PCC Policy Statement 2020

 

The Parish of St Mark’s, Regent’s Park

SAFEGUARDING POLICY STATEMENT 2020

In accordance with the House of Bishops’ Policy Statements ‘Promoting a Safer Church’ (2017) andProtecting All God’s Children’ (2010) and the Diocesan Safeguarding Policy ‘Promoting a Safer Diocese’ (2018) our church is committed to:

  • Promoting a safer environment and culture.
  • Safely recruiting and supporting all those with any responsibility related to children, young people and vulnerable adults within the church.
  • Responding promptly to every safeguarding concern or allegation.
  • Caring pastorally for victims/survivors of abuse and other affected persons.
  • Caring pastorally for those who are the subject of concerns or allegations of abuse and other affected persons.
  • Responding to those that may pose a present risk to others.

The Parish will:

  • Create a safe and caring place for all.
  • Have a named Church Safeguarding Officer (CSO) to work with the incumbent and the PCC to implement policy and procedures.
  • Safely recruit, train and support all those with any responsibility for children, young people and adults to have the confidence and skills to recognise and respond to abuse.
  • Ensure that there is appropriate insurance cover for all activities involving children and adults undertaken in the name of the parish.
  • Display in church premises and on the Parish website the details of who to contact if there are safeguarding concerns or support needs.
  • Listen to and take seriously all those who disclose abuse.
  • Take steps to protect children and adults when a safeguarding concern of any kind arises, following House of Bishops guidance, including notifying the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (DSA) and statutory agencies immediately.
  • Offer support to victims/survivors of abuse regardless of the type of abuse, when or where it occurred.
  • Care for and monitor any member of the church community who may pose a risk to children and adults whilst maintaining appropriate confidentiality and the safety of all parties.
  • Ensure that health and safety policy, procedures and risk assessments are in place and that these are reviewed annually.
  • Review the implementation of the Safeguarding Policy, Procedures and Practices at least annually.

Each person who works within this church community will agree to abide by this policy and the guidelines established by this church.

This church appoints RUTH CHAUMETON PEEL  as the Church Safeguarding Officer

Incumbent:______William Gulliford

Churchwardens:_______Griselda Brook  Carole MacLeod

 

Date: ______22 January 2020_____

The Gerasene Man Freed

by Ros Miskin, Reader

Readings:

In today’s Gospel reading we learn of a man in the country of the Gerasenes who is trapped by demons within himself that cause him to live outside the city in the tombs. The demons have left him as an outcast without even the capacity to wear clothes. Attempts have been made to imprison him in shackles but his inner demons drive him so distracted that he breaks free and goes into the wilds.

So there he is, naked and beyond the pale.  In Mark’s Gospel narrative he even bruises himself as he has been robbed of his self-esteem.  He is an outcast whose identity has been eroded by demons to such an extent that he has even lost his real name.  It has been superseded by the name ‘Legion’ which is the name Luke gives us for the many demons who have taken over the man’s existence.

In spite of all this torment and isolation we know from his encounter with Jesus, as given in today’s Gospel reading, that this man is a good man.  We know this because he falls down before Jesus and calls him ‘Son of the Most High God’.  The demons have not robbed him of this recognition of the Son of God though his spirit has been so crushed that he assumes that Jesus will only torment him as a damaged lowly being.

What I believe we can perceive at this stage of the Gospel narrative is that the aim of the Devil is to create division as division is contrary to the unifying purpose of God for humanity to become as one.  The words ‘divide and rule’ come to mind here.  To create barriers between people the Devil occupies a person’s inner being and this drives them away from the centre of human affairs.  That is one method.  The other is to create a dispute of such magnitude that it results in humiliation and death away from the centre of human affairs.  This method can be seen in the rejection of Jesus as the Son of God followed by his imprisonment, then his naked body left to die on the Cross, pierced by the Crown of Thorns.  Here Jesus is the ultimate outcast left to die, as we sing in the Easter hymn on ‘a green hill far away’.

In today’s world we can see attempts to counteract this divisionism in a variety of ways.  For the believer and non-believer alike there is an emphasis on people working together in teams and groups to mutually support each other and solve problems if need be.  There is the desire to include people with special needs in all activities, to welcome diversity and to host refugees.  As a Christian I see this as a step towards the ultimate reconciliation of God with humanity when all will become as one.

