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May 2022

Life begins at 40?

The number 40 is significant for a number of reasons. In scripture it often precedes a notable event, such as the end of the flood after 40 days, Israel entering the promised land after 40 years in the wilderness; Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days before starting his ministry and 40 days between his Resurrection and Ascension.  The 40th Wedding Anniversary is called the Ruby as the red colour of the stone is symbolic of romance and heartfelt love.

40 years ago in May 1982 I was licensed in Norwich Cathedral as a Lay Reader by the then Bishop of Norwich, Maurice Wood, so the number 40 has a particular significance for me at a personal level.  Over those 40 years the World has changed, the Church has changed and I have changed.

Whilst change is not always helpful and can be threatening, it may bring new opportunities.  When we are tested it can bring an appreciation of qualities we already possess but have remained hidden. It can bring a renewed appreciation of those around us who befriend us and support us and are sometimes taken for granted.

During May, Churches often hold rogation services which often focus on the world around us.  Traditionally it has been a time to ask God’s blessing on newly planted crops but often the focus is widened to a thanksgiving for all of God’s creation which feeds us, encourages us and heals us both in body and spirit.   As in William Henry Davies poem ‘What is life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’ sometimes we need to stop and reflect thankfully on all that is around us.

I am often reminded of God’s love for each one of us which remains steadfast, generous and unconditional and I hope I have been able to share that with others effectively in a variety of ways through my 40 years of varying ministry.  I have enjoyed working with a whole variety of people in terms of age and background and an immense sense of privilege of being able to share at least a small part of their life’s journey as it comes into contact with mine.

Charles Hill

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