Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity

15th Jul 2018


Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Trinity Year B

 

Herod feared John , knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him.

Mark 6. 20.

 

At significance points in history the people who have made a lasting difference have been those who have challenged the vice-like grip of tyrants and the empires of will and force. We may name the English saints Thomas à Becket and Thomas More, who both challenged the naked authority of their sovereigns, Henry II and Henry VIII. Then there have been three figures in the twentieth century, who like John the Baptist have proclaimed their message of radical peace from a place of deep conscience and from prison : Mahatma Ghandi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Nelson Mandela. Their  names will live for ever because of the way in which as single persons with singular consciences and single voices, minds and hearts, they managed to challenge the vast powers ranged against them.  They managed to call for for human freedom despite beatings and torture and they won through. Like lions, they held out for the greater dignity of all humankind against the power of the oppressor.

 

It seems at first strange that we should include John the Baptist among these modern prophets, but he shares with them, or rather I should say they share with him, the vision of a world transformed in the likeness of its Maker. In our first reading from Amos, we learn that Amos is called to the status of prophet from his own job as a herdsman and 'a dresser of sycamore trees’. God raises before Amos a builder’s plumb line before a wall. God, holding the said plumb line, was aware that something was wrong with the society and that it was, as my Cornish father would have put it, ‘out of truth’. Little Amos is called to put it right, and how might Ghandi, Bonhoeffer and Mandela have felt themselves to be so ‘little’ in relation to the titanic struggles to which they were severally bound. But they responded, as did Amos to a deeper call to a more profound response in the longing for a better world.

 

In today’s Gospel reading, setting out the drama leading to the beheading of John the Baptist, we know that John has been outspoken about King Herod concerning the latter’s marriage to his own sister-in-law, Herodias. John dares to declare openly that this marriage is invalid under the Jewish law. At first it is not Herod but Herodias who wants to have John killed. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. She feels degraded. She knows, as we do, that Herod has an acknowledged respect for the Baptist, knowing him to be ‘righteous and holy’. The ‘dance of death’ that she stages is the one in which she knows her husband’s weaknesses through and through. Her daughter’s dance  elicits a promise from the King that he will grant her anything she wants, even up to half his kingdom. He little expects her to ask for the head of John the Baptist. We see the contrast between John’s message of repentance and its call for a set of values which are truthful and morally binding with Herod’s lasciviousness and foolishness. John’s is a costly discipleship of faith and trust and self-sacrifice, Herod’s is attracted to these values and influences, but he is easily seduced. He follows too much ‘the devices and desires’ of his own heart, which have become warped with misuse. His mind is a wayward one and his real person grievously split.

 

This Gospel reading is a satisfying tale which concerns the ‘goodies and the baddies’ of the Gospel story, but its real meaning hits home when we come to consider the abiding worth, the depth and the integrity of God’s Word set against what St Paul was to call ‘the powers and principalities and rulers of this present darkness”. Paul’s appeal to the faithful was simply to their desire for the truth of things which had revealed itself for him in Jesus Christ. That same appeal to desire that same moral truthfulness is still vastly important.

 

In our own time, it is not too difficult to name those aspects of our common culture which are spiritually deadening and which do not give life or offer us that true freedom for which John and then the Saviour Jesus Christ lived and died for. People are wandering around our towns and cities ‘on empty’ without actually realising it. However, they, like Herod recognise, perhaps vaguely, that there does exist a body of spiritual and actual truth, but it is not recognised as residing in the Church or in Jesus Christ. Instead it is acknowledged in ways which seem sound but which are in fact diffuse. John’s testimony is the one which ultimately convinces because of its grounding in reality.

 

I have spent the last week on conference in Liverpool and we were at Anfield Stadium to watch the England v Croatia match. The Club Chaplain gave a very inspiring talk in which we denied the oft quoted Bill Shankley who once said that football was more important than life or death. John Lennon famously declared that the Beatles were becoming more popular than Jesus. Both men had immense pulling power and the admiration and even the adulation of the masses. Lennon may have come close to the truth when he penned the song ‘All you Need is Love’. But neither men provides us with the complete picture. Herod’s partial recognition of who John the Baptist really was gives evidence to the fact of a deeper resonance; a more profound meaning. It is that without God we are nothing. God is no tyrant and urges us to come to know Him from the point of view of our desire for the deeper truth which underlies our existence. Note this word desire. God does not exercise duress.His appeal is to that which is already within us.

