Every person in Norfolk is in world's richest 1%
John Drake, former chief executive of YMCA Norfolk, gives a harvest message which should bring us all back down to earth.
Christians are encouraged to be prudent, modest and not given to excess but we are equally commanded to be adventurers, forward thinking, entrepreneurial risk takers in faith.
This can be a challenge when the media abounds with stories about the credit crunch and dire warnings of more budget cuts.
Fortunately we do not venture alone. Christ the Lord has specifically promised "never to leave us or forsake us", no matter how bad it gets or, more surprisingly, how bad we get at following him. He does however warn us against the vain imaginations "that can cause distress and even anxiety". Despite the gloom, real or imagined I remain confident that there is a divine plan and purpose and nothing escapes his compassionate gaze.
Consider for a moment. Every person living in Norfolk is part of the world's richest 1%. You are in the world's top 100. Richard Branson may have a few more bank accounts, foreign homes and the odd private jet but he is still in the same 1% as you and I. Compared with the hundreds of millions on this planet we are fabulously wealthy.
Consider again the life and variety of our faith community. A sign of its health and vibrancy is that our leaders are not satisfied with current growth but want more. They are pioneers not settlers.
Recently churches in Norfolk received a visit from officers from HM Treasury wanting to understand how churches in Norfolk had turned their buildings into activity centres for the benefit of the whole of the community. The report makes interesting reading. However the men from the Treasury were even more stunned to discover that the Norwich faith based community was generating and investing over £60 million in capital new building programmes to serve the people of greater Norwich.
Recently Councillor Steve Morphew, Leader of Norwich City Council and I were asked to convene a dialogue between the City's planning department and at least six church leaders who all wanted to extend or build new premises. The dialogue is on-going and the prospects for new growth are increasing.
In addition to the long established churches, Norwich also is enriched by at least four African worshipping communities, two Chinese churches, a Portuguese Christian community and the long established Greek Community, and more are emerging.
Only in August, 7,000 young people gathered at the Norfolk Showground to worship God and to work in the community for a week. The youngest member of the House of Commons, our newly elected MP Chloe Smith lent her support. Wally Webb from Radio Norfolk broadcast live from the site. Yet another solid reminder that each generation is “not be left without witness".
The leaders of the faith community across our City are diverse, different shapes, different sizes, colours and personalities. They are all beautifully different. They may have different understandings of what are God's priorities but they all share a common commitment to those they are called to serve. They know there are challenges ahead that will require divine guidance, courage and humility, but they are the ones called and chosen and therefore they will be equipped for the challenges of our times.