You are herePewsheet Archive / August 2016

August 2016


21st August 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

Dear Friends,

We all know people or groups who seem to have an ingrained sense of entitlement or privilege, people who put themselves first without regard for the sensitivities or rights of others. Whether their behaviour derives from childhood experiences of over-indulgence or from some other source, it can be quite divisive and even destructive of family and workplace and community. Those who consistently put themselves first will often find themselves last in the sense that they are often simply tolerated rather than welcomed in most circles.

As Jesus makes his way from one town to another on his way to Jerusalem, “someone” puts a question to him. The question is about salvation: “Will only a few be saved?” or, more accurately, “Are only the few saved?” Jesus treats it as a rhetorical question that presupposes an affirmative answer. His answer could be interpreted as affirmative, even if it is a far cry from the expected response. Whilst the question comes from one person, Jesus’ response is “to them”. These people have shared table fellowship with him. Their insistence that they have eaten with him may suggest they are part of the crowd who has been following him from Galilee. They may even be those who objected to Jesus’ less than desirable table companions, the tax-collectors and sinners. They have heard his teaching: “You taught in our streets”. Jesus’ reply indicates that the tables have turned. It would come as no surprise to a Jewish audience to hear Jesus stating that the kin-dom belongs to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets. Jesus’ assertion that it also belongs to those who come from far and wide, “from east and west and north and south”, might be less than palatable to those who see themselves as “first” in the scheme of salvation.

Those who share in the banquet in God’s kin-dom, the “saved”, have prevailed in the struggle to enter through the “narrow door”. Entry is by no means restricted to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: it belongs to all who hear the word of God and put it into practice. The inclusion or “salvation” of outsiders will cause grief among “evil-doers”. These evil-doers include those who have eaten with Jesus and who have heard his teaching without effect and who, consequently, have failed to commit themselves to the struggle to establish God’s reign of justice and peace and reconciliation. There is no privileged access to salvation on the basis of birth or race or any other contingency. While the “door” to salvation may be “narrow”, Jesus has already declared that it is open to all who hear the word of God and “hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance”. Nichola Abbott.

14th August 2016

The Parish Churches of

St Michael & St Wulfad, Stone, with

St Saviour Aston by Stone

 

We're not really into sport in our house, other than the Test series, of course. However, we got caught up in the excitement of the coverage of the synchronised diving from Rio, with its nailbiting finish, and the joyous achievement by our guys, Tom Daley and Daniel Goodfellow, in winning bronze medals. But all the divers displayed great courage, artistry, and, of course, synchronisation, as they jumped, sometimes backwards, off the 10m board. The Chinese, who were the eventual gold medallists, were absolutely together throughout their dives, which seemed, to our inexpert eyes, perfect.

But St. Paul, while encouraging us to work in teams, also uses the image of the human body to remind us to appreciate our diversity. 'If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? And if the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?' (1 Cor. 12: 17) We need to embrace our differences, rather than synchronise our similarities, so that the Church, the Body of Christ, can function at its greatest potential. We all need each other.

And our Epistle today, Hebrews 12, mentions the crowd of witnesses, cheering us on, rather like the crowd assembled in a vast stadium, as we journey through life. This includes the Communion of Saints, who, through their examples, give us excellent role models. But it also includes those around us who encourage us in our spiritual journeys. We give thanks for those we know and have known. And perhaps are challenged to be among that great crowd of witnesses, too, by encouraging those around us.

 

Jane Morris, Rev'd,

Curate.