After the referendum

Trinity 5 BCP

8am All Saints 26 June 2016

1 Peter 3. 8-15

Today’s Prayer Book Epistle –from the 1st Letter of St Peter, chapter 3, verses 8-15 was almost certainly written for the weekend after the EU referendum!

After a bruising and divisive campaign – millions of our fellow citizens will be disappointed by the result – and I am writing this homily on Polling day before the result is known.

For whichever side wins – there will be many who will be now be disappointed. This is not a party political point – it’s a simple fact.

And the truth is that whichever way we voted – we in this small island will still need to learn to live together whatever our views, and we will need to try and heal our divisions.

I believe the Church and individual Christians have an important role in a post referendum Britain, and I think our role is beautifully summed up by these verses from the first letter of St Peter.

So perhaps you will forgive me if I simply go through them again – but perhaps allow a slightly more modern translation of the Greek original to amplify the beautiful cadences of the Book of Common prayer.

St Peter starts with these words addressed to the Christian community in our dealings with each other

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

The NRSV pew bibles which we use translates this in another way

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Whichever way you translate it – the message is clear

We are to treat each other – even our opponents – with sympathy, compassion and courtesy. That’s our starting point. And for a Christian, it’s not optional, it’s mandatory. That is what the Lord expects from us and nothing less.

But then St Peter goes on to say something even more important

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

This is a complicated sentence – so this is what the NRSV makes of it

Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.

As Christians we are called to respond to abuse – not with more abuse – but with blessing

We are called to be a blessing to other people

And that applies in all circumstances – when we are debating politics – when we are debating religions – when we are driving a car – when we are cross and tired and coping with our colleagues at work or our family, friends or neighbours at home.

St Peter takes this calling so seriously that he even quotes from the bible at this point – so the next 3 verses are a quotation from Psalm 34

“Those who desire life

    and desire to see good days,

let them keep their tongues from evil

    and their lips from speaking deceit;

let them turn away from evil and do good;

    let them seek peace and pursue it.”

So let us seek peace and pursue it, so that we can bring healing to our divided land and become the Blessing for others that God has called us to be.   Amen.

John de Wit

All Saints’ Church Wardens Write

The summer is traditionally the time when church life quietens down while everyone goes away to recharge their batteries. That might not happen this year at All Saints’ and St Mary’s!

June saw a very successful Queen’s birthday weekend at All Saints’. Hundreds came through the Church to admire the lovely flower displays and enjoy tea and cake. Very many thanks to all who organised, arranged flowers, baked and served teas, rang the bells and welcomed at the door. It was a sterling performance.

July will be a busy month. On the horizon and approaching rapidly is Stephen Bellamy’s service of institution and induction at All Saints’ at 7.30pm on 28th July. You are all most warmly welcomed to attend – if it is a squeeze, so much the better. It will be a big day requiring a lot of preparation, and marks the formal start of the next chapter in our church life together. (If you happen to bump into Steve and Wendy before then, do offer a warm personal welcome but remember he has not yet started work!)

The induction comes at the end of The Wave, a week long holiday club for children run by Churches Together. This very worthwhile event is held (almost) every year and is a huge opportunity to share our love for Jesus with these youngsters and their parents. Some of these families will go on to Messy Church, and only God knows where he will lead them from there. At least one warden is signed down to help!

Steve’s first Sunday coincides with the open air morning service in the Market Place which jointly celebrates The Wave week and the FollyFest. He is thrilled to have this unique opportunity to meet and speak to the wider community. Do try to be there if you can to support Steve and CTIF.

Our eyes are very much looking towards the future. In our parish profile (still available on the church website) we identified a number of key areas in which we believe we are being challenged as a church. As he gets to know us, Steve may want to add other areas to the list. Together we will need to identify and embrace the way forward in order to see growth in individual lives, our church community and God’s kingdom in Faringdon.

Andrew Sargent & Katie Foot

Home Groups in July

New members are always most welcome at all Home Groups – please contact the numbers listed below for more details.

