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Letter from the Vicar (March 2018)

Dear friends,

In a vivid adage, coined I think by the Swiss theologian Karl Barth, the life of the Christian community is perfectly defined - The Church gathers for worship and scatters for mission.The picture described by Barth is worth remembering.

Week by week Christians meet together to worship God and then go their various ways both to tell others the good news of the kingdom and to serve them in whatever way God calls. Thus, in George Herbert’s poetic phrase, we offer God praise ‘Seven whole days not one in seven’. I hope, such a sketch of how to be a Christian is not new to you and already second nature to all who are reading this. Many folk have passed on this vision of the Church’s life faithfully in every generation.

Nor can worship and mission ever be separated. They stand and fall together. Worship without mission is not just lame and watered down, it is not the genuine article. Nor can mission without worship ever be effective. Too often we mislead ourselves and think mission is an optional extra for the minority, but it is not. It is not a dimension artificially added to a Christian life from time to time when occasion demands. No, it is an indispensable part of the inner structure of the life of every disciple every day.

What is true, though, is that unless both worship and mission are strong and equal partners in the enterprise of Christian witness then our discipleship will be too weak to share in the Easter victory. Which points us to the heart of the matter, especially during Lent, which is the cost of discipleship. Being a follower of Jesus is a way of living and loving - God and others - but always with a cost to self. To be a Christian is challenging but also demanding in total commitment. So in the weeks ahead we hear Jesus saying again, ‘take up your cross and follow’.

Just as the continuity between worship and mission must never be broken or separated nor must the continuity between Jesus’ resurrection and his death. Ultimately, Good Friday and Easter are not two separate events in Jesus’ life but together the single unifying centre which gives meaning and power to everything he did and continues to do. That is the truth for our own lives and the truth we long to share with any who will listen and hear.

Revd Canon Andrew Gough

March 2018

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The foundation of our life in the Church is worship and prayer, as we support each other on the journey of faith. In the power of God’s spirit we are sent out to make Christ known in the communities he has called us to serve.

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Thought for the Week 16th September 2018

In today’s gospel Peter recognises and publically proclaims that Jesus is more than a prophet, that he is the Messiah and Son of God. However, when Jesus points out that this Messiah must suffer and die, Peter thunders in to correct such nonsense. A God who would suffer and die for others sounds outlandish. Jesus would have to conform to what Peter would like God to be powerful, in control, respectable and generally regarded as successful. Peter had glimpsed the incarnate God whose free choice of each of us to share in his loving acceptance and in his unconditional forgiveness is a wonder beyond our wildest imaginations.

Canon Andrew

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