Some of you, I am sure, will recall with fondness (and perhaps a little exasperation!) the character of Jim Trott in the ‘Vicar of Dibley’ sitcom. He is best remembered for his inability to give a straight ‘Yes’ to any question set before him. Any attempt to do so, was usually prefaced by his repeated "No-no-no-no-no..." – before finally landing with aplomb on his intended ‘Yes’! Jim’s unfortunate struggle to reach his “Yes” was just one of the many idiosyncrasies by which the mix of characters in the imagined village of Dibley were known. But I wonder how many of us have, in certain situations, struggled to find our “Yes”, or have preferred to utilise the safety net of a more non-committal response such as ‘perhaps’, or ‘maybe’, ‘I’ll just have to check my diary…’ or ‘I’ll get back to you on that…’!
Dag Hammarskjold was a Swedish diplomat, who became the second General Secretary of the United Nations and an ambassador for peace in a troubled and unpredictable world. He was also a faithful Christian and saw his work for the United Nations as a way of putting his deeply held faith to work, using his breadth of learning and skill, insight, and compassion in the tireless business of peace-making. After his death in 1961, his daily journal was published and the very first entry written in 1953, the year he was in fact elected to his influential post on the world stage, was this: “For all that has been—Thanks. For all that will be—Yes.” What a wonderful spirit with which to step out into a new phase of life, or even a new day of life!
September, in our culture, tends to bring with it something of that sense of ‘Stepping Out’ into a new phase or a new day. For some it will bring a first day at school, at college, university, or work. For many, whether school age themselves or not, there is still something invitational about this month and the new academic year - the sight of new uniforms and shiny shoes, the renewal of schedules, timetables and rhythms of life, the fresh page to be written on, a new mark to be made!
In the midst of all of that we, at St Oswald’s, will also be holding a Confirmation Service in September. Two of our village children, just stepping up into their High School days, have chosen to Step Out into Christian faith byaffirming and confirming the promises made for them at Baptism. They are saying ‘Thanks’ for all that has been (the Christian foundations which have brought them to this point), and are saying their own ‘Yes’ to all that will be as they journey onwards with Christian faith – believing in God, trusting in Jesus, strengthened by the Spirit. We are praying for them and excited for them!
How might each of us Step Out some way this September – not necessarily with a new uniform and shiny shoes, but with our own “Thanks…for all that has been” and our own “Yes…to all that will be”?
Carolyn Reverend Carolyn (Vicar of Collingham with Harewood)