Dealing with uncertainty

I wonder how you deal with uncertainty? Better than you used to perhaps?! The first half of 2020 has provided us with plenty of opportunity to experience extreme uncertainty. The Covid-19 lockdown from late March to early July has been unlike anything any of us has experienced, and each of us has had ample opportunity to reflect on what that has been like for our nation and further afield, but we’ve also had to live through the consequences for ourselves and our loved ones. All of us know someone who’s had the virus, some of us have had it, and some of us have even lost friends or family members to it.

Although the worst of the restrictions are behind us, of course really we’re still in the middle of it all, and none of us knows how the next stages are going to pan out. There’s uncertainty about the impact of holiday makers coming back

to the county, there are huge numbers of people desperately anxious about the viability of their jobs in the future, schools are in limbo, and we don’t have any idea when or if a vaccine will be available to bring this saga to an end.

Overlaid on top of that are two huge issues of our time – first climate change, and now facing up to the challenge of ingrained (though in the UK, usually passive) racism, brought to light with the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd.

Locally we’re somewhere in the middle of our long period between parish priests, and we’ve now moved into the next phase in our transition when teams in the Five Saints and the Three Saints are being set up to seek God’s vision for the future mission in our parishes. The phase when our cluster is preparing to divide into two is here, and we will have to navigate uncharted territory as we begin to do things in two separate groups, ahead of the formal division and the appointment of two new parish priests.

Put all together like that, it’s a lot of uncertainty for us to live with.

In July 2013, I was preparing to sell my herd of 200 cows in preparation for becoming a full-time clergyman. My two members of staff had left, and the temporary cover had let me down. I had no idea how the cows would sell – we had debts to settle - and I had a period of about 10 days of an impossible amount of work to get through before our big auction. At 4.30am one Saturday morning I was driving slowly along in our farm buggy bringing the cows in for milking, and had a chance to look at the Daily Office for the day on my phone. Saturday prayer always includes Psalm 63, which has become one of my favourites. It ends like this: ‘For you, O God, have been my helper and under the shadow of your wings will I rejoice. My soul clings to you; your right hand shall hold me fast’.

In a sea of unknowns, God is faithful, loving and steadfast, and one in whom we can rejoice. So let us cling to him, keep praying, and trust him for our future - on all levels.

With my prayers and best wishes

Caspar Bush (rural dean)