July 2019

Wednesday, 19 June 2019 09:04 Be the first to comment!

"For all the Saints ....."

Dear Friends,

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.

God Bless,

Rev’d Stephen Cooper

Dear Friends,

The moment when we acknowledge the presence and reality of God – that he is the creator and we are his beloved creation – we open up a whole new set of questions: If God is God, then what does that mean for me? How do I live in relationship with God? What is God’s will for me? Of course, these are questions not easily answered.

A good number of years ago a friend of mine was wondering whether God might be calling him to ordained ministry, and asked me what I thought? My reply was twofold. Firstly, to pray for the idea to go away – if it was of God, then it wouldn’t go away, whereas if it was of him it would soon pass. Second, he that was too good a Christian to be wasted on ordained ministry – there would be much more important things for him to do for the Kingdom of God.

As it turned out, the idea went away and instead he went to the US to do post-graduate studies. Now he’s a professor of theology in a US university where he teaches hundreds of students each year to think about the God questions in the complexities of the modern world – a much more important role for the Kingdom of God than being a Vicar!

So what might the will of God be for you? for me? A couple of years ago we did a course called ‘Life on the Frontline’. The premise of the course was that everyone is on the frontline of the Kingdom of God, whether at home, down the pub, at work, with the children or grand-children, at the gym, with our friends, or wherever. First and foremost, where we are is where we’re called to be the Body of Christ, his presence in the world. Though it may change as we journey with God, where we are now is where God is calling us to be his people, on the frontline of the Kingdom of God – for now this is his will for us, each one of us.

It is tempting to put the idea of special ministries on a pedestal, vicars and the like, as something to be looked up to. The truth of the matter is that our first calling, above all others, is to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Living that out is always the will of god for us.

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