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Letter from the Vicar (March 2017/April 2017)

This month’s letter is written by Revd Anne Dunn, Associate Priest.

Dear friends,

In the first chapter of his book ‘Being Disciples’ Rowan Williams writes: Discipleship is a state of being. Discipleship is about how we live; not just the decisions we make, not just the things we believe, but a state of being.

It’s very telling that, at the very beginning of John’s Gospel (John 1.38-39), when the two disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus they say, ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?’ Jesus says ‘come and see’, and they stay with him for the rest of the day.  The Gospel teaches us that the bottom line in thinking about discipleship has something to do with this staying.  Later on in the same Gospel (especially John 15) the same language of ‘staying’ or ‘abiding’, as it is often translated, is used again to describe the ideal relation of the disciple to Jesus: ‘Abide in me’, he says; ‘abide in my love’ (John 15.4,9).

In other words, what makes you a disciple is not turning up from time to time.  Discipleship may literally mean ‘being a student’, in the strict Greek sense of the word, but it doesn’t mean turning up once a week for a course (or even a sermon).  It’s not an intermittent state; it’s a relationship that continues.  The truth is that, in the ancient world, being a ‘student’ was rather more like that than it is these days.

If you said to a modern prospective student that the essence of being a student was to hang on your teacher’s every word, to follow in his or her steps, to sleep outside their door in order not to miss any pearls of wisdom falling from their lips, to watch how they conduct themselves at the table, how they conduct themselves in the street, you might not get a very warm response.  But in the ancient world, it was rather more like that.  To be the student of a teacher was to commit yourself to living in the same atmosphere and breathing the same air; there was nothing intermittent about it.. Being a ‘disciple’, a learner, in that sense is a state of being in which you are looking and listening without interruption.

Ash Wednesday is on 1st March and this will mark the beginning of Lent.  It will also bring us closer to the time when we will welcome Andrew our new Vicar.  New opportunities and changes; we cannot be preserved in aspic!

The diocese has produced a booklet titled ‘Praying Together’ for us to use during Lent.  These are available at the back of both churches and could be an opportunity for us to have some structure to our keeping of Lent.    We are invited to ’Reflect, Pray and Act’.  An opportunity to reflect on our role as disciples of Christ.  Discipleship is about the whole of our lives – how we live it day by day, and at the end of each day to ask the question, ‘Where was God in my life today?’

Revd Anne Dunn, Associate Priest

March 2017

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Thought for the Week 24th June 2018

It seems strange that the disciples should turn to Jesus for help during a storm on the sea of Galilee. After all they were the fishermen. They knew the angry waters and the gusting winds. Jesus was a landlubber with no touch of the sea in his veins. How could he help? Somehow they had a glimpse of him as Lord of the wind and sea, as Lord of all. We are challenged by our gospel today to call on him, to have faith in him, to live by that faith with boundless confidence in him because he is our Father.

Canon Andrew

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