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Preparing the Way

I had cause, in early July, to visit The Range (the large shop which seems to sell everything). One of my daughters wanted a particular kind of photo frame. I am pleased to say that we had a successful visit. However, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw on my way back towards the till. Remember this is early July…

Over the years, I have got quite used to seeing back-to-school products in the shops at the beginning of the summer holidays, Christmas decorations on display at the end of August and Easter Eggs being laid on supermarket shelves in January. But I’ve never seen Hallowe’en paraphernalia marketed in July. It struck me as a sign of desperation: either someone is desperately trying to make Hallowe’en something more than it is (or ever should be), or The Range is going through a financially slim time and desperately trying to muster sales wherever it can. I was sad, partly because I don’t like Hallowe’en, but partly because it felt that time was artificially being sped up. The bottom line is that I don’t want to be buying things in July for October (or August for December, etc.).

Having said that, of course, you’ve got to admire the forward planning in these superstores. There are probably important lessons we could learn from them, for in the church, we also have to do significant forward-planning. Whether we like thinking about it in September or not, Christmas does come round with unchangeable regularity, and getting it right needs preparation. Similarly, whilst Hallowe’en costumes might not be what we want to buy in July (or ever), if we are planning an alternative celebration – a “Light Party” or similar – then we do need to make sure that we’ve conducted all the relevant purchases in good time. At the end of the day, we must make preparations for the future.

In my church over the coming month, we will be studying the short second letter of Peter. Peter’s main point, it seems to me, is that his readers should make preparations for the Day of the Lord. According to Peter, some were scoffing and saying it was never coming, which gave them licence for immoral behaviour (or so they thought). Peter instructs his readers not to be drawn astray by the ideas of the false teachers, and instead encourages them to grow in the knowledge of God – to make preparations for that day when they would meet him face to face. The day, unlike October 31st or December 25th, is unknown, but they are to prepare nonetheless, because it will certainly come.

Like Peter’s first readers, we are to prepare ourselves for that day, too. In the words of our diocesan strategy, we are to Live God’s Love every day and wherever we are. There’s no doubt in my mind that Peter would wholeheartedly endorse our threefold vision to Go Deeper into God, Transform Community and Make New Disciples.

In the deanery, we have our own plans to fulfil and goals to achieve. At our next meeting in November, we will be having a presentation on the National Church’s initiative relating to “Growing Younger and More Diverse” which our Diocese is supporting. We will also have the elections for the membership of Synod’s Standing Committee and certain specific posts within that committee. I invite Synod Members, clergy and lay, to consider standing for election. We are especially in need of a Lay Chair, as Diana Perkins is standing down, having graciously agreed to serve an extra (third) term of office just so the post was not vacant last time. The appointments are for three years. You can read the descriptions of what the roles involve in the My Files page. (Logged-in members only.)

Finally, following the presentation at the last synod, and related to our consideration of how we should live in the light of the coming Day of the Lord, you might like to check out the short video about Unconscious Bias which was mentioned in our discussion. I’ve given it its own page here, in the resources section of the website along with Zoom Church and details about the All Nations College Christian Bookshop.

May all your preparations for the coming term go well, and may the Lord’s name be honoured by them.

Mark Dunstan
Rural Dean

Don’t forget the Bike and Hike next weekend (9th September), and [shameless plug] if you like live pop/rock music, you might like to check out an event one of my churches is putting on on Friday 15th – The Vicar and Friends, live in concert (yes that is me rocking and rolling!). Details at

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