From the Rector…

Pewsheets

“Let mutual love continue” is a fittingly poignant scripture passage to have as a text for my final contribution to the column which goes online and in the pew sheet.

Our vision as a parish is to be a “Christian community growing in faith, hope and love” – and, as I am regularly reminded at weddings, St Paul declares that “the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13.13).  So, with the fifth anniversary of the Ball family moving in to the Rectory having just passed, I look back and recall my response to (I think) Bishop Mark at my interview.

Q. “What would you plan to do as Rector?”

A. “I’d want to love the people of the parish into a fuller experience of the joy of life in Christ” (or words to that effect).

Of course, I’ve failed more times that I’d care to admit.  But, even when struggling with parish admin late at night or perceived hostile comments, that motivation of love (received as well as given) has been a constant encouragement.  As another interregnum looms, I pray that I am not kidding myself in feeling there is a spirit abroad of greater confidence, a deeper sense of community and even some excitement amidst the anxiety for the future.  The fruit of mutual love, perhaps?

Going forward please, “do not neglect to do good and to share what you have”.  Most especially share, with each other and those who know it not, that precious gift of joy in the life of Christ.
Thank you for your love – receive mine.

+Anthony

Who Art in Heaven

Season of Prayer

When, in the Lord’s Prayer, we go on to say “who art in heaven”, we’re saying Heaven, God’s place, God’s home, is also our home. “Our citizenship”, says St Paul in one of his letters, “is in heaven”; that is, heaven is where we belong.  And the kind of relationship that exists in God’s presence in heaven is a relationship of love and trust and intimacy and praise that can be ours here and now.  Short, simple words, and yet they tell us that heaven is here on earth because of Jesus, and we can enter into that. For some heaven is up there, we are somewhere in the middle and down below is hell. Well, Heaven and Hell are realities today.

When people use the word hell, what do they mean?  Probably something like a place, an event, a situation devoid of how God desires things to be.  Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter–they are all hell on earth.  Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth. As Christians we should want to do what we can to resist hell coming to earth, by loving our neighbour.  When that happens without an agenda or a transaction, just out of love, then we have each time a glimpse of heaven.

As a Church this is our most important witness to our faith.  An outward expression of love.  An example: a group of Christian students went out into their neighbourhood, they looked around and saw the homeless on their streets.  They wanted to walk alongside them.  What did they do?  They went out and bought lots of cigarettes and handed them out and chatted to them.  Their Church leaders said, “What on earth are you doing?”  They said, “Well, this is the thing.  What we found is that the homeless don’t get to die of lung cancer.  They die from drugs and alcohol and loneliness long before that.  The brief time we give them a cigarette we give them company and we say we are not judging you.  We’re with you.  We don’t then try to convert them, but if they ask why we are doing this we say, “because God loves us” and “we want you know he loves you too, no matter what”.  A small glimpse of heaven.

A quote from Mother Teresa shows us what our attitude should be:

mumteresa

So, our God “who art in heaven” – isn’t a distance and unreachable God, but a close, intimate God. We just have to reveal Him.

In our novena of prayer for the evangelisation of the nation, today we are praying for the area of Maidenbower to the west of Billington Drive and all the roads off Matthews Drive and Harper Drive (plus Mercer Close and Proctor Close) – an area which includes Oriel High School.  Our youth face a difficult environment today with so many more challenges, temptation and expectations.  As you pray for the School, please pray that they experience a glimpse of heaven, especially those just starting GCSE, A/S and A Level exams.

Novena Prayer

Almighty God

who in your Son Jesus Christ,

declared the coming of your Kingdom,

strengthen us in the ways of righteousness

and peace, that our brothers and sisters may

know the healing power of the gospel,

and that you will be done on earth,

as it is in heaven;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.