Day and Dates

Time

Place

Phone

Subject

Monday 18th

7.45 pm

28 The Pines

240 532

Life on the Frontline


Monday 4th & 18th

7.45 pm

1 Haynes Close

241 975

Fruitfulness on the Frontline

Tuesday 12th & Aug 2nd

2.30 pm

2 Leamington Gate

615 009

Being Church

Wednesday 13th & 27th

7.45 pm


7 Badbury Close

241 860

Every Thursday

7.30 pm


2 Ferndale Street

241 161

Romans

Thursday 14th & 28th

8.00 pm

10B Coxwell Street


242 753

There is a wonderfully wide variety of Home groups in our parish that nurture our faith, help us grow in understanding of biblical teaching and our relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is done by studying individual books of the Bible together, discussions and a deepening of bonds of friendship, fellowship and discipleship as the groups meet regularly.

Sometimes short courses are followed similar to some Lent or Advent courses, and sometimes a specific theme is explored to enable the living out of our beliefs in daily life. There is no set pattern and each group has evolved its own style and emphasis to enable us to learn from one another about being a Christian in today’s world, to support each other and to pray together informally.

One of the groups is following an Emmaus course (part written by the new Bishop of Oxford, Stephen Croft) entitled ‘Knowing the Father’ and the first session ended with a challenge to write a short statement, something between a poem and a prayer, about God as creator of earth and heaven, and also as our Father, our creator. The lines were to begin with the letters G, O, D. It was challenging but the response was amazingly varied, creative and very special. With the contributors’ permission I wanted to share some of them with the readers of the magazine, to encourage others to have a go themselves in this exercise but also to stimulate encouragement to join a home group if not already attending one – just contact the named person in the list above for the group that meets on the day and time that suits you.

Gentle Father, How great you are . . .

Overall your love and gifts are more than we can take in . . .

Down here your creation astounds us in its wonder and beauty . . .

God, good Creator, please accept my praises

Offered, dear Father, on this happy morning

Death now defeated, life unending granted: Heaven now wide open.

Gazing at the complexity and beauty of creation and our world, our hearts are filled with wonder and awe at the works of your hands, O God,

Over all that is, from the tiniest molecule to the mightiest mountains, can be found your fingerprints of love and care sustaining all that you have made,

Diversity beyond imagining, colour, size, strength, type, longevity and purpose – everything is caught up in a unity of relationship to you, our Father and creator, and we give you thanks and praise now and forever. Amen

Glorious is your creation, 

Only you could have made it so beautiful,

Don’t let us destroy this miracle you have given us.

Barbara Mapley

Prayer Calendar for July

Please continue to pray for the life and work of our parishes

Fri 1st Mission of the Month—INF.
Sat 2nd Sunday School and Pathfinder leaders.
Sun 3rd Saints Alive this morning.
Mon 4th The work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Tues 5th For all who help run our Churches.
Wed 6th Steve and Wendy Bellamy as they are preparing to join us.
Thurs 7th ‘Open the Book’ team today at the Infant and Junior Schools.
Fri 8th For Home Groups final meetings before the summer break.
Sat 9th Ministry team: Paul, Max, Barbara, John, Helen & Graham.
Sun 10th United Service this evening at All Saints’.
Mon 11th Bell ringers practicing this evening.
Tues 12th All who are ill, recently bereaved or in any other kind of need.
Wed 13th Community activities in Faringdon and Little Coxwell.
Thurs 14th Work of Churches Together and the Family Centre.
Fri 15th The Flower Guild.
Sat 16th Vergers and Welcomers, Intercessors and Readers.
Sun 17th Families bringing children to baptism today.
Mon 18th For all refugees fleeing persecution.
Tues 19th For Stephen Croft, the new Bishop of Oxford.
Wed 20th Schools breaking up this week.
Thurs 21st Choir practicing this evening.
Fri 22nd Wardens in both our churches.
Sat 23rd For all going on holiday this summer.
Sun 24th For all visitors to our Church during the coming weeks.
Mon 25th Final preparations for the Wave this week.
Tues 26th The Wave holiday club starts today.
Wed 27th Pray for the leaders and children at the Wave.
Thurs 28th Institution & Induction of Steve Bellamy this evening.
Fri 29th Last day of the Wave.
Sat 30th Steve as he prepares for services tomorrow.
Sun 31st Joint Wave/FollyFest Service in the Market Place.