Let us now return to Jesus on the Cross.  The moment that Jesus is nailed to the Cross he is trapped.  Being trapped is very much a theme of today’s Gospel reading.  It is the hunter and the hunted.  The man is trapped by demons and the demons are trapped in the man’s body, begging Jesus to set them free by releasing them from the man’s body and allowing them to enter the swine.  Jesus permits this to happen and the demons are destroyed by the rush of the herd down the steep bank into the lake where they are drowned.  This sets the man free at last to ‘sit at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind’.

So what does this narrative of being trapped and set free tell us?  What I believe it tells us is that in spite of the constant attempts of the Devil to confine us all in mind, body and spirit, God has the final say in terms of our freedom.  We may all from time to time feel trapped, either by external circumstances or by internal mental conflict but as Christians we have the assurance given to us in the Bible that it is God who commands the process of being confined and set free, even though the Devil can temporarily hold sway.  Thus Jesus frees the man and he himself is set free from the power of death by his Resurrection. We, as Christians, are also offered the freedom of the Holy Spirit to guide us through times of fearful confinement and peril.

This commanding position from on high is not readily perceived by those who witnessed Jesus healing the man and those who were informed by them of what had happened.  They know that Jesus has demonstrated his power to heal by freeing the man from the demonic trap he is in, but it leaves them fearful.

Seized with this fear they ask Jesus to leave them and he does so but this is not the end of the story.  The healed man begs Jesus to go with him but Jesus orders him to return to his home and ‘declare how much God has done for you’.  Out of the fearful reaction of the people is emerging a mission to the Gentiles by one man who is told to return to his home to declare God’s power to heal and restore.  Out of the fearful episodes that have occurred both for the man and the people is going to come a spreading of the Word of God which trumps the Devil’s card.  God is the fountain of sending love and this is the deepest source of mission so we can say that ‘hearts are trumps’!

We may ask, though, in the light of today’s Gospel, how should we view the treatment of the swine?  They have done no harm and yet are destroyed by demonic possession which sends them rushing to the lake.  This is a complex situation.  Are we to infer from Luke’s Gospel, as both Augustine and Thomas Aquinas did centuries ago, that this killing of the swine was ‘for the good of men’s souls’?  This, I believe, is rather a harsh judgement on the animal kingdom.  In the Book of Genesis, God does give Adam and Eve dominion over

living creatures, inviting them to name them.  Here we have dominion but no evidence of condemnation of the animal kingdom.  On the contrary, as Adam and Eve have disobeyed God in eating the forbidden fruit it is they who are brought down to ‘move upon their belly’ and ‘eat dust all the days of their life’.

They are the ones who are ‘cursed among all animals and among all wild creatures’ which gives animals the greater good.

Could it be, then, that the swine are symbolic?  The might of Rome at the time was symbolized by a white sow and the word ‘Legion’ in the context of ancient Rome meant a large unit of the Roman army.  Although pigs were sacrificial in Greek and Roman worship, we might say that the fate of the swine was not so much a rejection of the animal kingdom but a rejection of Roman rule.

Hopefully then by looking back into earlier Bible texts and considering symbolism we can avoid an attack in today’s reading on the animal kingdom.

We can instead focus on the power of God to heal us and consider how that first missionary push that was given to one man to achieve has spread throughout the world.

 

trinity I

So there he is, naked and beyond the pale.  In Mark’s Gospel narrative he even bruises himself as he has been robbed of his self-esteem.  He is an outcast whose identity has been eroded by demons to such an extent that he has even lost his real name.  It has been superseded by the name ‘Legion’ which is the name Luke gives us for the many demons who have taken over the man’s existence.

 

In spite of all this torment and isolation we know from his encounter with Jesus, as given in today’s Gospel reading, that this man is a good man.  We know this because he falls down before Jesus and calls him ‘Son of the Most High God’.  The demons have not robbed him of this recognition of the Son of God though his spirit has been so crushed that he assumes that Jesus will only torment him as a damaged lowly being.

 

 

What I believe we can perceive at this stage of the Gospel narrative is that the aim of the Devil is to create division as division is contrary to the unifying purpose of God for humanity to become as one.  The words ‘divide and rule’ come to mind here.  To create barriers between people the Devil occupies a person’s inner being and this drives them away from the centre of human affairs.  That is one method.  The other is to create a dispute of such magnitude that it results in humiliation and death away from the centre of human affairs.  This method can be seen in the rejection of Jesus as the Son of God followed by his imprisonment, then his naked body left to die on the Cross, pierced by the Crown of Thorns.  Here Jesus is the ultimate outcast left to die, as we sing in the Easter hymn on ‘a green hill far away’.

