A time of remembering
As the year moves on November starts with a time of remembering, Nov 1st is marked as All Saints day. It was the tradition of the early church of marking the day of death of Christian Martyrs. November 1st was the date which was fixed in the calendars during the time of Pope Gregory III (731-741), when he consecrated a chapel to all the Martyrs in St Peters Basilica. With All Souls day, November 2nd commemorating the souls of all the faithful departed.
With the burning of effigies on November 5th England commemorates the failed attempt of Guy Fawkes in blowing up the Houses of Parliament. Then on November 11th we commemorate all the fallen of two world wars and many wars in-between and right up to todays armed conflicts. Throughout each one of these dates we are encouraged to remember.
On Armistice Day we remember the time when fighting stopped on November 11th at 11am in 1918. When this day was first set as Remembrance Day it was hoped that by people remembering the death and destruction of the First World War, the world would think more carefully about any future armed conflict.
Remembering is part of our faith, each Sunday we remember and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and every time we share bread and wine we are reminded of Jesus instruction to ‘do this in remembrance of me.’
To remember something is to give it value, remembering the fallen of the wars is to give their sacrifice value, remembering the Saints who were martyred is to give extra value to their life and death. Even remembering Guy Fawkes reminds us of the extremes people will go to when they are not happy with how things are run.
Greater value is put on memories if we learn from them. After the First World War governments got together to draw up an agreement known as the Geneva Convention so that when there is armed conflict there would hopefully be less human suffering.
The early Christian Martyrs were prepared to stand firm in their faith even if standing firm meant death inspiring successive generations to stand firm for what they believe in. Sometimes we are called to go the extra mile whether it is standing out for our faith or standing up for the weak and vulnerable and those without a voice in society. The difference for we Christians is that we can do so in the assurance that God is with us.
Harvest Festival and ‘Gods First Cathedral’
It’s coming around to that time of year, some churches have held their harvest festival, we at Skegness will be holding ours on Sunday 13th October where there will be a lunch put on after the service. I look forward to meeting and sharing in the harvest celebrations with you.
Thinking back to harvests past, I have the memory of going into a church that has been decorated for harvest my senses are overwhelmed with the sight and smell of fresh produce as a sign that all is safely gathered in. I know of one Church, long since closed, where some of the lady’s used to polish the apples with furniture polish so they had a good shine on them! Although I am not sure what happened to the apples after the harvest festival as most produce was either auctioned off or was sent round to some of the housebound in the church. Nowadays we collect tinned food to pass on to the food bank for the less fortunate in our community.
Even so its at this time of year where there seems to be a greater connection with Gods created world as described in the book of Genesis where we are reminded that we are stewards of creation entrusted with caring for Gods wonderful world.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to pick a theme for the next 12 months for the church after some careful thought I opted for the title ‘Gods First Cathedral’. A title that I discovered some years ago when researching eco churches. If we read through Genesis and the first part of Exodus there is no mention of worshipping God in Temples or Synagogues. The first time we come across an enclosure for worshipping God is when Moses relayed to the Hebrews instructions for the construction of the ‘Tent of the Lords presence’. Up until that point worship was conducted in the open. We now worship in our churches cocooned from the elements. Because of this we seem to have lost our sense of awe and wonder of living in Gods created world. Therefore, over the next 12 months I invite you to spend time outside, in the open, you may already do this. What I invite you to do is to stop look around you, and to ponder on the world we live in, spend time looking closely for small insects and birds, open your ears to the bird song and the noise of the breeze through trees and grass, and breathe in the smells of the flowers and the sea and even grass. To just marvel at Gods created world, giving thanks to God for his created world in all its diversity.
Hello and welcome from the manse, this will be hopefully the start of regular messages from me.
At the time of writing this we are taking a bit of a break from unpacking boxes after moving here from my previous circuit of Gloucestershire serving churches from around Churchdown. I find when moving home its amazing the amount of stuff that we accumulate over the years, I wonder how much of what we have do we really need. When Jesus sent the 70 disciples out on mission he told them to only take the shirt on their back and not even worry about taking a back pack with them and to rely on the hospitality of the towns and villages they visited.
Hospitality was a constant theme throughout the time Jesus spent with his disciples. Sharing meals together helps us to get to know each other. Its when we get to know each other through conversation and fellowship that we begin to understand each other. Some of the aggression we see in the news and in our communities is because assumptions are made due to our lack of understanding of each other.
Over the coming months I hope to get to know the communities in which the churches are located, as part of this getting to know you I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you a little about myself and my wife Gaynor. This will be my 16th year in Ministry and my third circuit. My previous circuits were in Norfolk and more recently Gloucestershire where the circuit covered the whole of the county. In both circuits I served in a variety of churches, from town churches to smaller village churches reaching out to all age groups.
For relaxation I enjoy spending my time in the kitchen where I can be found making sausages curing meats or producing various culinary delights. Some of our holidays are spent visiting my daughter Andrea and her family near Tamworth, who is looking forward to visiting us on numerous occasions.
I don’t want to say too much now, I am looking forward to the next few years as we seek fellowship together.