C of E Newsletter
Keith provides the monthly summary of events in the Parishes of Northwold, Wretton and Stoke Ferry
The Parishes of St. Andrew, Northwold; All Saints, Wretton with Stoke Ferry;
and Christ Church, Whittington.
For more details contact me, Keith MacLeod at West Barn, Ryston Road, West Dereham
(01366 500960) (07766 766 137) (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Diary for August 2004
25th July (7th Sunday after Trinity)
9.30am Benefice Holy Communion at
1st August (8th Sunday after Trinity)
9.30am Service of the Word at All Saints
11.00am Holy Communion at St Andrews
8th August (9th Sunday after Trinity)
9.30am Service of the Word at Christchurch
11.00am Matins at St Andrews
15th August (10th Sunday after Trinity)
8.00am Holy Communion at St Andrews
9.30am Holy Communion by Extension at All Saints
22nd August (11th Sunday after Trinity) 9.30am Benefice Holy Communion at All Saints
29th August (12th Sunday after Trinity) 11.00am All Age Worship at St Andrews
5th September (13th Sunday after Trinity) 9.30am Service of the Word at Christchurch
Rotas for Church cleaning & flowers
August Christ Church Mrs Pat Voutt & Angie All Saints Mrs P Willis and Mrs P Durrance
September Christ Church Mrs I Eves & Mrs J Ducklin All Saints Mrs P Willis and Mrs H Durrance
Sunday School - All Welcome
There is a Sunday School during the main Sunday services at St. Andrew's Church, Northwold (except for Sunday's with All Age Worship). This is open to any school age child living in the villages of Northwold, Wretton, Stoke Ferry, Whittington and Brookville. If you are not able to stay with your child please drop them off by 10.50 and collect them by 12.15.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
One of the readings used throughout the world by Churches using the Common Lectionary on Sunday 8th July was the story of The Good Samaritan. 50 years ago I could have expected that most people would have known the story, but that would be a dangerous assumption nowadays, when schools do not as a matter of course teach the Christian Bible stories. However, the story is as valuable to non Christians as Christians, so here goes with a very brief summary (with more modern reference points).
An Israeli was walking along a country road and was set upon by robbers who beat him up and stole everything from him. A priest walked up, but crossed over to the other side and continued on his way. Then a professor of religious law came by - he also crossed over the road and passed by. Then a Palestinian happened along. He went over to the wounded man and gave first aid medication and bandaged what he could. He then took the man on his donkey to the nearest inn, where he asked the innkeeper to look after the man. He gave him some money and promised to pay whatever else was due when he returned in a few days time.
The question the story addressed was 'Who is my neighbour?' I have told the story a little dramatically, identifying the main protagonists as Israeli and Palestinian. This is not really stretching the circumstances very much, as the Samaritans of 2000 years ago were looked down upon by the Jews of the day, partly because they only regarded as Holy Scripture the first 5 books of the Old Testament. Nowadays, Islam also treats the first five books of the Torah and of the Bible as valid tradition, but then deviate - the Jews and Christians following the history of Abraham's son Israel, while Islam follows the history of Abraham's son Ishmael.
So what is the relevance of the story of The Good Samaritan today - to us - whether we are Jewish, Moslem, Christian, devout sceptics or non-devout sceptics. Well the moral seems to be universal. The vast majority would believe that the 'neighbour' to the beaten man was the man who looked after him. On the way, there is the implied rebuke to those who follow rules and traditions narrowly - correctly but wrongly. The rules may be good, especially for the time when they were set up, but, in the end, no rule is greater than the conscience of a good man.
Most of the rules and laws that we are bound by do not pose moral problems. We may not like speed limits, but most of us accept that the law needs to be obeyed, in order that a complex democratic society can continue to operate. But there comes a point at which we have to question the law and our readiness to be bound by it. Christians need to be cognisant of Jesus' injunction that we should 'render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God that which is God's'. But the two are not necessarily always mutually exclusive. Caesar may demand of us what is actually God's. So the conscientious objector needs to be respected - he could be right!
But the other moral of the tale is that if we are to be good neighbours, we have to go out of our way to help (as Christians would have it - to love) those who are disadvantaged. What an inadequate word! As we enjoy ourselves watching marathon TV programmes and sending cheques and Credit Card commitments to Sport Relief, or Band Aid or whatever, we are barely salving our consciences. Such giving is immensely valuable to those who benefit and so I do not decry those who organise and commit themselves to such activities, but I do ask how sacrificial is the giving of those who are effectively putting a price on their enjoyment and paying for it - albeit voluntarily.
We cannot all go out to Sudan and try to aid the starving millions driven from their land. We cannot all go to southern Iraq and try to help the Marsh Arabs to get their wetlands back. We cannot all go to Albania and try to lift this desperately demoralised country back to the civilisation from which they have lapsed. We cannot all be Mother Theresa's
But we can all try to learn more about that 95% of the world which is poorer and unhappier than we are. We can all try to make a difference. We can only make a difference if we make a difference to our own lives. If our lives change by what we give (not just money, but time, commitment, interest . . .) then it is certain that we are making a difference to the area of that commitment and interest.
I write as a Christian, but I know that I can witness to that faith far more effectively by doing than by preaching or proselytising. I also believe that many Christians (which is an actively proselytising faith, unlike, for example, the Jews) need to remember that their main commitment is to their own salvation. The only way to achieve that is to witness to their faith by loving their God and by loving their neighbour - that is the commandment of the founder of our faith. If in the process of loving their neighbour they bring people to love the same God, through Jesus, as they do, then that is a consequence of their love for their neighbour - it should not the consequence of some abstract or theological discourse or sermon. In that way they may be able to lead others to the path in which they can find their own salvation.
We need not look for opportunities to be Good Samaritans - unhappily they surround us all the time. But, if we are not awake, we will pass by on the other side with our noses buried in our own small concerns, content that we are doing nothing wrong, not harming anyone and thinking that that is sufficient. Here I am doing what I regard as quite inadequate - preaching. I only hope that I am conscious enough of what I have said to you, the reader, as being a message to me also.
Keith Macleod - Reader