 

The story of Herod and John the Baptist and the dance of Herodias’ daughter is a tragedy but a necessary one. For in it, the true nature of things is being established and revealed for all posterity. Paul reminds us in Ephesians that “with all wisdom and insight God has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time”. Ephesians 1. 10. God is to be for the faithful ever 'in our ears and in our eyes', as the manifest presence. It is God who gives life and hope. God’s presence and love is the perpetual challenge to that temptation for us to become that which we are most emphatically not.

 

When I was in Liverpool I got on a bus that I thought would lead me back to the Hope University Campus. After a long while I went to the driver who with great emphasis told me “You’ve got on the wrong bus!” You have to go back and change – at Penny Lane”. I left the bus full of the joys of Spring and scouse wonderment.

 

Oh, Penny Lane -  like the words of God in scripture.Living words for real life. May you be always in our ears and in our eyes:

 

 

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes

There beneath the blue suburban skies

I sit, and meanwhile back

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes

There beneath the blue suburban skies

Penny Lane



Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity

24th Jun 2018


Delivered to the Huaxia Chinese Church on Sunday 24th June 2018 at 2 30 pm.

 

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Year B

 

“We urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain” 2 Corinthians 6.1

 

 

It’s with real joy that I am here at Holy Cross Church at the special invitation of your own Huaxia Church! It is thrilling for my church members that we are able to express something of God’s love and kindness in our sharing of this place of worship with you. Thank you for asking me to be here now! It is so good to be here together for this time of prayer and praise.

 

In the Anglican tradition we spend each Sunday looking at three separate pieces of scripture and a part of one psalm. This at first sounds as though we have taken on too much! But we have these scripture readings, one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament and one from the Gospels, and the typical sermon is one which seeks to find a single link between these three readings. Often this is very difficult. But as we read scripture there is no sense in which we are in a hurry for immediate answers and quick and ready responses to what scripture is revealing to us. We read scripture and many of us are familiar with so much of what we read and hear. But we also meditate upon scripture and in this way we come gradually to an understanding of how and in what way it is speaking to us. We take our time for God’s understanding to be given to us so that our own understanding may develop appropriately.

 

And so I will try to do what I normally do on Sunday mornings, and offer you my understanding of the three pieces of scripture which have been set by my church for today. When Jianbi asked me for a title to this sermon I had already quickly given m scripture passage a first reading and so I said to him. “My title is “God: Our Centre of Gravity”. When I mention gravity I mean that God is the centre of our being ; God is our stability. He is our life’s true meaning and its true purpose. And yet God is also beyond anything I can ever say about Him : he will always be so much more than I can ever imagine Him to be. And because of this I am being called into a relationship with God and with His Son Jesus Christ in profound trust. I have to set all those things I lack against God’s willingness to place his trust in me. The fact that God is more than I can imagine is good news for me because it will stop me from trying to worship him as though he needed me to give him life. Instead, God is who God is and his love for me and this world is without end. I am free only when I can own that my existence is nothing without God.

 

I am free when I acknowledge him to be the God of my life, my faith and even my partial understanding of him and of my turning away from him. He is always ready to meet me where I am, even and especially when I am doubting or fearing. The Christian calling is the one which would have us be open to the outpouring of his love. Our Christian calling is the one which responds with a joyful ‘Yes!’ to him and of his open hearted love for me. When I say my ‘Yes’ to God I come alive in a way I had not previously thought possible, and God lives in me. It is in this light that St Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians ‘not to accept the grace of God in vain’. ‘Vain’ comes from an English word which can mean either ridiculously arrogant or something which is dead and can have no future. God is come to drive out vanity and to restore us in his true likeness. (2 Corinthians 3.18)

 

I will look at our readings from back to front and begin with our Gospel reading and end with our Old Testament reading from the Book of Job by way of Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthians Chapter 6.

