A letter from the Bishop of Grantham for June 2018
On 8th June the RAF 100 baton relay enters the Diocese of Lincoln by crossing the Humber Bridge. During the month of June the relay will visit Scampton, Coningsby, Cranwell, Digby, Waddington and Lincoln Cathedral. It will visit 27 Bomber Command airfields in the county and also the new International Bomber Command Centre and memorial.
The length of time that the relay will spend in Lincolnshire indicates how important the RAF has been and is to our county and region.
I am quite moved by the idea of the relay. It is to be run entirely by volunteers, all of whom have a connection to the RAF. This in itself will demonstrate how deeply the service has influenced the life and the landscape of Lincoln. Moreover, when I say ‘run’, actually the baton will also be carried for part of its journey on horseback, by boat and by parachute; ingenuity is to be involved. Finally, every baton carrier will have to complete their own challenge: they will be given just a start point and an end point for their leg, which means that they will have to work out the route for themselves as a piece of orienteering.
Here is a participative, collaborative event, which also draws on individual energy, courage and ingenuity, all with a shared purpose: to give thanks for the contribution of the RAF to the protection of the nation and the pursuit of peace, and to root that work in the soil of the past so that it may continue to flourish whatever the future might bring.
Society depends upon participation, collaboration and individual effort. In every generation, people have to pick up the baton of the past and carry it through the present into the future.
It is the same with faith: it is a great joy for the Christian to be given the flame of faith that has been tended by someone else, to allow that flame to burn in one’s own life, and through one’s life of faith perhaps to kindle new faith in others.
In greater Lincolnshire we stand on the shoulders of generations of people who have prayed to God, cared for their neighbours and shared the story of Jesus with those who would follow in their footsteps. The baton of faith – the flame of faith – has been carried with care and love, ingenuity and effort, since the first missionaries came to this part of England many centuries ago.
As during this month of June we may share in the RAF 100 relay, either as spectators or participants, I hope that what we witness in this event may also strengthen our life of faith, and encourage us as we each carry the baton and flame that every Christian was given when we were baptised.
My prayers are with those who serve in the RAF today, those who have served in the RAF in the past, and with all who worship and serve in our congregations and parishes – thank you – and may you take heart from these words in the Letter to the Hebrews:
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God’. (12:1–2, NRSV)
With every blessing,