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church:vicars_letters:jun2010mag

Companions of Jesus

At the recent Visitation in Merriott Church, the Archdeacon (the Venerable John Reed) made some comments in his address which I found very helpful; I reproduce an extract here for you …..

Around the parish churches of England it is possible that we are still wanting to live as if the 1960s never happened. We easily underestimate how forty years of resistance to the presentation and availability of Christian teaching outside of church has changed the world around us. We are a small dissenting, subversive group – as were the Christians of 33AD in Jerusalem when St Peter and St John were proclaiming Jesus. They could claim no authority of themselves or their ‘church’, but only seek to win authority by the quality of their words, love and actions: and this they did, in abundance. It was the divine activity through them which secured and safeguarded the mission of the early church and is responsible still for its continuing success.

In Acts 4, Peter and John are described by those around them as “uneducated and ordinary men”; and yet they spoke with elevated intellectual and rhetorical abilities without the benefit of the theological and academic schooling which their accuser’s from the Sanhedrin had received. And why? Everywhere, they are described as “filled with the Holy Spirit”: and their hearers were amazed by what they said. God knows, wouldn’t all preachers all be glad of that!

The church has been right to want those who preach and teach to be educated and informed. But spiritual authority is primarily about the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in human life. There is simply no substitute for the spiritually mature believer whose witness, authority and credibility reflect the breathing of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life. So, when the people of Jerusalem “saw the boldness of Peter and John … they were amazed and recognised them as companions of Jesus” (v.13). That was the moment of communication, of connecting with the Good News – when these Spirit-filled men revealed Jesus. We and our fellow Christians must be recognised as companions of Jesus and be willing to speak about Him.

Lastly, later in this chapter those with Peter and John prayed, “enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness”. As we follow the story of how the first Christians carried the gospel in their lives and by their words: that is now entrusted to us. I don’t think they were ever in doubt of God’s plan and ultimate triumph of love. If the church today is too timid of what others may think and does not ask God for enough “boldness” for ministry, it must have timid convictions about who God is, what God has done, and what God will do. But, together we are part of that same post-resurrection church and gospel. Like them, the gospel will be received and God’s Kingdom will continue to grow but not always in the ways we want or in the places we expect. So, God bless you for your faithful and important part in this great enterprise; and may your confidence be renewed.

JOHN REED; Archdeacon of Taunton

True Reports from British Newspapers

Daily Telegraph: Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large gas bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, 'We agree it was rather high for the time of year. It's possible Mr. Purdey has been charged for the gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his house.'

Manchester Evening News: Police reveal that a woman arrested for shoplifting had a whole salami in her underwear. When asked why, she said it was because she was missing her Italian boyfriend.

Guardian: Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because they cannot issue a description. It's a Special Branch vehicle and they don't want the public to know what it looks like.

Times: A young girl who was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable teeth was rescued by a man on an inflatable lobster. A coast guard spokesman commented, 'This sort of thing is all too common'.

From the Church Registers

23rd April 2010Stellan GustavssonFuneral Service at Stocklinch
24th April 2010Ruby-May NorrisHoly Baptism at Barrington
24th April 2010Justin Smith & Rebecca WoodburnJoined in Holy Matrimony at Barrington
28th April 2010John CroftsFuneral Service at Shepton Beauchamp
30th April 2010Harry SaundersFuneral Service at Shepton Beauchamp
1st May 2010Edith PattissonHoly Baptism at Shepton Beauchamp
8th May 2010Marcus & Lucas FreemanHoly Baptism at Shepton Beauchamp
15th May 2010Ben Charlton & Amy BristerJoined in Holy Matrimony at Barrington
church/vicars_letters/jun2010mag.txt · Last modified: d/m/Y H:M (external edit)