"For all the Saints ....."
July brings with it the celebration of a number of significant saints, each of whom has contributed to inspiring the Church on its journey with Jesus, if he isn’t enough encouragement on his own. Among them are:
- Thomas who, once he’d overcome his doubts, took the Good News of Jesus through the Middle East to S.E. India, founding a trail of churches which continue to thrive to this day.
- Benedict, whose 1400 year old monastic rule invites us to explore our relationship with God in Jesus Christ through vows of obedient listening as part of a community; of seeking God rooted in the community of which we are part (Stability); and of being open to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit for us personally, for our community, and for the world (Conversion of Life).
- Mary Magdelene who Jesus had healed and who had become a faithful disciple such that she was at the cross, at his burial, and was the first to meet the risen Jesus on Easter Day, then becoming the Apostle to the Apostles, telling the Disciples of the resurrection.
- Anna and Joachim, Mary’s Mum and Dad. Often overlooked, but if Mary at the age of around 14-16 when girls were betrothed was able to give the spiritually, emotionally and culturally courageous decision she did, then that was in part because of the grounding in life and her relationship with God that they had helped her develop.
- William Wilberforce, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson, who with many other men and women worked tirelessly make slavery illegal. One of their biggest challenges was to get the Church to re-read its Bible from first principles. Slave-owners used the Bible, which is quite OK about slavery, to justify their actions. Wilberforce and his colleagues argued that if all people are made in the image of God to be his children, then regardless of what the Bible says about slavery, it is profoundly sinful for one person to treat another as a slave. They strongly remind us that the Bible is a current and living document, requiring active interpretation, not a museum piece.
These are good folk with whom to share the road as fellow-travellers.
Rev’d Stephen Cooper