St John the Baptist Parish Church

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Vicar's column - October 2017

We have celebrated Harvest Festival during Messy Church, Sunday worship and at our Harvest Supper. Harvest is a time to give thanks for the fruits of the earth, but also, to reflect upon our stewardship of creation and it is important that we do not stop caring for creation when the Harvest season is over. The recent spate of hurricanes devastating the Caribbean and American coastal areas, whilst, on one level can be perceived as a natural disaster, on another level leads us to question the extent to which global warming has contributed to their level of severity. We pray that President Trump might be so stirred to do another u-turn on his decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

From 1st September to 4th October, Christians around the world have been praying and caring for creation, in the “Season of Creation”. The proposal to celebrate a "Time for Creation" during these five weeks was made by the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in 2007 and this was subsequently endorsed by the World Council of Churches. The beginning and the end date of Season of Creation are linked with the concern for creation in the Eastern and the Western traditions of Christianity, respectively. 1st September was proclaimed as a day of prayer for the environment by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989. The Orthodox Church year starts that day with a commemoration of how God created the world. On 4th October, Western churches commemorate Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), known to many as the author of the Canticle of the Creatures. As we reflect upon his words, may we be inspired to show the same reverence for creation.

Be praised, my Lord God, in and through all your creatures especially among them, through noble Brother Sun by whom you light the dayin his radiant splendid beauty he reminds us, Lord, of you.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and all the stars.
You have made the sky shine in their lovely light.

In Brother Wind be praised, my Lord, and in the air, in clouds and calm, in all the weather moods that cherish life.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water.
She is most useful, humble, precious, pure.
And Brother Fire, by whom you lighten night;
how fine is he, how happy, powerful, strong

Through our dear Mother Earth be praised, my Lord,
She feeds us, guides us, gives us plants, bright flowers and all her fruits.

Saint Francis of Assisi

 Rev Lisa Cornwell

Vicar's column- September 2017

To be “spiritual”, it would seem, has greater appeal in contemporary society than to be “religious”. But what is spirituality? I have come across a multitude of definitions in my time which generally touch upon the core issue of an awareness of a deeper level of reality to life; an appreciation of mystery and wonder and engagement with ultimate questions of meaning and purpose. However, we cannot “do” spirituality in a vacuum. It needs content. As Christians, our spirituality will be informed by the Christian faith: it is “Christian spirituality”. The spiritual writer Kenneth Leech defined it thus: “Christian spirituality is a process in which Christ takes the initiative. It is a putting on of Christ, a solidarity in Christ, a sharing in his dying and rising... It is a work of grace from start to finish.” (Soul Friend, p.5) Or, drawing upon the writings of St Paul, we might define it as, “Anything that is lived according to the Spirit of God.”

Christian spirituality is to do with our growing in Christ-likeness; how we experience being drawn into the life and activity of God by the Spirit. It involves prayer, study of the bible and other Christian literature, but more broadly, spirituality is about the whole of life and how it is formed and shaped by our relationship with God. It has its challenges. We need to let go of ways of thinking and relating that are destructive and self-limiting and take on ways of thinking and relating in harmony with the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Gal 5:22-23)  In practice, Christian spirituality and Christian discipleship are inseparable; we cannot have one without the other. We are called to grow in our relationship with God so that all we do flows from our life in God; to live out our full potential and vocation in God and to make God’s kingdom a reality on earth.

This has been the Christian endeavour throughout the ages and many saints have struggled with this tough calling before us. This autumn there is the opportunity to learn from some of them in our “Mystics Ancient & Modern” course. Don’t worry if you cannot commit to all six sessions as each one will be self-contained but of course the more you can attend the better.

Rev Lisa Cornwell