Giving Thanks

St Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear people of Alnwick,

I felt I must use this space to say a massive ‘thank you’ on behalf of Jane and myself following our wedding in St. Nicholas’ Cathedral on 6th September.

It was an incredible feeling (and very humbling) to be supported by so many people – apparently in excess of 600 – and even more incredible to realise that either Jane or I (or both of us) knew everyone who was there!

We felt massively privileged that, in one of his final public appearances before his retirement, our beloved Bishop Martin (who had ordained both of us as Deacon and Priest) conducted the wedding ceremony and presided at the Eucharist. And it was lovely to be able to greet so many of you as refreshments were being served in the cathedral after the service.

And, as if that was not sufficient, we’re only just recovering from the magnificent ‘Wedding Afternoon Tea’ in a packed Parish Hall which welcomed us back home! To say that the tea was ‘sumptuous’ is an understatement and the generosity of your gift was quite simply overwhelming. So, thank you all for such a huge measure of love and support.

On both occasions the love and support was so tangible that we felt as if we could reach out and touch it.

Two thoughts strike me.

Firstly, as Julia wrote in last month’s ‘Gateway’ it was about the amazing and unconditional generosity and grace of God that Bishop Martin chose to speak in his final address to the Diocese. The human love about which I have just written – however wonderful – is but a mere shadow of the love of God which waits to permeate our very being and our world – if only we will allow it.

Secondly, any ‘great’ thing is simply the collection of many small – even, at times, seemingly insignificant – things.

The vast congregation in the cathedral on 6th September was, of course, a collection of individuals. The beautiful display of food at the afternoon tea in the Parish Hall was made up of many individual contributions. And so, too, the tangible evidence of God’s love in our world today – that amazing and unconditional generosity and grace – is the product of countless individual acts of loving, giving, sacrificing and sharing; of supporting, encouraging and gentle witnessing. All combine to produce an effect far greater than the sum of the individual acts themselves and, in so doing, is an incredible force for good.

So, as Bishop Martin’s loving care of this diocese draws to a close and as Jane and I begin our married life together, we give thanks for the little things in life: individual acts of caring, of concern, of Christian love which, in combination, have made – and will continue to make – our world a better place; a place that reflects God’ unconditional generosity and grace.

With every blessing,
Paul.

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