Rector's Letter - July 2016

Dear Friends,

It's Carnival Time again! This biennial event is not to be missed! The whole community joins in the fun and it is all raising money for good causes! We might be surprised at the origin of carnivals. Carne vale means "goodbye to meat". It was the last chance to "let your hair down" and have a big feast before the solemn time of fasting and self-denial of Lent. How people must have missed the fun and full bellies of the Mardi Gras Carnival and perhaps resented the Church and its God who imposed forty days of hardship and trial. But, Lent was never meant to be a time of gloom and discomfort to please a miserable God. But many people must have not seen it that way and felt that religion was making them miss out on the good things of life.

I was talking to some young people the other day, who seemed to be living very hectic, driven lives. They were always rushing off to the next thing. They explained that they felt under pressure from something called FOMO. What's that? FOMO stands for "Fear Of Missing Out". It is the anxiety we feel when we think that we are missing out on an interesting or exciting experience. This is made much worse when we see all the wonderful things our friends are doing on Facebook and we feel that our lives don't compare... and so we have FOMO! But, of course, it is mostly an illusion, but that doesn't stop us feeling it! This can cause dissatisfaction with life, insecurity, envy and unhappiness, and the fear and frantic busyness that go with this. The irony is that we can be so "driven" that we can actually miss out on living in the moment and finding time for the important things in life. It can make us doubt our choices, our relationships, ourselves. It can make us question that there is always something better "out there", just around the corner.

One of the major causes of FOMO is the explosion of social media. Some people seem to be constantly on their iPhones and so are constantly exposed to others apparently enjoying exciting and glamourous things. These are not necessarily real. Turn off the phone, don't let it control you. Then focus on the things in life that bring the greatest amount of joy and well-being.

One such thing is the spiritual side of life. Religion can seem an extra and unnecessary complication to already over complicated lives, and can be viewed with suspicion. Sadly, the pressures of life, and the influence of FOMO can mean that we miss out on something really good and important. Jesus said: "I come that you may have life in all its fullness" (John 10:10), and finding the space in our lives to listen to God, can counteract that FEAR in FOMO that can make our lives so stressful.

So let's celebrate life in all the fun of the Carnival, knowing the peace and joy of being secure in God's love in Jesus. Far from spoiling life, Jesus promises that we will not miss out on anything that really matters,

With my love and prayers,
Yours, in Christ, John.

Verse for the Month

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

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