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The Rector The Revd Rob Farmer writes:
Our Church year rolls on as we bask in the celebratory mood of the great fifty days of Easter and look forward to the feast of the Ascension (a day of obligation* for all of us), and on to Pentecost, the birthday of the Church.
So often we are caught up in the seasons and the festivals of the church that we forget that we ourselves are part of the ‘Big story’.
The apostle Peter in his first letter reminds us of this, ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ (1 Peter 2:9).
In this section of his letter Peter has very clearly explained the Christians’ identity. He has woven together parts of Exodus 19 and Isaiah 43 to make it clear that there are not multiple covenants with God, ie one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles, but one covenant only - we are all ‘the people of God’.
We forget that God created us first in his image, before any of the trappings of this world that overtake us and tend to mask our real purpose and place in creation. I wonder if you ever feel like your life is fragmented, random, and without real direction or meaning? If that is the case then here’s a heads up: That is a lie of the enemy! You truly are a part of God’s great story as Peter affirms in his letter, and every day of your life - whether you realise it or feel like it or not - is weighted with kingdom purpose and eternal significance, and leads to a high destiny.
We each have a role to play today and every day as we walk in God’s will and witness to his love and salvation to those who cross our path, and this will take on many different forms.
In their book The Sacred Romance authors Brent Curtis and John Eldridge explain how the cathedral was the centre of everyday life in the High Middle Ages. Church bells marked the passing of the hours. People celebrated the feast of Pentecost - the birthday of the Church I just mentioned - not the beginning of the football season or Wimbledon starting. Christian expressions like, ‘the year of our Lord’ or ‘pray tell…’ or ‘God be with you’ and ‘by Christ’s blood…’ peppered normal and everyday conversations, reminding young and old alike that their lives were inextricably entwined in a greater drama than the daily and more earthly events of their lives, in the big story of God’s redemptive purposes in the world.
But, we don’t live in the Middle Ages, do we. We live in a postmodern era, and the transcendence of the big story has been splintered and subdivided into many smaller stories, seemingly without direction and purpose. There are so many other demands on our time, so many other things to stimulate our senses, and in a consumer driven society we are constantly bombarded with things that will supposedly make our life better and give us greater fulfilment.
It’s true that tragedy still may move us to tears and heroism lift our spirits, but as the authors of The Sacred Romance explain, “We have no larger context in which to fit these events”. Our culture is unable to fit all the fragments and pieces of individual life stories into any kind of meaningful, larger framework.
Whenever we try to map ourselves onto something that we are not meant to embody, it becomes a sometimes transitory and often fleeting experience that ultimately is prone to failure, and this leads to sadness and a sense of failure, and we move on again to the next big thing that we feel will give our lives true meaning. It is what happens when we forget the Author of life and the big story of his greatness, holiness and sacrificial love.
As we move through the different festivals, feasts and seasons of the church’s year, take a moment to look past the surface of what each event brings, and see and remember how the big story of God’s saving presence and power in the world through history, today and into the future, is actually your big story too.
Your parish priest and friend, Prayer click here:
* Days of obligation are holy days when all the faithful are expected to attend the Eucharist.
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