March Letter by Bishop of Bath & Wells
I remember my father once saying ‘as you get older the seconds seem longer, but the years go by faster.’ I think he was right. Perhaps that’s your experience too? In March 2014 I officially became the Bishop of Bath and Wells and began to ‘take up the reins’ and it’s two years since I was appointed the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding. The time has flown by. Even more amazing is that this year I shall have been ordained for 38 years and I thank God for all that he has enabled me to see and do through those years. In my study there’s a picture of a much-younger me, taken at my ordination in 1980. Looking at it reminds me of the Lord’s grace and goodness to me and to Jane through those years.
I will be taking some time some study leave in May and June this year. At one time these were called ‘sabbaticals’ and that word is from the same root as ‘Sabbath’, which means to take time to rest. I am particularly grateful to Bishop Ruth and the Bishop’s Staff who have encouraged me to take this time, especially as it will mean they will have to ‘keep an eye on the shop’.
This will give me an opportunity to spend time reading and reflecting on what God may be saying about the priorities and opportunities for the diocese and the wider Church – and time to pray and think more about the challenges which lie ahead of us. During this time Jane and I have arranged to go to Israel. Neither of us has been there before and that in itself will be a wonderful experience.
In the midst of busy, noisy and often crowded lives it is hard at times to make space to read and to pray, to make time to listen to God and to build our relationship with him. I am sure that having this precious gift of time will mean that I return renewed and refreshed for all that lies ahead as together we seek to live and tell the story of Jesus.
Taking care of our spiritual lives is something we all need to do and Jesus took time to be apart with his Heavenly Father. I know not everyone can take study leave, but even a half day will often help to charge the ‘spiritual batteries’. I look forward to sharing with you some of what I have learnt when I get back to the desk.
With warm Christian greetings,
Rt Rev Peter Hancock
Bishop of Bath and Wells