 

In today’s world we can see attempts to counteract this divisionism in a variety of ways.  For the believer and non-believer alike there is an emphasis on people working together in teams and groups to mutually support each other and solve problems if need be.  There is the desire to include people with special needs in all activities, to welcome diversity and to host refugees.  As a Christian I see this as a step towards the ultimate reconciliation of God with humanity when all will become as one.

 

Let us now return to Jesus on the Cross.  The moment that Jesus is nailed to the Cross he is trapped.  Being trapped is very much a theme of today’s Gospel

 

reading.  It is the hunter and the hunted.  The man is trapped by demons and the demons are trapped in the man’s body, begging Jesus to set them free by releasing them from the man’s body and allowing them to enter the swine.  Jesus permits this to happen and the demons are destroyed by the rush of the herd down the steep bank into the lake where they are drowned.  This sets the man free at last to ‘sit at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind’.

 

So what does this narrative of being trapped and set free tell us?  What I believe it tells us is that in spite of the constant attempts of the Devil to confine us all in mind, body and spirit, God has the final say in terms of our freedom.  We may all from time to time feel trapped, either by external circumstances or by internal mental conflict but as Christians we have the assurance given to us in the Bible that it is God who commands the process of being confined and set free, even though the Devil can temporarily hold sway.  Thus Jesus frees the man and he himself is set free from the power of death by his Resurrection. We, as Christians, are also offered the freedom of the Holy Spirit to guide us through times of fearful confinement and peril.

 

This commanding position from on high is not readily perceived by those who witnessed Jesus healing the man and those who were informed by them of what had happened.  They know that Jesus has demonstrated his power to heal by freeing the man from the demonic trap he is in, but it leaves them fearful.

 

Seized with this fear they ask Jesus to leave them and he does so but this is not the end of the story.  The healed man begs Jesus to go with him but Jesus orders him to return to his home and ‘declare how much God has done for you’.  Out of the fearful reaction of the people is emerging a mission to the Gentiles by one man who is told to return to his home to declare God’s power to heal and restore.  Out of the fearful episodes that have occurred both for the man and the people is going to come a spreading of the Word of God which trumps the Devil’s card.  God is the fountain of sending love and this is the deepest source of mission so we can say that ‘hearts are trumps’!

 

We may ask, though, in the light of today’s Gospel, how should we view the treatment of the swine?  They have done no harm and yet are destroyed by demonic possession which sends them rushing to the lake.  This is a complex situation.  Are we to infer from Luke’s Gospel, as both Augustine and Thomas Aquinas did centuries ago, that this killing of the swine was ‘for the good of men’s souls’?  This, I believe, is rather a harsh judgement on the animal kingdom.  In the Book of Genesis, God does give Adam and Eve dominion over

living creatures, inviting them to name them.  Here we have dominion but no evidence of condemnation of the animal kingdom.  On the contrary, as Adam and Eve have disobeyed God in eating the forbidden fruit it is they who are brought down to ‘move upon their belly’ and ‘eat dust all the days of their life’.

 

 

They are the ones who are ‘cursed among all animals and among all wild creatures’ which gives animals the greater good.

 

Could it be, then, that the swine are symbolic?  The might of Rome at the time was symbolized by a white sow and the word ‘Legion’ in the context of ancient Rome meant a large unit of the Roman army.  Although pigs were sacrificial in Greek and Roman worship, we might say that the fate of the swine was not so much a rejection of the animal kingdom but a rejection of Roman rule.

 

Hopefully then by looking back into earlier Bible texts and considering symbolism we can avoid an attack in today’s reading on the animal kingdom.

We can instead focus on the power of God to heal us and consider how that first missionary push that was given to one man to achieve has spread throughout the world.

 

trinity 1

 

In today’s Gospel reading we learn of a man in the country of the Gerasenes who is trapped by demons within himself that cause him to live outside the city in the tombs.  The demons have left him as an outcast without even the capacity to wear clothes.  Attempts have been made to imprison him in shackles but his inner demons drive him so distracted that he breaks free and goes into the wilds.

