“from my first days as a Franciscan, we were told that we were “Christian humanists” I glory in being a humanist. I have no problem seeing the goodness in people as a true mirror of the goodness in God. For me, there is a direct correlation. To say “that’s just human” [that’s just a coincidence] has been turned into a condescending or pejorative comment, a put down. We are reflections of the invisible God [Genesis 1.27] & the only way to know God is through this humanity, our only road to a little enlightenment.. it is called the inductive method, or for Christians, the way of the incarnation. We begin here. If I am created in the image & likeness of God, then anthropology might be just as important as theology to understand the mystery of God. We must never think we are building up God by putting humanity down. We would, instead, be insulting God, blaspheming, to set ourselves against God’s creation. Paul’s insight is very clear; “ever since God created the world his everlasting power & deity, however invisible, have been there for the mind to see in the things God has made.” [Romans 1.20] Many thinking people no longer take facile Christianity seriously because they’ve seen how people deny their human experience & rush headlong to claim that “God has all the answers”. God honours & uses our human experiences in our favour, so why should we do any different? Yes, we know Christ is the answer, but what are the questions? People concerned about both the questions & the answers are full & believable Christians. But not people who, before they have thought or felt or suffered, quickly say “God is the answer”. How is God the answer? That’s the question we have to allow the world if we are going to be taken seriously. Many who go diligently to Church, who read the bible, sing hymns, are still terribly lost in hatreds & fears. They have answers, but they have not struggled with the questions..& what is the question? Is God for us or against us? Is God loving? Is it an indifferent universe, or a benevolent universe, or a toxic & dangerous one? The one answer that seems to be clear is that our distance from God is somehow also the distance we keep from our pain.” [“Job & the Mystery of Suffering” Richard Rohr]
Last Sunday, Remembrance Sunday, Sheila Harrison from St Hilda’ s & Gerry Pettet from Our Lady & St Benedict’s met at our Crucifix & war memorial just before 11am for a short remembrance of those of our Village & locality who lost their lives in the two World Wars & in conflicts since then. We are grateful to them for representing many more of us who would have wanted to be there, yet in the circumstances, prayed from home in unity with them at such a moment of sadness & gratitude.
Although lockdown restrictions preclude the celebration of Mass until further notice, Our Lady & St Benedict’s Church is open for private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament on Sundays & Thursdays between 230pm & 330pm; there is no need to book; we had five last Sunday. You will be asked to sanitise your hands, keep strictly to social distancing, & record your contact details for track & trace. Opportunities for Confession, or to meet me for any reason, continue, so do please make contact through my email address or telephone on the heading of the bulletin.
The replacement external lighting in the Graveyard is being installed today [Thursday] & we hope the units provide the necessary & safe lighting for those of us in the Village who use the graveyard as a convenient & necessary access route after dark. BATA engineers visited us again last Tuesday in relation to installing a new boiler system in the back Sacristy [flower vase area] which will be much more efficient & less hazardous than in the underground boiler room. I hope for a quick turnround in accepting the quotation & an early start on the works, when the lockdown, preventing work for their domestic clients, would allow prompt work for us. Underdrawing of both towers to prevent heat loss will be done early in December within a week. I hope that, early in the New Year, we will install the new low energy lighting in the Church, providing better lighting levels at lower cost, & then seek your agreement to having the inside of the Church redecorated. In the absence, for the time being, until after Covid restrictions are lifted & we can gather again as one community, of a Parish Council Parish Finance Committee & Fabric Committee, I hope you will be prepared to offer your advice on these projects to me by individual meetings, email or letter. I welcome any advice you would like to offer, & indeed any financial contributions to the considerable costs these upgrades & routine maintenance will incur.
Initial discussions with St Hilda’s & Holy Cross Churches on the possibility of Village Carol Services in each Village post lockdown are beginning, with numbers in each Church restricted to those currently allowed by Government & Church best practice.
Last weekend came the good news that, following the campaign led by Marcus Rashford & others to provide meals for our children during school holidays, the Government finally decided to provide the necessary funding. Thank you to those of you who, like me, wrote to our MP asking him to offer his support to the campaign, when I explained to him that our Parish is providing food through the Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. I hope those in our own Village who may be struggling to provide food for their children either in the holidays, or indeed at any time in this ongoing & increasing crisis in health & in the economy, will be encouraged to benefit from our Food Initiative, where it is possible to approach Ray & Deb in the Village Shop, & quietly ask for a bag of food essentials which will be delivered to your door?. This has been working well since the lockdown began, & it could be more of us in the Village will find themselves in ever deeper need of help, & we would encourage them to ask.. it isn’t charity, it is basic good bread & butter Christian discipleship which, at such times of crisis, is asked of us in our plenty. Across the Village there is deep appreciation for the good natured & generous service given by Ray & Deb throughout the crisis, who regularly go the extra mile for us. Food donations to Middlesbrough Food Bank via cash in envelope to Parish House or direct via email@example.com With my love & prayers. Fr Bede