Viewpoint from Chris Shreeve 5/2/10
Revd Chris Shreeve
Superintendent Minister of the East Norfolk Methodist Circuit
serving 21 churches in the area
The letter arrived addressed with my first, middle and last names. It seemed a bit ‘over the top’ so I queried the need for this. The sender said that it was easier and cheaper to address mail with each person’s full name than to spend time personalising every envelope. I was becoming a cipher rather than a real human being.
Looking at the connections which characterise my life, I found that banks and card companies do it with account and PIN numbers. Reports and recommendations, and even advertisements, do it with percentages of people connected with an event or situation or product. Sometimes the group asked to respond is very small but the answers are cranked up to decide the future of a whole community or nation.
In the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, so much has been rep
orted by huge numbers which numb the mind to the personal grief in every case. We easily lose sight that real individuals are affected.
My friends in Sierra Leone always told me not to believe a man who wouldn’t look you in the eye. We all know that decisions have to be made, and work done, with large groups but the size problem can hide abuses – like the company director who made his sales force redundant by e mail; or the boy who broke of with his girl friend by text message.
In total contrast, God told the Israelites, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. [Isaiah 43: 1]. God knows each of us “by name.” This personal relationship is reinforced as we learn of God’s promises to be with us always; that our name is written on the palm of his hand; that he will abide with us always – and more. He even counts the number of hairs on our heads! The Good News which Christians delight in is centred on the wonder of this individual, personal bond between God and each one of us. After all, God so loved you and me that he gave his only Son so that whosoever believes in Jesus shall have eternal life.
This personal relationship God seeks with each of us is so opposite to the way our human society turns each of us into a faceless creature, we can find it hard to grasp. There is no loss of identity when anyone chooses to journey with Jesus as God’s relationship with each is face to face; personal and constant. Filled with love; surrounded by peace; equipped for life and assured of a future and hope.