 

So there he is, naked and beyond the pale.  In Mark’s Gospel narrative he even bruises himself as he has been robbed of his self-esteem.  He is an outcast whose identity has been eroded by demons to such an extent that he has even lost his real name.  It has been superseded by the name ‘Legion’ which is the name Luke gives us for the many demons who have taken over the man’s existence.

 

In spite of all this torment and isolation we know from his encounter with Jesus, as given in today’s Gospel reading, that this man is a good man.  We know this because he falls down before Jesus and calls him ‘Son of the Most High God’.  The demons have not robbed him of this recognition of the Son of God though his spirit has been so crushed that he assumes that Jesus will only torment him as a damaged lowly being.

 

 

What I believe we can perceive at this stage of the Gospel narrative is that the aim of the Devil is to create division as division is contrary to the unifying purpose of God for humanity to become as one.  The words ‘divide and rule’ come to mind here.  To create barriers between people the Devil occupies a person’s inner being and this drives them away from the centre of human affairs.  That is one method.  The other is to create a dispute of such magnitude that it results in humiliation and death away from the centre of human affairs.  This method can be seen in the rejection of Jesus as the Son of God followed by his imprisonment, then his naked body left to die on the Cross, pierced by the Crown of Thorns.  Here Jesus is the ultimate outcast left to die, as we sing in the Easter hymn on ‘a green hill far away’.

 

In today’s world we can see attempts to counteract this divisionism in a variety of ways.  For the believer and non-believer alike there is an emphasis on people working together in teams and groups to mutually support each other and solve problems if need be.  There is the desire to include people with special needs in all activities, to welcome diversity and to host refugees.  As a Christian I see this as a step towards the ultimate reconciliation of God with humanity when all will become as one.

 

Let us now return to Jesus on the Cross.  The moment that Jesus is nailed to the Cross he is trapped.  Being trapped is very much a theme of today’s Gospel

 

reading.  It is the hunter and the hunted.  The man is trapped by demons and the demons are trapped in the man’s body, begging Jesus to set them free by releasing them from the man’s body and allowing them to enter the swine.  Jesus permits this to happen and the demons are destroyed by the rush of the herd down the steep bank into the lake where they are drowned.  This sets the man free at last to ‘sit at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind’.

 

So what does this narrative of being trapped and set free tell us?  What I believe it tells us is that in spite of the constant attempts of the Devil to confine us all in mind, body and spirit, God has the final say in terms of our freedom.  We may all from time to time feel trapped, either by external circumstances or by internal mental conflict but as Christians we have the assurance given to us in the Bible that it is God who commands the process of being confined and set free, even though the Devil can temporarily hold sway.  Thus Jesus frees the man and he himself is set free from the power of death by his Resurrection. We, as Christians, are also offered the freedom of the Holy Spirit to guide us through times of fearful confinement and peril.

 

This commanding position from on high is not readily perceived by those who witnessed Jesus healing the man and those who were informed by them of what had happened.  They know that Jesus has demonstrated his power to heal by freeing the man from the demonic trap he is in, but it leaves them fearful.

 

Seized with this fear they ask Jesus to leave them and he does so but this is not the end of the story.  The healed man begs Jesus to go with him but Jesus orders him to return to his home and ‘declare how much God has done for you’.  Out of the fearful reaction of the people is emerging a mission to the Gentiles by one man who is told to return to his home to declare God’s power to heal and restore.  Out of the fearful episodes that have occurred both for the man and the people is going to come a spreading of the Word of God which trumps the Devil’s card.  God is the fountain of sending love and this is the deepest source of mission so we can say that ‘hearts are trumps’!

 

We may ask, though, in the light of today’s Gospel, how should we view the treatment of the swine?  They have done no harm and yet are destroyed by demonic possession which sends them rushing to the lake.  This is a complex situation.  Are we to infer from Luke’s Gospel, as both Augustine and Thomas Aquinas did centuries ago, that this killing of the swine was ‘for the good of men’s souls’?  This, I believe, is rather a harsh judgement on the animal kingdom.  In the Book of Genesis, God does give Adam and Eve dominion over

living creatures, inviting them to name them.  Here we have dominion but no evidence of condemnation of the animal kingdom.  On the contrary, as Adam and Eve have disobeyed God in eating the forbidden fruit it is they who are brought down to ‘move upon their belly’ and ‘eat dust all the days of their life’.

