The Liturgical year is drawing to its close. November is a month of commemoration, remembrance and also a celebration of the saints and martyrs from past generations. There is a sense of thankfulness for the lives of people who are no longer with us.
In parallel is the seasonal change at this time of year when nature readies itself for rest and renewal. This year following the late spring and warm summer, we are promised a spectacular display of colour as the leaves on the trees turn from green to red and gold and eventually fall to the ground to enrich the earth.
The cycle of the seasons of the tree of life calls to mind the verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes 'for everything there is a season - a time to live and a time to die'.
Over the last few days I have been on a journey of re-discovery. I have been back to my roots in the north west and enjoyed time in Manchester - no it didn't rain all the time! Manchester became a wealthy city after the industrial revolution, centred on the cotton trade. There was civic pride in the development of its attention to education and the arts, the legacy of which has been the foundation for world renowned public art galleries, museums and concert halls.
Since the 1996 IRA bombing, which practically wiped out much of the centre of the city, there has been a huge rebuilding and development pro-gramme which has made Manchester a fine modern city with glass and steel structures set alongside the solid Victorian architecture of the 19th century. There has been a cycle of re birth after the devastation.
Manchester Cathedral is at present closed and undergoing major work which will be completed for Advent. Then the Cathedral will re-open for services and the city will once again have at its heart a building that is ready for its continuing Christian witness.
A walk around a city, which has re-imagined itself in a changed world, owes much of its vibrancy and energy to its mixed ethnicity while at the same time holding fast to the core values and beliefs of its founding citizens.
A darker side
'Faith in the City' was a report from the 80s that gave a gloomy picture of poverty, crime and social deprivation. The church was critical of Thatcherism and today much of what that report said remains true. Away from the bright lights, our towns and citieshave their darker sides and there is much that needs to be done to alleviate social deprivation.
We are privileged to live in a very beautiful area of the country, with good local services and care. We should however not forget those who struggle with all kinds of problems that we are not aware of.
Being a good neighbour and taking an active interest in our community life can be the way forward to relieving others of some of the burdens they carry. Our faith values are important and shape our future. We should be encouraged to live them out in a changing world to ensure our legacy is one of hope for the future and love for our neighbour.