“The times they are a changing” are the famous lyrics from the Bob Dylan song in the mid-1960s. It was an era of rapid social and political change and also in the midst of the Cold War, so both hope and fear ran alongside each other. Of course, the world and life are always changing, but there are periods in which the rate of change seems disconcertingly rapid. Arguably, we are living through one of those times now with the huge effect of the pandemic upon all our lives, the destabilising effect of the terrible conflict in Ukraine and some of those elsewhere in the world, the rapidly deteriorating economic conditions which have produced a real crisis for many, both in this country and abroad. In addition there is the constant concern about global warming and the devastating consequences that could bring to our world if we do not act quickly.

The month of June will see the national celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth, whose long and distinguished reign has been one point of stability in a very rapidly changing world for 70 years. The Queen has been guided both by her deep sense of duty to the role to which she has been called and also by her strong Christian faith, about which she has spoken very clearly. This has been her rock and guide through the enormous changes she has seen during her long reign. Rightly, there will be many services of Thanksgiving, including that in our Cathedral, as well, as many parties across the country.

In our Diocese we have also seen and are living through huge and rapid changes in the many communities that we serve across South London and East Surrey. One of the very encouraging parts of our ministry is the number of people who are called both to ordained ministry, and various forms of lay ministry. The end of June and beginning of July will see the ordination of some fine new deacons and priests to serve God’s Church. We are also seeking to develop and encourage many forms of lay ministry right across the Church. The beginning of June sees the great festival of Pentecost when we remember the gifts of the Holy Spirit to equip God’s Church for its mission and ministry. So through June, and into July, we are encouraging a season of lay ministries as we all reflect on God’s call to each of us in our various places and stages of life.

The end of June will also see the consecration of the Venerable Dr Rosemarie Mallett as the next Bishop of Croydon, and we give thanks for her appointment and pray for all that lies ahead. On a personal note, I will be finishing in October after 20 years as Bishop of Kingston. It is the most enormous privilege to serve in this vibrant and diverse area and I thank God for the wonderful ministries of so many people it has been my privilege to serve with.

So, of course, “the times they are a changing.” As the Church we are called to “proclaim the Gospel afresh in each generation”. At times we can be overwhelmed with the many fears and challenges which a changing world presents, but the Gospel speaks to us of the transforming power of God’s self-giving love made known in the death and resurrection of Christ. In the midst of all these changes, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, this is the basis of our deep hope and confidence in God as we look to the future.