February – March 2020
- The Archbishop of Canterbury’s new year message
- William Haslam of Baldhu
- Divine Creativity
- Prayer and Healing
- #LiveLent and Holy Habits
- Another Flush in the Pan
- Next Bishop of St Germans is announced by Downing Street
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s new year message
Living together is never easy. Families have all sorts of arguments. At this time of year especially, we get together, enjoy company, but sometimes get on each other’s nerves.
Here at Lambeth Palace, where Archbishops have lived and worked for centuries, we’ve been trying an experiment. Since 2015 we’ve been bringing together young Christians from around the world to live as a community for ten months.
They have an extraordinary range of backgrounds, cultures and opinions. They live together, cook together, volunteer with charities together, pray together, and – because they’re human – they clash together. That can be over something as small as the washing up, or as big as their politics.They are united by one thing: their faith in Jesus Christ. But their own faith is not what holds them together.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples: “I have called you friends […] I chose you.” He didn’t always get on with them – in fact, sometimes they drove him up the wall. But they were united by something greater than their differences: his friendship.
In this community, I find it so powerful that these remarkably different people decide to choose each other. There’s a parallel with our country today. We’re wonderfully much more diverse than we used to be. Yet we disagree on many things. And we are struggling with how to disagree well. Turn on the television, read the news, and you see a lot that could tempt you to despair.
Hope lies in our capacity to approach this new year in a spirit of openness towards each other. Committed to discovering more of what it means to be citizens together, even amid great challenges and changes. That will involve choosing to see ourselves as neighbours, as fellow citizens, as communities each with something to contribute. It will mean gathering around our common values, a common vision, and a commitment to one another.
With the struggles and divisions of recent years, that will not be easy. But that difficult work is part of the joy and blessing of being a community.
Whether it’s the twenty people here – or millions of us.
So: will we choose each other again? Because in that choosing lies our hope.
I wish all of us a happy and – more importantly – hope-filled New Year
William Haslam of Baldhu
In a recent Sunday address at St Uny Church, Geraint Wilton (Lay Reader) asked how many of us knew of Billy Bray. Geraint was surprised how few hands went up.
In his address to the Benefice PCCs Bishop Phillip referred to the great tradition of Cornish Evangelists and the example they had set for us, and he included Billy Bray in the list.
This reminded me of an article in this magazine in September 2008 submitted by my brother, which bears repeating in the light of Bishop Phillip’s comments.
Jesus says to Nicodemus in John 3 ‘The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes’ This chapter contains some of the most challenging words our Lord ever spoke because he was speaking to Nicodemus who Jesus called, ‘A teacher of Israel’, in our terms a minister in the church to whom he said ‘You must be born again’
Bishop Phillip’s comments took my mind to a visit my wife and I made to Baldhu just outside of Truro. We had gone there to see the church where William Haslam ministered in 1851 and where that great Cornish evangelist Billy Bray is buried. Haslam was a churchman to his fingertips who held that no man could be right with God unless he was a member of the established church and had been properly baptised and came regularly to communion. If you were not in the ark of the church you were lost!
But then something happened which changed the course of Christian history in those parts. Haslam had a gardener who became seriously ill so he sent him to see his doctor who told the gardener that he had little time to live as he had ‘Miner’s Consumption’ The man became deeply concerned about his future and sent for a neighbour who led him to put his trust in Christ who gave him peace. Haslam was deeply distressed – why had his servant not sent for him, after all he was his Vicar?
Haslam became so distressed that he took himself off to The Rev. Aitken, a fellow minister in Pendeen, whom he was helping with his church building. During his stay with his friend he got to talking about his concern over the gardener and to his consternation that the man did not send for him in his distress. Aitken said ‘If I were taken ill, I certainly would not send for you. I am sure you could not do me any good, for you are not converted yourself’ They talked long into the night. At two in the morning Aitken showed Haslam to his room, pointing to the bed he said (in a voice full of meaning) ‘Ah a very holy man of God died there a short time since’ Haslam said ‘This did not add to my comfort or induce sleep for I was already much disturbed by the conversation we had had, and did not enjoy the idea of going to bed and sleeping where one had so lately died-even though he was a holy man’.
Next day Haslam made his return journey via Penzance and then to Truro by train having made up his mind that he would not lead his services again until he knew he had peace with God-‘My mind was in revolution’- he said. Thursday, Friday and Saturday passed by and on Sunday he said he was unfit to take services but the bell of his church began to toll and he realised he had no alternative, he had to go to his morning service and read morning prayers. He went to his pulpit with nothing prepared and all he could do was to give out the words from the Gospel for the day ‘What think ye of Christ?’ (Matt 22:42) In reporting the next few minutes in his book ‘From death into life’ he wrote ‘As I went on to explain the passage I saw that the Pharisees and scribes did not know that Christ was the Son of God or that he was come to save them….something was telling me, all the time, “You are no better than the Pharisees yourself – you do not believe that he is the Son of God and that he is come to save you any more than they did’. Haslam described what came next, ‘I do not remember all I said but I felt a wonderful light and joy coming into my heart and I was beginning to see what the Pharisees did not. Whether it was something in my words or my manner, or my look, I know not; but all of a sudden a local preacher who happened to be in the congregation, stood up and putting up his arms, shouted in Cornish manner “The parson is converted! The parson is converted! Hallelujah!”
At that point God began an extraordinary work in answer to the prayers of very many, ‘The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes’ The wind of God’s Holy Spirit began to blow! And all because Jesus’ words ‘You must be born again’ came to an unconverted minister in the church.
Needless to say not all conversions are as dramatic as was Haslam’s. But by whatever route God chooses to lead us to His Son we need to take seriously Jesus’ words to Nicodemus ‘You must be born again’.
The late Rev Peter Culver was the former Pastor of Widdcombe Baptist Church, Bath.
Divine Creativity: New year, new beginnings
Divine Creativity kicked off the new year appropriately with the theme of New Beginnings where we had a thought-provoking reflection to look forward to, followed by the opportunity to make beautiful concertina books.
Revd Carlyn led the reflection, drawing us into the story of the Magi in Matthew’s Gospel through TS Eliot’s wonderful poem, Journey of theMagi. The poem is reproduced at the end of this piece; written from the perspective of one of the Magi, its three well-crafted stanzas offer a wonderful opportunity to reflect, afresh or for the first time, on Matthew’s amazing account. Interestingly, Bishop Philip, whose visit to our Benefice took place later that week, used the poem in his sermon at our Benefice Holy Communion.
Following the reflection, Caroline Marwood led us through the process of making a choice of concertina books.
We had some beautiful decorated papers to choose from for the pages of our books, plus a selection of second hand books that were no longer needed to use for collaging the covers. Caroline encouraged us to think of a ‘new beginnings’ use for our completed books, which led us to think further about our aspirations for the new year and also to reflect on TS Eliot’s thought-provoking poem, some of the lines of which are incorporated in our books. The craft element was followed by an opportunity to admire each other’s work and to feed back our thoughts on the process and on our time together.
Caroline then concluded our creative time with a prayer, after which the morning finished with a relaxed bring and share lunch.