 

In the Gospel reading from Mark Chapter 4 we have the simple story of Jesus in a boat with his disciples. It is such a simple story that, like children we might rush to a quick and satisfying understanding of it and miss its real meaning. A storm lashes the little boat and the disciples fear being drowned. The sea or deep water was a horror in the minds of the Jewish people, and they likened the limitless seas to ‘Sheol’ or ‘Hell’. We learn that in the storm chaos Jesus is lying asleep in the stern of the boat. The contrast of storm and sleep is very vital to the story and we come to know Jesus as the still centre. He is able as God’s own Son to inhabit God’s peace in its human totality. In one of the Anglican blessings we have the phrase ‘The Peace of God which passes all understanding’. Jesus’ peace, asleep in the boat, lies beyond the storm and the fearful disciples. And yet, as he wakes, he recognises and has pity upon their fear. There is a sharp rebuke however, as he comments upon their lack of faith. They are with the man of deep peace and yet they neither recognise him as such nor of course do they place enough trust in him. The very English translation tells us that Jesus ‘rebuked the storm’ but in reality he performs an exorcism upon the storm and repeats the words he pronounced to the man possessed of demons ‘Be gone, and come out of him!’ ‘Be still!’. And then there is as scripture tells us ‘a dead calm’. We are reminded of the words of Psalm 46 ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. Only learn to be still…

 

My friends, to go deeper in the life of faith and the acceptance of God’s grace we need to learn to be still. I remember the English exclamation ‘Don’t just stand there, do something!” In reverse we have ‘Don’t just do something; stand there!”  Be still and know that I am God. God is the One who has astonished the disciples as they begin slowly to come to a realisation of who their teacher Jesus really is “Who is this” they say “that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Beyond the anxieties, the worry, the preoccupations and our vanity; beyond these things, Jesus is able to still the storm in all of us – he is the very eye of the storm; the place of its absolute stillness and its heart. This same stillness he offers us, too, the strength and courage to be, to live life from its true source, and never to neglect such a gift of immense grace, though we often do!

 

In His Second Letter to the Corinthians Chapter 6, our second reading, St Paul reminds us that God’s gift to us is of Himself in Jesus Christ. This gift is being given to us in the present, at this very moment, at Holy Cross Church in London on this day and at this time. Paul reminds us that “Now is the acceptable time” just as Jesus in the boat works to still the storm in the ‘now’. God recognises your own fears and yet still calls you, in the now moment, to come to Him. St Paul is simply calling us to the  provocative ‘opening wide’ of our hearts. This is hard for us. For perhaps there is so much that  has made our hearts more closed up than they should be; we have been hurt, we have some bad memories, we have been let down or betrayed, we have withdrawn and with the withdrawal we have shut our hearts up in very subtle and clever ways, and we are in grief.

 

It is no longer such an easy a thing to respond to grace when we are so wounded. But St Paul knows this and that people, like you and me, need close human support and encouragement. We need the hearts that trust in the whole business of ‘going through things together’ and of an acceptance that we need one another and that we find God in one another. “As servants of God” he says “we commend ourselves in every way’. He is saying ‘Actually, we are here for the opening of hearts, we are here to express the fullness of our co-creative potential’. This is what the love of God is compelling us to do. And this is no mean task! But its effects, in the life of God’s Holy Spirit, promise transformation.

 

To sum up, our readings so far remind us that to place our faith and trust in God is to live truthfully. Our final and third reading, following Mark’s Gospel and St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians is from the Old Testament Book of Job. This is a great story of a man who is wealthy in every way, and because wealthy thought to be specially favoured by God. But he is to be tested and all his wealth stripped from him, and his family members die, and his wife tells him only to ‘curse his life and die’. The so called ‘Job’s comforters’ are no better, reciting scripture wisdom in a way which is dis-compassionate and automatic. They think that Job’s troubles are a result of past sin, as stock religious response. Job may bemoan his cruel fate but he does not turn away from God, he perseveres, and in our reading from Chapter 38, the climax of the story, God reveals to Job who he really is. God despises ‘words without knowledge’. God challenges Job’s pride “Where were you, Job, he says, when I laid the foundations of the earth?” And yet God’s tone is never vengeful. He does not want Job to die but to live, but not before Job comes to know who God really is – not the God who is partial and has favourites but a God who is above and beyond any human capacity to limit him. Job’s goods and family are eventually restored to him, but not after a mighty personal struggle in which Job comes to see that God is limitless. He is what is real. He can be no other. He is as an English hymn puts it ‘Disposer Supreme and Judge of the Earth’. Job is a hero because he does not curse either God or his fate but acknowledges that God provides for his creation and his creatures without ever withdrawing his presence.

 

Finally, The Book of Job sets the love of God alongside and apart from the disciples in the boat, the Corinthian Churches and Job and his family. In doing so, God makes his presence known in no uncertain terms. This is for their understanding. God is, after all and amid all the contrary and vain elements our true centre of gravity, our one strong, natural and authentic place of being; our solid grounding and our one hope.

