Here’s our February magazine:
The hard copy version is available in both our churches, St John and St Mark’s Bury and Christ Church Walmersley. If you want to come and pick one up then we’d love to see you!
It includes news and views as well as prayers, reflections and what’s on. If you’re in the area and would like some company tonight, Monday 28th January, then some of us will be in The Towler while others will be watching Stan & Ollie at the cinema.
The letter this month is from Margery Spencer, Reader Emeritus:
Should we judge a book by its cover?
When we visit our younger daughter in London, we try to travel by bus as this enables us to see far more of the sights, but sometimes we have to use the Tube, although we try to avoid the rush hour as the sheer volume of people can be overwhelming. It can be frightening waiting on the edge of a platform for that hiss of wind from the tunnel that signals the arrival of the train.
I read a story of an event which happened on a tube station in the heat of this Summer. As the crowd on the station was reaching its peak an elderly person suddenly turned a very funny colour and collapsed on the floor. An official from London Transport appeared and asked for people to move away to give the passenger breathing space and for any doctor to make themselves known. As often happens, many people didn’t move away but crowded nearer (with phones in hand) for a better view. The official rather more sharply asked again for people to move back.
This time most people did except for a young six foot six West Indian man dressed sensibly in shorts and a string vest and sporting dreadlocks. This tall man knelt down by the passenger and in doing so really annoyed the official. “Will you please move back and find a Doctor?”
The young man looked at the official and with grace and patience said “I am a doctor.” To which the official replied “But you don’t look like a doctor.” The young man answered “This is what a doctor looks like.” and turned the passenger into the recovery position.
The station official had let his preconceptions of what a doctor looks like get the better of him – a reminder to us all that sometimes our preconceptions about people are misconceptions and that they can make us miss something vital or wonderful.
The Magi recognised the infant Jesus as the King they had been seeking. How easy it would have been to think that a king would never be found in such a humble home.
When Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus into the temple forty days after this birth, he would be wrapped in swaddling clothes looking no more like peoples’ preconception of the Messiah than he had in that stable in Bethlehem.
But Simeon saw beyond the fact that he was a tiny baby and said “This is what God is like, now I can die happy.” He didn’t use those exact words but those of the Nunc Dimittis, which you can find in Luke chapter 2:
“Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace; according to Thy word. For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation; which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; to be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.”
You don’t look like a Vicar
Do we have preconceptions about what God is like? Do we think he only exists in church? Or do we recognise him in the stranger in the street? Do we find him in the kindness of others? Or does the stranger or the helper not look like God?
Do we have preconceptions about others? I wonder how many times Gill, our former curate was told, “You don’t look like a Vicar.”
Do we have preconceptions about ourselves? In our Advent course we were asked if we saw ourselves as disciples. When we look in a mirror do we say “No, a disciple doesn’t look like that.”
Let us pray that our preconceptions do not stop us encountering God or from realising what we have to offer to His kingdom.
Yours in Christ, Margery
[The photo on the front cover is by Mercedes Bosquet on Unsplash.com. For more about St John and St Mark please follow this link]