March 2018

Revd Camilla has said that sho would like to offer other people in the Benefice the opportunity to write 'the Rectory Letter' occasionally in The Parish. In March that task was given to Doreen Liston, our Licensed Reader in the Benefice.

From the Reader

In our church calendar we are now in the season of Lent which began on Ash Wednesday; in the words of Fagin, a time for reviewing the situation, assessing our lives, owning up to our shortcomings, repenting our sinfulness and trying improve things.

Just recently I was reading about a man who’d been having some discomfort in his chest and arms and like many people put off going to the doctor. After exhausting the usual remedies for indigestion from the local chemist, and with the discomfort becoming worse, he reluctantly made an appointment to see his doctor.

There were about a dozen people there and after what seemed like hours his name was called, he went in to have his blood pressure and various other tests done. The diagnosis was Angina, ‘the good news’ said the doctor ‘is that it isn’t life threatening but you will have to give up much of your present way of living; stopping smoking, avoiding rich food, cutting down on alcohol and taking more exercise.

He got home in time for coffee and noticed a reminder for the 7pm service that night was for the Ash Wednesday service at St Andrew’s and also that that both appointments had something in common. He would come away from the second like the first with a health warning, one physical, the other spiritual,

We are all sinners but sin like angina isn’t life threatening if we admit that we need to change things. Our problem, especially today, is that we do not know how to define sin. We recognize the big ones to avoid; murder, stealing, adultery etc, and sometimes we are very good at spotting the wrongs of others.  

We confess that we have sinned through weakness and through our own deliberate fault while the politically correct assure us that weakness is allowed because  we are all human and  can’t always overcome temptation, and negligence can also be forgiven. Times have changed and our lives are busy

But there is so much more we have to repent for; the sin we don’t consider, or even think about, that we tolerate, even encourage, and take part in, that affects others and for which no one in particular takes responsibility:  air pollution, greed, resulting in the deprivation of others, waste, the indulgence of commodities only available because people including young children are producing them at no more than starvation wages. And in the ways we  contribute to the weapons of destruction, suffering and war itself.

We really do not know what we do.

Much nearer home and a real threat to our spiritual wellbeing is our life style, We live in a society that is daily becoming more and more  self-obsessed.  Our lack of tolerance and use of words and incorrect grammar says it all. Phrases such as ‘because I’m worth it’’, sentences beginning with ‘myself’ ‘I’ and ‘me’ and the use of these pronouns before the names of others is common practice. Such usage would have earned many a detention in my school days.

It’s interesting to note that ‘I ‘ has replaced ‘you’ as the most popular pronoun in hit songs . Use of the words ‘ I ‘ and ‘me’ has surged in the past 20 yrs by 46% and in the most streamed single  of last year ‘ I’, ‘Me’, and ‘my’  feature more than 50 times   doesn’t that tell us something             

A life that is self -centred and not God- centred can only ever result in a lack of concern, care and love for others.   Sin has become trivialised into the giving up of sweets and cake that will perhaps benefit our figures , but maybe more positive acts of love, compassion, concern  and kindness by all of us this Lent  would be more in keeping with God’s plan,  generally helping to  make the world a better place  and keeping us spiritually safe.   

With every blessing

Doreen  Liston        

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