopping, calling our computer Alexa and knowing the exact time our bus was going to arrive by just looking at our phone.

In the Church we cope with constant change too.  People come and go, hymn books change colour from blue to red, our Circuit boundaries change, and every now and then a new Minister to welcome.

I can’t quite believe that the Rev’d David and Sarah Musgrave have now been with us for 5 years!  Where has that time gone?  It does not feel right to be saying goodbye to them already!  But the time has come, and it is with much thankfulness that I reflect on David’s time with us.  His wealth of experience as a Diplomat has been much appreciated as he has brought a calm and thoughtful outlook to often complex problems.  His passion for justice and his love of West Africa have brought special dimensions to his Ministry.  And David and Sarah together have done so much to help us think about what our mission is here in Lambeth – from their dedication to the Robes project to welcoming and befriending refugee families from Syria.  David has been a great and supportive colleague and we will miss them both.  We wish them a very happy retirement in Bath.

In September we will be welcoming the Rev’d Kristin Markay and soon discovering what special gifts she will bring to us as we continue to change and evolve as God’s people.

The hymn reminds us of the changing state of our world and of the Church – but it also states that God does not change – it implies that God is like a rock, permanent, solid, something to grip hold of when everything else feels uncertain.

That is true from our own experience – God has been there when life has been full of bewildering events, but I wonder – does God change?  I think He does. The Bible certainly says He does.  In the Old Testament God often changes His mind and shows compassion when His initial impulse is anger and judgement.  And one senses in the story of salvation that the incarnation was an idea that grew and formed in God’s mind.  Having given the Law and the prophets and found that these were not enough for people, God decided to come to us Himself, as a human being, as Jesus.

So, I think God does change.  He responds to us in different ways in different times and in different generations and he continually finds new ways to speak to us and challenge us and comfort us.  As David and Sarah prepare to leave us in a couple of months’ time we pray that God will find new ways to use their gifts as they retire to Bath.  As we look back with thankfulness for all they have done for us and with us, we pray that God will help us to build on what they have done here with us in Lambeth.  And as we move forwards together as Churches and as a Circuit, and as we live out our individual lives of faithful discipleship, we pray that God will do new things for us too.

Wishing you all every blessing,

Andy D