Rector's Ramblings: May 16th 2021




Alleluia! Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

      Preparing for preaching on Sundays involves sitting with the bible passage set for the day and seeing where it leads me. This week I’ve been haunted by these words of Jesus as he prayed for his followers (then and now): “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” It’s those words that I have underlined that stood out for me in a week when violence has erupted in the Middle East again. They echoed in my brain as I saw the footage of a bomb hitting a tower block in Gaza. They echoed in my brain as I thought of the conflicts in Yemen, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

   Will we never learn? God’s will is that all should be one – human and human, human and created order, human and divine. That is God’s purpose – what Jesus’ mission is all about. At bottom, it is all about working towards the time when everything is one in perfect unity. Yet we humans seem to find it impossible to be united as one; we are not one with our planet and we are not one with our Lord.

   It is so hard for us to get along well. Yet Jesus’ words underline that it is the calling of his followers, the church, to be one as part of His purpose that all will be one. We are called to model a love that works; to model being a community of people who hold together; to model if you like a new society that all may see it and know it is possible. We need to remember that aim, and do our best to live towards it.

   I am all too well aware, however, that it so very difficult to live at peace one with another. We upset each other, often not deliberately. I can remember in one of my Norfolk parishes chairing a church council meeting, when I was aware of a growing iciness to my right. I had no idea what I had said as the meeting wasn’t even contentious, and I had no intention of upsetting anyone. Sometimes we are care-less and upset others. Sometimes we are downright uncaring. The division of the Christian church into denominations as a result of long ago disagreements is known to damage our witness to the truth of the love, forgiveness and reconciliation offered to us in Jesus. I’m sure you will be aware of fallings out in church life. It so very difficult to live at peace one with another.

  I don’t believe that Jesus was asking the impossible of us, praying we may be one. He knew we had to learn about forgiveness because we would blow it. So much of his teaching is about forgiveness. St Paul likewise wrote frequently urging the early Christian communities to learn how to be at peace as here in Roman12: “Let the inner movement of your heart always be to love one another, and never play the role of an actor wearing a mask. Despise evil and embrace everything that is good and virtuous. 10 Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honour of one another.... Take a constant interest in the needs of God’s beloved people and respond by helping them. And eagerly welcome people as guests into your home. 14 Speak blessing, not cursing, over those who reject and persecute you. 15 Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve. 16 Live happily together in a spirit of harmony, and be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own. Don’t live with a lofty mind-set, thinking you are too important to serve others, but be willing to do menial tasks and identify with those who are humble minded. Don’t be smug or even think for a moment that you know it all. 17 Never hold a grudge or try to get even, but plan your life around the noblest way to benefit others. 18 Do your best to live as everybody’s friend. Whew! There is a challenge. To work to live like that!

  What I believe is asked of us it that when we know we are wrong with others, we sort it out so that harmony can be restored. The very next day after noticing something was amiss, I went to see the ‘icy’ member sitting with me in that Norfolk meeting and we talked it through. I understood her better and she understood me and we are friends to this day. What a witness it would be to Jesus’ purposes if, when we fall out, disagree and so forth, we show that we can forgive, reconcile and move on together. That is something that would be deeply interesting in times when all the news is of war, disagreement and blame.  What I sense would be said and pondered ‘This community of Christians offers a way through fallings out – there must be something in the Jesus story after all’.

   Is there someone you need to have a sit down and talk with? To say sorry to or to explore what seems wrong between you? It’s never easy to make the approach but being brave usually, in my experience, pays dividends especially if tackled once an issue has arisen.

  Invite God’s Holy Spirit into you and amongst us all as we wait for Pentecost that we may strengthened for this task of unity