Singing in the Rain | Bishop Toby | August 2023

Summer’s here! I know that joyful shout may have been rare in recent wet weeks, but as I write…the sun is shining.

Many of us have rearranged our holiday plans or seen promised events marred or cancelled due to the “worst since records began” weather, and we are all aware of the new global uncertainties driven by increasing climate chaos.

Memory, perhaps rose-tinted and with a hint of Vivaldi, takes us back to an imagined time of predictable seasons, rather than today’s turbulent weather patterns.

It is tempting to look back at our economic climate in a similar way: the period of zero interest rates as a time of financial security, a time of plenty. Of course, it wasn’t that way for many people.

For example, poverty and deprivation in our communities led to the need for foodbanks at the same time as the possibility of negative interest rates was being discussed.

And with hindsight, where was the good stewardship in that time of plenty that prudently filled metaphorical grain stores ahead of plague, pestilence or war?

We are in testing times. As Christians, this should not surprise us. For most of the church’s history and for most of the world’s Christians today, such as our sisters and brothers in our link dioceses of Sudan and Tanzania, life has been and continues to be precarious.

As with the climate or the economy, so with our faith. It is tempting, faced with global and local insecurities, to hark back to a time when the church seemed more stable, or

God’s ways seemed more predictable. But the Bible, and our Sudanese friends, call us to put our hope in Jesus, who doesn’t always take us out of the storm but is here with us in the middle of it.  

Our diocesan “Barnabas” initiative encourages us to live confidently, generously, and sustainably as churches in our turbulent times. As we learn to live this way, with Jesus, going with the grain of God’s work in the world, we experience the joy of tapping into the energy of the Holy Spirit and sharing that hope with others.

Our two new bishops, the Rt Revd Smitha Prasadam and the Rt Revd Anna Eltringham will be active in our Huddersfield and Ripon areas from next month and we all look forward to welcoming them and the new gifts they bring.

So, let’s have a little more singing in the rain…

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