It's pouring down right now and, as this is how last month's letter began, perhaps there's a theme …
Our jubilant 1st November fireworks have had to be put back twice in readiness for firing, with the weather causing us significant issues. This has only happened once before and thankfully we've never been completely cancelled. Let's hope the same is true this year!
Part of ensuring things go according to plan is making sure those things are safe. Our event has some inherent dangers present which need mitigating. I naturally don't mean the bonfire falling over and setting the church on fire, or fireworks blowing up a few local farm animals. None of that's as serious as the burgers being sold out or the batteries in the vicar's megaphone not working …
Joking aside, when hundreds of people are present simple safety is a given. We do events so that when people leave they feel better than when they arrived. No-one feels that if an injury or avoidable accident has taken place. Controlling risk is a fundamental principle of providing an enjoyable event.
That said, risk is a part of life which creates some of our most necessary experiences. Not the dangerous kinds which put our lives needlessly in danger, but the kinds which provide us with outlooks that we would not otherwise have.
Most of the known world would remain unknown were it not for exploration. We would be unaware of the view from Everest without high-altitude mountaineers. The International Space Station would remain a dream.
Yet, away from the big things where risk provides advances for humanity, risk is also in the everyday. And it is here we ask ourselves whether we are controlling risk to our benefit or detriment.
For example, I know someone with an irrational fear of trying new foods. Even tasting something is an enormous hurdle, not because of a genuine medical condition but simply because they daren't try something new in case they don't like it!
There are moments, on occasion, when they discover a new flavour that provides a new dimension to their life. Something as simple as a new food – when they get over the irrational fear of risk – gives a completely different outlook on things. It means they are prepared to try new things again.
That is the moment when risk becomes reward: when we are prepared to step out into the unknown and see what God has in store for us by trusting that it will be good. There are more than enough things in life which are bad for us and where the risks are nowhere near worth the rewards: like setting off fireworks in 40mph winds!
But the risks which are about challenging our own unnecessary boundaries – the ones where we refuse to consider something just because we've learned to think a certain way or only prefer a certain thing – those are the risks we can challenge and grow from.
Overcoming prejudices, transforming community thinking, challenging unhelpful and unwise barriers so we can experience life in all its fullness. Those are the risks we must be prepared to face.
Doing so takes us from fear and into the sunlight, with bravery. Leaving behind irrational fears of the unknown and trusting God means new horizons walked towards with wisdom and excitement.
Those horizons are what gave us our fireworks in the first place; being prepared to try new things and not be afraid of the risk of a bit of rain. Had we not tried them at all, because of the risk of anything going wrong, then we'd never have had such a fantastic – and continued – community response. And the tradition it has now built.