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Richard on September 21st, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 24 September 2017.

Richard on September 14th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 17 September 2017.

Richard on September 8th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 10 September 2017.

Richard on August 30th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 3 September 2017.

Richard on August 30th, 2017

Back to school

Why do we need school? For writing? MS Word has a spell-checker. Maths? I have a calculator. Geography? Google Earth. History? There’s no future in it. Experience? It’s all on YouTube.

We can’t allow our children to think like that, of course – though I’m sure they do, at times! Perhaps we all do…. OK, yes, I do. It’s so easy to benefit from the published learning of others, saving time and energy. And why not? Even the most diligent bookworm learns from others’ research. Which means I’m pleased you’re reading this, especially if you learn anything from it!

The Web and social media are great for helping us get our work done by the end of the day, but not for helping us stop and think. And when I do that, I realise that my focus is often on deadlines and demands rather than on discovery and development. Like a schoolchild, I’ve often taken a holiday from learning, and really should get back to school; be willing to be taught, and to re-learn the skill of learning. The whole point of schooling is to prepare us for life, but school can’t teach us everything, and anyway the world keeps changing! The best skill we can learn is how to keep on learning.

Having said that, I think that the Christian Church has for centuries placed far too much emphasis on teaching and learning. Don’t misunderstand me, the more I learn about Jesus, the more I realise there is to know, and the more I want to learn. But I believe one important thing – what we know in our heads is secondary; what we know in our hearts is vital. This view is reinforced when I read the Bible: the word ‘teach’ appears 192 times; ‘learn’ 152; but the word ‘know’ over 1500 times – exactly 500 in the New Testament!

St. John in his Gospel says that Jesus has made God known to us; the disciples told Jesus: “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God”; Job famously declared “I know that my Redeemer lives”. And my favourite quotation on the subject? ‘By this will all people know that you are my disciples – that you love one another’. So may all the facts and experiences of our lives do far more than fill our heads with knowledge, but fill our hearts with a deep-down awareness of the love of God. Then we’ll be fit to face the world, prepared for this life… and the next.

Yours in Jesus

Richard on August 24th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 27 August 2017.

Richard on August 7th, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 13 August 2017.

Richard on August 2nd, 2017

Congratulations to Ronald Blythe. Photographs from his CBE investiture can be viewed online at:

https://ronaldblythecbe.shutterfly.com

Richard on August 2nd, 2017

Having left July, named after Julius Caesar in 44BC, we enter August – named after Augustus, of course. That’s him on the right.

Augustus was born Gaius Octavius, as was his father who had been Governor of Macedonia. He came to Julius Caesar’s notice after he had been put in charge of the Greek Games in 46BC, and then so impressed Caesar that he was formally adopted as his son and was named as his heir and the major beneficiary of his will. Julius Caesar was of course assassinated on the Ides of March 44BC, and Gaius eventually succeeded him. By 27BC, the Senate had given him new names – Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus – so as well as the Caesar he was the first Emperor; the name Augustus means great and worthy; and Divi Filius actually means ‘Son of God’ – which he could claim because Julius Caesar had been posthumously declared to have been a god!

After an eventful reign, Augustus died in 14AD. One of the events we remember is that he was on the throne at the time of Jesus’ birth, as stated in Luke Chapter 2 verse 1.

Jesus, even as a baby, was a threat to the Romans, because the Wise Men had declared that he would be a King, and Herod, in charge of the Roman state of Judea, tried to have him killed. He grew to be a threat to Jews too, as many couldn’t accept that he could be the Messiah (Saviour) whom they had been expecting for so long. And imagine how the Romans reacted when Jesus was declared to be the Son of God – that was the Emperor’s title!

The life of Jesus was firmly rooted in the politics as well as the religion of those times. He preached and answered questions on matters of obedience to the authorities and paying taxes, and was obedient to the end of his life on earth – including his Roman execution. Neither can we avoid the politics and religion of the modern world, as we seek to be part of an ordered, moral world. We can ignore politics, but we are still governed – and we can ignore religion, but God exists and his kingdom will endure when earthly kingdoms cease.

I see the value of being involved in both religion and politics, in other words being a person of faith and order, as that’s the way to be a positive influence on life around us.

We remember Augustus because his month is on our calendars, mobile phones, newspapers…. and on every date we are reminded of the years which have passed since Jesus was born. It’s good to remember our history, and even better to know the certainty of an eternal future.

Yours in Jesus

Richard on August 2nd, 2017

To find service times, readings, prayers and NEWS , click the image below to open the Benefice Bulletin for Sunday 6 August 2017.