Thoughts from the Vicar
Sunday 19 November
2nd Sunday before Advent
‘Fresh Expressions’ & ‘Reform and Renewal’
Are two phrases that you may hear when the press is reporting on the Church of England, and both are important for its future shape.
“Renewal & Reform is an ambitious programme of work, which seeks to provide a narrative of hope to the Church of England in the 21st century. It is rooted in a sense of Biblical hope and an understanding of Christ's call to us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out workers into the harvest field.”
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out his workers into his harvest field” Luke 10:2
Renewal & Reform aims to
- Contribute as the national church to the common good
- Facilitate the growth of the church in numbers and depth of discipleship
- Re-imagine the church's ministry
The Church is using some of its historic financial resources, spending capital to invest in mission. Especially into those communities, age ranges and cultural groups where the missional need is greatest. As one Bishop highlighted: “The clear and intended outcomes of this work is to reverse the decline of the Church of England so that we become a growing church, in every region and for every generation; a church open to and for everyone in England, building up the Body of Christ and working for the common good; a confident church, equipping new generations of leaders, ordained and lay, for ministry and mission.”
What is a fresh expression of church?
“A fresh expression is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.”
Fresh Expressions as the name implies are new ways of being and doing Church, they are not about off the shelf solutions but are about authentic worship and discipleship within a particular cultural context. They are also Church in their own right, they are not outreach projects or bridge events to draw people in to fill the pews of existing services. As Fresh Expressions mature Baptism, Confirmation and sharing Communion will become part of their church life.
How does this impact us here at St Peter’s? Firstly we are passionate about growing the Church, numerically, spiritually and in contributing to the common good.
Secondly, we are keen to develop appropriate shapes of Church to reach unchurched groups within our Parish. A challenge, yes, but by God’s grace, one we may live up to.
Sunday 5 November
Fourth Sunday before Advent
As we move out of ‘Ordinary time’ we enter the weeks before Advent.
Below shows part of our daily morning prayer for the season until Advent begins. Do join us any morning at 9.00am (except Wednesday when we celebrate Holy Communion at 10.15am), you will be warmly welcomed.
Blessed are you, Sovereign God,
ruler and judge of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In the darkness of this age that is passing away
may the light of your presence
which the saints enjoy
surround our steps as we journey on.
May we reflect your glory this day
and so be made ready to see your face
in the heavenly city where night shall be no more.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And from Psalm 42
As the deer longs for the water brooks,
so longs my soul for you, O God.
My soul is athirst for God, even for the living God;
when shall I come before the presence of God?
My tears have been my bread day and night, while all day long they say to me, 'Where is now your God?'
Now when I think on these things, I pour out my soul:
how I went with the multitude
and led the procession to the house of God,
With the voice of praise and thanksgiving,
among those who kept holy day.
Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul,
and why are you so disquieted within me?
O put your trust in God;
for I will yet give him thanks,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
you have knit together your elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:
give us grace so to follow your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living
that we may come to those inexpressible joys
that you have prepared for those
who truly love you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sunday 29 October
20th Sunday after Trinity
One of the many blessings to the Church of the Reformation was the translation of the Bible from the original Greek and the Latin translations used in worship into the native tongue of the peoples of Europe. Enabling them (if they could read and afford a copy) to read, learn and meditate upon God’s word, and to interpret and understand for themselves God’s plan of salvation and the final destiny that awaits.
The problem with allowing everyone to read the scriptures in their own language was it required those printing the scriptures to have the same accuracy as the scribes, who in generations past painstakingly copied Bibles by hand, and this hasn’t always been so.
The earliest 16th century misprints gave us innocently ‘the parable of the vinegar’ instead of vineyard and Jesus ‘blessing the place makers’ instead of peacemakers – but some mistakes were more concerning.
Famously the Wicked Bible published in 1631 printed the seventh commandment as ‘Thou shalt commit adultery’. King Charles was so displeased he ordered all copies destroyed. The 1653 version declared: ‘Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God’.
Things got no better in the eighteenth century with the ‘Sin on Bible’. This 1716 print run recommended its readers to ‘Sin on more’ rather than ‘Sin no more’.
The 18th century version which read ‘If any man come to me, and hate not... his own wife’ (instead of life) became known as the Wife-hater Bible.
The 19th century printers hadn’t learned from previous generations for they produced ‘The Murderers’ Bible’. Mark 7:27 had ‘let the children be killed’ instead of filled.
But my favourite is perhaps the 1702 ‘Printers’ Bible’ where David in Psalm 119 declares: ‘printers have persecuted me without cause’, where it should read princes.
Nowadays there are more translations than ever before, there are plenty of commentaries and Bible reading guides – not only printed but a huge wealth of online resources – and yet fewer Christians in the west read their Bibles than since before the reformation.
What the reformers knew was that the most precious thing about the Bible is not the printers’ words, but God’s word to us. As we read it we discover not only the history of salvation, but that the word of God is living, and that God speaks to us in and through it.