On Sunday I preached about the importance of living with difference. The gospel was the parable of the wheat and the weeds (tares) Matthew 13 24-30. 36-43. Of course in this parable Jesus is not doing a Monty Don and giving us the latest gardening advice, he is telling his disciples that judgement belongs to God and we need patience.
I suspect a major factor in the rise of populism at the moment is the fear of change and specifically the fear of change brought about by a more confident, some might say strident, assertion of rights by those who do not always fit into, or agree with, established notions of community, or identity. This is not a new phenomenon, we are constantly challenged by difference, history tells us that not all change is bad and that in fact we can be enriched by the experience of being challenged by contemporary culture. I am very aware that many communities of people, even within the church, clamour for a return of doctrinal clarity and moral identity.
How do we give people the confidence to not be afraid, to not feel threatened? That’s a huge question and not one I feel qualified to answer in a short e-bulletin. I do believe that in God’s love we have a secure environment in which we can encounter change and not feel afraid, I also believe that we need patience. God we know, promises to be there as we do the slow and careful work of navigating change, he will accompany us on this journey giving us the courage to face the challenges which modernity throws up. That for me is the truth of the Gospel, I fear for others the ‘Truth’ has a somewhat more restrictive interpretation. Patience Simon, patience!
It has been a great joy for me to spend some time in church each day these past few weeks in order to welcome visitors to our beautiful church. Some visitors have been regular members of our congregation, or those living locally and feeling particularly distressed, coming in to light a candle or for silent prayer. The majority, however, have been those visiting the church in which they, or their parents or grandparents were baptised, married or had their funerals. Some have been walking past and popped in simply to look round. Others have been attracted mainly by the location of Hogarth’s tomb. They have been asking me all sorts of factual questions about the church and graveyard, not all of which I have been able to answer immediately, so I too have learned a lot!
With most grateful thanks to a member of our congregation, we now have a splendid new facility to enable anyone to give a card donation to our parish funds which have been very sadly depleted since the lockdown. This is a new venture to invite donations particularly from visitors. However, since we are currently not able to have our usual collection during Mass, it is also an opportunity for those who usually give cash at our services to continue to do so. Please do look at our smart new facility, located at the back of the centre aisle, and try it out!
With every blessing