working together with other churches


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Just concluded a series of events to commemorate, and importantly to think and pray about the events of 1914. All Saints Church in Heathfield was one of the venues. All Saints Church Old Heathfield

A talk and sermons by Revd. Roger Kenward helped us engage with his experiences as a military chaplain, and Battle Town Band plus soloists both entertained and caused tearful reflection as music, poetry and song combined to build a powerful picture of the human experience of war. The final Songs of Praise service brought members of churches from all Christian denominations in Heathfield to sing hymns and share readings, all introduced by Revd David Guest, vicar of Old Heathfield parish.

This was a community project, spearheaded by FASCOH ( the Friends of All Saints Church in Old. Heathfield) which was many months in the making involving wonderful flowers, exhibition displays, a quiz night and a wide range of people keen to commemorate, not ever to forget.

Here’s one of the poems from that concert:

Christ in Flanders

Lucy Whitmell (1915)

We had forgotten You, or very nearly — 
You did not seem to touch us very nearly— 
Of course we thought about You now and then ; 
Especially in any time of trouble — 
We knew that You were good in time of trouble- 
But we are very ordinary men.

And there were always other things to think of — 
There’s lots of things a man has got to think of— 
His work, his home, his pleasure, and his wife ; 
And so we only thought of You on Sunday —  
Sometimes, perhaps, not even on a Sunday — 
Because there’s always lots to fill one’s life. 

And, all the while, in street or lane or byway — 
In country lane, in city street, or byway — 
You walked among us, and we did not see. 
Your feet were bleeding as You walked our pavements — 
How did we miss Your footprints on our pavements ? — 
Can there be other folk as blind as we ? 

Now we remember; over here in Flanders — 
(It isn’t strange to think of You in Flanders) — 
This hideous warfare seems to make things clear. 
We never thought about You much in England — 
But now that we are far away from England, 
We have no doubts, we know that You are here. 

You helped us pass the jest along the trenches —  
Where, in cold blood, we waited in the trenches — 
You touched its ribaldry and made it fine. 
You stood beside us in our pain and weakness —  
We’re glad to think You understand our weakness — 
Somehow it seems to help us not to whine. 

We think about You kneeling in the Garden — 
Ah ! God ! the agony of that dread Garden — 
We know You prayed for us upon the cross. 
If anything could make us glad to bear it — 
’Twould be the knowledge that You willed to bear it — 
Pain — death — the uttermost of human loss. 

Though we forgot You — You will not forget us — 
We feel so sure that You will not forget us — 
But stay with us until this dream is past. 
And so we ask for courage, strength, and pardon — 
Especially, I think, we ask for pardon — 
And that You’ll stand beside us to the last.

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Charity Walk Heathfield

 

Time for another activity to stay fit and fight poverty! Our second annual sponsored walk organised by the Heathfield Christian Aid group. This is an important way in which we raise funds to fight poverty across the world and last year’s walk was sunny and peaceful. Just 4.5 miles round trip, you can dog walk, cycle, jog or just stroll along this quiet trail off the road around the back of Heathfield and through the countryside to Horam.

If your energy gives out half way, then at Horam, Wesson’s cafe offers refreshment and rest. Or if you really can’t make it back to Heathfield, we’ll be ready with a car to take you back to the finish line. Once completed, you can collect your goody bag with chocolate, water and a shopping bag which lasts for ages.

To enter and be sent a sponsorship form, email suegreener@gmail.com . The more sponsors, the more poverty we can fight. We start between 10 and 1pm on Saturday 22nd September at the Heathfield entrance to the Cuckoo Trail off Station Road, Heathfield. Last finishers expected back by 3pm.

Wow, two huge topics and only a few remarks here. In a discussion on the difference between these two headings this week, the conclusion was drawn that studying ecumenism tended to refer to Christian churches attempting to work together and resolve doctrinal difficulties as well as divergence of traditions in liturgy, worship, rituals, and that inter-faith dialogue is the term used more commonly for a variety of faiths looking at similar things, including but not exclusively Christian.

One Church. How to get there? So many have tried. Scripture points us towards a oneness, God’s love for all. Meanwhile, we have the freedom to diverge and to keep getting things wrong.

Charles Handy, in An Empty Raincoat (1999), seemed to suggest a way:

“It is tempting to call for better leadership, but we probably expect too much from the leaders of the nations. Those nations are too big, the connections not strong enough, the commitment to the future not long enough. It is better to look smaller, to our now-smaller organisations, to local communities and cities, to families and clusters of friends, to small networks of portfolio people with time to give to something bigger than themselves. We have to fashion our own directions in our own places.” (Charles Handy, b.1932, Irish author and philosopher on work and society. The quote is from his 1994 book The Empty Raincoat)

road to where - too much freedom“Christian freedom as St Paul spells it out is always freedom from isolation – from the isolation of sin, separating us from God, and the isolation of competing self-interest that divides us from each other. To be free is to be free for relation; free to contribute what is given to us into the life of the neighbour, for the sake of their formation in Christ’s likeness, with the Holy Spirit carrying that gift from heart to heart and life to life. Fullness of freedom for each of us is in contributing to the sanctification of the neighbour.”

An extract from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Presidential address at Synod last week.

More and more talk of getting churches working together – today the news of Methodists and Anglicans healing a rift – a slow moving together process. Of course there should only be one Christian church. But we are many people and have our habits and our preferences when it comes to things spiritual and religious.

Should a broad consensus of need to move together be held up by a small group of parishioners? I guess the answer may be – only when they can put forward a good theological argument for their perspective. Not if the argument is simply based on habit. So sometimes there is a duty to lead – from the clergy involved, from the diocese, from all the people of God in a region.

Interesting talk today about comparing the move towards ecumenical worship in the Churches Together model to the Houses of Parliament. A fraternity of clergy who need to develop relationships and trust, and a CT forum which needs to do the same but have as much a role as the fraternity. The latter has legitimate power through ordination. The forum however is the ground swell which will take us towards unity. Two Houses. not quite clergy and laity because clergy are very visible in the forum. A need to learn new (or good old) ways of working together. Not getting bound up with where ideas come from, getting more focussed on which ideas can take us towards a common purpose.

So what then is the meaning of parish? Do we stay within our parish boundaries as an established church of the land and stop at the boundaries? Especially when there are sister churches so close by that are equally sparsely attended but contain like-minded people of God? And to what extent can we represent a parish when we are one of many Christina churches in that area? How can we speak for them except by legitimate establishment – not really by popularity or democracy or representation?

We all know in our hearts we need to work and pray together. For what@ for our own and others spiritual jouneys. For those neglected by society. For those who don’t have any other voice. But does that mean more meetings? probably – but not official meetings, more joint worsh9p, more prayer together. Could we have prayer groups which involved all our local churches? Doubtless different styles of prayer would irritate some, but it is already happening across Christian religions in Heathfield in the prayer group supporting the Street Pastors there.

so it is possible to do more of this? to get people together in or out of our churches. More prayer needed. Always more prayer needed.