I arrived back in Tassie on Friday night and read the email sent to parishes by the Registrar of the diocese, which is important for our parish and particularly for SS Simon and Jude. I’ll read it out to you and also the letter from Bishop Richard.
As a parish we derive an important income from the two rectories which we rent out, one at Margate and the other adjacent to St Marks Cygnet. St John’s church at Snug we rent at low rent to a young church congregation led by their pastor Dan.Headley
There are a lot of questions we need answered, and we can discuss them further over our cuppa at the end of the service. Our parish council is meeting with James Oakley the Registrar here tomorrow afternoon to get more information and to ask questions, so please let me have any comments and questions you think we should ask him Think and pray about it and email me please. Nothing will happen immediately. Lester and I are our synod reps and will be at synod in early June . After that there is a period up to October 1 when we can make a case for retaining any of the buildings, based on their need for the mission of the church in this parish. Please pray for wisdom and God’s guidance in this issue.
So, I wondered and prayed, what has God to say to us in this situation.
And, of course he answered and as usual not quite as I had expected.
God answered, I think in our lectionary readings for today, as he often does. And we sang about that answer just before the gospel reading Love one another
.In the reading from John’s gospel Jesus told us, his disciples : As the Father has loved me so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love.… I have said these things that to you so that my joy may be in you , and that your joy may be complete.
We are loved by our Lord, for we are his disciples who strive to keep his commandments. He wants to give us his joy, that our lives may be full of the blessings of living with, abiding with, our wonderful Lord. He will love us through the difficult decisions, the scandals that have rocked his church and damaged so many lives, and through it all he promises not sadness and loss but joy.
So we know the commandment s that he wishes us to keep. He continues:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No-one had greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends…. You did not choose me but I chose you I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last , so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands, so that you may love one another.
We are assured that we are friends of our Lord, not just servants or followers but friends, living in the love of our Lord. And we are commanded to share that love, to spread that love. To care for one another, to serve one another, within our church , within our families and our local community, and out into world. To find out the needs of other and to serve them in love. And we are assured that we will be provided with whatever we need to do that , by simply asking our Father in Jesus’ name. go and bear fruit, fruit that will last , so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. It may be our buildings , or it may be something else, but he will give us whatever we need to bear fruit for him.
The reassurance that we are beloved friends of our Lord is really important particularly in times like the present, with difficult decision to be made throughout our diocese.
The reading from 1 John reinforces the same message: From last week : God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them.. There is no fear in love, for love cast out fear No fear!… We love because he first loved us. .. The commandment we have from God is this , those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
And from today’s reading By this we know that we love the children of God , when we love God and obey his commandments… And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.
In challenging times like the present, we are told that as obedient children of God, as we keep his commandments of love and service, we are succeeding in conquering the world. It may not look like it now but that is what we are doing, each one of us, kind act by kind act, through prayer and love and encouragement and service of others, we are conquering the world.
I d’ like to finish with a prayer: Lord as a nation and your church we are deeply sorry for the abuse that happened. We understand that money is no compensation for the damaged lives of the victims of our church members. However, we pray that through the really hard decisions and sacrifices that we make as a church , some measure of comfort and healing will begin for the victims. So we ask for you guidance and wisdom as we prayerfully consider the proposals from the diocesan council and the bishop, about the best way our parish can contribute, while maintaining our worship and our service of others. We pray that our sacrificial giving will actually strengthen our parish community so that united we are strengthened to serve you and one another.