Meetings for Prayer in July

All Saints’ seeks to have an active and regular prayer ministry with a number of informal meetings during the month to which all are very welcome.

Friday 1st 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 5th 2.00-3.00pm Julian Meeting (18 Eastfield Court)
Tuesday 5th 7.15-8.15pm Mission for Faringdon (Barber Rooms)
Tuesday 5th 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Friday 8th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 15th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 15th 8.00pm Prayer for the World (Call 240 509 for venue)
Tuesday 19th 2.00-3.00pm Julian Meeting (18 Eastfield Court)
Tuesday 19th 7.00-7.30pm Interregnum Prayers (Lower Asset Room)
Tuesday 19th 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Wednesday 20th 10.30-11.30am Prayer for CMS (8 Coach Lane)
Friday 22nd 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 29th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)

Mission of the Month for July – INF

International Nepal Fellowship (INF) – Mission of the Month for July

 Centre of Excellence

Dr Dipak Maharjan, a Nepali Christian orthopaedic surgeon and specialist in spinal disorders is the newly-appointed Medical Director of Green pastures Hospital (GPH). He is passionate about developing INF’s work at GPH into a centre for health excellence, training and research.

I was raised in a Christian family in Kathmandu. After completing my Masters in Orthopedics at Christian Medical College, Vellore, I served for nine years in the United Mission to Nepal’s hospitals in Okhaldhunga and Tansen. I was responsible for establishing and leading successful orthopedic departments at each institution. My wife, Rachel, is a paediatrician and we have three daughters.

Touched by the plight of those suffering from Spinal Cord Injury [SCI], sadly a growing problem in Nepal, I decided to specialise in spinal disorders. After much prayer and consultation with experienced Christians working in the clinical field, I felt called to lead INF’s clinical work at GPH. Taking up the position in September 2015 I, along with a team of professionals in the sector, have spent the past few months developing a long-term vision for GPH.

GPH will increase its focus on disability related to SCI, spinal disorders, trauma, ear diseases, dermatological diseases, general disabilities including traumatic brain injury, amputations, cerebral palsy as well as other paediatric developmental disorders and palliative care. Previously known for its leadership in leprosy work, GPH’s shift in focus reflects the reduction in new leprosy cases and the increase in disability related to trauma.

A Trauma Rehabilitation Centre is also in the planning to assist those affected by significant falls, industrial injuries and transport injuries – bus accidents are common in Nepal and often see passengers badly injured.

As part of the new vision, upgrades are in progress for the existing operating theatre and wards. INF is working with its financial partners to ensure enough resources are available and INF’s Initiative for Financial Sustainability hopes to create new funding opportunities for GPH’s vital work.

There are challenges ahead but I am excited about GPH becoming a centre of excellence and can already see the community responding as numbers increase at the outpatients clinic and in the wards.

I have a real sense of God’s hand on GPH as it strives to serve those most affected by disability and trauma.

Sounds of Hope and a Future

Nicola McGunnigle writes:

INF’s has taken its ear specialists and medical teams to some of the most remote parts of Western Nepal to help the deaf and those with hearing loss. Since the early 1990s, 50 ear Outreach Programmes (formerly known as ‘Camps’) have been run, and now INF is able to provide constant ongoing ear care with the opening of its Ear Centre in the grounds of GPH.

The Ear Centre opened to coincide with the 51st Outreach Programme, which was held in the centre itself. Dr Mike Smith undertook the first operation at the new centre having been instrumental in making this long-held dream, a reality.

