Monthly letter from the Clergy
This months letter is from Revd. Jenny Gray
Village fetes and festivals are over for another year. 2018 is speeding by. Nights are drawing in. Family and friends have started Christmas planning. Shops are counting down the days. But, thank God, the Church calendar doesn’t rush – there’s time to celebrate every season. Time to enjoy autumn’s gifts, of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ (as generations have done before) in our Harvest Festivals, Lunches and Suppers. A place to name our Dear Departed and light candles in All Souls’ Services (on November 4th) or tie Missing You ribbons to village churchyard Yew trees. A pause to honour together those whose sacrifice preserves our freedom and peace on this November 11th Great War centenary anniversary.
Rituals like laying poppies or lighting candles matter because our bodies matter. People are embodied – we see, hear, touch, taste, feel, laugh, love. We experience the wonders of the world, each other and God through our bodies. Our bodies, minds, souls/spirits are inescapably linked – as our Church Sacraments (outward signs of God’s work in us) know and show. So we are Baptised (Christened) with water and holy oil. Hands are joined in Marriage and rings exchanged. Holy oil anoints the sick and dying. Crumbling earth is taken and released into our grave. In Communion we eat bread and drink wine to share Christ’s life. We fill our church and churchyards with the beauty of flowers. Even when I pray in church on my own, I light a candle I can see, feel and touch as a sign of God’s presence and love.
Our bodies aren’t always kind to us. Some people face unimaginable suffering which even 21st century medicine can’t take away. Sooner or later age brings aches and pains, wrinkles and limitations to us all. Jesus shares all this. His body aches with his own pain and the pain of others. When He’s raised from the dead at Easter, His body isn’t perfect – He comes back wounded...the proof doubting Thomas needs to believe in Him. But Jesus loves life. He heals people’s bodies and minds. He feeds them, parties in their homes and weddings, teaches us to pray to God each day about real body things...our need for food, forgiveness, protection from temptation and the life of God’s Kingdom (in The Lord’s Prayer).
We’re not always kind to our bodies. Many people see their body through the lens of youthful, celebrity, airbrushed perfection and hate the way they look. Even young children deprive their body or over-indulge, with a rise in obesity, self-harm and substance abuse. Many of us know we need more exercise, more green leafy vegetables, more water, more sleep, less i-pad, less caffeine, less cake, even less prosecco! More important, we need a kinder take on ourselves, as Janet Morley’s much loved poem The Bodies of Grown-ups (included inside) suggests. We need Jesus’ teaching, that, just as we are, each of us is made in the image of God.
Each is unconditionally accepted by God. Each of us is loved by God.
Love changes us for good. Good news to ponder in autumn’s grey damp days ahead!
‘God did not come to us in Christ as a superhero, as Superman, solving all our
problems through his superior strength...God came to us as vulnerable as any of us,
and as readily destroyed.’ Rev Rachel Mann.