A Letter from Fr. Tim
I know that I have commented on this before, but when writing my letter I have to concentrate hard not on where we are in the Church Calendar as I write, but where we will be when our Magazine finally comes out! Today, I write in Advent, having yet to experience Christmas, but the first Sunday of January will in fact be Epiphany!
What this modest exercise in mental gymnastics reminds me of is this: although in our rich Church tradition we seek to enter deeply into the meaning of the different seasons of the Church’s year, and particular times in the life of Jesus, in fact the Church’s worship constantly brings to mind different aspects of his birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension.
Our central act of Holy Communion reminds us of the offering of Jesus of himself on the Cross – and yet in the Service we call down the Holy Spirit upon our gifts of bread and wine, and proclaim “Christ has died, Christ is risen; Christ will come again!”.
Having said this, I wish to share a moving Epiphany story with you: I read in my newspaper a couple of days ago of a project run by the amazing Halo Trust in Israel and the Palestinian Territories to clear anti-personnel mines from the West Bank of the Jordan that were planted there after the 6-day war of 1967. These dreadful things have caused so much human suffering over the years, as well as effectively barring people from visiting a number of Churches built near the place where Jesus is believed to have been baptised, and which is regarded as the 3rd most holy site in Christianity after Bethlehem and Calvary.
This incredibly brave work has been going on apace for years now, and the Orthodox Christian Community is hopeful that much will be completed in time for the feast of Epiphany 2019, when in their Liturgy the focus is not so much the coming of the Wise Men but of the Baptism of Christ. Holy water and the water for baptism is blessed, and also the wells and rivers and streams and all of creation.
Most of you will know by now how keen I am on us all remembering (as Bishop Stephen says) not that we ‘have been baptised’ but that ‘we are baptised’ – i.e. it is a living reality of God’s cleansing and new life – always available, day after day, in all our lives.
As I come to wish you a Happy New Year 2019, and indeed a joyous Epiphany, may I encourage you afresh to celebrate your baptism – its gift of cleansing and offer of new life? But as Advent and Lent remind us (one Season past, the other still to come), repentance, admitting our sins, changing our minds and attitudes and amending our behaviour is also key.
With that in mind, to return to the work of the Halo Trust, Epiphany will also be a good time to seek to discern within ourselves and disarm those inner “mines” that can threaten to explode – our bad attitudes and reactions to each other – causing such devastation to ourselves and others. In this way, people are less likely to be barred from reaching the living waters and knowing God’s fullness of life.
With my good wishes and prayers, as ever, Fr. Tim
From the Parish Registers
|Jacob Antony Macklin
|Gordon Rawlinson (82)
Geoffrey Townsend (85)
|Tony Manning (84)
Vera Hickson (89)
Rodney Solomon (84)