Mike first worked in Nepal in the 1980s and after discovering the extent of ear problems across the country returned in 1990 to establish Ear, Nose & Throat training at the Government’s Western Regional Hospital in Pokhara.

In 1992 the INF Camps Programme began, providing ear care and treatment in partnership with Ear Aid Nepal (UK) and Stiftyng Ohrchirurgie Nepal (SON, a Swiss organisation that supports ear surgery) across remote districts in Western Nepal. It was during these camps that the vision for a training centre came to Mike and long-serving Scottish nurse Ellen Findlay, one of the founders of INF’s medical Camp’s Programme; a vision to continue and develop ear care in Nepal and to provide a place where patients with complications could be referred. The Ear Centre will also work with local government health posts at the outreach locations to help staff identify patients with ear related complications. The Centre also offers speech therapy as an outpatient service.

Several months on from its official opening, the Ear Centre has a dedicated team of passionate staff ensuring services run smoothly. Although the centre will replace much of the work previously done during ear Outreach Programmes, INF will continue to send teams out to remote locations each year. The next Outreach Programme is planned for Gorkha in April.

A special note of thanks goes to SON who contributed a majority of the funds to complete the building and to those involved in supervising the construction, sourcing equipment and recruiting of staff to ensure a successful start.

Please continue to pray for the work at Green Pastures Hospital and the Ear Centre.

For more information about INF contact Margaret Scott Brown

Missions News

News from the Church Mission Society

It has been an amazing six months, first being accepted by CMS as a Mission Partner, then 3 months training with them in Oxford, an amazing education and time of encouragement. I want to thank everybody for your loving hospitality.

The news from Maridi and South Sudan is…peace is holding. This can only be a miracle and I believe an answer to our faithful prayers from our loving Father in heaven.

I will arrive in Maridi at the end of June. I want to say thank you for partnership with us in this mission  Thank you for your prayers, your financial support and all your encouragement. We are working to transform lives in Jesus and really make a difference.

With love in our King and Saviour,

Your sister Lynn

The latest news from South Sudan is mixed. The new Transitional Government of National Unity is very slowly moving into action on a few fronts. But opposition members are complaining that international donors have not so far offered financial support to the country, because of the lack of progress in implementing the peace agreement. The economy is still in a dire state and security is not much better. The government has resolved to release all prisoners of war; but, despite the official peace, fighting continues among multiple militias who pay no heed either to President Kiir or Vice-President Machar.

We are asked to pray for:

  • lasting peace in South Sudan.
  • all refugees, that they may one day be able to go back to their homes in peace.
  • the situation of food security so that people may have enough to eat.
  • the many South Sudanese recovering from fighting and violence at this time.

Pray for Lynn regularly as she returns to old friends and faces new challenges; for her work encouraging the many members of the Mothers Union; for her improving ability to learn and use the local language; and as she puts her complete trust in Jesus her Lord that she will know that Jesus will use our prayers to support her.

Joan Plumptre

 

Peacebuilding

Liza and I deeply appreciated our time with you all at All Saints’ in May, when we reported some of our activities during our time in Kenya, which you so kindly supported in prayer and finance.

But you can blame John de Wit for asking me to expand on some of our comments made during Holy Communion!

We share ‘The Peace” in that service, and for some of us, it’s not at all comfortable.  Even the act of shaking hands and greeting someone, whether a stranger or an irksome fellow church member, can be something of a trial rather than a blessing!  And God forbid that we move out of the safety of our seat!  But “The Peace” is not only an expression of our union, it is also a crucial interplay that mirrors and reinforces the reality that peace-making involves us in movement – in moving out of our comfort zones.

Our job in Kenya included peace-building which is not the same as conflict resolution, although one flows often enough into the other.  And the key approach is to strengthen Connectors and weaken Separators.  Strengthening connections outside of family, clan, tribe region, or nation.  Enabling people to find the humanity in others, to identify common ground, to break down the separators that maintain unjust enrichment, oppression and cruelty.