 

 

They are the ones who are ‘cursed among all animals and among all wild creatures’ which gives animals the greater good.

 

Could it be, then, that the swine are symbolic?  The might of Rome at the time was symbolized by a white sow and the word ‘Legion’ in the context of ancient Rome meant a large unit of the Roman army.  Although pigs were sacrificial in Greek and Roman worship, we might say that the fate of the swine was not so much a rejection of the animal kingdom but a rejection of Roman rule.

 

Hopefully then by looking back into earlier Bible texts and considering symbolism we can avoid an attack in today’s reading on the animal kingdom.

We can instead focus on the power of God to heal us and consider how that first missionary push that was given to one man to achieve has spread throughout the world.

Lent I sermon

Why, then, in Luke’s narrative, is Jesus able to resist the temptation made to him by the devil to ‘have authority over all the kingdoms of the world’.  As I understand it, as the Word made flesh he is exposed to all that humanity is exposed to in good times and in bad.  That is to say that he is the Son of God but in his earthly existence he is subject to both praise and, as Shakespeare expressed it ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’. Yet unlike the rest of us he does not give in to temptation.  To attempt to find out why let us turn to the Book of Genesis when Eve is tempted by the devil in the form of a serpent to eat the fruit of the Tree of Paradise and then tempts Adam to eat it also. This eating of fruit from the Tree of Paradise, which had been forbidden to Adam and Eve by God, leads to God’s punishment: they must fall from the Garden of Eden and in their fallen state must endure pain, enmity, hard labour and the final chilling sentence from God on high: ‘you are dust, and to dust you shall return’. Adam and Eve have foregone their harmony with God and have been left in a state of original sin foisted on them by the devil.  This state of original sin has left us all vulnerable to temptation. All is not lost though when later in the Genesis narrative God saves Noah and his family from the flood he has created to destroy mankind.  He does so because Noah has pleased him as a

 

 

righteous man ‘who walked with God’. Here we see the first manifestation of God’s salvific purpose for humanity.

 

The books of the Old Testament continue with many trials and tribulations for humanity but the birth of Jesus in the New Testament heralds a great leap forward in the salvation story. It does so because Jesus as the Son of God is unique in being without sin and he can therefore resist temptation. He is then, as given in today’s Gospel reading, the perfect model of resistance.  His resistance is inspired by the Holy Spirit which had descended upon him in his baptism.  In the opening sentence of today’s Gospel, Luke writes that Jesus has returned from the Jordan ‘full of the Holy Spirit’.  It is the Holy Spirit that leads him in the wilderness so here we have the enabling power of the Holy Spirit moving Jesus in accordance with the will of God.  In the Lord’s Prayer we say ‘lead us not into temptation’ expressing the hope that the Holy Spirit will lead us too away from temptation.

 

In the Lord’s Prayer, in our petition to God to overcome temptation we are then hoping to emulate Jesus in his resistance to its allurements because unlike Jesus we need God’s help to do so.

 

We continue the Lord’s Prayer by asking God to deliver us from evil. In today’s Gospel reading good and evil are brought face to face in an all out confrontation between Jesus and the devil.  If we look at the nature of evil we can say it is of three kinds: physical, such as bodily injury and starvation; moral, being the actions taken which deviate from the moral order and metaphysical being limitation by one another of various component parts of the natural world.  That is to say that which is prevented by physical condition or sudden catastrophe.  These three aspects of evil show us that evil is essentially negative.  In the

confrontation between Jesus and the devil it appears as though the devil is making a positive offer of all the kingdoms of the world.  In real terms it is negative because were Jesus to accept his offer it would bring to an end God’s salvific purpose for mankind.  It would do so because Jesus would acquire the glory of ‘the kingdoms of the world’ and would no longer be the suffering servant who was to die upon the Cross to save mankind and ultimately bring about the kingdom of God.  It would also negate salvation by calling upon Jesus to worship the devil rather than God, hence his firm Biblical response: ‘worship the Lord your God and serve only him’.

 

There is much evil of the physical kind in Luke’s narrative.  The devil assumes that if Jesus is alone in the desert, outside the bounds of society and famished after 40 days of fasting he will readily want to prove himself to be the Son of God by commanding a stone to become a loaf of bread.  In the Lord’s Prayer we ask God to ‘give us this day our daily bread’ but Jesus takes this further with again a Biblical response: ‘One does not live by bread alone’.  In Matthew’s Gospel we are given a fuller picture here when Jesus adds to the sentence ‘but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’.  Here Jesus’ faith in the Word of God is a sure weapon in times of conflict.  We find this faith manifest in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians when he writes: ’Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God’. Jesus trusts in God to sustain him.

