February 2018

Dear Friends

I have recently returned from a short residential course in learning Welsh. It was held in Nant Gwerthreyn on the LLeyn; a stunning setting with excellent facilities, if a bit wind-swept. Perhaps some of you have visited there, – it isn’t far from Clynnog Fawr of St Beuno fame. I had decided to try to learn the Welsh language after coming to live in the Denbigh area. It is spoken so much here, and is such a significant part of the culture. Although I have always considered myself Welsh, having been born here and lived in North East Wales all my life I soon realised that my self identity was only a shadow of what it could be. Learn a language and learn a culture so they say and it is true. How many times do we see on the TV couples (of a certain age) deciding to live abroad, usually France or Spain, “for the lifestyle” and expressing the desire to learn the lingo? They recognise its importance in the process of fitting in with the local community and in a way are paying the locals due respect for their tradition and history. And yet there are probably just as many ex-pats who do not bother and are happy within their own little bubble of English speakers. I suppose the same can be said of people who come to live in Wales, statistics say that only 2% will try to learn some of the language.

Of course, it is very daunting to try to learn a new language, or indeed, any other subject that requires hard work and commitment. It is even harder the older one gets. We are encouraged, by experts, to take up a new hobby as a way of staving off the effects of old age by stimulating the ”little grey cells” and it is hard work sometimes. It is so much easier not to bother, to make do with what we have.

We could say the same for our Christian life. As we get older it is so easy to become complacent about our faith and our Church-going. We have attended for so many years, have heard endless sermons and sung so many hymns that we can become jaded, even bored. We end up going to Church almost out of habit and perhaps not even feel the need to go every week. This complacency is risky. Across Wales we see Churches and Chapels closing their doors simply because people are no longer coming to church. Whenever we clergy are asked about our Church attendance most of us admit that  “if everyone who came occasionally, came every week we would double our attendance” . What a difference that would make to the life of our Church!

In the19th century especially, a significant question within Christian circles was “how true is our faith? Are we really saved?” People who went to Church faithfully a couple of times a week, who read their Bibles and prayed earnestly every day were concerned as to the authenticity of their life of faith, and their discipleship. They worked hard at being Christians and took nothing for granted.

Perhaps as we approach the Lenten season we also may take the opportunity to question our faithfulness, our discipleship and our commitment to Jesus and His Kingdom here in this place.

There is a very useful and true saying “use it or lose it”. !


Yours in Christ