April 2013

Dear Friends,
Space needs to be given first to reporting back on matters raised in the last issue.  We have now begun the Start! Course as part of confirmation preparation and are grateful to Simon Brown for providing some fresh input for this. Stephen Oxer is energetically collecting names for the church Electoral Roll; a final reminder, please, that this year your entry does not 'roll over', but you need to sign a form afresh.
We held the Easter Messy Church meeting in school, as planned, and around 30 children attended most or all of it. They obviously enjoyed themselves and I hope both they and their parents went away knowing a little more about what happened to Jesus in Holy Week and at Easter. The church cannot, in future, rely on the old model of encouraging people 'to' church (though that does still work for some), but has also bring church 'out' in new and innovative ways. This particular event could not have happened without the enthusiastic participation of many church people, young and old, who provided lots of craft activities and a splendid tea.  I do hope someone might pick up this particular idea and take it forward for the future.
I am most grateful to Vanessa Coohill (Isaac's mother might help to place her for you) for offering to write up the marriage registers. Not an  exciting task, but an essential one, and if done well a beautifully inscribed certificate is a lovely souvenir of their big day for the couple concerned.
It is nice to be able to report that Matthew Wiles who, amongst other things supervises our church website for us (another way the modern church reaches people), has finally obtained a good job after months and months of searching. He will be moving to Beverley to work at the well-known Bishop Burton Agricultural College. Congratulations to him and we are pleased we ought still to see him at weekends now and again. And another encouraging piece of news is that Joe Cooper is back home and able to continue his convalescence there rather in (the very good) Barnsley hospitals.
I plan to write an editorial for the May magazine as well so this isn't quite my last hurrah, but this seems an appropriate moment to try and define what I think are the essentials of Christianity. Since the Reformation of the 16th Century there has been no 'one' definition of Christian faith and a whole gamut of variants are acceptable. As long as these exist within a broadly agreed framework. This is, I think, a belief that there is a God, and that He cares about us as individuals; that Jesus, the Son of God of whom we read in the New Testament is more than an ancient prophet, but a living Saviour, who rose again on Easter Day; and that faith, once held, must affect the way we live.
Alice, in conversation with the Queen, declares she cannot believe the impossible. “I dare say you haven't had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it half-and-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”. My summary of Christianity may be short, but similarly it asks for a leap of faith. That doesn't mean from nothing to everything. It doesn't mean there isn't good evidence for the existence of God. Why is there so much goodness and beauty in the world, for example, if it does not come from God? It certainly doesn't mean there isn't excellent historical evidence for Jesus' life and even for his resurrection. It's a bit like a diving board, though. Facts can take you so far, but like a poolside board, they won't take you all the way. In the end you have to gather your courage, close your eyes, and JUMP. Only faith can take you over that last hurdle, and it is what the church – which is no-one but you and I – must recommend by its teaching, by its example and by an enthusiasm which is intriguing enough to 'hook' people.
I have tried, haltingly and inadequately, to do this during my life as an ordained minister, some 47 years now. I shall continue to do so during my retirement. Just as you will continue to do through your worship, your prayers and your service as members of the church in the parish of Wentworth.
With best wishes,