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Parish letter

From the Rector

Dear All

One feature of many church buildings - including some in this benefice - is the presence of the Ten Commandments on the wall. It helped to emphasise the importance of the commandments, and was a useful teaching aid in years gone by. Today, if you hear of people trying to introduce the Ten Commandments on the wall of a public building (or prevent their removal) it is probably happening in America and more often than not, the details of the story make me want to tear out what remains of my hair. One American pastor tells the following story:

“A few years ago I took a survey of our congregation. By a response of applause, I asked how much they agreed with the following statements:

·      Our children should learn and live by the Ten Commandments (loud applause).

·      The Ten Commandments should be taught by churches (loud applause).

·      The Ten Commandments should be hung on the walls of public places including public schools (applause by everyone in the room but me).

·      I can personally name the Ten Commandments in order (I was the only one applauding).

The contrast was stunning. The point was clear.”

The point was very clear. Time and again we read of God wanting not an outward pretence of faith, but a lived faith. “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” said Samuel. What God wants is for his way to be written on our hearts, and shown at work in our lives.

This Lent - beginning on the 6th - if we are to take the teachings of God into our hearts we might turn to an introduction to confession that is commended for use in this season. Here we find the beatitudes laid out as a guide, a way of truth and life given to us by Christ.

Let us hear our Lord’s blessing on those who follow him.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,

for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Let us confess our many failures to keep this way of truth and life.

Our lives are not determined by what is written on our walls, it is determined by what is written on our hearts. May we take these teachings to heart this Lent. 

Every blessing.    John