 

The coming together of our two churches, speaking different languages, and yet united in this one holy place, is a powerful sign of the same God-given gravity which I pray will hold us together in God’s love very powerfully and joyfully in the time to come.

 

Amen.

 

 

 



Sermon for the Third Sunday of Trinity

17th Jun 2018


Sermon for Trinity 3 Year B    

 

“He did not speak to them except in parables”

 

 

There are so many aspects of human life that cannot be put into words. But that has not stopped us from trying! Words can convey so much. But what underlies language is also important. The deeper resonances. When John speaks of Jesus speaking in parables, he is saying something to us that we already know. We love a story, and a story is a very good way of communicating an important truth. Much of the early Christian witness was based on this kind of truth telling or witness. The truth telling was of lives which had found their reason for being in Christ; Gospel.

 

So many of the bestsellers lists are of books of biography. The word ‘bio’ and ‘graphy’ aiming to combine two contrasting elements -  that of life as it is lived;  and the setting down of that life graphically, descriptively, in words. When we look at the Gospels we are not looking at the biography of Jesus, even though the Gospels have biographical elements in them, and the four Gospel writers agree on many of the same happenings in the life of Christ. The Gospels are just that, they are ‘gospel’ and the aim of they treat biography as a necessary but secondary consideration. The first consideration is that the Gospel is theology. It tells us about God, and of how we see and experience God in the life of Christ. With this lies also the Gospel as Christian teaching, and Jesus this morning likens the faith of the Christian to the planting of a mustard seed, the tiniest of the seeds, which may grow into a vast tree. This of course is a simple figure of speech, and paints a picture in the mind’s eye.  It sets forth the Christian teaching in a way which gives the individual space and scope to imagine and to assimilate. This is not dictation. It is far removed from ‘literal truth’ or ‘fundamental truth’. It does not treat the individual reader or listener as a foil or a dummy. It expects a human response which is unpredictable, like the parable of the rich young man whom Jesus advises to sell all he has. The Gospels do not tell us whether he goes on to do this!

 

The telling of stories has always been with us and its beginnings are lost in the mists of time. We know the Bible to be not one book but many books, and also letters, diaries and eye witness accounts. But mostly the Bible is bound by the story of human salvation as we begin with Genesis and human origins right through to the dream in Revelation of the vision of a heavenly city, a new Jerusalem. ‘It begins in a garden and ends in a city’. But what drew me as a child to the Bible was the way in which good stories are for the growing child as well as the adult a vital part of come to terms with what makes us human and what makes God God - Daniel in the lion’s den, Noah and the ark, David and Goliath, the Crossing of the Red Sea, the witness of Job, the raising of Lazarus all emerge out of a body of story-telling which provides the scale and the scope for us to imagine these as not just quaint stories.  Rather, they communicate in the endless telling and re-telling, the eternal and priceless truths concerning our existence. For the writers and readers of the Bible, they trace the patterning of the history of human salvation. The statue of David in the Accademia gallery in Florence and the Mona Lisa in the Louvre , Paris are works of art which have an everlasting quality. They stand for the truth of our everyday existence as they marry their amazing reality with their understanding of the salvation history of which the Bible speaks. And these works can only be understood when both are realised. They stand for us as ‘real presences’ which communicate a deep truth which has an everlasting quality. No amount of seeing and re-seeing, reading or re-reading can ever exhaust the meaning of what is being conveyed or intended. We see through what has already been provided for us to see.

 

It became necessary in a recent exhibition of reliquaries and paintings in one London Gallery to state that such and such works of art were loaned from places of worship, Cathedrals and churches, and were therefore not to be solely regarded as art objects, but as objects of veneration. It is in this sense the when Jesus speaks in parables he is communicating in a language which speaks of this world  but which also establishes the existence of faith and as that which reaches out beyond itself to find itself. It is part of our knowing and recognising but also it lies beyond this. But this also allows us to understand that we see not only with our eyes or our brains but with deeper instincts.

 

The Bible can be regarded as just a type of religious text or it can be regarded as The Book of Life. If we choose the former then we relegate the Bible and its teaching to one of those posh volumes, with fake leather binding that you can order in instalments and sit on your shelves trying to look grand, never read, but largely ornamental. If we see the Bible on the other hand as a Book of Life, then there is no limitation. It may speak to us in our own lives and human states as found. Many Christians I know supplement their church going and their prayers for a small booklet which can be easily ordered and which provides for daily readings from the Bible  with brief commentaries. Many have discovered by these means that Bible is not relegated to the ‘dry as dust’ section but waters and nourishes and provides a seed-bed into which the mustard seed of our growing and perhaps hesitant faith may find watering and refreshment.

