As I get a little older and - I hope - a little wiser, I am beginning to realise that in the realm of the life of faith, we can do very little on our own. Everything that we have and all that we are is a gift - and it is a gift from God.
One of the vital understandings of the Pastoral Renewal that we are trying to achieve in the diocese of Portsmouth is that everyone
has gifts from God. The gifts are given for our own growth but they are also given so that, through us, the Gospel may be lived and preached and so the community of faith is built up and can expand.
We are not very good at recognising our gifts, either from a natural diffidence or because we do not want to face the consequences of living out the gifts that God has given us. We have to take responsibility and ownership of what we have been given.
That is why Fanning The Flame
is an important part of the life of the Church. It takes us back to basics and to those words which St. Paul wrote to Timothy hundreds of years ago: "That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God's gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord ..." (2 Timothy 1: 6-8)
In another place, Our Lord tells us not to be afraid, and, in the light of that, so we fan the flames of faith. In doing so, we are making active the gifts that God has given us. This is the way by which we will fulfil the Lord's command to go out and bear fruit.
The fruit is that of the kingdom of Christ, which is a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
My prayer is that the flames will continue to be well and truly fanned.
Bishop of Portsmouth