Dear friends,

Each year I look forward to the month of November filled as it is of reminders of our faith and the challenges we face in our daily lives.  

My prayers of late have been focussed on the Palestinian and Israeli people whose continual conflict has escalated to such a level where so many lives are lost each and every day through mass attacks by missiles or aircraft strikes, or from subversive action on the ground, all with devastating consequences.  It’s hard to see where all of this might end and if it is possible for people to sit around a table and find a common, and mutually beneficial solution.  Yet, other wars still rage and people suffer and so our prayers are still needed as the conflict between Russian and Ukrainian troops continues.

Many politicians exchange words of hope and yet have incessant arguments about the right way forward, but arms are still supplied with the sole purpose of making one side stronger than the other.  I find it hard to take sides, rather I prefer to commit all such matters to our Lord and pray that his calming self, might encourage discussion rather than dissention, positivity instead of procrastination, and love instead of loathing.  God’s people, whether we call him Almighty God, or Allah or Elohim or any other name, do not seek war but long for peace, and peace is what we should pray for as we live each day as a pilgrim people, and as God’s children.

As each year passes, I cannot ignore, as none of us can, that age changes us.  We ache that little bit more than we did last week or last year, we forget people’s names or what we went into a room to do, or what it was that we meant to do this morning.  Things that were once very familiar are no longer so.  At the beginning of this month I shall be 93 years of age and I thank God that I have been able to serve as a priest in the church for the majority of my life; I thank him for the people that I have met on my journey of faith and for the parishes in which I have served; I thank him for the friends I have made for the joys brought by kindness and for the privilege of living.  Age, they say, is nothing more than a number and I hope to serve this parish and the people of St Hilda’s for many more years to come.

The 1st November is the feast of All Saints, a day when the church gives thanks for the lives of the many saints who have gone before us and share in that great Communion of all who live in God’s presence.  The 2ndis the feast of All souls, a time to pray for loved ones whose lives on earth have ended and who have begun their journey in Paradise.  As always, we shall pray for individuals at our mass on that day so do come to St Hilda’s, or pass the names of those who have died in your family to me or to the PCC Secretary, Mrs Carole East.

Time may well be passing and wars continue to rage, but God is with us and his love will sustain us through any trial.

Every blessing.

The Reverend Fr Ronald Croft

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