Notes from The Vicarage ….. I must admit that the phrase ‘all together now’ sets off a soundtrack in my head, of the Beatles song of that title in the film ‘Yellow Submarine!’ That doesn’t stop it being a brilliant title (thanks, Brian) for our current sermon series; SO much snappier than ‘unity and diversity in the church and wider world,’ which was its working title for several weeks. Some readers may only hear one or two of the sermons, so this is to fill you in. The series runs on the second and third Sundays of the month, in July, August and September; occasions when Fountain Square Church members are worshipping with us at St. John’s – the most obvious reason for exploring this topic at the moment. The sermon slot at St. John’s 9.30am service, and (when possible) at other churches on the same day, will be filled by a number of speakers, mostly lay people. Each speaker talks about something they enjoy but about which people have various opinions – July offerings covered words and music, and pets – before reflecting on the way differences are held together, in their life, in the church, or in the wider world, drawing wisdom and inspiration from the Bible readings of the day.
The world we live in is torn by painful divisions, along lines of faith, race, wealth, political outlook. Jesus taught about the kingdom of God, a loving reign in which human conflicts are reconciled in Oneness; and he prayed for his followers, ‘that they may be one.’ So the church is called to show the world what unity looks like. Not uniformity, where all who follow Christ would hold all the same opinions, sing the same songs, and worship in the same way; but a unity which is both honest and accepting about difference, glorying in the richness and wonder it affords. A unity which we realize when we all draw closer to the God who at the same time is Father, Son and Spirit.
At a Churches Together discussion in May, a group of us celebrated the remarkable degree to which Christians in Tideswell and district are ‘all together now;’ and also acknowledged that God is calling us further on the journey. Where next, and what might the Christian presence in our villages look like in five years’ time? Let’s use this sermon theme for our own reflections and prayers – and join in the discussion!
In Christ, Simon