 

In speaking in parables Jesus is admitting the need for a deeper understanding of the truths of our existence. It was Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell who observed that

 

We live I believe in a world of surfaces.

 

The speaking in parables provides a way of apprehending what St Paul described as the ‘length, the breadth, the height and the depth’ (Ephesians 3.18) of our existence and to know it through a lifetime’s study and pondering. Jesus is the One who allows someone like TS Eliot to see this as a never ceasing from exploring over a lifetime. This holds for us the promise of finding that place where we started from, the place of our own origin and truth, and of arriving at that place perhaps for the first time. But nonetheless to see the truthful things of God, whether or not embedded in mystery, whether seen through a glass dimly or whether enjoyed in the re-reading of old and worn parables, is for us the implantation of the mustard seed. In faith and intrust we pray that the Creator, the Giver and the Sustainer who is God will provide for the increase.

 

R.S. Thomas (1913–2000)

 

Via Negativa

 

Why no! I never thought other than

That God is that great absence

In our lives, the empty silence

Within, the place where we go

Seeking, not in hope to

Arrive or find. He keeps the interstices

In our knowledge, the darkness

Between stars.



Sermon for the Second Sunday of Trinity

10th Jun 2018


Sermon for Trinity 2 Year B    

 

“He did not speak to them except in parables”

 

 

The telling of stories has always been with us and its beginnings are lost in the mists of time. We know the Bible to be not one book but many books, and also letters, diaries and eye witness accounts. But mostly the Bible is bound by the story of human salvation as we begin with Genesis and human origins right through to the dream in Revelation of the vision of a heavenly city, a New Jerusalem. ‘It begins in a garden and ends in a city’. But what drew me as a child to the Bible was the way in which its good stories are a vital part of what makes us human and what makes God God - Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Noah and the ark, David and Goliath, the Crossing of the Red Sea, the Witness of Job, and then in the New Testament the Raising of Lazarus all emerge out of a body of story-telling which provide for the endless telling and re-telling of the eternal and truths which govern our existence.

 

For the writers and readers of the Bible, are tracing the the history of human salvation. The statue of David in the Accademia gallery in Florence and the Mona Lisa in the Louvre , Paris are works of art which have an everlasting quality. They stand for the truth of our everyday existence as they marry their amazing reality with their understanding of the human longing for truth. They communicate a deep truth which has an everlasting quality. No amount of seeing and re-seeing, reading or re-reading can ever exhaust the meaning of what is being conveyed or intended. We see through what has already been provided for us to see, and we are delighted.

 

Of course there are so many aspects of human life that cannot be put into words. But that has not stopped us from trying! Words can convey so much. But what underlies language is also important. The deeper resonances. When Jesus speaks in parables, he is saying something to us that we already know. But we love a story, and a story is a very good way of communicating an important truth. Much of the early Christian witness was based on this kind of truth telling or direct witness. These stories were life giving.

 

When we look at the Gospels we are not looking at the strict biography of Jesus, even though the Gospels have biographical elements in them, and the four Gospel writers agree on many of the same happenings in the life of Christ. The Gospels treat biography as a necessary but it’s a secondary consideration. The first consideration is that the Gospel is theology. We are being told about God, and of how we see and experience God in the life of Christ. With this lies also the Gospel as Christian teaching, and Jesus likens the faith of the Christian to the planting of a mustard seed, the tiniest of the seeds, which may grow into a vast tree. The seed is a simple figure of speech, and paints a picture in the mind’s eye.  This is far removed from ‘literal truth’ or ‘fundamental truth’. It does not treat the individual reader or listener as a foil or a dummy. It expects a human response which is direct and committed.

 

It became necessary in a recent exhibition of reliquaries and paintings at The National Gallery to state that such and such works of art were loaned from places of worship, Cathedrals and churches, and were therefore not to be solely regarded as art objects, but as objects of veneration. It is in this sense the when Jesus speaks in parables he is communicating in a language which speaks of this world  but which also establishes the existence of faith and as that which reaches out beyond itself to find itself. It is part of our knowing and recognising but also it lies beyond this. But this also allows us to understand that we see not only with our eyes or our brains but with deeper instincts and an inner eye; the eye of faith.

