September is for many the start of a new academic year. Schools return and following on from them are those who start at college or university. For those leaving University and who are thankful for employment this month often signals the beginning of a new chapter of life. For all of us the Autumn with the celebration of harvest marks a new season. For good and healthy reasons this season can embody thankfulness, optimism and promise.
There is, of course, another side to this. If we are ever lulled into thinking that as the old saying goes...day by day and in every way things are getting better and better... we only need to look at our newspapers and media apps to know this is not the case, things don't simply improve of their own accord. Whether it is the political upheavals in America, the wars in Syria and the Middle East, the missile tests in North Korea, the unknown consequences of Brexit or the continuing concerns for the environment, to name but some, we cannot deny that trouble and a descent into chaos are present realities.
Our world is both a beautiful and joyous place and at the same time a place of suffering and pain. It is similar for our human nature. As human beings, we are capable of great heights and dark depths. Neither a naive optimism nor a fatalistic pessimism will help. In this 500 year celebration of Martin Luther who began the reformation, among the many insights he recovered was that of being put right with God by grace alone and through faith alone. He shone a fresh light of the realities of God's love and redeeming power in Jesus Christ that addressed with realism our failures both personal and corporate. Martin Luther recovered the good news of being declared rather than earning love, acceptance and forgiveness. This gave new impetus to expressing that acceptance freely in life changing behaviour that blesses others and transforms individuals and the societies. As he shows us, there is something amazing about Grace.
A letter from the Bishop of Ludlow