The story is told that one lady left a suicide note on a safety railing on the Golden Gate Bridge in California, stating that, “If just one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.”  It’s 220’/67m from the Bridge to the sea, and sadly, she was not one of the very few who have survived the fall.  Whether apocryphal or not the story illustrates that small actions can have major repercussions.  Sometimes all it takes is to smile at someone. Sometimes all it takes is to walk across the room.  Sometimes that first step leads to amazing positive outcomes. We all know the proverb ascribed to Lao Tzu, “ The Journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

The Nazis called non-Aryans, “Untermenschen” –  meaning subhuman. White supremacists argued for years that non-whites were inferior; ethnocentrism and tribalism dictates policy in many parts of the world, and we must not overlook the way many men perpetuate misogyny.

Yet we all have faces. We are all made in the image of God.

We all have two ears and one mouth, yet we speak far more than we listen.

I ask myself the following questions:

  • Is it my fear and selfishness that gives me permission to ignore or mistreat other human beings?
  • Is it my greed to make money, my ambition?
  • Can I accept difference without loss of the other’s dignity?
  • Is it my pride that demands their recognition of my high status, and thus their lower position?
  • Where is the Peace in that?
  • And how can we have peace in the big picture, at corporate and trans-national levels, if we do not even do Peace and be Peace within ourselves and with our neighbours?

Peace is a seed – and big Oak trees from little acorns grow.

And remember, He is our Peace – and we are His followers.

David Cooke

The priesthood of all believers (2)

I had quite a few interesting conversations with people after last month’s article about the Priesthood of all believers. It seemed that quite a large percentage of people had always assumed a vast divide existed between clergy and laity that was only bridged by ordination. Not only that, there was an assumption that a much lower standard of character and conduct was acceptable for the laypeople who themselves, quite rightly, demanded the very highest standards from the clergy. I’m sorry, but that’s not on, laypeople and clergy are equally ‘priests of the Lord’, and should have the same high standards.

I hope that you agree! Now I will try to answer one of the questions I was asked, which was, “What is it that this ‘royal priesthood’ of clergy and laypeople are ordained to do?” Paul, in Romans 15,  speaks of himself as “Doing the priest-work of the Gospel.” But what is this priest-work?

In the Old Testament the priesthood was a body of people set apart for the service of God’s Sanctuary – to keep the sacred fire on the altar alight; to offer the daily sacrifice; to trim the golden candlestick and to renew the showbread. In a word, their primary duty was the maintenance of God’s worship.

In the Early Christian Church, as we read in the Book of the Acts, the Christian community is seen thinking of itself as “a royal priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” The Church maintained its priorities in the Breaking of the Bread, the prayers, and the gathering together for worship on the first day of the week. No doubt the Church preached the Word and ministered to the poor, but it saw itself principally as a society for worshipping God through Jesus Christ.

I think we sometimes have to remind ourselves in modern times, of the inseparable connection between priesthood and worship. Today there is a tendency is to make much of moral conduct and philanthropy, and to think that worship isn’t so important. We should be ‘decent’ people; kind to our neighbours and supporters of charities. As for worship, well it just doesn’t seem to appeal to some people. So we have become a nation that is largely non-worshipping – there are so many more appealing things to do with our Sundays!

Humanitarianism cannot take the place of worshipping God – the worship of the creature in place of the Creator – God has first claim on us, and as his priests, it is our appointed duty to “stand in his sanctuary.” It is, I think, obvious that, if the earliest Christians hadn’t seen their gathering together as their primary duty, the Church would have rapidly gone to pieces, and nothing more would ever have been heard of it.

Is the duty of Sunday worship just a mere matter of personal inclination?  What would have happened if the earliest Christians had regarded their priesthood in this way, and had felt no particular obligation to join in when the Church met for worship? Does it matter less now than it did then?

