Soul Food - 8th May
I hope everybody enjoyed the bank holiday. In East Budleigh we had the MAY FAIR – all donations going to Drakes school.
One of the attractions was “Guess how many balloons are in the Vicar’s car?”
To be fair, Maria had mentioned this to me in passing but I had thought she was joking until I was having a lay in when I heard my phone let me know that a couple of messages had come in. One was a text from Maria saying “We need your car now on the Green!” Realising it wasn’t a joke after all I had to get ready quickly and hot foot it down to the village Green but it was all in a good cause.
All in all, it was a lovely and successful day and raised £2,000 for the school. By the way there were 185 balloons in the car!
It is good to note that our congregations are creeping upwards across the community, but it is quite marked at St. Peter’s. The main service has been attracting consistently over 100 people recently with 112 last Sunday. The 8am also is constant at between 20 and 30 people. It is heartening to hear such positive feedback from the congregation about the “feel” of the services and the music. The choir also has more “attack” under Stephen Tanner’s guidance. My sermon was about conversion and spiritual experiences and more importantly our response to them. If you’d like to read what I said just click here; https://revmartinjacques.blogspot.com/2019/05/feed-my-sheep.html
Next Sunday is the 4th of Easter
Because Karen is on holiday, I am at St. Peter’s again this Sunday and Bishop Richard is in the villages. The readings are as follows;
Acts 9: 36-43. This sign is reminiscent of the raising of Lazarus by Jesus and the thrust of the message is that the power of God exhibited in Christ is now present within Christ’s body on earth – the church. The raising of Tabitha is an acted parable and we embody his authority and power on earth and can discern the difference between spiritual life and spiritual death. Tabitha is called a Disciple here in the correct feminine form. This is the only instance of this happening in the New Testament.
Revelation 7: 9-17. The near conflation of God and Christ predates orthodox Trinitarian theology here in Revelation. As is commonly supposed the book was written in a time of great persecution – the great ordeal referenced in verse 14 – but are all now in heaven, their robes washed in the blood of the lamb. After enduring the traumas on earth they have inherited a blessed existence, free from all hunger and thirst and pain or suffering. These words are an encouragement to all Christians suffering persecution in John’s time, that no matter what they are enduring now – in the end they will be vindicated.
John 10: 22-30. The questioners demand a straight answer to a straight question but one that fits their pre-conceived notion of who or what a Messiah ought to be. Jesus transcends all those categorisations (as He does ours today) and His answer also makes it clear that discerning his status is not just a question of having the right information. Repentance requires a complete re-orientation of life. Someone must “belong to my sheep” to fully appreciate the status of Jesus. The last statement says that functionally God and Jesus act as one.
When it comes to Christian music, different moods and situations require different forms. There is a place for Pie Jesu and there is also a place for Johnny Cash. Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJlN9jdQFSc
The Lighter side.
Thought for the day
On Saturday we went to the superb talk by Jo and Chris Cant at the Hub about their experiences re-building a Palestinian house on the West Bank. That very day in Israel, all hell broke loose on the Southern border with Gaza as Hamas (Arabic for “Zeal”) fired hundreds of Rockets into Israel and the I.D.F. responded with deadly force. This seemingly intractable situation brings two peoples and two competing narratives into direct conflict. (Without trying to equate the two, that is the situation we are enduring regarding Brexit as well.) Compromise is seen as defeat in both situations. In such difficult circumstances faith is human capacities to forge any solution at all is strained to breaking point and despair can enter our minds. It is in such circumstances that people of faith turn to God in prayer, looking for inspiration, intervention, or just someone to cast our cares. Recently at a Bishop’s quiet day in Exeter Cathedral Bishop Robert talked about the value of “prayers of protest” when we are at our wits end but we Anglicans are not very good at it. A Rabbi in London once told the Bishop “The problem with you Christians is that your prayers are far too polite! Jews have a long history of prayers of protest”. The psalms are full of protest of course but we tend to naturally sanitise what and how we speak to God in the mistaken belief that we’ll upset Him, as if we were at a polite social gathering. But I’m sure God wants honesty more than politeness. I’m sure that when our sense of justice and fairness are affronted God would like to hear it, as long as we acknowledge that any answer to prayer is in his hands alone and we don’t think our job is to get God to do what we want. As a matter of fact most Jewish prayers of protest end up on a much more positive note, but at least the protest has been registered.
The prayer for today is the opening verse of the 22nd psalm which is generally believed to have been uttered on the cross by Jesus.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning”?
Love and peace,