Letter from the Rectory - September 2020
Some of you will be reading this in its traditional format after a gap of six months.
That in itself is a reminder that some things are slowly reverting to normal, whilst others, of course, are not.
At the time of writing, two pieces of news this week struck me: Marks & Spencer laying off 7,000 members of staff; and Schroders telling 5,000 employees to work from home in the future and not to come into the office.
These are two ancient businesses. M&S were founded Michael M and Thomas S in 1884. Having enjoyed a primary place in the nation’s affections, they have been struggling for some time going through 20 years of ‘restructuring’. Some people may be asking whether they need more new clothes or so many clothes; and it is so much easier when goods arrive on the doorstep in a brown cardboard box, although that raises other questions, including the growing influence of Amazon.
Schroders have been in business for over 200 years and remain one of the few big City firms in the financial sector to have survived the acquisitions and mergers of the past generation. Whilst some of their employees will favour a return to the buzz of office-life over working from home, the effect on small businesses and empty office space is likely to be profound.
Change is all around us, but that is life, whether we like it or not. So, it’s not surprisingly that the Bible has quite a lot to say about change as well.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah brought God’s words of encouragement to his eighth century BC listeners, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Sometimes we can’t hang on to the way things used to be done; and the ‘new thing’ may be better.
The Christian view is that God does not change. As another Old Testament prophet Malachi reported, “1, the Lord, do not change;” and the New Testament writer to the Hebrews stated, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever.’
Initially, perhaps we can’t do much better than echo the famous Serenity Prayer. ‘Serenity’ is not a word we use much nowadays. My pocket Oxford Dictionary defines it as ‘clear and calm, placid, unperturbed.’
‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’