 

Stones feature frequently in Luke’s narrative.  Since the fifth century it has been believed that the wilderness was the rocky and uninhabited area between Jerusalem and Jericho.  The devil, who is with him in the wilderness, takes Jesus up ‘to a high place’ to show him the kingdoms.  This place by tradition is the ‘Quarantania’ being a limestone peak on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.  He then takes Jesus to Jerusalem and places him on the pinnacle of the Temple,

 

 

calling upon him to throw himself off it, trusting that as the Son of God the angels will protect him.  It is not sure what is meant by ‘the pinnacle’ but it might have been a little wing or tower of the Temple.  The devil says that the angels will bear Jesus up so that he will not ‘dash his foot against a stone’.  We can find a similar narrative in the Old Testament in Psalm 91 giving the assurance of God’s protection. There it is written that the angels will guard you and bear you up ‘so that you will not dash your foot against a stone’. Stones are mentioned many times in the Bible as obstacles to Divine purpose.  In Matthew’s parable of the wicked tenants Jesus says: ‘the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’. Then there is the stoning of Stephen in the Book of Acts.  Some scholars believe that the actual places described in Luke’s narrative did not exist and they are symbolic not real.  I would argue that even if they did not exist we still have the confrontation between good and evil and the response of Jesus to it which is: ‘do not put the Lord your God to the test’.  That sentence is, forgive the pun, ‘set in stone’.

 

Having received that response the devil departs though Luke writes: ‘until an opportune time’.  Jesus will continue to encounter evil but will overcome the power of evil by obedient faith and, as given in chapter 10 of Acts: ‘he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him’.  We know that the Crucifixion was to follow but we also know that after the Crucifixion came the Resurrection.

 

With this in mind we can say with confidence the closing words of the Lord’s Prayer:

For thine is the kingdom

The power and the glory

For ever and ever

Amen.

Second Sunday before Lent

Can, though, faith stand firm in terrible circumstances such as war and famine?  We find that this is possible if we look at the diary and letters of Etty Hillesum whose life was blighted by the gathering uncertainty, oppression and hardship of the Holocaust and who died in Auschwitz in November 1943.  In spite of her terrible situation Etty stayed with the truth that she had come to and I quote: ‘that life remains rich and beautiful if only you remain open to receive it’.  She wrote: ‘what has to be done must be done and for the rest we must not allow ourselves to become infested with thousands of petty fears and worries, so many motions of no confidence in God’.  It is heart warming to find such faith in someone who was going through such troubled times and was determined not to evade the tempests that life had in store for her.  She said she would follow wherever the hand of God led her, trying not to be afraid.

 

This example of faith in extreme adversity is encouraging yet we can I believe sympathise with the disciples in today’s Gospel reading when they shout to Jesus that they are perishing.  This could be regarded, as Etty expressed it, as ‘a motion of no confidence in God’ but it is understandable that if you are in a boat filling up with water as a gale sweeps down you might well panic. The disciples do at least demonstrate a measure of faith by calling to Jesus to wake up, hoping that he will rescue them.  Nevertheless Jesus rebukes them with the question ‘where is your faith?’.

 

Let us explore this further.  As I understand it, this passage in Luke’s Gospel gives us faith as being formed in stages.  The newly-called disciples are at an early stage of their journey with Jesus.  As such they have been with him long enough to accept his call to them to get into the boat with him to cross to the other side of the lake but their faith has not yet developed enough for them to be calm in the storm and trust in God to see them to their destination.  This early stage of faith is made manifest in their lack of full understanding of who Jesus is and so they say to one another: ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’ Contrast this narrative with the final two verses of Luke’s Gospel when Jesus has ascended into heaven and the disciples ‘worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the Temple blessing God’.  Their journey with Jesus has been filled with amazement and doubt but these last words show that their faith has grown amongst all the uncertainty, step by step.