And if we accept and believe in the priesthood of all believers, then we must remember that the priesthood has always had a representative character. In Old Testament days, whether ‘the congregation of the people’ was there or not, the sacrifices were offered; the priests of the Lord kept watch in his sanctuary, and took their appointed place carrying out their priestly duties. Whatever the nation, Israel, did, the priesthood stood before God for them, and made offerings in their name, as their representatives. In the same way our Christian Faith reveals Jesus standing before the Mercy Seat and making his offering for us.

What we have to do is to think of ourselves as forming, collectively, the Church, the priestly body, God’s ministers, in a world which is alienated and estranged from God, as our modern world is becoming more and more – a world too ignorant of spiritual values, too neglectful, too careless, too absorbed in the feverish pursuit of amusement and of money, to offer God the worship which is his due.

God the Creator (Exploring the Nicene Creed)

As we saw in our last article there is Only One God; One Supreme Being who is the Creator – the source and life and power of all that we can see, touch, or feel; of all existence, animate and inanimate; of all life in endless variety and wonder; of a vast Universe with untold billions of galaxies, in which one of the smaller we are set. He is the Eternal God, the beginning and the end, described in the New Testament as “the Alpha & the Omega” (Revelation 1:8 & 22:13 ); the timeless One; yet also Our Father, with whom we have real personal bond, known by faith and sustained by Love; and with whom we are linked forever, in time and for eternity.

In this article we shall first think about the Creation itself, recognising that it has, along with its sheer greatness and grandness, a moral heart. In other words it is made for a purpose, with a good and wonderful plan, and a glorious final end. Creation, though beginning billions of years ago with what scientists call the big bang, is not a pure chance happening. It does not move in totally random, unsure direction with no certain goal. It is, as we know from the innate consistent dependable physical laws that govern it, the result of very definite design and meaning. It is the work, we believe, of a great Creator’s mind; the activity of God himself; who is forever intimately concerned with and caring of its entire life.

Within that plan of course is what we call Evolution. In modern understanding that process of evolution, taking place over many billions of years, far from denying Divine design and creativity, actually demonstrates the amazing genius, the great inventive mind, and unlimited power of God. As we come to faith in God, without which we can make only partial sense of creation and existence, we see that it is Divine Love that has both made all, and sustains all. That is shown all through the Old Testament, and supremely in the New, where in Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, we see that Love at its fullest and most wonderful (John 3:16).

The Christian Faith, as do other World Faiths, asserts categorically that the Creation is GOOD.  The Genesis story of Creation states several times boldly and clearly that what God made was indeed both wonderful and good. He meant it to be wholly good, not something shoddy and inferior (Genesis 1:21). God does not deal in the substandard or second best. And God does not, and cannot create anything that can be described as evil or contrary to the good and his great Love. I have always loved the song “What a beautiful world” composed by Bob Thiele & David Weiss, set to music by Louis Armstrong (top of the charts more than once when I was a young curate!). Here are two of its verses:

I see trees of green, red roses too,
I see them bloom for me and you:
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white,
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night:
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
.

The Book of Genesis (began over 3,000 years ago by several authors, and later edited several times) is not a text book of geology, astronomical physics, palaeontology (study of fossils), or any other human or biological science. But it does present, within a framework of the highest religious thought of ancient times, a strong sense of Divine creative genius and power. And it proclaims the moral truth and purpose of Creation for all time. Creation Story is well thought out imaginative legend or myth, made in the only way possible for that era of human knowledge. Some see it as a poem of Creation, and like all good poetry, conveys truth and meaning and the truly beautiful. The Bible contains some of the world’s finest poetry; the Psalms; the Song of Songs; and countless passages elsewhere.

