As we lit the first of our Advent candles last week, we were encouraged to reflect upon our community as a family of ‘hope’, drawing upon the strength and the goodness of each other to find that hope in whatever life throws at us from day to day. Today, representatives of our Care Group will light the second candle, which traditionally represents ‘faith’. We remember our place in the history of God’s people, and we are encouraged to be his witnesses in faith to those we encounter in our daily lives. We reflect that we are not passive participants on our faith journey, we are called to actively witness to God’s love and commitment to us.
We witness in many ways, of course. We are called to learn from Jesus’ own example of how to treat others, and we proclaim God’s love through our daily lives, simply by living our faith with commitment to Jesus’ example. No words are even necessary. We are called to ‘be’ God’s love to others, and our faith is passed from one to the other, as a tiny candle flame catches others held close to it.
At this special time of the year, we sadly say goodbye to our great friend Tony, who certainly passed that flame of faith along to many around him. We also remember in a special way, the first anniversary of the death of baby Jean Gotch. Like so many others from our parish history who have gone before us, carrying the light of faith with them, Tony and Jean will always be recognised as an integral part of the fabric of our parish family.
Baby Jean is God’s very special gift to her family, and to all of us who prayed for her and with her, before her birth and throughout her brief earthly lifetime. She touched hundreds, if not thousands of people in her short little life and each and every person who met her, or who even heard her story, was changed. Jean simply lived her faith with every breath she took, the faith passed onto her as her inheritance through her Baptism. She was unable to speak about her faith with words, but she spoke of her faith nonetheless, very clearly, with her entire being. Jean encouraged each of us to cut through the distractions of life, the things that don’t matter in the big picture, and to find God’s love in each and every moment. Her entire life was an experience of love, her love for her family, and the love she knew in each precious moment, lavished upon her by everyone who has been a part of her story.
Jean is our John the Baptist. We are called to take up her mission, knowing that she continues to fulfil that mission of witnessing in faith, even now. Jean is now in God’s direct presence, praying for each of us. Let us continue her work as God’s witness, and the work of so many of our good friends, sent to us as great gifts over many years. We take on their work as God’s witnesses, confident in the hope won for us by Jesus Christ, the hope of hearing the words ‘welcome, good and faithful servant’ at the end of our own journeys home to God.
May the light of Christ pass to us from Jean, and Tony Grieve, and Margaret Pomeroy, Wendy Barnett, and Terry Fromholtz… just to name a few of the hundreds of names we could recall. May it then pass from each of us to those we meet, and especially to those who most need that light to pierce the darkness of doubt and self-doubt.
(Prepared by our Pastoral Associate Mrs Debbie Edwards. Please see the “Living Faith” page for our 2019 Advent prayers.)