Dear Family of St John’s

I have a drawer in my cupboard – a very large drawer – that contains all the pairs of jeans that no longer fit me. I’m thrilled to say they don’t fit because they’re now too big. Whoop! I’ve been trying to lose some weight and it’s been slowly coming off. This means that every couple of months I try on a pair of jeans and find they are just too baggy. This is a bit of a novelty for me, it’s normally the other way around!

Anyway, I then put them in my drawer with the other jeans that don’t fit. Somehow, I have accumulated about ten pairs of jeans that are too big. They’ve been sitting there for a while. This isn’t counting the box in the corner of my room with other clothes that I’ve put to one side because they also don’t fit me anymore.

I don’t think about the jeans too much, until I need to put another pair in the drawer. I don’t think about the box of clothes in the corner either. It’s been there long enough that I barely notice it. But, every now and then my husband will moan at me and ask what I’m planning on doing with all these old clothes.

And then, a few weeks ago I wanted to rearrange some things in my cupboards. I opened the ‘too-big-jeans’ drawer and it suddenly struck me how much space I was wasting storing all these jeans that no longer fit me. Jeans that I plan on never fitting me again.

It made me wonder about why I am holding on to them. Why do I hold on to things that really have no sentimental value, or any other value to me? I won’t wear them again. And yet, this pile has been building up for six months!

Well, aren’t we all a little like that? Not just with our material possessions, but with our past. We store away in the recesses of our heart and mind things from our past that we don’t want to go back to. Perhaps they’re mistakes that we made, that we haul out periodically to mull over before putting them back into that box.

During one of our conversations on the Confirmation Camp this weekend I was prompted to tell our teenagers that our mistakes don’t define us.

Look at what Paul says in his second letter to the Corinthians, reading from The Message translation.

“A New Life

14-15 Our firm decision is to work from this focused centre: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.

The old life is gone; a new life emerges! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.

God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” (2 Corinthians 5: 14-20)

In Christ we get a fresh start. Having a fresh start means we don’t have to hold onto our ‘old jeans’, we don’t have to allocate space in our lives to the past mistakes we have made. We don’t have to keep going back to them and agonising over them. Christ allows us to start afresh, focusing on Him and the life He wants us to live. A life that is defined by how we love God and those around us.

So, I’m tossing out the jeans and the box of old clothes. Centre of Concern, they’re coming your way for your clothing sale. I know someone else can make use of them!

Do you have anything that needs clearing out, metaphorically speaking? Toss it out, and make room for the life that Christ wants you to live.

With love

Your friend and rector