Here’s a link to the July and August 2023 magazine. You can find paper copies in our two churches from this weekend.
Inside this edition you’ll find a tribute to Nancy Hall, who died recently. There’s also lots of news about what’s going on in our church and local community. Plus an expected guest at one service and unexpected one at another.
In addition, there’s this letter from Nigel…
Channel that passion
I’m sitting here at the computer keyboard pondering what to write for the Benefice magazine. The sun is shining, birds are singing, all seems right with the world. But is it? I might consider myself an easy-going, reasonable, peace-able sort of guy but are there things going on out there that do ruffle my feathers, get my blood to boiling point or even make me rant and be angry? Of course there are!
So, what sort of things do get under our skin; raise our hackles; or are liable to burst a blood vessel? I wonder what’s on your list? Here’s just one or two of mine – Supermarkets moving locations of items from aisle to aisle just when we’ve got used to where to find the things we want. Birds dropping their outpourings on the car immediately after it being washed. Favourite TV programmes being pushed aside to allow wall-to-wall coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest. Drivers of over-powered German motor cars, and motor-cyclists who think they own the road (when everyone knows that I do!)
The list is endless
Or perhaps something a bit more serious like – Drivers/cyclists using their mobile phones when proceeding at speed down the highway. Anti-social behaviour or actions by those who seem to show no regard for others.
Or really serious – Failures and shortcomings displayed by those in authority. Those who insist on violence and fear as the answer to everything and refuse to seek peaceful means to solve problems.
The list is endless – and I’ve not even mentioned the controlling rules and regulations of church life!
It seems to me that too often it’s what, in the greater scheme of things, are really small, minor irritations that cause us all to get worked up about them and go into a rant – more so than the really serious, global issues which just give rise to a sigh and shrug of the shoulders, because…. ah! well! that’s the way it is; we can’t do much about it!
Jesus may have come into the world as a ‘meek and mild’ babe but as he grew and realised his ministry, he knew what was not right and proper behaviours amongst the people of Israel, who were supposedly God’s people. He saw how much they had drifted from what God expected of his people; even how much the religious leaders had got caught up in their own importance and rituals rather than behaving as true teachers and encouragers of how God wants us to be.
Jesus found himself getting wound up and irritated; causing him to rant in anger and frustration. The man of peace and compassion overturned tables in the temple forecourts; called the leaders hypocrites; the self-appointed rule and ritual keepers he referred to as a brood of vipers. But the bigger picture – bringing the people back under God’s authority, declaring the availability of forgiveness, healing and a right way of living – that called for more than a rant in anger.
Jesus didn’t just shrug his shoulders at these big issues, he was a man of action. Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, opened the eyes of the blind, fed the hungry. He taught and showed by example how God wants us to behave. Ultimately, he paid the price for us all. The price of our sin, our failure, was paid for on the cross. Jesus truly gave himself for us.
So what of us today? Jesus commissioned us to take the good news of God’s kingdom to everyone; to follow his teaching; his example; to show the world what God’s love is; to stand up for what is right; to show compassion and forgiveness; to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves; to care for our fellow human beings.
Christian values will often put us at odds with the culture around us. Yes, we will rant and rave; protest and be angry. But we must channel that passion and act in love, even when we are angry. Our anger can be a call to action and God can get active in the world through us.
So, let us look around us and see what aspects of the world’s behaviour we are at odds with today; where do we need to stand our ground; where can we add to the loving kindness in the world? Is it really doing any good just getting all worked up, red faced and blowing a gasket? Who needs our energy and passion, our gentleness and compassion? Where best can our passion bear fruit?
Let us, as we are able, be people of action; and by our actions and behaviour be witnesses for Jesus; and show the way into God’s kingdom. Rant over! May God bless us all, in our passion, in all we do. Nigel