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VICARS LETTER FOR THE MONTH

 

Vicar's Letter of the Month  - September

 

Reverend Lissa Scott writes …….

 

Dear Friends

Later this month we celebrate our patronal festival – the feast day when we remember our Saint. Most Catholic and Anglican churches are dedicated to a particular patron Saint. This may be one of Jesus’ disciples or a Gospel writer, like St Matthew. It may be someone who lived after Bible times but whose holy life was an inspiration – or indeed their martyrdom. Less frequently churches are dedicated to Jesus himself (as in churches called the Good Shepherd or Christ the Cornerstone), or to God (as in Holy Trinity). And, of course, sometimes the dedication is to an angel or angels – St Michael, or St Michael and All Angels.

What is the purpose behind such a dedication, and what do we as church people gain from it? Let me offer a few suggestions.

  • God is very big – omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent – in other words: completely unfathomable and beyond our understanding. It can sometimes be easier to concentrate our focus on how God has been at work in individual human beings. This kind of personal association can help to give us a “handle” on faith.

 

  • Sometimes the people who have become saints appear to have lived very ordinary lives, or to have made plenty of mistakes, and that can encourage us to believe that, if God used them, then he will be able to use us too.

 

  • These last two points perhaps work better with human rather than angelic saints. My last point, however, applies to St Michael and even to Jesus and the Holy Trinity. In church we frequently refer to the company of heaven” and “the communion of saints”. In these phrases we are recognising the unity of all God’s people, alive and dead, on earth or in heaven, as part of God’s eternal kingdom. It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that we are part of a far bigger picture, a greater kingdom that includes all those who have gone before and in whose footsteps we try to follow.

 

  • Which brings me on to my last point. The name of our own church – whether human, angelic or divine – is intended to inspire us in our lives, to give us an example to follow, to set before us qualities to emulate.

 

Our patronal festival this month is an opportunity to think about these things, and also to celebrate the founding of our own church and the life of the church family there to which everyone is invited to belong.

Please come along and join us on Sept 23rd at 11.00 for café church – breakfast included, or come to the 8.15 or 6.00 service.  With every good wish

Lissa Scott

I’ve just got back from Spain, where I heard a lot about the atrocities committed in the Spanish Civil War. Of course, there have been many atrocities committed all over the world over the centuries, as there still are today, but what I found especially shocking was the refusal of the church in Spain to acknowledge the evil of the actions perpetuated by the government.

 

I don’t want to get into politics as such, nor to suggest that the Spanish church was worse than many others. But it is terrible when the church is complacent, or so wedded to the status quo, that it turns a blind eye to the evils around it. The history of abuses which have been ignored reflects badly on many Christian denominations – whether we are talking about the slave trade, or racism, or sexual abuse.

 

The problem is that anything we do as a Church affects the way people see our faith. If so-called Christians don’t care enough about justice and mercy, then why on earth would anyone want to belong to such a body. Worse still, it affects the way they see our God. If worshipping God makes Christians behave like that, then people are likely to think that clearly he can’t be a God worth following!

 

I’m not sure that I have an answer to all of this. One of the problems we have in our language is that for many the word “Christian” represents the following of a certain set of Christian values. So if we call ourselves Christians, a common view is that we are setting ourselves up as being extra-good, as if we are incredibly holy, and so we are expected to behave in an especially moral way. We can explain till we are blue in the face that being Christian means that we believe certain things about God and Jesus Christ rather than that we claim to be incredibly virtuous, but this may still not be how people in general understand the situation.

 

In a way this is very unfair. We are not saying we are particularly good. What we are saying is that we know we get things wrong and mess up, which is why we need our faith, and church and God, to help us to get it right a bit more often. We can argue that rather than setting ourselves up as better than others, we are the ones who know we are flawed. We are less arrogant than others, because we accept that we need help to be good rather than trying to do it alone. And all this is true.

 

But it is also true that our faith should help us to live better lives, and that people should see the love of God shining out of us – and also his truth and integrity. When we go wrong, whether by ignoring evil, or by failing to control our own weaknesses, we are letting God down and being bad ambassadors for him, for our faith, and for the church, which Jesus setup as his body here on earth. Like it or not, we do have a big responsibility.

 

With every good wish

Lissa Scott