When I was young I faced the start of a school year with a mixture of excitement and dread. I recall doing obligatory shopping to get new shoes, blazer and PE kit, and even the school cap. There was also the compass, pencils, ruler, protractor and ink pen to buy as they got lost or broken every year. However, buying these things and getting everything ready was part of what led to the excitement and anticipation of what lay ahead in the academic year and beyond.
Many of the children in our churches and communities face similar emotions as they start a new academic year, change schools or starting school for the first time. As children share similar anticipations, I encourage you to uphold them and the staff in your prayers and to get actively involved as schools are an important part of our incarnational mission.
As a Diocese we are also looking to the future in anticipation of what is to come. Over the summer we have had a short break from the Centenary Celebrations, but like the start of a new term we are preparing again for the second phase of our gatherings and events. Everything is ready and in place and the organising committee are full of excitement and perhaps some dread, hoping that the weather will stay fine and people will turn out and have a good time in fellowship with others from across the diocese.
So far the Centenary has been marked by excellent weather, a good turnout from the parishes, a looking back with thanksgiving at what has made the Diocese what it is today and a real sense of fun, fellowship and worship together as the family of God.
The next phase of our celebration looks forward in anticipation of how we pass on our faith so that we grow new disciples who know Jesus as their personal saviour. The Archbishop of York says, “The Diocese of Sheffield has become a place of imaginative and thriving ministry, developing and nurturing disciples of Jesus Christ, and engaging with the challenges of a changing society”. Through God’s grace we will continue to be that sort of diocese, and we will see the mighty works of God.
So let’s not look to the future with a sense of dread and emotion, regretting the passing of 100 years, but start afresh in hopeful anticipation and excitement of what the next 100 will bring.