Dear Friends and Parishioners
What an exciting time we are now entering in the life of our parish! Revd Steven Herron joins us for his curacy following his ordination in the cathedral on 26th September. This was a joyous occasion, though sadly due to the Covid 19 travel restrictions, many of his family were not able to be present in person with him. The miracle of technology meant they were able to see the service on the cathedral live stream. We were blessed that Steven was able to join us at Foxdale for the first service there in 22 months on 27th September and, also to be at St Luke’s Church for their harvest celebration the same evening.
The ordination service gave me pause to consider my own ministry and its implications. Over this church year we have been taking our main Sunday gospel readings from St Matthew. In chapter 23 Jesus takes the religious leaders of his day to task for not living out the true meaning of their faith. He begins by saying that they do not ‘practice what they preach’ i.e. they do not follow their own teachings. Jesus goes on to say that the Scribes and Pharisees made only show of their piety and that they gave themselves ‘airs and graces’. They put stumbling blocks in the way of salvation for the faithful whilst they kept scrupulous outward cleanliness, but were inwardly corrupt. Jesus repeatedly calls them ‘hypocrites’ who, worst of all, kept the minute detail of the Law of Moses but who neglected justice, mercy and true faith in God.
Hypocrisy is an easy trap for anyone to fall into unless we are brave enough to regularly think carefully about our lives and beliefs. We like to think we are following as closely as possible the teaching of Jesus and modelling ourselves on his example. Yet we can become blind to our own short-comings, whilst seeing very clearly the faults of other people. Particularly in times of trouble and uncertainty-such as we are now experiencing due to Covid 19, we try to gain reassurance by standing together against an invisible enemy. However, while we are doing this other ‘invisible enemies’ may infiltrate our ranks. We want to keep refugees on distant shores, call Extinction Rebellion a subversive group rather than acknowledge the serious threat of climate change and assign the injustices of slavery to the colonial era. We too begin to neglect justice, mercy and faith as the needs of the poor, homeless, hungry and abused go unheeded.
Besides being the season for ordinations we are also celebrating harvest. We count our blessings for God’s abundant provision and share God’s goodness with other people less fortunate than ourselves. This year we are sending harvest cash collections to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Together in Unity appeal which will help poorer countries in the Anglican Communion cope with the corona virus. This is one way we can stand in true solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters and truly be the hands and feet of Christ helping them in their distress.
I never cease to be amazed at all that God provides for me, how attentive God is to my needs and how swift He is to forgive my mistakes. I pray that this is your experience of God too and that together we may seek out and eject attitudes and actions of hypocrisy from our lives to God’s glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.