A Curate's View
Are you sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin…
What is Home? For some of us home is ‘wherever we lay our hat’, we will move around all our lives, we will move for work or for a partner’s career. We will uproot ourselves and our family to make a new home wherever that place is. For others home is where we were born and raised, the place where we can trace our roots, where our family and friends have a collective story of who they are and how they have become what they are in that place.
As a Christian I have struggled with this calling to be Christ’s servant and the fear of, ‘What happens if that call takes me away from the place that I call home?’ Home for me has been the same place since I was born in the Luton and Dunstable Hospital. Before my stint at Theological College my only time away from Harpenden was my three year undergraduate degree in Brighton and at least I was on a direct train line home again. Home is important to me. I like to have a space that I can call my own, where I can be with my friends, somewhere that is comfortable and safe, somewhere that is mine.
As a Christian I often find my need for a home challenged and my desire for a comfortable life tested.
In recent months I have watched several BBC documentaries about clothes, how they are produced and in particular on the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in April 2013. This was a wake up call to me, about the things that I hold dear. I have been brought up in a comfortable environment, I have always been fortunate to have ‘enough’ and in fact ‘more than enough’, but I had never really thought about how I received those goods, who made them or the conditions that they worked in.
These documentaries have brought home to me the many things that we take for granted; that we live well, eat well, that we will be paid a fair wage for the work that we do, and that all we do will be done in safety. Jesus tells many stories about being paid fairly, ‘Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s’ (Matthew 22) and the Labourers in the vineyard – those who grumble that they have been unfairly paid because they have worked longer hours than those who were hired later (Matthew 20).
It is easy to grumble and complain, yet are we complaining about the right things? And do we recognise that we have been given much, so much is expected (Luke 12. 48)?
I have been amazed in my short time here at St Andrew’s how this recognition of having much is demonstrated. The Money Advice Service, the Outreach committee and the commitment to Fairtrade to name just a few examples of the work that is done from our wealth.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the need to do the right thing, but we have an opportunity here to start small. The bar of Fairtrade chocolate that you buy because you need chocolate, the fairly traded gift to say ‘Thank you’ to a friend, to the cup of tea or coffee that you drink can all make a difference to others and are a step in the journey of ensuring that we are supporting others and enabling them to build a safe and secure home.
Home is an important place, we all need somewhere that we can call home and I am beginning to feel at home here, so I thank you for your welcome. Jesus has called us, to whom much has been given, to give back and I hope that I will be able to serve you for the next three years in a way that is a gift to you from the many blessings that I have been given.
“Received in Good Faith”
Autumn Course at St Andrew’s
This October St Andrew’s will be hosting a public theology course that sets out to give a defence of Christianity against perceived objections from science, morality and secularism.
Professional lecturers will bring theological insights and sound learning to bear in a course which promises substantial answers to big questions:
· Why is faith in God not just a delusion?
· Why is the Bible not “just another book”?
· How credible is God amid suffering and evil?
· What truth is there beyond science?
· What is the role for the sacred in the world today?
The speakers will include Bishop Stephen Venner (former Bishop to the Armed Forces and Bishop to the Falkland Islands); The Revd Dr Andrew Davison (Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences at Cambridge University); The Revd Dr David Munchin (Rector for the Welwyn Team Ministry) and a speaker from the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.
The five week course has been organised by me on behalf of BELIEF and is open to all who have questions about Christian faith in the modern world (so invite your Christian, agnostic and atheist friends and those who follow other faiths). It is held on Wednesday evenings throughout October (1, 8, 15, 22 and 29) in our Main Hall beginning at 8.00pm. A donation of £3 to cover costs is welcomed at the door.