Letter to parishioners, 18 November 2021

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

This Sunday sees us coming to the end of the liturgical year. Next Sunday will be Advent Sunday. The journey through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ will begin again. As the days, weeks and months go by we will be offered, once again, a chance to contemplate, to celebrate, to repent and to be inspired and invigorated. Some may ask why this pilgrimage has to continue on an endless loop, while others may be grateful for the rhythm of prayer and worship it offers us. Some may consider such a cycle as unnecessary, while others rejoice in the annual reminder of all that Jesus did, and does, for us. Some may be too caught up in the worldly cycle of Christmas preparations and celebrations to give the Church’s new year a second thought, while others long for the opening of new doors as they continue on their pilgrimage through this life. Wherever you might fit in this broad spectrum, the fact is that we all need the cycle to begin again because of the moments, the many moments, when we have ‘taken our eye off the ball’.

This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. Our journey from Advent Sunday to this weekend has led us along many different and challenging roads. We have known the horror of the crucifixion and the joy of the resurrection. We have seen signs and wonders beyond our wildest imaginings. We have seen the incurable healed and life restored. We have heard a new and exciting teaching that turns our worldly approach to daily life on its head. We have been on a journey that culminates in the revelation of the divine Kingship of Jesus, our risen Lord and God. But, what difference has all that made to us?

The truth is that most of us will have had moments where we have taken a detour that has led us away from Christ the King. Each of those detours has opened up a gap in our spiritual armour. We have left ourselves vulnerable and open to those sins which our medieval ancestors would have described as deadly. Every time we have stopped focusing on the teachings and the works of Jesus Christ we have placed ourselves, and our inadequate wisdom, higher than God. In St John’s Church, Corby Glen, there is a medieval representation of the deadly sins. They would have been painted on the wall as a warning to a largely illiterate body of worshippers. Despite our modern sophistication we are still in need of that reminder. Even though we can read and study scripture for ourselves, we need the stark reminder that is given in the annual cycle of prayer and worship which begins with Advent and ends with the Feast of Christ the King. We need to be constantly nudged and encouraged to honour our King by living the life of love and service he modelled for us.

Many of us will have experienced a time when, in a hasty moment or in a moment of frustration or despair, we have reacted to someone in a less than loving way. The recipient of hasty words will often respond with a look of hurt and words like: And I thought you were a Christian. Sadly, our hasty, frustrated and despairing moments come too often, providing another reason for us to engage in the cycle which reminds us precisely where we should be every moment of every day.

So, let us thank God for the Incarnation of his Beloved Son, and for his ministry on earth. Let us thank God that we have come to know and value that Incarnation, albeit imperfectly. Let us thank God for another chance to ‘plug the gaps’ and get it right. And let us praise Christ our King!

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen