Update Newsletter from our Team Rector, Rev Peter Reiss

Please forgive a rather more personal newsletter this time. I am delighted, if a bit nervous, about being able to return to work on what will be a “phased return”. Although I have now completed my chemotherapy treatment, the impact of the cancer and the treatment remains and will affect me for several months I am told, and recovery is a longer project. I will need to be patient.

I would like to be able to say how I am, but it all rather rests on the final scan which will not be for a further few weeks. I have good reason however, I am told, to be optimistic; the interim scan a few weeks ago showed very good results and I hope I will get a clean bill of health though I might need further radiotherapy or other treatment – I will need to wait, but in the meantime I am able to start back at work. I have had my Covid vaccination this week so that will help “protect” because my immune system is compromised.

Thank you to all who have been praying, and for all who sent or expressed their love and concern. I have felt very supported through the last 7 months or so. I would like to be able to report that I have learnt some profound things through the experience, but if I am honest, I don’t think I have. If anything it has made me think that the deep things about life are beyond our knowing. Am I basically unfortunate to have developed cancer or very fortunate to have had such good treatment and to expect a full recovery? Why me, first to develop cancer in the first place, but also to get through it, when others do not? I don’t think I can answer these questions nor do I think they are answerable, except that they are part of what it means to be mortal – our human life is not everlasting, not indestructible, not perfect or unchanging: living is about responding to the now, learning from the past and making due provision for the future, knowing that it is not fully in our control, however much we might like it to be.

The Christian message is – I think – better summed up by knowing and discovering God, (Creator, Lord, friend, Saviour), is with us, will be with us and offers the gift of a new life, eternal life, though we don’t really know quite what that is. For us as individuals it is a freedom from the things that cause suffering, which are corrosive to body, mind or soul; it is a full healing – though we may be surprised what that looks like! For the world, the promise is of the coming Kingdom, again a society where there is no longer suffering, where the corrosive evils of war, violence, poverty etc are gone, where there is full healing of place and relationships and society. All this we discover and work on in the here and now, witnesses to it and working towards it and against those things that are against it.

At Harvest-tide we can celebrate what is good and respond generously to help where others do not have enough. In prayer and worship, we can make space to let God transform us and our thinking and our anxieties.

I am very conscious that in the months when I have been off sick, others have faced the death of a loved one, or other family challenges, and life has continued hard for so many, in this country and around the world. Local churches should be places where we welcome the individual and seek to impact for good our local community as well as make a difference for good in the wider world. Hopefully that is what we do and do together. It is not always easy – we need God’s grace and Spirit to guide us and strengthen us. We may not feel we are successes; more important we are called to be faithful and gracious.