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Thank You

100 years ago the guns fell silent on the world’s first truly global war. It was a tragic yet remarkable time in history. Our oldest church member 100 year old Grace would have been a baby! In the aftermath of the war life remained tough with so many shortages as well as the pain of losing so many in every community in this country and beyond. There was no going back ‘to normal’. The war changed everything, for everybody.

 

A few years after the war we started to remember and commemorate those who had died by using a poppy as a symbol of remembrance and hope.  In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battle-scarred fields to write the famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. The poem inspired an American academic, Moina Michael, to make and sell red silk poppies which were brought to England. The (Royal) British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year. They sold out almost immediately and that first ever ‘Poppy Appeal’ raised over £106,000; a considerable amount of money at the time. This was used to help veterans with employment and housing.

 

The following year, Major George Howson set up a factory to make poppies and employ disabled ex-Servicemen. Today, the factory and the Legion’s warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies each year.

 

Giving thanks is very much the theme this year. The Royal British Legion are encouraging the nation, through community events, schools and campaigns not to remember for the sake of it, or to ‘celebrate’, but to commemorate. It is about honouring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Everyone is touched in some way by the First World War and the generation who lived through it. Of course, although it is the centenary of the end of the First World War, we also remember those lost in the Second World War as well as other conflicts and wars ever since. It is a way that we can palpably say “Thank You”. Even today, there are still stories of great heroism and humanity emerging for which we give thanks, and wear a poppy.

 

We can say Thank You through family, community, places of work, church  – or simply as an individual. The Royal British Legion is encouraging us to explore the First World War heritage where we live and find reasons for giving thanks. For instance, Filey Bay Initiative has produced a fascinating booklet ‘Filey in the Great War’ (You can view it at tiny.cc/975f0y)

 

The Memorial Gardens remain a focal point of our remembering with the names of those who were lost from Filey including those lost in the Second World War, the Korean War and Aden. This year a new installation will encourage us all, old and young, to honour and remember those who fought to maintain the freedoms we enjoy today.

 

The sacrifices made remind me of what Christ has done on the cross. The great sacrifice made once and for all in Jesus that calls out to each one of us to respond – giving thanks to God, but also like many service personnel, getting out there in the world and making it a better place for all humanity. As we say in one of the post communion prayers:

“ …. when we were still far off you [God] met us in your Son and brought us home. Dying and living he declared your love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory. May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life, we who drink this cup, bring life to others , we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world”.

 

Revd Nigel

Vicar of Filey

Material adapted from Royal British Legion information. https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/

Faith Community

‘When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.’  Rudolph Bahro

 

As a faith community we have been – and are – united in our Christian beliefs which are expressed in a variety of ways and spiritualities. We should not be in an escapist, nostalgic quest for a golden era that didn’t exist, or merely trying to replicate the past. Instead, informed by our heritage (traditions) we endeavour to live out our faith in present day culture. We seek to be inspired by the God we serve, filled by the presence of the Holy Spirit in order to find ways to engage with the paradox and complexities of real life. This is what it means to ‘Worship’!

 

It is all too easy to say that God doesn’t change, and therefore neither should we. That somehow misses the point. The world in which we live changes, and therefore the Gospel needs to be presented and resonate with each new generation. That means to embrace, explore and express the heart of God in the everyday ordinariness of our lives and spiritually relate our faith to the world of today. Does this make you feel insecure?

 

Metanoia.

In Greek this literally means “change of mind”. In the New Testament the word is often translated as “repentance”. Yet this is not about regret, guilt or shame; it implies making a decision to turn around, to face a new direction. That kind of ‘conversion’ can make us feel very insecure as we step out of our comfort zone and begin to understand life differently.

 

Our 2020Vision is not simply about the parish centre at St Johns, but building on a history of serving the community and sharing Good News. 2020Vision is evangelistic in as much as we should become better equipped both by a new centre and our own ongoing faith development to offer fresh ways of engaging with the community. The Gospel may be the same as it was 100 years ago, or even a 1000 years ago, but it is expressed, explored, lived and understood very differently today.

 

When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 (Luke 4: 18) he outlined a mandate for change.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free”.

 

Same old, same old was not good enough for Jesus, and neither should it be good enough for us.  We live in an indisputable beautiful place, but hidden behind some doors are people who are lonely and isolated, some struggling with debt, some with grave illness, some with addictions, depression or broken relationships. Some feel marginalised because of the way they look, or dress or because of their sexuality. Whatever, if the Gospel is good enough for me, then it is good enough for everyone else too and we should always depart from that which cuts people off from Jesus, because that is oppression. Instead, God calls us to be a church with wide open welcoming arms!

 

Vincent-de-Paul was a 17th Century French priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor and was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity. His personal spiritual discipline was to see “Christ in all people” no matter what! In 1882 Wilson Carlile founded The Church Army, who’s personal spirituality was “To go for the worst”.  Now there’s a thought!

 

Lord, give to all your people a heart of compassion

that by word and action they may serve you in serving others in their need;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

The Provocative Church

 

Last month Revd Liz wrote about moving on to new things and challenged us to think:

“Perhaps we all need to try something before we say “No, I couldn’t possibly do that.” Perhaps we all need to be a bit less diffident about our talents”.

 

Her words come at a time when it appears that fewer people are stepping forward to fill the gaps left by those moving on or stepping back. That said, as a church fellowship we should also be aware that we cannot do everything and for this reason doing less, is not such a bad thing, especially if we do it better with renewed vision and enthusiasm. The trouble is, that some people just expect everything we’ve always done to carry on, or that it is a failure when something comes to an end. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Revd Liz said, quoting the writer of  Ecclesisastes, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”.

 

It is good to take stock and review. Problems arise when we do nothing about change, do only the things we like to do, continue for the sake of it, or protect at all costs what “I’m”  doing for fear of losing a particular power base. It then becomes easy to blame other people for the demise of whatever it is the church is or isn’t doing. On my recent retreat I was considering my own part in all this as a leader using ‘The Rule of St Benedict and Leadership’ to consider some disciplines of good leadership. Needless to say there’s room for improvement! But there is also need to travel the road of change. For this we need clear purpose.

 

In his book ‘The Provocative Church’ Graham Tomlin asks “When was the last time you sensed danger in going to church”?  He explores evangelism and offers some thoughts on how to spot an evangelistic church. This is about being a community and not a closed institution; a community that faces outward and not inward. He says “at all our meetings our purpose should be to focus on Christ.” This very much resonated with me. Our purpose is to be serving Christ in all that we do, if it doesn’t, then we have to ask questions and this includes our need to empower evangelism.

 

In the coming months, we will be considering what God is calling us to do, and for this to happen, we all need to step forward, have a go and take a risk. After all, risky worship is about meeting with the living God who by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit can transform our prayers. Instead of waiting for something to happen, we become part of the solution.

 

This will excite some and horrify others. Is Nigel going to insist on evangelistic campaigns, guest services, evangelical power preachers and the like? Nope! That’s not my style. What I do hope will happen though, is that together we can explore what it means to be in a new relationship with God (Adoration), a new relationship with others (Belonging), a new relationship with creation (Compassion), with self (Discipleship) with words and action (Evangelism).

 

To this end we have a few new things developing in the coming weeks and we need people to come on the journey and get involved.

Every blessing

Nigel – Vicar