 

The Bible can be regarded as just a type of religious text or it can be regarded as The Book of Life. If we choose the former then we relegate the Bible and its teaching to one of those posh volumes, with fake leather binding that you can order in instalments and sit on your shelves trying to look grand, never read, but largely ornamental. If we see the Bible on the other hand as a Book of Life, then there is no limitation. It may speak to us in our own lives as they are found. Many Christians I know supplement their church going and their prayers for a small booklet which can be easily ordered and which provides for daily readings from the Bible  with brief commentaries. Many have discovered by these means that Bible is not relegated to the ‘dry as dust’ section but waters and nourishes and provides a seed-bed into which the mustard seed of our growing and perhaps hesitant faith may find watering and refreshment.

 

In speaking in parables Jesus is admitting the need for a deeper understanding of the truths of our existence. It was Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell who observed that

 

We live I believe in a world of surfaces.

 

The speaking in parables provides a way of apprehending what St Paul described as the ‘length, the breadth, the height and the depth’ (Ephesians 3.18) of our existence and to know it through a lifetime’s study and pondering. Jesus is the One who allows someone like TS Eliot to see this as a never ceasing from exploring over a lifetime. This holds for us the promise of finding that place where we started from, the place of our own origin and truth, and of arriving at that place perhaps for the first time.

 

To see the truthful things of God, whether or not embedded in mystery, whether seen through a glass dimly or whether enjoyed in the re-reading of old and worn parables, is for us the implantation of the mustard seed. In faith and in trust we pray that the Creator, the Giver and the Sustainer who is God will provide for our deeper understanding and for its increase.

 

 

 

 



Sermon for the First Sunday of Trinity

3rd Jun 2018


Sermon for the First Sunday of Trinity Year B

“The Sabbath was made for Man and not Man for the Sabbath” Mark 2.27


When Jesus heals the man with the withered arm on the Jewish Sabbath all hell was let loose!

 

Sabbath made for Man, not Man the Sabbath.

 

Sabbath as Day of Rest, Special Day, Quiet day. A challenge to the Pharisees and the old Law. A scandal.

 

40 Years ago on Sundays in Plymouth. Going to church and a dead quiet city centre: Sunday lunch and Sunday tea… It was definitively a religious day.

 

A change took place in the 1980s and he commercial interest held sway as did the call to liberate the traditional Sunday from the  quietness and rest and substitute this for all shops open and the opportunity to grow what became known as ‘leisure opportunities’. Someone said that shopping malls would become the new consumer cathedrals.

 

This presented a challenge to churches in the rise of what we might call the overriding secular interest and the demand for its greater freedom of choice. It could easily be viewed negatively and in a reactionary way and this would be understandable. But on the other hand this movement toward busy and open Sundays was a challenge to see churches and the Sabbath o Sunday in a new and challenging light.

 

Parish – Ancient area of ecclesiastical influence and jurisdiction becomes:

 

Parish – Area of compassionate care for those living within the parish boundaries (and even beyond them) and particularly at the weekend - a time not covered by many social agencies, and many very needy people, including the homeless and the destitute and the elderly, being left at this time to fend for themselves at lonely and barely serving weekends.

 

Jesus has come as the old saying has it ‘to disturb the complacent’ and it is in this light that he has come to disturb our own church. Holy cross is our name and we should, when we meet a situation of acute challenge not be afraid to embrace the reality as a Cross to bear and a Cross to win.

In the planning for our crypt space here at Holy Cross Church we will seek to remain true to our old remit to care for our local poor at the point of need :

 

I imagine that our space downstairs will beckon a strong ‘weekend’ ministry and that Holy Cross Church will be embarked upon a truly ‘Sabbath Christianity’ in which Sundays will place a particular part in our missionary vision.

 

Our Holy Cross  vision – that our church be a beacon of light not only in the Christian, religious sense, but in the sense of how our worshipful and praying life gives way to our active concern and active support of those who need Christ’s love, like the man with the withered hand, healed on the Sabbath by a loving Saviour. We are being called to a church turned inside out: that the beauties and consolations of our worshipping life in this place may be mirrored in our active concern for those beyond these walls who are so desperately in need of Christ’s Sabbath love. The forward movement is the one in which, by God’s will, the local church is transformed as it welcomes meets and includes those who would otherwise be locked out from the Sabbath enclosure



 

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