The tendency for some Christians is still to read and interpret sections of Holy Scripture in a largely literal way, failing to see that its particular genre and actual setting in ancient times and cultures must be taken into consideration. Remember that these were pre-scientific eras where myth, story or legend was usually taken as accurate historical fact and objective truth. Biblical understanding and interpretation today must take into account all that the wide fields of modern knowledge, the sciences and prudent literary criticism, have to teach us. Otherwise we do grave injustice to Scripture and fail to understand it properly, learn from it, and use it in the best possible way.

In this series we are thinking about the Nicene Creed, starting with the One Creator God who creates only the Good. So we have to ask what did go wrong in this good creation? There isn’t space here to explore the complex story of how our human species, homo sapiens, evolved over many millennia; and gradually developed a moral sense with awareness of right and wrong. Or, in the long distant past, the origins of human sin and evil, and all that is contrary to goodness and love. Genesis Chapter 3, in a poignant and telling legend, describes what we call The Fall, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, choosing to go their own way rather than his. This falling away from the good and the best in human relationships, first with God, and then with each other, sadly affects us all. The Christian Faith proclaims the Good first, and then how God can indeed rectify our damaged moral state, and does so lovingly, faithfully and ceaselessly. So the next article will be about JESUS, how he and only he, can accomplish our SALVATION.

However, I want to stress again that the goodness of the whole Creation, and the essential goodness of all humanity, despite our many sins and failings, has never been destroyed or totally lost, however much it seems diminished at times. The Creed expresses our core faith that God in goodness and eternal Love never deserts us, but forever seeks to bring us back to himself, and to hold on to us, for all eternity. When we come to the Resurrection of Jesus I shall write something like this: “This central and wonderful truth of faith asserts that all creation is essentially good, for God made it so, and his plan from the beginning to the end, is to affirm its goodness and beauty, constantly restoring and renewing it through Christ. Indeed, all creation, everything around us, everything made and done for the good of humanity, every act of human love and kindness, reveals the life and presence and goodness of God”. (Genesis 1 again; Acts 14:15-17 & 17:24-28; 1 Timothy 4:4; James 1:17).

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever. Amen. Alleluia!

 A Song or Prayer for Easter Day or at other times

God, good Creator, please accept my praises:
Offered, dear Father, on this happy morning:
Death now defeated, life unending granted, heaven now wide open.

George Abell

Disaster

In hardship people seem to struggle and I’m not sure we get it right. Here’s an attempt to tackle the subject which is bigger than a small article, but runs on the lines an old friend helped me with years ago.

When devastating events occur in our lives how do we respond? How do we develop our attitude to the pruning-hook a heavenly Father takes to our life?

  • Consider the Lord Jesus, ‘who for the joy that was set before him endured (literally ‘stayed under’) the cross…’ (Heb 12:2)
  • Consider the apostolic command to:
Rejoice Rom 15:10
Rejoice at all times 1Thess 5:16
Rejoice always Phil 4:4
Rejoice when ostracized and hated Luke 6:22 & 23
Rejoice in being brought low James 1:9 & 10
Rejoice in constraints Rom 5:3
  • Or the examples of
Rejoicing in institutional persecution Acts 5:41
Rejoicing in being misunderstood 2 Cor 6:10

 

Is there a way to reconcile the ruin of a career, thwarting of ambition, disappointment of hope, the loss of relationship, the devastation of family, or the destruction of home with this New Testament focus on joy and rejoicing which are, after all, commands?

At the last supper (John 15) the Lord Jesus called his disciples branches of himself. He said that any branch bearing fruit would be cut off by the divine gardener in that very area of fruitfulness and his purpose would be for the branch to bear more fruit in the future. Herein is the core of the rejoicing that is necessary.

Every son that is received is chastised, Heb 12:6 ff. Indeed if we have not known divine chastisement then in this same passage, Heb 12:8, it is made clear, we’ve not been begotten of a heavenly father.

Therefore we should rejoice in tribulation, Rom 5:3, at all times, always.

Colin Slater

Editor’s note: Colin has opened a discussion in an important area. If you have any comments please feel free to make a contribution in the magazine.