August 2013

From the Rectory

Summer has arrived, and about time too!

I am sitting on the beach at Swanage in the company of my wife Lys and Churchwarden Gwen Kitcher. The sun is beating down, the sky is cloudless and the sea without a ripple. Itís an idyllic summer day. How blest we are, and how unawares so often we remain of that blessing.

I was prompted to write this piece after hearing Peter Greenland preach recently at Evensong. He was preaching on Mark chapter seven - all about the traditions surrounding clean and unclean foods. As I looked around at the people enjoying themselves on the beach I was mindful of those many places where no such enjoyment is possible: war, famine, and unimaginable suffering and on not so distant shores. Millions of people unable to experience the freedom and blessings that we take for granted.

Peter went on to expand on the theme of traditions about cleansing in Markís gospel saying in the modern world, obsessed with health and safety, Jesus would be in as much trouble with the authorities as he was in his own age. He rebukes the traditionalists who are obsessed with cleanliness surrounding food. We can understand the reasoning I think. In hot countries food does not keep very well, certainly not in Jesusí time.

Fast food outlets abound on the coast and in Swanage the aroma of fish and chips was distinctly in the air. The bins overflowed with the leftovers and sea gulls scavenged for the remnants on the promenade and beach. We have so much that we can afford to throw away what we donít want.

Most of the people on the beach were drinking from bottled water; there were discarded plastic containers all around. And yet in many places, especially in parts of Africa people have to drink dirty and contaminated water; there simply is no other water to be had. They also exist, many of them, on a starvation diet.

It seems that we live in a divided world. Most of the people in Swanage that day had nothing else to do other than enjoy themselves, some to excess. Whilst in other places people are all consumed with the act of surviving. Whether or not the food or water is clean is not an option for them Ė itís food and water, itís what exists between life and death for them.

Yes, it was ever so, I acknowledge that and many people and organisations do wonderful work to even out the balance. Why does God allow such an in-balance of resources, you may ask? Well, of course God doesnít allow it; it doesnít have to be so. But making the changes necessary, as Jesus was so passionate to bring about, is not easy. For others to have more those who already have much may have to give up some of what they have. That means not only individuals but governments as well. We have so much and others so little. We should of course be joyful in the Lord and thank him for his provision and bounty. We were not put here on earth to be miserable after all. But let us remember the less fortunate, not least in our prayers. We are all Godís children and not one hair of any of our heads can be spared.

Sitting on the beach I was reading a book by Cosmo Lang, a former Archbishop of Canterbury - all about the Miracles of Jesus. It was a delightful day out but it did bring home to me how lucky we are to be able to enjoy it all so freely. The sun at times was uncomfortable. So were the thoughts behind this article.

May the Light of Christ shine down upon all of you as you enjoy this summer and its many miracles. Giving thanks always to God.

Yours for Christ's sake.