 

So faith can grow and even flourish in times of adversity.  It is perhaps the tests that God puts us through that encourage faith in us and Jesus himself is embraced in this process.  This is apparent later in Luke’s Gospel narrative.  In the earlier narrative Jesus falls asleep on the boat and is then able to ‘rebuke the wind and the raging waves’ showing a calm authority and certainty in God’s purpose.  This calm authority continues in his teaching in parables and in chapter 10 of Luke’s Gospel he rejoices in the parables, thanking God for them.  When those around him seek to test him he has ready answers and even Peter’s denial of him does not test him as he knows that this will happen: ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me’.  In the later narrative, though, when he is praying on the Mount of Olives we know that he is being severely tested and it is in this moment that he shows oneness with God.  Thus he says: ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done’. Here Jesus is revealing in a most testing circumstance ultimate faith in the Will of God.

 

Let us return to today’s Gospel reading to see what else this passage reveals to us.  In his rebuking of the wind and the waves and making them cease we find Jesus at one with Creation.  In this narrative he is conquering chaos as God conquered the watery storms in the Old Testament that were the symbols of chaos.  We find this in Psalm 29 in abundance when: ‘the God of glory thunders, the Lord over mighty waters’.  In Psalm 106, God ‘rebuked the Red Sea and it became dry’.

 

So we have God and Jesus talking to nature, showing that they are at one with it but also making it conform to their will.  Talking to nature has gone on across the centuries in song and poetry.  In Shakespeare’s ‘As you like it’ Amien sings: ‘blow, blow thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude’.  In the nineteenth century the poet Shelley talked to the wind: ‘O wild west wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being…’.  These are observations rather than commands but they have an affinity with Bible texts as dialogues with nature.

 

There is a spirituality here which manifests itself strongly when poets use nature to convey relationship to God by way of analogy.   In the seventeenth century in his poem ‘the Flower’ George Herbert, the priest and poet, wrote: How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean are thy returns even as the flowers in spring’.  In the nineteenth century the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote: ‘Glory be to God for dappled things, for skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow’.  Hopkins reminds us of poetry as a means of contemplation of God and contemplating him in the ordinary; in all things and in each thing.  As W. H. Davies expressed it: ‘what is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’.  Poetry often uses vivid imagery to describe what we see and to help us experience it afresh.  For

 

 

the Christian this leads us to an awareness of the presence of God, since all creation is God’s gift.

 

There is also the tradition that says the perceptions and language we use for God will always be inadequate because we can never reach an end to our knowing.  God will always be beyond our grasp.  Gerard Manley Hopkins saw his task as poet and priest to bring his readers and hearers to a place of silence before mystery.  For him poetry is ‘speech framed for contemplation’.

 

Our faith, then, may be strengthened by contemplation but with God always beyond our grasp it calls upon us to trust in him, even in the darkest hours.  The disciples in today’s reading had not yet reached that stage of faith and it is not easy for any of us.  It can require a ‘letting go’ based upon trust in God’s loving purpose for mankind.  I will conclude by expressing this ‘letting go’ by quoting from the song of the Beatles:

‘When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom

‘Let it be’.

 

AMEN

 

 

Second Sunday before Lent

Can, though, faith stand firm in terrible circumstances such as war and famine?  We find that this is possible if we look at the diary and letters of Etty Hillesum whose life was blighted by the gathering uncertainty, oppression and hardship of the Holocaust and who died in Auschwitz in November 1943.  In spite of her terrible situation Etty stayed with the truth that she had come to and I quote: ‘that life remains rich and beautiful if only you remain open to receive it’.  She wrote: ‘what has to be done must be done and for the rest we must not allow ourselves to become infested with thousands of petty fears and worries, so many motions of no confidence in God’.  It is heart warming to find such faith in someone who was going through such troubled times and was determined not to evade the tempests that life had in store for her.  She said she would follow wherever the hand of God led her, trying not to be afraid.

 

This example of faith in extreme adversity is encouraging yet we can I believe sympathise with the disciples in today’s Gospel reading when they shout to Jesus that they are perishing.  This could be regarded, as Etty expressed it, as ‘a motion of no confidence in God’ but it is understandable that if you are in a boat filling up with water as a gale sweeps down you might well panic. The disciples do at least demonstrate a measure of faith by calling to Jesus to wake up, hoping that he will rescue them.  Nevertheless Jesus rebukes them with the question ‘where is your faith?’.

 

Let us explore this further.  As I understand it, this passage in Luke’s Gospel gives us faith as being formed in stages.  The newly-called disciples are at an early stage of their journey with Jesus.  As such they have been with him long enough to accept his call to them to get into the boat with him to cross to the other side of the lake but their faith has not yet developed enough for them to be calm in the storm and trust in God to see them to their destination.  This early stage of faith is made manifest in their lack of full understanding of who Jesus is and so they say to one another: ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’ Contrast this narrative with the final two verses of Luke’s Gospel when Jesus has ascended into heaven and the disciples ‘worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the Temple blessing God’.  Their journey with Jesus has been filled with amazement and doubt but these last words show that their faith has grown amongst all the uncertainty, step by step.

 

So faith can grow and even flourish in times of adversity.  It is perhaps the tests that God puts us through that encourage faith in us and Jesus himself is embraced in this process.  This is apparent later in Luke’s Gospel narrative.  In the earlier narrative Jesus falls asleep on the boat and is then able to ‘rebuke the wind and the raging waves’ showing a calm authority and certainty in God’s purpose.  This calm authority continues in his teaching in parables and in chapter 10 of Luke’s Gospel he rejoices in the parables, thanking God for them.  When those around him seek to test him he has ready answers and even Peter’s denial of him does not test him as he knows that this will happen: ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me’.  In the later narrative, though, when he is praying on the Mount of Olives we know that he is being severely tested and it is in this moment that he shows oneness with God.  Thus he says: ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done’. Here Jesus is revealing in a most testing circumstance ultimate faith in the Will of God.

 

Let us return to today’s Gospel reading to see what else this passage reveals to us.  In his rebuking of the wind and the waves and making them cease we find Jesus at one with Creation.  In this narrative he is conquering chaos as God conquered the watery storms in the Old Testament that were the symbols of chaos.  We find this in Psalm 29 in abundance when: ‘the God of glory thunders, the Lord over mighty waters’.  In Psalm 106, God ‘rebuked the Red Sea and it became dry’.

 

So we have God and Jesus talking to nature, showing that they are at one with it but also making it conform to their will.  Talking to nature has gone on across the centuries in song and poetry.  In Shakespeare’s ‘As you like it’ Amien sings: ‘blow, blow thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude’.  In the nineteenth century the poet Shelley talked to the wind: ‘O wild west wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being…’.  These are observations rather than commands but they have an affinity with Bible texts as dialogues with nature.

 

There is a spirituality here which manifests itself strongly when poets use nature to convey relationship to God by way of analogy.   In the seventeenth century in his poem ‘the Flower’ George Herbert, the priest and poet, wrote: How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean are thy returns even as the flowers in spring’.  In the nineteenth century the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote: ‘Glory be to God for dappled things, for skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow’.  Hopkins reminds us of poetry as a means of contemplation of God and contemplating him in the ordinary; in all things and in each thing.  As W. H. Davies expressed it: ‘what is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’.  Poetry often uses vivid imagery to describe what we see and to help us experience it afresh.  For

 

 

the Christian this leads us to an awareness of the presence of God, since all creation is God’s gift.

 

There is also the tradition that says the perceptions and language we use for God will always be inadequate because we can never reach an end to our knowing.  God will always be beyond our grasp.  Gerard Manley Hopkins saw his task as poet and priest to bring his readers and hearers to a place of silence before mystery.  For him poetry is ‘speech framed for contemplation’.

 

Our faith, then, may be strengthened by contemplation but with God always beyond our grasp it calls upon us to trust in him, even in the darkest hours.  The disciples in today’s reading had not yet reached that stage of faith and it is not easy for any of us.  It can require a ‘letting go’ based upon trust in God’s loving purpose for mankind.  I will conclude by expressing this ‘letting go’ by quoting from the song of the Beatles:

‘When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom

‘Let it be’.

 

AMEN

 

 

03 OCT – HARVEST ALL AGE PARISH BARN DANCE

harvest6.30 pm – 8 pm dancing

8 pm supper

9 pm more dancing

Children and Accompanying Adults welcome to dance until 8 pm

For those staying for supper Adults £13.50 ; Children £6.00

If you would like to dress up in Thomas Hardy style dress you are most welcome.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANTIF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COME TO THE SUPPER WE NEED TO KNOW BY SUNDAY 28 SEPTEMBER

Please email  parishclerkstmarks@gmail.com or sign the list at the back of the Church  and pay Ros Miskin before or at the door on the night